: Yes and no. If the police start the riot, there's a decent chance that this will be publicized and prosecuted.
Not in my experience. For the last 15 years at least, there has never been a prosecution for police brutality during a demonstration; during the same period there have been over 300 life-threatening injuries (mainly fractured skulls) sustained by protestors. As far as the UK Government is concerned, if you get injured during a protest, it's your fault for being there.
The woman who was run over on June the 18th was later arrested - in hospital - on charges of conspiracy to commit criminal damage; despite having a broken femur.
: Even if that doesn't happen, why sink to the level of violent police?
Because you are committing a crime merely by raising your arm to ward off the blow of a riot baton; 'resisting arrest', 'obstructing a police officer in the course of his duty' and 'violent disorder'. Given that people are going to be arrested for anything other than letting your head be smashed open, most people figure that their chances of survival are better if they don't just stand there and let themselves be hit.
: : When it comes down to it, riot police are so heavily armed that they can start a fight with comparative impunity.
: So why attack them first?
We *don't*. There may be cheering and lewd remarks made; but the first action is normally a police charge - most of what get reported as "mob charges" in the paper are in fact just due to the pressure of people behind you in the crush trying to get some personal space.
: : On June the 18th 1999, the police were wandering around on an all-day power trip; they were trying to confine the protestors to a ridiculously small area (and you know how people behave when they feel hemmed in).
: Fuck da police! What's wrong is wrong, despite a badge.
With a badge, you can get away with it. When the police shot a Haringey man dead this summer (because he was carrying a wrapped-up chair leg which they thought was a gun), there was no disciplinary action against the trigger-happy cops who shot him; even though he was committing no threatening behaviour.
: Use the civil authorities to prosecute them. Again, the alternative is fighting the police and getting killed.
Fighting the police in the courts?
The only place you can lodge a complaint about the police is the Police Complaints Commission (PCC). The PCC investigate the claim and decide whether there is a fair claim to investigate.
Who run the PCC? - why, the police run the PCC. There is no independent watchdog overseeing the police in the UK.
: I know, it sucks, but it's still the best way to go.
- or would be, if there was even a remote chance of justice being done; unfortunately, the cops have every avenue pretty much sewn up. They aren't stupid.
: Seems that way, though luckily they didn't break heads a la Chicago 1968.
Thankfully, guns aren't widespread in the UK police forces yet; although they are increasing.
It's also worth considering that the UK police arrested 38 people out of 1000 in London yesterday. The Seattle police arrested 22 people out of ~50,000. What does that tell you about the UK police's actions?
: Did the police force the protesters to lie in the streets?
No. The government's policies did that; and the government's orders also told the police to use force against the protestors.
: When confronted with state violence, you can either take the nonviolent approach, as did Martin Luther King, and let the world see exactly who the real oppressors and victims are, or you can fight them head on and lose, yet still be considered the aggressor, as Malcolm X often was.
Which would be fine and dandy, but the police pretty much corner the media market; certainly the mainstream media. If you notice, most comments on yesterday's events were made by members of the police forces.
If the police control the media, as they do on most occasions, then the protest is going to be portrayed as extreme whatever happens. On previous occasions, like the 9/10/94 event I was at, the police actively targeted people with cameras for attack; official observers wearing dayglo bibs had their cameras confiscated or broken by riot police.
In the aftermath of June the 18th 1999, the police went to court to try and force photographers from the mass media to give their film to the police to aid the police in arresting rioters. Fortunately, the court overruled them, saying that the freedom of the press was more important than the police operation; and that if the media photographers were known to give evidence to police, their safety at future demonstartions would be in jeopardy.
: I'm not saying that armed resistance is never necessary, but nonviolence is the better path almost every time.
How do you define 'nonviolence'? Damage to property is not violence against people; yet it got portrayed as violence on June the 18th.
If defending yourself against violence is violent and illegal, then only the dead are free and legal.