Civil liberties being eroded, over 130 arrests near Olympic venues, but Mayor says nothing
The London Green Party have urged Boris Johnson to break his silence over the arrest of 182 cyclists in east London during the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday evening. Despite being one of the biggest mass arrests for years, the Mayor of London has still made no comment about it. The Greens say it raises vital questions over freedom to protest, police priorities and the right of Londoners to move around their own city.
Jenny Jones, Green London Assembly Member says:
“The treatment of Critical Mass cyclists seems to have been out of all proportion to common sense. Of course everyone understands concerns of a possible terrorist attack, but the Met can’t just suspend all civil liberties for the next month. To restore trust in the police should be a priority, not alienating even more of Londoners.”
The arrests took place during the Critical Mass cycle ride, a monthly event to celebrate cycling. Police have still to explain why they used Section 12 of the Public Order Act to prevent participants from cycling north over Waterloo Bridge. Several hundred cycled over other bridges, of whom a number defied restrictions to cycle near Olympic venues in Stratford. Video footage from the evening appears to show heavy-handed policing, including the use of pepper spray.
Noel Lynch, Co-ordinator of the London Federation of Green Parties and a former member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said:
“The splendid Olympic opening ceremony rightly celebrated British traditions of freedom and democracy. But while the opening ceremony applauded the suffragettes, peaceful protesters outside were being dragged from their bikes. While Olympian cyclists prepared for Saturday’s road race, hundreds of Londoners were stopped from cycling in their own city. Londoners want to enjoy the Olympics, not be scared to move around London. The Critical Mass cycle ride is a monthly event that usually passes peacefully and without incident. Why did the police react like this? Boris Johnson has urgent questions to answer.”
- The London Federation of Green Parties unites twenty-six local Green Parties in the London area. It is part of the Green Party of England and Wales.
- The Green Party is now London’s third party, having come ahead of the Liberal Democrats in the Mayoral and Assembly elections in May 2012.
- The Metropolitan Police informed the BBC yesterday (29 July) that the number of arrests on Friday evening was 182. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19036212. Earlier reports had estimated around 100.