The authorities are apparently as scared of Guy Fawkes 400 years on as they were all those centuries ago. A planned protest will be guarded as securely as the man himself tonight.
Scotland Yard is set to deploy thousands of extra police officers and impose tough public order restrictions over fears that a Bonfire night protest in London, against austerity and increased state surveillance, will turn violent.
The Million Mask march, planned for Thursday night, is part of a global protest movement organised by the internet activist group Anonymous. Anonymous have recently been in the news again for releasing membership details about people in the Klu Klux Klan.
The Million Mask march has become an annual event, and police fear a repeat of the unrest that occurred at last year’s demonstration. Last year fights broke out between riot police and protesters, many wearing the signature Guy Fawkes masks.
The Metropolitan police believes protesters plan to damage public monuments, attack police officers and try to occupy buildings, although where this belief comes from seems to be hidden. The owners of buildings identified as possible targets have been briefed by the police and will receive extra protection tonight.
Chief Superintendent Pippa Mills said, “Over the last few years this event has seen high levels of antisocial behaviour, crime and disorder.” She cited harassment of commuters in the capital, including on buses, which were being rocked and protesters jumping on car bonnets.
Mills would go on to add, “This year we have strong reason to believe that peaceful protest is the last thing on the minds of many of the people who will come along.”
A statement from the Met was also released stating a “significant policing operation” would be in place for the protest, including, but not limited to, “dedicated teams of highly flexible officers on standby at key locations in capital”.
Restrictions under the Public Order Act will also be imposed to confine the demonstration to Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, and ban any protest after 9pm. If the managing of protests seem a touch unjust well that is simply the world we live in now, protestors must do so on the governments watch instead of their own.
Thursday’s demonstration is expected to focus on proposals to increase powers of the security services. It will come a day after the government is due to publish legislation seen as a revived snooper’s charter which was killed earlier in the year. Under the plans, internet companies will be required to store details of every website visited by their customers for 12 months.
The organisers of the demonstration have urged supporters to descend on London in response to the “abuses and malpractice” of the government and the “profit and greed of the few”. The proposed law again is a massive danger to privacy of citizens as a whole but more specially it places surveillance over every persons head, which is far to Orwellian for my liking.
In a Facebook posting, they urged followers to gather at Trafalgar Square from 6pm. The post stated, “We have seen the abuses and malpractice of this government, and governments before it, we have seen the encroaching destruction of many civil liberties we hold dear, we have seen the pushes to make the internet yet another part of the surveillance state, we have seen the government’s disregard for migrants, for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, we have seen the capital, profit and greed of the few put before the well-being of the many and we say enough is enough.”
Let us hope that no violence erupts in the capital but the cause of protest is noble. Thousands of modern Guy Fawkes’ will stand for our freedom from oppression, our right to privacy, the belief that what we have ourselves remains ours alone and not that of the government.