I've written before about the way Britain is becoming less and less of a free society. Not long before I left the country I was walking along Whitehall, no bag, no camera, not even a jacket, when I saw a protest up ahead. Not too unusual. there are often protests outside the gates to Downing Street, but this time I was approached by a Police Officer who told me Whitehall was closed and I would have to go around. Ridiculous I thought. I asked what the protest was for and got the vague answer that it was a protest and a repeat of the claim I would have to circle round. I could actually see people walking around Whitehall going about their day's business and pointed this out to the officer, asking if I could at least stand on the street and watch what was going on, at which point I was pushed up against a wall and asked for my personal details. I asked why and was given the reply that I was 'taking too much of an interest in the protest'.
Now I know you cannot yet be charged with curiosity so I refused to give my details and pulled my arm free of the officer's grip. I said I was going to walk around and after being followed a few steps I was left to my own devices. I was in no hurry to get where I was going anyway.
My point is, if you can get harassed for showing an interest in a demonstration from a distance then we have reached a very sorry state of affairs. As I have said before, the more a state tries to control it's people, the more it will radicalise and aggrevate those who disagree. This can only lead to an escalation of confrontation on all sides. These days, it is clear which side of the fence the Police place reporters, and that will not endear the Police to the press.
Today I was looking at a video on the guardian website which showed Police surveillance footage of people and press entering a protest site known as the Climate Camp in the UK. This is an event that takes place at various locations throughout the year. The video shows how the Police pay attention to members of the press and the comments made show a particular disdain; one officer says of the press "I trust them less than the protesters".
Featured in this video is freelance video journalist Jason N. Parkinson, whose work I have been following for some while. A particularly good example is the footage from the protests for and against the Israeli attacks on Gaza which occurred at the start of this year.
Check out part one here.
Check out part two here.
What you will see in these videos is much more revealing and a lot more involved than most of what you will see on the nightly news. I believe they call it 'reporting from the front line'.