The policing of the major Gaza ceasefire marches in London has been aggressive, hostile and ‘politicised’.
That was the charge put to the Metropolitan police in a letter on 22 January from the organisers of the national marches for Palestine in London.
The organisers are: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
The organising coalition pointed to a number of problems during and after the 13 January march in London: the refusal of Met officers to close the roads around Parliament Square at the agreed time for the stage to be prepared; obstructive and overbearing policing at the Trafalgar Square stage; the treatment of a first aid box belonging to the organisers as a suspect package; and pulling over for questioning a car convoy displaying Palestinian flags as it arrived from Luton.
Who should pay?
In early January, a Labour MP suggested that the organisers should be made to pay the policing costs of the Gaza marches.
Stop the War co-convenor Lindsey German told the Morning Star newspaper: ‘We completely reject the idea that we should be paying for the police. We do not ask the police to turn out.... the police have themselves acknowledged that the demonstrations have been well-organised and overwhelmingly peaceful.
‘The fact is that the huge cost of policing our marches is entirely of the police’s own making.’