Brian Haw, British political demonstrations, Colin Barrow, Iraq War, Jefferson Memorial protest, Mayor of London, Parliament Square anti-war demonstartion, Parliament Square Peace demonstration, Westminster Council
In my previous post I noted the heavy-handed approach of the Park Police at the Jefferson Memorial in stifling what was a peaceful expression of the people’s will. Now whilst I accept the point of JamesB in the comments section that this may well have had a political element to it, it does not however excuse the violence of the police.
Interestingly, the British too have lately needed to deal with a rowdy, raucous political demonstration in an equally iconically charged historic setting. Their handling may show some interesting differences between the two societies.
The gentleman above is one Brian Haw the leader of a small but dedicated group, who rain, snow or shine have camped out in Parliament Square for 3662 days or just over ten years, shouting at politicians, passers-by, and journalists through a bull horn about Britain’s continued involvement in the Iraq War. It is fair to say that his intervention has been seen by those in the establishment as a thorn in their sides. He even has his own web-site. Mr Haw himself is presently in Germany for treatment for lung cancer but his supporters keep vigil in the square. They have been shoved off the grass itself to a camp on the unpopular far side. Even so it still rankles. Colin Barrow, the leader of Westminster Council a man who clearly has had enough has said “We of course support the right to protest and continue to do so, but camping out for years on end has made the point. It is time to reclaim the square.”
Such statements in America, or indeed the middle east, might be the cue for the Police heavy mob to move in, duff up the demonstrators and throw them off their pitch. But this is Britain and they do things differently there.
The Mayor of London tried saying that Haw was causing an obstruction and sought a ruling from the Courts to move him on but this failed. The Council is now trying to say he is “an obstruction to the footway” and “a hindrance”. Since Mr Haw is on the far side of the square where there are few passers-by (hence the bull-horn) this too is unlikely to fly.
So, they are planning to construct a pedestrian crossing to his site, and once this in finished he will be moved – for being next to a pedestrian crossing and thus causing an obstruction!
Now that’s the British way.
Copyright David Macadam 2011