The other day I waxed lyrical in RAB’s thread about the Bristol unpleasantness on how this seemed to be an English phenomenon that we didn’t tend to get up here, and that it was probably down to more sensible policing. Looks like I may have spoken too soon.
A senior policeman said an unofficial Royal Wedding street party which ended in 22 arrests had ‘brought shame’ on Scotland.
Thousands of people descended on Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park for the event which was organised on Facebook.
The evening ended with 22 people being arrested and 11 police officers injured as violent scenes broke out after music was turned off.
My point in that comment was that while some of us may have a reputation for violence, and while Glasgow has historically been notorious for gang warfare and one of the most bitter football rivalries in the world, we didn’t have the sort of police who barge in to a peaceful event and cause havoc. Yet by many accounts that seems to be what happened on Friday, barely ten minutes’ walk from where I’m sitting. I can’t help thinking, though, that for all the Police’s diminished reputation, this is unusual and Chief Constable House may be correct in his insistance that it was a few louts intent on trouble rather than heavy-handed policing. There were, apparently, 14,000 people there, 22 arrests, and only three have been charged so far.
MInd you, this looks suspicious:
Glasgow City Council had urged people not to attend what it described as an ‘unsafe and unofficial’ party.
Hmm. As I said, on balance I’d still trust the Strathclyde police on something like this more than I would many other forces, but after certain other recent events I’m not so sure about the Cooncil.
This isn’t turning out to be much of a post. I felt I had to say something since it happened so close to where I live, but it’s really hard to say without having been there, and the funny thing is, apart from the Police helicopter being up from morning till late afternoon, which is unusual, I didn’t have any inkling of anything being amiss until I read about it the next day. I didn’t even know anything had been happening at all until I saw a fairly large number of people heading up my street in the opposite direction to the park late in the afternoon. They all seemed peaceful and just the sort of folk you’d expect to go to a Royal Wedding street party. No blood, and nobody who looked like they’d set out to have a bit of a barney.
Something’s definitely fishy, but I’m not sure what.
Update: Okay, you know what? Scratch all that. Well, most of it. (I’ll leave it up because I’m not the BBC.) I’m beginning to build up a better picture of this, and I’d say the balance of blame definitely lies on the “organizers”. I’ve put that in quotes because, frankly, they barely organised anything. Asking several thousand people just to turn up on Council property (like it or not, it is) without issuing tickets or having any form of security beyond simply expecting the Police to take care of it isn’t organizing. This is Glasgow. Kelvingrove might be in the “leafy West End” (the mandatory Homerian epithet), but the West End borders Ruchill on the north - “Europe’s car crime capital” - and plenty other less savoury districts are within walking distance. It was a punch-up waiting to happen, frankly. The Police were in an impossible situation. Do nothing, and watch as the inevitable fighting broke out among the revellers, or go in mob-handed and make things even worse. The Council’s attitude was pathetic. It owns most of the open spaces in the City, yet had organized nothing itself, and here were some enterprising, if naive, young blokes ready and eager to set something up. It should have worked with them instead of urging people not to go. If there’s anything of my original suspicion of fishiness I stand by, it’s the Council’s inaction. “See what happens when you go off and do something by yourselves?”