As more observant readers will have noticed, parliament was not sacked on 9 October. However several hundred people did turn up to show their opposition to the war on Iraq and to challenge the ludicrous provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA).
The day started slowly, with more journalists and bystanders than protesters. But by 1.30pm around 100 people had gathered in Parliament Square, all expectantly waiting to see if anything would happen... and sure enough, it did.
Into the bubble with you!
The sight of half a dozen people wearing masks convinced the police that a rampaging “Black Block” was about to destroy the nation's democratic institutions. Two serials of the Tactical Support Group's finest, aided by a burly delegation from the City of London Police, were rushed into the Square and promptly put everyone into the “bubble”.
One photographer, Marc Vallee, was knocked over and received a head injury that required being taken by ambulance to hospital. Everyone else had to wait three hours to get out, and then only after giving their name and address so they could potentially be summonsed for attending an “unauthorised demonstration”.
Likely looking characters
Meanwhile the hunt was on for the organisers. To the uninitiated this looked like the police grabbing random passers by and arresting them for no reason, but the police had been photographing everyone coming in or out of meetings for the previous five weeks. Now all their hard work paid off, as around 15 people were snatched by Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT).
Afterwards it became clear that the low turnout was partially due to many “likely looking” characters, including the Samba Band, being intercepted on their way to Parliament Square.
The Police made 38 arrests, almost all for SOCPA offences. Most are bailed to return to Charing Cross Police Station on 11 December and are planning a demo outside.
The next major test for SOCPA will be a 24-hour unauthorised peace camp in Parliament Square on 29 October. The legal arguments go to the Court of Appeal on 16 November, with appeals against conviction by Maya Evans and Milan Rai among others.