Police State | September 26, 2004

So I’ve just got back from Beijing and I have to say it was a bit of a shock. Talk about a police state. A cheerless policeman on every corner, snipers on the rooftops and “special forces” with automatic weapons outside key buildings. Police vans full of “riot police” waiting to respond to the first sign of descent and police with video cameras there to record likely suspects.

However I’m not talking about Tiananmen square here, I’m talking about Brighton. Driving back into Brighton Saturday morning, the huge police presence could mean only one thing , Tony was in town with the Labour party conference. The conference involves over 1,000 policemen and has turned Brighton into either the safest place in Britain (with police patrols every 5 minutes the chance of getting mugged has to be minimal) or possibly the most dangerous (walking past the conference centre on Saturday afternoon I suddenly realised it probably wasn’t the best place for an afternoon stroll) depending on your outlook.

On a TV news poll last night they asked if people in the UK were afraid of a terrorist attack and around 70% of respondents said that they were. There really seems to be a pervading sense of dread seeping though the nation, buoyed by constant news reports and government bills on terrorism. The IRA fought a very real terrorist campaign on UK soil for years, causing a devastating attack on the Conservative government 20 years ago at their Brighton conference. And yet the IRA mainland bombing campaign never managed to create the same level of fear or knee jerk policy making the we find ourselves experiencing today.

But I digress.

I really enjoyed my trip to China and Beijing proved to be very interesting place. I’d expected a very repressive atmosphere, so was amazed at how progressive the city felt. It definitely didn’t feel like the Beijing we all saw on the news 15 years ago.

Posted at September 26, 2004 6:51 PM

Comments

Josh Blount said on September 26, 2004 9:42 PM

I was hoping you would have a good time in China. Sorry for the “out of nowhere” comment, but I’ve been reading your things for a while and wanted to mention that your more frequent postings have been missed. When will we see some photography?

Malarkey said on September 26, 2004 11:01 PM

Hi Andy,

Glad to have you back safe-and-sound.

Two things, the first is that I took young Alex to Llangollen today for a spot of white-water rafting. During the one hour drive (about 30 miles) I was zapped by no less than three North Wales police speed-traps.

These modern day highway robbers lurked in the shadows with their pistols (radar guns) and prayed on passing motorists. They did everything short of shouting “Stand and deliver!”

I suppose that there were no murderers, rapists or burglars in North Wales today to keep their attention (sic). In any case, I have been increasingly aware of the feeling that we are today far from free in our own country.

……………………………………………………………………..

Second, our American friends may have fallen for the lie that they live under the constant threat of terror from ‘without’, but I would hope that with our so-called ‘free’ media, we could struggle free from under the blanket of lies peddled by our government.

I’ll say it plainly. The claim by governments from Washington and London, to Tel Aviv and Syndney that our free and civilised nations (sic) are under attack from ‘terrorists’ is nothing more than a lie. A lie designed to give these reactionary, authoritarian regimes carte blanche to inflict unspeakable horrors on the peoples of other nations and subjugate their own citizens with anti-terrorism laws.

It is time for a campaign of civil disobedience. It is time for the people to take to the streets in direct action. It’s time to take our country back.

Johnny Gulag said on September 26, 2004 11:15 PM

Quote=Andy: A cheerless policeman on every corner, snipers on the rooftops and “special forces” with automatic weapons outside key buildings. Police vans full of “riot police” waiting to respond to the first sign of descent and police with video cameras there to record likely suspects.

Sounds like America these days!

Later
Johnny

Gabriel Mihalache said on September 27, 2004 7:13 AM

Police a police state doesn’t make. :-)
You’re fortunate enough to live in one of the most authentic and true-to-the-origins republics.

As far as China is concerned, they can do certain things, because they are allowed (national pragmatism vs. communism and all) but the government still owns their asses.

Bryan said on September 27, 2004 4:54 PM

Johny,

What part of America would that be? To be honest, I hear about how so many of our rights are now threatened as well as the growing “police state” and I just don’t see it (except the occasional National Guardsman at the airport, which I actually don’t mind one bit).

peace

Andy Budd said on September 27, 2004 7:29 PM

Josh: I ended up taking 8 rolls of slide film and 2 black and whites. This is down on my usual 16+ rolls of film for a 2 week holiday. However I attribute this to mostly using fuji velvia which requires the use of a tripod in all but the brightest light. As such I probably spent more time messing with my tripod than I did actually taking pictures. Still, I managed to finish 2 rolls of film at the great wall so I hope at least a couple will be good. I’ve put them in for developing but won’t get the slides back till the weekend, and the b/w film will take 2 weeks!

