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.