We need to take the bloodied noses arm in arm with others

The violence against Pussy Riot for their protests in Sochi isn’t a PR disaster for Russia, it is a human rights disaster for the world.

I work in PR (the good kind, not the flogging cheese to household magazines kind) and I know that a real PR disaster is something superficial, something that will be forgotten as soon as the bins are next emptied. Clever media handling will mean that journalists get bored because there isn’t a Pulitzer headline available and your reputation will suffer only minor bruising as those who were ideologically with you before the PR disaster will remain with you, and those who weren’t will continue to stay away – the status quo will resume.

Anything beyond that is an actual disaster where only truth and honesty will suffice.

Can you imagine what the police force who will brutally whip people in the street, in front of the world’s media, will do once they have carted people off to a cell?

You think we have it bad in a country where the police can allegedly pull a disabled man out of his wheelchair, and while he is on the way down hit him with a truncheon, and then be cleared of all wrongdoing because it was in the interests of the safety of the wheel chair user and the truncheon incident was inadvertent anyway, or where an officer can push over a man causing his death only for the criminal justice system to find him not guilty of manslaughter. And just look at Boris and the Met now, asking for water cannons because it’s too much effort seemingly to police the streets efficiently without showing unjust prejudice to sections of the community.

I’ve got to confess to being mainly a pen wielding protester, though I have taken part in protests on a range of issues including top-up-fees and the Iraq war. I have debated in Parliament with Boris himself, and other politicians, and so I certainly wouldn’t call myself a slacktavist – but I don’t do more on the streets because quite frankly I am terrified of a police force that I consider to be unjust.

I have a professional job that relies on me not having a criminal record and I simply do not trust the police not to be heavy-handed in their dealings with me. Subsequently I do not trust them not to falsely arrest me – after all they’re fine with putting hundreds of people in kettles with no water or toilet facilities, so what would be the harm in arresting me.

Myself, and those like me, have long passed believing that if someone is arrested that they’ve done something wrong but the police seem to have no strategy for rebuilding that trust and so are swinging to the right and asking for weaponry. This approach severely takes away from the hard work of those police officers who do their best for the community.

Now if I am that scared of the police in Britain, then imagine if I was a gay man in Russia who opposed the Government…

We’ve got to stand with the protesters because they are the only ones who can provide real life testimony of what happens behind closed doors and we’ve got to support them in forcing Government’s around the world to open their eyes.

We tend to forget about the worlds troubles once we close our doors at night, but we shouldn’t. We need to agitate and we need to be the person who makes others remember the inequality others face.

We need to stand arm in arm with others to make sure that when they’re kicked in the face that we too get a bloodied nose, and we need to all stand up again together and wipe our faces clean for the next blow.

No one should be made to feel afraid to protest injustice, and equally no one should be apathetic towards protesting injustice.

In the end, and with positive engagement of others, we may live in a world without behind closed doors beatings and intimidation – but until we stand together be careful because you never know what they may decide is ‘wrong’ next.

To end:

First They Came – Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me


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