Malarkey: While I understand your frustration at being caught speeding, speed does kill. If it was only a small bit over the limit I’d probably feel a bit pissed off, but 10 or 20 miles over and It’s probably justified. The police in the UK have limited resources but I don’t think the “they should be out catching thieves” argument really stands. If all policemen were out catching “real criminals” lot’s of things that affect the general quality of life in this country would get ignored. I do think 3 speed traps is a bit much, but you never know, somebody may have been killed on that stretch of road recently and the police could be reacting to peoples concerns about road safety.

On the terror subject, I believe that there is a real threat of a terrorist attack on the UK. However my point was that we’ve been living under such a threat here for years. However the scale of the 9/11 attack has caused people to perceive the threat to be greater than it actually is. I’d agree that this is good for the media (gives them stories to report on) and good for the government (gives them the ability of pass bills that otherwise wouldn’t get passed) but I think it’s more a side effect they are capitalising on than a planned strategy.

Gabriel: True about the police state thing. I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition coming from a country that has a very bad reputation to one that supposedly has a good one. However the UK has got a lot more authoritarian over the last few years, ironically under what is supposed to be a “left wing” government. We no longer have the right to silence, genuine protesters are being harassed and detained under “anti terror” laws and foreign nationals can be detained indefinitely without charge or trail in the UK. Our government is forcing through ID cards, something they were against when they were in opposition, because they say it will help the “fight against terror”. However I believe that the States and Spain also have ID cards and a fat lot of good it did them. So yes, while the UK is a long way from being a police state, civil liberties are being eroded and rights that we once took for granted (we don’t have a constitution or a bill of rights in the UK) are slowly being removed.

Bryan: Peoples rights are definitely being threatened but if you’re white and middle class you probably don’t notice it. It’s people from minorities and those living in rough areas that take the brunt of it. In the UK there has been a 300% rise in the number of Asian people subjected to a stop and search under the new anti terrorism laws while black people are 4 times more likely to be stopped and searched than while people. Britain is well know for not having an armed police service, yet in 2003 the British police force had 5,776 armed policemen and want to see 1 in 10 police men (15,000) trained in the use of firearms. Places like Bristol and Manchester have seen armed foot patrols and I have to admit that it freaks me out a little when I see British policemen in Brighton walking around with machine guns.

Bryan said on September 27, 2004 9:02 PM

I understand your point Andy, and while my recent experiences in the UK resembled nothing of what you speak of (and yes, I am white/m.c.), I definitely cannot argue with the fact that foot patrols packing machine guns rolling through your hometown is paranoid overkill.

Malarkey - what part of 911, Bali, or Spain was a lie? Your comments, and particularly your conspiracy theories are as reckless as they are baseless. So these regimes designed these lies in an effort to obtain “carte blanche to inflict unspeakable horrors on the peoples of other nations”??? Wow, I’d really like to see you back that one up.

peace

Malarkey said on September 27, 2004 10:05 PM

Hi Bryan,

I wish that it was only my own beliefs that were ‘reckless’. I’ll carry on believing what I do, that the current ‘War on Terror’ is nothing more than a sham purportrated by criminal administrations.

You might want to read some of the books I have been reading recently.

Thierry Meyssan ~ 9/11: The Big Lie
Noam Chomsky ~ America’s Quest for Global Dominance
Gore Vidal ~ Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta
John Pilger ~ The New Rulers of the World

Have fun… ;)

PS: Andy, I didn’t get caught ‘cos I always drive well under the limit ;)

Bryan said on September 28, 2004 12:17 AM

LOL Mal What a shock that number one on your list is Meyssan. Like you, he wants to believe the U.S. is behind 9/11, and as such surrounds the reader with anything and everything that supports that line of thought.

Classic example, his missile theory for the Pentagon (instead of a plane) in which he quotes Mike Walter, a witness, as saying:

“It behaved like a cruise missile” in reference to the object that hit the Pentagon.

However, he conveniently trims down the full quote which reads:

“It went into a dive and hit a light pole. Shortly after that, it slammed into the Pentagon. The wings collapsed, I heard the explosion, and then I saw the fireball. The guy who was flying it knew what he was doing. It behaved like a cruise missile.”

And CNN’s report on the book:
“But photographs Meyssan left out, including some by CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, picture debris that clearly came from the hijacked plane.”

Classic - please, enlighten me more with your anti-American propaganda sources, and don’t let any facts get in the way while you’re doing it (it’s not nearly as entertaining if you do).

But I digress, Andy, looking forward to your Beijing photos.

peace

Malarkey said on September 28, 2004 12:44 AM

LOL. Not wanting to scuffle with you publically here Bryan ;) (and hijack Mr. Budd’s post…) I’ll suggest that we ‘agree to disagree’ like gentlemen.

Ho hum, come the revolution…

Bryan said on September 28, 2004 11:56 PM

Fine by me brother - disagreed.

But a revolution based on those claims and chop-shop journalism?? Gonna be a long “Ho hum”

peace