London: police take down anti-war camp

How do they keep a straight face when they tell us we’re fighting for freedom in Iraq? From Reuters, May 24:

LONDON: Police yesterday dismantled a long-running anti-war protest opposite the Houses of Parliament, carting away placards showing graphic images of dead and mutilated people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a pre-dawn raid, officers invaded the makeshift camp of protester Brian Haw, who had been living on the lawn in Parliament Square for more than five years.

Haw, 56, lost a protracted legal battle earlier this month against new laws strictly limiting protests within a 1km zone of the square.

After removal of his placards Haw was left with just one poster but remained defiant and said he would stay where he was.

“This is Mr Blair’s Britain,” he said. “You dare to speak, you dare to say it too real, too powerfully, to get through to people, and they smash it all down.”

Haw first sat down in the square in 2001 to protest sanctions against Iraq and over time had constructed a graphic and gory display railing against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against human rights violations around the world.

Over the past-half decade, the protest has established itself as part of the landscape along with Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, creating an object of interest for some, but an annoyance for others.

London police said they took down placards because Haw had failed to comply with the new laws even after being asked to do so a number of times.

“Police attended Parliament Square and removed placards from a demonstration site as per conditions imposed on demonstrations by the Metropolitan Police Service,” Scotland Yard said in a statement.

Passers-by had mixed views.

“British soldiers are supposed to be fighting for democracy, and that includes freedom of speech,” said one.

Others felt Haw had a point but had gone too far.

“He has a right to protest, but he shouldn’t be able to deface a whole square,” said Jane Miller, a tourist from Houston, Texas.

Haw himself recognises his critics, saying, “I might not like what they say, what they call me, but I am thankful they can. That’s called freedom.”

He plans to continue. “I’m carrying on, and I’m fasting and praying,” he said. “I’m against all forms of violence – it just doesn’t work.”

See our last post on tyranny in the UK.