Britain: Repression in Wales after riots in England

September 17, 2011

The wave of riots in numerous English cities this August did not lead to widespread disruption anywhere in Wales.

Despite this, several people in Wales have been arrested for riot related offences, some of whom have been denied bail and handed highly disproportionate sentences.

These arrests are not a result of the limited disorder that happened in Cardiff on August 9, which briefly led the BBC to drop the term “England Riots” in favour of “UK Riots”.

They soon changed back, not doubt on the advice of nervous police who were keen to paint these as unconnected "isolated incidents"despite all evidence to the contrary.

So far, 15 people in Wales have been arrested for posting on social media, with two arrests in Llanelli, ardiff and Flintshire, one in Bangor plus eight people in Gwent.

So far only one of these has been handed a jail sentence ― four months for incitement ― a sentence branded "too lenient" by a Tory member of the Welsh national assembly. However, several more have been denied bail and held on remand for over a month, awaiting crown court.

This has happened in the context of four-year sentences being handed down in England for use of social media that led to no disorder.

The implications of these arrests and sentences are chilling and underline the often repeated lie that these riots were not political. It is clear that the authorities are at least as much concerned in punishing people for openly showing support for the riots as those who took part in them.

The offending Facebook post that got David Glyn Jones thrown in jail for four months was online only for 20 minutes, and offered up an opinion that a great many people might sympathise with: "I don't see why everyone's complaining about the rioters. Given the chance I'd love to smash up a police car, wouldn't you?"

The lack of widespread disorder in any of the Welsh cities has meant plenty of backslapping among youth workers, police and politicians.

Without local rioters to tackle, Welsh police forces sent large numbers of officers over to the riot zones. Welsh members of the British parliament (many disgraced by the expenses scandal) were quick to pack out a  recalled House of Commons to support the authoritarian crackdown.

Along with the activities of the police and the courts, others have faced disciplinary action at work for social media posts about the riots. 

One supermarket worker was sacked by Morrisons for a post that any of the followers of General Ludd  (who inspired the Luddites) could identify with: “If anyone is rioting in Rhyl tonight do me a favour and smash up the self-checkout services.”

It is possible that those who have been taken into custody due to the riots could have avoided jail time if they had better legal advice. Given the current climate it is advisable that anyone facing the potential for possible arrest would do well to familiarise themselves with “No Comment ― the defendant's guide to arrest published by the Legal Defence and Monitoring Group.

While liberals seek to “understand” the riots and dissidents seek out what revolutionary potential exist, the prevailing political establishment has written off all the events that followed the killing of Mark Duggan by police as “sheer criminality”.

This unwillingness to engage with the root causes of the disturbances may well end up being the state's undoing.

The way politicians and bankers so blatantly cashed in on their positions while forcing everyone else to pick up the bill, coupled with a police force that flaunts its ability to kill with impunity, has all but destroyed the idea that justice could exist in such a corrupt country.

As faith in the political process has virtually disappeared from working class communities, it falls to radicals to come up with an alternative to this failed society. If we don't, others will.

One month on, with police from Welsh forces still in London and the prison population it at an all-time high, the state has presented it's credentials for repression.

There is no doubt that David Glyn Jones' jailing, like that of many others across Britain, is a political act, and it seems likely there will be many more to come.

[Reprinted from .]

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