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The Thin Blue Line

Of all the images and videos shared online from the recent demonstrations in London, it has been the video of police officers running away from a mob of rioters, and not towards them, that has perhaps raised the most questions about the policing of the recent demonstrations in the capital and elsewhere.

The scenes in London over the last two weekends have been shocking. Bottles, bricks and even a bike were thrown at the brave men and women of the Metropolitan Police Service as they attempted to maintain law and order whilst, at the same time, try and positively engage with the majority of protestors that wanted to demonstrate peacefully. This cannot have been an easy task, and, as is so often the case, it was a small minority of people, hellbent on causing damage and destruction, that distracted from the important Black Lives Matter message.

Eye-witness reports suggest that the following weekend, when many people gathered to protect the statues that had been, or, it was anticipated, would be damaged as a result of further BLM demonstrations, it was, once again, only some of the protestors that were seeking to spread hate and seek to hurt those people, and police officers, that they came into contact with.

It doesn’t matter how old they are, what their gender is, or, the colour of their skin. Those people who seek to cause damage, hurt and provoke violence, must be stopped. Very simply, why didn’t the police stop these thugs. In this week’s episode of the Blue Collar Conversation podcast, I encourage my guests to answer this question.

With regard to “that” video, the first thing to note, is that those officers who were running away were not equipped for the situation they found themselves in. Wearing little, if any protective gear and certainly not protected by helmets or shields, it’s entirely understandable if those brave officers simply decided to retreat because of a genuine concern for their own safety. “Officers in protective kit. That isn’t confrontational. That’s protecting your officers” says John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, and one of my guests this week. Inevitably, this raises the question as to whether there was a failure in police leadership? Or was it merely the way the media has portrayed the policing of the demonstrations that is the problem?

96% of the 10,000 people who participated in a recent Twitter poll I conducted, said that they thought the media’s coverage of the demonstrations was actually making things worse. In fact, as I learn in this podcast, those police officers who were running away may have been doing so because they had successfully completed a task and it was agreed that retreating was the right thing to do. Therefore, it was part of “the plan”. A timely reminder, if one was ever needed, that we shouldn’t believe everything we read, or watch, until we have all the facts.

Kash Singh, a former Police Inspector and now CEO of One Briton – One Nation, tells me “We’re a democracy. People can express their views. But one thing we can’t support is violence, looting and major disturbances”. He is right, and it is the job of the Police to ensure that those wishing to peacefully demonstrate can do so safely. Those who wish to cause harm must be stopped because their actions are criminal and because, as Maurisa Coleman, Ambassador for the Notting Hill Carnival, tells me, “peaceful protests are so much more powerful because that’s when people listen,”

Hear the podcast in full, by searching ‘Blue Collar Conversations’ in your podcast App and join the conversation on social media, we’re @bluecollarconvo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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