Most of us may consider our monarchy to be 'symbolic' rather than having real power - but what are they symbols of? In the run up to the royal wedding this Friday it's clear that it will be a grandiose occasion, a display of wealth and status by the establishment. If you examine the plans for policing the event, it becomes evident that police are still primarily defenders of the state - not defenders of the people.
While headlines have persistently been fed to the press concerning 'anarchist' activities planned around the wedding, they aren't backed by legitimate anarchist groups. Freedom Press argues that media provocateur and 'eccentric academic' Chris Knight has been making spurious claims to the press which do not reflect actual anarchist activity.
The Met admit that there is no specific terror threat to the Royal Wedding - and yet the shadow of this nonexistent threat lends validity to the pre-emptive arrests taking place, and the decision to ban 68 people (including student protestors from the TUC march last month and the November protests) from large areas of central London on the day of the wedding.
Regardless of whether there is any evidence of these individuals planning to disrupt the wedding, police are using it as an excuse to detain 'known troublemakers'. Given that Alfie Meadows, the student who was rushed to hospital for brain surgery after being batoned by police in November has just been charged with 'violent disorder', one has to wonder whether these 'known troublemakers' ever had violent intentions, or simply found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A police source said: "The same faces often reappear at different protests and we will try and take a pre-emptive strike against them." (Source)
The police should be ashamed of banning dozens of people from the Capital based on alleged claims which have not been proved in court; curtailing people's freedom of movement without trial. These practices have a sour taste of prejudice: "we don't want your type here". In many cases these people have done nothing more sinister than care about politics and try to make their voices heard.
Westminster Abbey falls within a designated area outlined by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 where police can ban static protests. Other areas involved in the wedding - such as The Mall, Clarence House and the Goring Hotel, where Kate Middleton will stay the night before the wedding - have been made 'sterile areas' by the police and no protests will be allowed there.
A 'sterile area' is a zone into which public access is forbidden, over which police exercise absolute, and often violent, control.
The Met has said that any protests taking place near Westminster on Friday will be met with 'robust' policing (BBC), and has already turned down applications by Muslims Against Crusades and actions focussed around issues in the Middle East. But what about protests held in a spirit of love and tolerance, such as the Equal Marriage demonstration organised by Peter Tatchell? Can they expect 'robust policing' too?
Many tabloids have run a story saying that armed police officers have been briefed to 'shoot to kill' and that a 'zero tolerance approach' will be taken to unruliness. The claim that army snipers will be deployed on rooftops seems to have originated from the BBC.
The legislation that empowers police to ban protests and make arrests was intended to combat terrorism. Without any evidence of a terror threat, it will be used indiscriminately this Friday against republicans, anarchists, activists and anyone else who makes the police uncomfortable. Terrorism is used as a smokescreen, while police curtail the freedom of the public for the convenience of the monarchy.