Water Cannon A Weapon of Class Warfare

Some headlines I have to read twice to make sure my screen-weary eyes aren’t playing tricks on me.

Headlines like: Police to ask home secretary to approve use of water cannon across country.
water cannon
I stop. I stare. I read the sub-head: “Police chiefs say water cannon are needed because ‘austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest’.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has requested that secretary of state Theresa May authorise the use water cannon – which fire water at a volume and velocity capable of causing serious injury and death – because, “it would be fair to assume that the ongoing and potential future austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest”.

Holy mother of god. The police, vocally supported by Boris Johnson, have just explicitly declared class war. Who do you think is going to protest austerity measures? Not the wealthy, or the comfortable middle classes, much less the privileged elite that includes Boris Johnson (who aims to have water cannon operational in London this summer).

This is not a public order issue. It is about legitimising violent oppression. The Tory/police/fascist power structure wants to ensure it can efficiently and brutally dispense with any citizen who dares to question the government’s vicious, divisive policies.

The Home Office, which is supporting ACPO in this breath-taking assault on democracy added: “We are keen to ensure forces have the tools and powers they need to maintain order on our streets”.

What sort of disorder has the police all in a fret? The primary argument they offer to support their plea for the cannon is that they could have been used during the 2011 riots. Which, you recall, were triggered by the police shooting an unarmed man. Here’s an idea, ACPO. Stop murdering people. You’ll start fewer riots that way and save yourselves a load of dosh.

Speaking of money, it is in the finest tradition of British irony that BoJo and his fascist police pals plan to spend up to £6 million on water cannon to enforce austerity measures. Better still, they’re arranging a quick purchase of second-hand cannon from Germany because it would take too long to get purpose-built ones. Brilliant. Nothing like getting the goods from a state that knows a few things about violence against its own citizens.

You may be thinking: “I don’t want to protest. Why should I care?” Well, ask yourself these questions:

+Why is a supposed democracy buying lethal weapons to deploy against its own citizens?
+Why do Tories think deadly force is an appropriate response to legitimate protest?
+What happens if we give the police quasi-military weapons and powers?
+Is Britain really so divided its citizens believe that “they” need to be restrained by violence?
+Are Britons so apathetic they honestly believe this won’t affect them?

You may think you live on the “right” side of the law. But if you consent to a country where police are able to deploy deadly weapons against unarmed citizens you will reap the whirlwind. No totalitarian state begins with death camps. They start by curtailing freedom of press, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. They don’t take on the whole nation at once; just the outcasts, the outsiders, the troublemakers. At first it isn’t oppression, it is just keeping order. But, one day, by accident or design, you will fall afoul of some rule you may not even understand. If not you, your lover, your child, your friend, or your colleague. And the tyranny you tolerated will hit you like the blast from a water cannon.

Remember the words of German pastor Martin Neimoller:

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

SPEAK UP NOW. Sign the petition to STOP water cannon.

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