Sunday, 17 November 2013

Bohemia Eviction - Update

Yesterday I mentioned comments regarding the Bohemia eviction made off the record by a friend who is an officer in the Met Police. He asked me to clarify a couple of points. Please note that he is speaking in a personal capacity and does not wish to be identified.

1. The occupiers had a county court judgement against them. They were therefore illegally occupying the building.

2. The occupiers were members of Occupy, which is an organisation with a track record for large demonstrations and has many affiliates. They had been circulating calls for a mass protest to protect the occupation.

3. The riots two years ago started following a small local demonstration at a police station getting out of hand. The Metropolitan Police learned lessons from dealing with such demonstrations. Whilst there is no suggestion that the Occupiers were looking to cause a riot, as with the 2011 riots, situations can spiral out of control if not properly managed.

4. There was no suggestion of "police brutality" in the operation. There was plenty of aggressive shouting and posturing, but no one was beaten up or taken to hospital. The Occupiers had been asked to leave and were defying a court order. When an operation is underway, the safest way for Police to behave is to be in total control of the situation.

It was pointed out that when the riots of 2011 occurred there was huge loss caused across London. It is a top priority of the Police to ensure that such situations do not occur.

This is what actually happened

We are awaiting more footage.

The one thing that no one has explained thus far is why the administrators for the Antic took such an aggressive stance in regards to the Occupiers, given that they had said they would vacate when a new tenant was identified. They have incurred large costs and I cannot see any great financial gain for them (unless there is a tenant lined up who they suspect will not be to the liking of the local community).

It is clear that there is a need for a community space in North Finchley. It seems sad that all of the positive energy and activities lined up for the Bohemia have simply been crushed. As I said in my blog yesterday, I don't think anyone has come out of this as a winner. If the administrators had engaged with the Occupiers and come to an amicable arrangement, we'd not have any blogs or any debates about Police and their priorities. I am sure some people see what happened on Friday night as good, as it fits some sort of authoritarian political agenda. I just think it is all rather sad. Yesteday there was a mental health roadshow outside the locked building, in the freezing cold. Sad really when there was a perfectly usable space on the other side of the ramparts.


baarnett said...

I remember detailed factual investigations about Tottenham events two years ago, by the London Mayor, Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph, Times, Guardian reporters, and so on.

It is a bit disingenuous to directly link the London riots to the "orderly protest" outside the police station there. Indeed, if the police now want to link them, they should prosecute everyone who took part, for conspiracy to riot.

Furthermore, that is even more reason to condemn the stupidity of the local police in not bothering to directly engage with those protesters.

Perhaps that is where training has changed - but what has that got to do with a bog-standard eviction in Barnet?

Has the MPS got a difference version of history about 2011 from the rest of London's population?

As far as I can see, the eviction from this North Finchley pub was carried out exactly as would have been done say five years ago, or ten years ago. I just don't understand what your police chum is on about.

Rog T said...


With all due respect and bear in mind I am an active supporter of what was happening at the Bohemia, there is no way that this was a "bog standard eviction". Landlords evict tenants all the time, often with bailiffs. It is almost unique for it to happen in the full glare of press coverage, with supporters calling for protests and rallys.

My friend was trying to give me a very "off the record" insight into his view of why the police took the decisions they did. Now it is fine for anyone to challenge this or dispute this. For all I know the Police in Barnet will not officially agree with his opinions.

You may not understand why he made his comments, but I suspect that many people will understand exactly what he was saying.

His view is that the action was one taken for preservation of public order. The other possibility that the Police took and overtly political decision to "send a message" to occupy.

From the footage I've seen and from the accounts I've read and through my conversations, I tend to believe my Police friend that the action was not overtly political. I am however open to persuasion.

I hold by my view that the £5,000 spent on the operation could have been better spent elsewhere.

I thought it was generally accepted that the spark for the riot was the Duggan protests. If you have evidence to the contrary, please post a link.

Anonymous said...

So the police were worried about violence or serious public order offences of the type that sparked the Tottenham riots, yet they allowed Antic to dictate the timetable. This despite the fact that Antic had made no effort to communicate with the occupiers, thus provoking the showdown.

When there is such a grave risk to public order, do the police have no say in how the eviction is to be handled?

In future, if the police want to 'send a message' to Occupy, or to squatters in general, I suggest they don't do it through the medium of a bankrupt business with such exotic financial arrangements.

Not overtly political actions by the police? Covertly political actions perhaps?