Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

'The State It's In' - Squall Editorial

There's A Riot Going On

April 2001

'You've paid your taxes, so where are the police?' queries a Tory election poster.

Well, on Saturday May 31, two hundred of them were gathered on a small side street in south London, clocking up the overtime pay and preparing to raid an entirely empty building. The old button Factory in Brixton had been a squatted venue for several months, hosting benefit gigs for a variety of causes ranging from homelessness to anti-racism. A low price café opened on Wednesday evenings, a place to eat and stay warm if you didn't have much money. Everybody could come in whether a street homeless person or an undercover cop. Nobody was vetted before entry, nobody excluded.

The benefit gigs, when they occurred, were run by volunteers but no one lived in the run down building. An eviction order had already been granted against the unspecified occupiers, so it was only a short matter of time before bailiffs turned up to take possession and seal the doorways. It wouldn't have been difficult for undercover police officers to determine the nature of what was going on in the place, or that the building was unoccupied most of the time, or that it had an eviction order hanging over it and could have been sealed up at any time.

According to police, however, the Button Factory was a training centre for Mayday rioters. So in an exaggerated drama at dawn, the Metropolitan Police invited two right wing newspapers along and went crashing through the building with a mechanical bulldozer and 200 pairs of boots. The presence of photographers and journalists from the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph was further evidence of a media/police complicity which has reached new heights of ludicrousness and new depths of distortion in the run up to Mayday 2001.

The two right wing broadsheets published their reports on April fool's day. "Anarchist base destroyed in dawn raid," triumphed the Sunday Telegraph. "Police raid May Day riot HQ," affirmed the Sunday Times. However, despite being briefed by the same police press office, The Times and Telegraph still managed to concoct conflicting reportage.

"Two hundred police officers" [Sun Telegraph] or "One hundred and 50 officers" [Times] prevented a riot training weekend to be attended by "500 rioters" [Telegraph] or "100 anti-capitalists" [Times].

Perhaps one explanation for these wild inaccuracies lies in the nature of police intelligence; certainly a confirmed misnomer in this case. For we are told by the Telegraph that Special Branch officers had conducted surveillance on the building and 'discovered' that it was to be a riot HQ (whatever that means). We were further told by the Sunday Times that MI5 oversaw the operation.

What was not explained in the articles was how this Special Branch/MI5 surveillance team had not determined that no one lived in the building and that no one was there at the time of the raid. Two hundred Metropolitan Police officers were uselessly deployed at a time when the lack of police officers is - if you believe the Tory party poster campaign and the plaintive police themselves - a real problem. But the gargantuan waste of police resources did not end there.

Since this bizarre dawn raid, the mainstream media went into frenzy; fueled by incessant briefings and press releases from the Metropolitan Police. SQUALL has been informed by several mainstream journalists that senior Met Police officers have been briefing newspaper editorial and senior journalists every few days. In consequence, wild assertions and unsubstantiated accusations have resonated, rebounded, bounced and spewed from TV, radio and newspapers on a daily basis. Even the Observer - considered slightly more liberal among the mainstream media establishment - cavorted on about activists with a supply of samurai swords. London's Evening Standard carried hysterical headlines on a daily basis, one day leading with the bizarre assertion that UK rioters were being trained in US camps and the next day printing a photo of a so called 'dangerous activist' with a superimposed white ice hockey mask. The type of mask worn by Eminem for his nasty, chain-saw wielding stage alter ego Slim Shady, and by the ghouls in the film Halloween.

All pretence at impartiality has been unashamedly abandoned in a zeitgeist self-parody. The mainstream media apparently not embarrassed to display such an obvious lack of integrity, ethics and professionalism. And the news pouring out of Scotland Yard on a daily basis, and regurgitated verbatim in the mainstream media, is quite categorical: 'All anti-capitalist activists on the Mayday demonstration will be violent thugs with an arsenal of weapons. So stay away if you don't think you're hard enough cos we're gonna knock the daylights outta the lotta ya..... justified by our own self-invented pretext."

The media are having their riot before Mayday. And the police? Well they will be determined to show that the £millions spent on pre-event propaganda, and the thousands of man-hours spent before and during he Mayday demonstration was not wasted. And that means cracking heads.


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