Posted 11 years ago on Sept. 17, 2011, 12:02 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt (1) from Plainfield, NJ
The word “kettle” conjures the terribly English image of a nice, calming cup of tea. In fact, it’s a deeply traumatic form of collective punishment. Imagine: you came out with your friends to exercise your right to peaceful protest, but you find yourself trapped behind walls of armed police. The cops move forward in waves, bellowing in your face, raising their batons, crushing you into a smaller and smaller space with thousands of others. You can’t breathe or move; you start to panic. Young protesters, terrified and enraged, begin to throw themselves at the police, which is precisely what the police are waiting for.
They start to beat into the crowd with shields and sticks. You are surrounded by screaming, bloodied teenagers, and you try to protect yourself, but there’s nowhere to go. At first, you are incensed, appalled, but then the cold sets in, and you realize that until everyone calms down and shuts the fuck up, you’re not going to be allowed to escape. There’s a lesson about compliance that the police are extremely keen for you to learn.
After a few hours, you’re freezing and tired and hungry, and you’ve seen some frightening things. You need the toilet desperately. You’re prepared to say anything to get out, to get home. Your phone has run out of battery, so you’re cut off from the outside world, and you’re worried about your friends, your family. When you do eventually stumble through the police lines, your legs like blocks of cold wood, exhausted and seething with bitten-back rage, the policeman insists on taking your name and photograph before you can go. When you get home, you find the news reporting that the police took reasonable measures to control a violent riot.
Kettling is a perfect psychological metaphor for the tensions being played out in Britain today. It seals off dissidents and enforces compliance by beating them back if they try to break through, provoking panicked protesters into self-defense, showing the outside world a picture of a “violent minority” – the phrase is consistently used by the British press – making trouble, a picture taken from outside the police lines. It’s what activist journalist Dan Hancox calls “strategic brutality and unabashed doublethink.” It’s the cognitive dissonance that allowed the London Metropolitan police to crush thousands of people in treacherous subzero temperatures on Westminster Bridge in December while claiming that it was all for their own protection.
The antidote for kettling is to "infect" the "sterile" area. Other activists should flood the area, so that the kettled activists just become one half of a massive crowd. The police are forced to pull out instead of getting pinned in the middle. IF KETTLING IS EMPLOYED TOMORROW, WE SHOULD USE THE HASHTAG #S17KETTLE to tell where it is. Anyone who sees a kettle irl on on twitter should spread the word and head over there with as many people as possible.
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