British Police Join Protesters in Anti-Austerity March
London witnessed some of the most intense and disruptive riots in recent history last summer. Over the course of a few days, hundreds of people took to the streets, looting buildings, running through the streets, and even setting some structures on fire in the Tottenham neighborhood. The riots spread to other neighborhoods, such as Enfield, and even into other cities, such as Birmingham.
All of the disruption is often connected to the shooting of a Tottenham man, Mark Duggan, who was killed by police forces. This occurrence set a tense tone between the police forces attempting to stop the rioting and the rioters themselves. At least 200 people were arrested and rumors of police brutality bubbled to the surface over the course of these tense rioting days. Some of the rioting has been connected to the closure of community centers and resources in an attempt to implement austerity measures over the last couple of years since PM David Cameron took control of the government.
Now British police officers have joined together on the streets of London to protest government austerity measures put in place by David Cameron. Reuters has reported that prison officers, immigration officials and police officers, ranging between estimates of 100,000 to 400,000, flooded the streets on Thursday to protest the deep cuts on spending for police forces. While officials argue that the number of protesters was minimal, organizers stand firm that closer to 400,000 workers congregated to strike.
This show of solidarity illustrates how deeply austerity measures have caused rifts between the current government and public sector workers. As Reuters states:
“The sight of some 20,000 police officers in black caps marching through London will be particularly embarrassing for Cameron, whose centre-right Conservatives pride themselves on being the party of law and order.
Deep cuts to police budgets and a government-commissioned report that recommended allowing officers to be sacked, pay reductions for some and raising the pension age, have all caused disquiet.”
Cameron’s government did not fair well in local elections last week, illustrating the general discontentment with the wide range of austerity measures that have been put in place over the last few years. Unrest has been bubbling across the European Union as populations have tired of austerity measures which have crippled growth and hurt public sector workers.
France voted Socialist leader François Hollande into presidential office this past weekend, a candidate who promised to ease austerity measures. Greek populations have also been up in arms against the severity of austerity measures in the face of looming debt issues.
The march of public sector workers came on the heels of an announcement on Wednesday that the British government would overhaul public pensions. The Olympic Games are set to start on July 27 in London this summer. Strike organizers have hinted that there will be more actions this coming June and July in response to the government’s crackdown on spending, according to the Daily Star. It remains to be seen how Cameron’s team will handle the unrest of the men and women who are meant to maintain the peace during such monumental ceremonies.
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