By Gemma Galdon Clavell
I have written extensively about the growing confusion between Homeland Security and community safety, and outside and inside enemies, both in Englishand in Spanish. I feel that the current lack of interest in defining where the limits of government action are is dangerous and undermines some of the basic principles we say to be defending against outside threats.
‘Terrorism’ is becoming a token word used increasingly to deny fundamental rights and justify grey areas in our legal systems. But if the use of counter terrorism money to fund an extensive CCTV system in a Muslim neighborhood in Birmingham (UK) a few months ago left me speechless, confirming how treating innocent citizens as suspects is a spreading reality, the letter sent by the Counter Terrorism Command of New Scotland Yard to most universities in London confirms that lawful, peaceful protest is now seen as a threat to national security.
This was covered by The Guardian a couple of weeks ago, but here is the e-mail:
Hi all,Happy New Year to you all.
As the student population is returning to “work”, we anticipate a renewed vigour in protests and demonstrations. The picture is currently building and we are monitoring the situation.
I know it’s early days and we are awaiting more information, but it may be worth considering contingency plans for possible occupation attempts on the 18th/19th January by the staff / student bodies at the University colleges across London.
It appears that the finance departments may be targeted in protests to the cuts in funding & closure of some University departments as well as the Student tuition fees.
There are further possible dates of protests planned for the 22nd , 26th, 29th January and of course this is a developing picture and we will advise you as and when we get more information.
I would be grateful if in your capacity at your various colleges that should you pick up any relevant information that would be helpful to all of us to anticipate possible demonstrations or occupations, please forward it onto me so that I can update everyone and equally feed this to our Public Order Branch should a policing requirement emerge.
xxxx xxxxxxxx – Police Constable
SO15 – Counter Terrorism Command – Prevent
Now, if the CTC’s ‘overriding priority’ is ‘to keep the public safe and do all it can to ensure that London remains a hostile environment for terrorists‘, why are its members monitoring student protests against tuition fees? Who is not a terrorist these days? Does this expanding ‘state of exception’ ever end?