IssueDecember 2009 - January 2010
Comment by Maya Evans

“I’m so bored with the USA,” the Clash sang on their 1977 debut album whose cover pictures police with truncheons chasing protesters. It feels like songs such as “Know Your Rights” and “White Riot” are particularly relevant this month. Maybe if the Clash were together today they would be singing: “I’m so bored with the BBC”, because I certainly am.

Interested in and concerned for friends at the London G20 protests, I eagerly scanned the internet for info after hearing about “kettling” of demonstrators outside the major banks. One of the first sites I looked at was the BBC. I thought the bare bones of the facts could be ascertained. Jeez, was I wrong. Instead I ended up feeling annoyed and uninformed after watching an online broadcast consisting of a BBC journalist inside the kettled zone reporting that protesters were “out of control”.

The journalist made a vague attempt to interview a passing protester who probably felt perturbed by suddenly having a camera pointed at him. The BBC journalist reported: “The protestors do not want to talk.”

There was no comment on the use of force by police or why people protesting against a corrupt banking system were dangerously being kept in a cordoned area against their wishes.

Well, the BBC certainly got it wrong and seemed to have U-turned on their stance of the G20 protest, as the name Ian Tomlinson joined others such as Jean Charles De Menezes in cases of manslaughter by the police.

Indeed the BBC continued its reign of poor reporting with its coverage of the 114 climate change activists arrested allegedly before an action at an E.ON power station in Nottinghamshire. Radio Four covered the story and portrayed the activists as “reckless” and “endangering public safety”. Nothing was mentioned about global warming and the urgent need to reduce the use of fossil fuel consumption before damage to the planet is irreversible.

On both occasions I felt like letting out a clenched teeth growl towards the BBC and the police for such unfair use of power. More and more I’m feeling a sense of powerlessness as more laws are being passed which give police even more power.

I regularly get filmed by police at demonstrations, but it’s now illegal for the public to film the police, making it difficult to hold the police to account for its actions. I feel it’s important to remember that we pay for the services provided by the police and the BBC.

Our taxes and TV licences allow these establishments to exist – establishments which are supposed to facilitate the citizen. We need to reverse the relationship between the individual and the state and the media. The mentality today has become “guilty until proven innocent.”

The government is doing very little to tackle climate change. It seems perverse that they would criminalise concerned citizens who are trying to stop climate armageddon. The 114 activists deserve a tax break, a grant or at least a note of thanks from the Queen.

And what of the BBC? Are we paying our licences to be bad-mouthed by an organisation which seems incapable of providing us with objective facts?

It is more and more essential for the citizen to take responsibility and do the job of the state and media. We need to be out there stopping war, halting climate change and being the media, as we can’t rely on the government or BBC to do it.

See more of: Maya Evans diary