In a demonstration of increased surveillance on protest groups in Britain, police arrested 114 people for alleged conspiracy to commit criminal damage and aggravated trespass at a coal-fired power plant.
Huh? What kind of protest involves 114 people “conspiring” to enter and vandalize a power plant? Sounds like a few dozen were involved in logistics, and the rest had volunteered to go along for the ride. Does their willingness to participate really constitute conspiratory thought?
It’s unclear what action was planned, but previous non-violent protests against coal-fired plants in England have resulted in minimal damage. If these activists were planning something more severe (like actually disabling the plant or destroying equipment with explosives), you’d think the charges would be more severe.
What if one of these 114 people decided to back out at the last minute from their volunteer role in the protest? This broad-based arrest policy, where anyone who is even remotely involved in an action is a target, is heavy-handed and brutish.
The arrests come a month after the Guardian exposed a police activist spying program which has collected data on non-violent protest groups for the past seven years.
Photo Credit: waddie on Flickr under Creative Commons license.