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FLASHPOINT: How the riot police and water cannon were deployed

category dublin | summit mobilisations | news report author Sunday May 02, 2004 04:59author by tired Report this post to the editors

This is the real story of the noise demo march today, as refereced by the media and the reality on the ground.

ok, so here it is.

the video clip shows the simultaneous deployment of the full riot police with body length shields and the water cannon.

these were deployed at the same time.

they were deployed because the march refused to turn around and march back the 1.5 hrs into town when confronted by a line of yellow fluoro police.

after several minutes pause (10?) the crowd of a couple of thousand slowly moved towards the police who had blocked the path of the march.

after another few minutes a group tried to steadily push through the police lines,

the police line moved a couple of feet and the reactions was instant.

(nb a couple of plastic bottles were thrown along with a few placcards at this point)

around 70 riot police in full gear ran out from behind a wall and took up postition behind the yellow police. then a few seconds later another detachment of full riot gear policewith full body length riot shields ran out to form a second line, followed by a few police vehicles and the deployment of the first water cannon.

(this is what the video clip shows)

from here there was a few seconds as the yellow jacket cops retreated in a practised manouvre and were replaced by the full riot gear cops, and then another maybe 30 secs before the water cannon moved forward and openned up on the crowd with all its force.

things got a bit more heated here and in the next few minutes there were some injuries as the riot police advanced a few feet, lashing out, and a few protesters threw some stones from the surrounding gardens.

so this was the story of the flashpoint...

i know in the uk the acpo guidelines strictly govern the rules of engagement for each level of escalating force, but here what was seen was an instant transition from softly softly, to everything that was available save live ammunition.

serious questions must be asked about the proportionate nature of this episode, but given the hype of the media and state over the last month or so, I doubt whether this will be given serious consideration.

it'd be worth speaking to the corporate media who got caught out by the speed of the response, people who have been used to covering the much much larger and more full on anti-globalisation protests of recent years, experienced frontline journos who know how public order situations work, and who were caught out earlier today and pretty amazed at the instant escalation of the situation by the police.

anyway, much more will be written about this, all i can say is that not one window was smashed (and it was not for the lack of opportunity offered). And I also think the protesters showed a high level of discipline, solidarity and bravery in the face of what has been an enormous campaign of criminalisation.

whatever the mainstream tv and press report, I say well done!

video riot police / water cannon deployment 0.83 Mb

author by They'd love to knowpublication date Sun May 02, 2004 11:16Report this post to the editors

and well done to indymedia. it kept the world well informed with up to the minute reports and photos. Good work all round, everyone played their part in standing up for our right to protest, but we were facing a much stronger and better equiped opponent and we were never goint to get into Farmleigh, but the effort had to be made

author by Sean Cpublication date Sun May 02, 2004 13:05Report this post to the editors

> (nb a couple of plastic bottles were thrown along with a few placcards at this point)

this is assault, you know. I did see at least one plastic bottle filled with dirt or stones, which is quite a serious weapon. And exactly what the coppers were waiting for.

At which point do you feel that the unarmed and unarmoured police should move back and the riot-police move forward? What do the guidelines say?

So much for peaceful protest.
sean c.

author by drumkitpublication date Sun May 02, 2004 16:04Report this post to the editors

That's a samba shaker you're talking about, not a serious weapon. It's used like maracas. Though of course could be thrown, but so could that bongo over there (ooh nasty) and for that matter, that video camera could do some damage if flung at full tilt.

Re the riot police thing, I think the poster was saying that there is usualy a much longer amount of time before riot police are deployed, and here it was instantaneous and at the same time as the water cannon, which went at it within like one minute.

So there was no incremental increase in the police response, just on / off or min / max kind of thing.

author by markpublication date Sun May 02, 2004 16:25author email neonpictures at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

i was filming on the wall beside you (with glasses & dark hair). Glad to see your ok. mayb we could exchange footage?

author by Birds Eye View.publication date Sun May 02, 2004 16:43Report this post to the editors

"rules of engagement for each level of escalating force, but here what was seen was an instant transition from softly softly, to everything that was available save live ammunition.

serious questions must be asked about the proportionate nature of this episode"

Folks you got sprayed with water,no even at full whack.Great move i thought,there's not much fun in protesting when you are soaked to the skin and it's getting dark and cold.You didn't get batton charged,shoved by a few shields that's all.The public order unit only arrived after the first uniform Garda was injured.Not to mention you were blocking a major artery into the city and resident's into their homes.You hardly expected to be let stay there all night now.Don't be overreacting now lads.

author by protestorpublication date Wed May 12, 2004 01:37Report this post to the editors

and seeing the vid....

what hte hell did they need wwater cannon for... and why use water cannon so weakly.. but then ill talk water cannon any day over a batton charge

author by thomasin - human/animalpublication date Thu May 13, 2004 16:47author address earthReport this post to the editors

go through them,
go over them,
go under them,


author by reviewerpublication date Fri May 21, 2004 21:12Report this post to the editors

it seems to me (having watched a few feet of footage) that the prime use for the water connon was to soak the streets to prevent a mass sit-down(at least after the first minute or so).

The proceedure seemed to run thusly:

Fire long bursts about 100 meters ahead of the line, moving from side to side and slowly back towards the line, target those sitting or standing directly in front of the riot police with direct jets then change to a wide spray pattern to clear the space directly in front of the cannon. Riot cops then move to the front of the cannon and begin moving forwards using shields and occassional batons on anyone left. When the crowd becomes too dense to move through or people have begun sitting down again the proceedure gets repeated (ad infinitum). In this manner people could be kept moving, there was nowhere to sit for more than a few moments without freezing and the cannons could be moved in and out of the line for refilling as necessary.

That said, there were a few instances where the use differed, eg washing the reporters off the wall and spraying the more determined in the face or the back of the head and knocking them over (and they didn't always use half power either).

The secret might be to bring rain gear next time out....

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