Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Towards incompetence

With the media of indifferent quality, often misleading and very often plain wrong, it is necessary to go elsewhere for one's information, and then piece together disparate fragments in an attempt to divine the truth (or its nearest approximation).

On the Bristol riot, one valuable source is this one, a blog from the photographer Jonathan Taphouse, who produced many of the high quality photographs of the event.

His narrative very much lends credence to the "cock-up" version of events. What comes over is that police really did not know what they were doing, were blundering into situations over which they had no control, and made multiple tactical errors.

Armed with this narrative, one can revisit the video which I have posted above, where one sees the police convoy, drive into the frame, in a very dramatic fashion. This is after one pm on the Friday morning, but they then drive past the Tesco store and the stranded police vehicle and trailer, making no attempt to protect it. Having provoked the disorder in the first place, they are pulling out.

Listen to the sound track, 25 seconds in. You hear one of the voices ask: "where the f**k are they going?" Where indeed? Only once they have driven past the Tesco store and disappeared out of shot do people realise that it is unprotected and gravitate to that point.

The police are now out of shot, nowhere to be seen. This is a point appreciated by those watching, from the amused commentary on the video. Only then does the violence against the shop and the police vehicle start. And this is the key moment. Conspiracy? Taphouse seems to indicate police incompetence. That is not difficult to believe, as we get from here:
... please step forward Superintendent Ian Wylie, the architect of Thursday night's "Operation Squatsmasher" or the "Battle of Bristol" as all the whole of the attendant national media now like to call his operation.

Wylie, in his wisdom, decided that the best way to set about arresting four harmless locals living in a squat on Cheltenham Road was to send 160 fully tooled-up riot cops, many from Wales and Wiltshire, into the most politically sensitive location in Bristol on the hottest evening of the year just before pub closing time.

To add to the sense of deranged charade, as Wylie's overarmed, poorly briefed and highly aggressive troops hit the streets of the Stokes Croft area, he blithely told the Evening Post he "had decided to go down [to Stokes Croft] to resolve the issue".

And his resolution? Er, one trashed Tesco and eight of his men injured! And yes, that's the very Tesco store that a huge amount of police resources have gone into protecting over the last week or so and yes, they're injured men that Wylie has a duty of care for. The term "disaster" doesn’t even begin to do justice to Wylie's gung-ho and self-defeating conduct. This is ignorance and stupidity on the grand scale.
One has to admit that the combination of police and media incompetence is formidable, but with reports like this, we are getting there. Bristol Blogger adds:
Who seriously believes you can send a tooled-up force of 160 – clearly with orders to use force indiscriminately when told – into a community and not get a reaction out of that community? Either Wylie is a retard who is unable to think coherently and in logical steps or the Avon & Somerset had quite deliberately decided to go to war with the population of this city. If it's war they wanted, well, they certainly got one on Thursday evening in Stokes Croft.
Oddly, we are told, since gobbing off to the Post on Thursday evening, Wylie has gone to ground and has not been heard of since. The question is whether he has been placed in some sort of a secure unit with a copy of "Public Order Policing for Dummies" to read. That, of course, presupposes that the man's reading skills are sufficiently well-developed.