Magazine article New Internationalist

Brute Forces: A Year of Rough Injustice

Magazine article New Internationalist

Brute Forces: A Year of Rough Injustice

Article excerpt



It's been a bumper year for police brutality. We've seen women mauled by security forces in Egypt, journalists roughed up at the 15M demonstrations in Spain, and teargas canisters tired directly at protesters in Malaysia, to name but a few incidents.

'There's no question that it's part of a global pattern,' says Hannah Dee, spokesperson for Defend the Right to Protest. 'Around the world we're seeing growing movements of resistance and discontent against governments which are trying to impose unprecedented authoritarian measures and are resorting to force because they don't have the consent of their populations.'

The Occupy Movement in the US has provided some particularly disturbing examples of police savagery, not least the image from Occupy Seattle of 84-year-old Dorli Rainey being steadied by fellow protesters, her face dripping with milk used to counteract the effects of the pepper spray that officers had directed at her moments earlier. And suddenly people are sitting up and taking notice because the protesters being sprayed, beaten and dragged around by their hair are whiteskinned and middle-class.

'The treatment of young white people at Occupy opened people's eyes to something that many people with dark skin have known about all along,' says Jill Nelson, co-editor of Police Brutality. 'Suddenly it wasn't just racial, you couldn't just say "well, they're black so they must have done something wrong".'

But still a disproportionate number of people on the receiving end of police violence are from ethnic minorities. …

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