Sunday, 22 April 2012

The battle of Church Street

Rather large and at times quite full on protest in Brighton today, as anti-fascist protestors gathered to prevent the far-right group March For England from marching through the town. Police had to cut short the original planned route to the seafront, as they were having difficulty clearing the route of protestors, and ended up taking the march down a small side street in the centre of town (Church Street), where protestors barricaded the road. The Police managed to finally force their way through with the use of horses and riot gear, but only after some fairly intense skirmishes, with injuries on both sides. People present were drawing paralells with the battle of Cable Street in 1936 where anti-fascists prevented Oswald Moseley's blackshirts from marching through a largely Jewish area in East London. I saw at least 8 different Police forces used today, so the cost of policing today's march will not be cheap!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Alfie Meadows trial update

Link below to an update and on-line petition about the trial of Alfie Meadows and others who are on violent disorder charges following the tuition fees protests in Parliament Square, London, Dec 2010.
The jury couldn't agree a unanimous verdict on Alfie, so there may be a re-trial.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Guardian article on Hillsborough

In commemeration of the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough football disaster this weekend, today's Guardian covers an article recently published by academic David Waddington. It looks at how South Yorkshire Police force dealt with 2 major crowd incidents: the 'battle of Orgreave' during the 1984-5 miners' strike, and Hillsborough. It shows how Police initally tried to cover up their failings during the build up of events that led to 96 fans being crushed to death, and then blamed 'drunken' fans for the tragedy- a claim that was utterly rejected by the official report into the disaster.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

panic in Indonesia?

As I write this, reports are still coming in about today's earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, but it seems that mercifully a catastrophic tsunami like the one seen in December 2004, has so far been avoided.

Nevertheless, yet again the word 'panic' is being used by journalists to describe people's behaviour without properly considering what's going on. In the following video clip shown by the BBC (, the terms 'fear' and 'panic' are used in the voice-over.

However, from a quick look through the clip I saw the following actions;

1) A woman is on the phone (presumably contacting friends or loved ones), while her visibly distressed companion holds onto her for comfort

2) Police and soldiers are directing traffic, and helping people cross the road. Traffic seems busy, but people are following directions and no-one seems to be rushing around or getting in each others' way
3) Mothers are sitting on the ground comforting their kids

4) People are sitting on the floor of a mosque, either praying or comforting each other

All these actions show to me that social bonds have not broken down, and people seem to be acting in ordered and even pro-social ways- not the selfish, irrational, or anti-social behaviour that descriptions of 'panic' would imply. Aceh in Sumatra sufferred around 170,000 deaths in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, so it's not surprising that when people heard a tsunami alert that they may have been scared and would wish to leave low-lying areas and seek the safety of higher ground, but I can see nothing in this clip that suggests people are panicking. Instead they are behaving in sensible and logical ways to escape danger from what is a credible and possibly imminent threat.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Bang goes the theory programme

Link below to a BBC TV programme about crowds. Seems to make a reasonable attempt to engage with current evidence, but it tries to cover such a massive range of issues across the board that they don't really get the chance to do justice to each topic. Best bits are the first 5 or so minutes looking at the psychological processes involved in football and protest crowds and about 14 minutes in that look at the physical pressures involved in crowding at concerts

10 O Clock Live on 'panic-buying'

This week's 10 O'Clock live programme on Channel 4 covered the recent fuel crisis, with Charlie Brooker giving his take on 'panic' in a very amusing way about 5.42 into the programme. My favourite bit is when a BBC journalist is almost chasing a woman filling up in a petrol station forecourt, telling her 'it's all a bit worrying isn't it?', and she does her best to ignore him!
Expect lots of colourful language;