Like many people, I was shocked and appalled after watching the footage of what happened to George Floyd. He was a human being, and no human being deserves to be treated like that.
I am a keen advocate of the right of people to engage in peaceful protests, especially when it comes to equality and being treated fairly.
It should be pointed out that the vast majority of protesters were peaceful – that is clear. It was a small minority of violent thugs who sought to hijack the event in order to attack the police.
I served in both the armed forces and the police force in order to protect the values which we uphold in this country, including free speech and the right to protest (peacefully).
But here at emergency services news, when we set our website up two years ago, we made a vow to our former colleagues that we would act as their voice and that we would seek to help ensure their welfare and safety.
That is why we have a dedicated section on our website that is devoted to recording severe acts of violence which members of the emergency services have had to endure.
We have been speaking out on behalf of our former colleagues long before the recent protests in London, and we will continue to do so long after.
Personally, in the wake of the deaths of 40,000 people here in the UK, I do not think that we should have allowed mass protests during a time when we are living with a deadly pandemic that relies on our being near to one another for the deadly COVID-19 virus to move from person to person.
Our death toll is the second-highest recorded death-toll of any nation.
Millions of people have been kept away from their loved ones to save lives and save the NHS.
Thousands of people said their last goodbyes to their loved ones via WhatsApp.
It tears my heart apart to think what must have gone through the minds of the people who were forced to say their goodbyes to their loved ones in such a way.
Each week, we clapped for the NHS as men and women risked their own lives to save the lives of as many people as possible. But despite their efforts, 40,000 souls were taken.
When I first saw the protests which were being held in Hyde Park, I, like many of my former colleagues who still work in the NHS, felt utterly deflated.
So many people in this country had endured so much over the last few months, and these efforts were now being put at risk as thousands of people protested over an event that took place 4,000 miles away from these shores.
The first protest in Hyde Park on Friday 5th June went ahead on the agreement that the event would stay in Hyde Park and that it would finish by 16:00 hours.
But why was the mass gathering allowed to go ahead anyway?
Currently, if you meet in a group of more than six people, then you could be fined.
And yet, we saw pictures of thousands of people meeting in direct defiance of the life-saving rules which have been put in place to help save peoples lives.
It was not long before our police were the victims of the very violence that the original protests had been highlighting must stop.
Because violence directed against any person is wrong. Being violent towards someone just because of their appearance is shocking and unacceptable.
One of the first videos which caused widespread anger amongst decent-minded people was the footage of a police officer being punched to the ground as he retreated from a hostile crowd.
A coward emerged from the crowd, crept up on the officer, punched him to the ground and then scuttled away like a coward, back into the safety of the small group of violent protesters.
They now saw the opportunity to attack the police.
I was involved in policing quite a few significant events in London when I served in the Met Police.
What you have to understand, is that there will always be groups of hate-filled individuals who will use ANY protest as an excuse to assault our police because they just do not like the police.
Anyone who has worn a police uniform and who has been involved with policing events in the capital will know, from experience, that these groups of hate-filled people will try and hijack the peaceful protests. And they did.
Fast forward now to Saturday night.
A thug attempts to his police officers with what appears to be a piece of wood
After most of the peaceful protestors had gone home, a small group of thugs waited around because they wanted to fight with the police.
The thunderstorm on Saturday evening acted as a turning point.
After the thunderstorm had passed, people started throwing bottles and other missiles, including rocks and fireworks, at police officers who were told to protect buildings and the politicians who reside within them.
Our information suggests that as these officers came under attack, they asked their supervisor if they could put on their protective equipment (helmets etc) so that they could protect themselves from the violence.
We have been told that the Chief Inspector who was in charge of policing at Number 10 Downing Street on Saturday evening told her level 1 officers that they could not put their PPE on.
An officer lays on the ground with a collapsed lung after her horse bolted as thugs threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at the mounted branch (Met)
Why weren’t these brave officers who had been placed in harm’s way allowed to put on the very equipment which they have been issued with in order to protect themselves from acts of violence?
Another police source told us:
“The reason MPS senior officers aren’t allowing us to police these riots how they should be (level 1s & 2s in full kit) is because they’re scared of how it will look in the press.
“Senior officers are putting public perception and PR above officer safety. Again.
“This culture needs to change, or the service will never be credible again”.
A thugs rolls a bike towards a police horse after the mounted unit saved their TSG colleagues from a hostile crowd in Whitehall on Saturday evening
The Chief Inspector and other senior officers in charge would have had to write down the rationale behind their decision making in a log.
So I am hopeful that we will all know why officers were explicitly told not to put their protective gear on.
The mounted unit who were present at Whitehall on Saturday evening could see that their colleagues were now coming under a sustained attack from individuals who wanted to hurt as many police officers as possible.
So the mounted unit charged at the group of violent individuals who were throwing glass bottles, bricks and rocks at our police.
One officer who was there told us: “they (the mounted branch) saved us in many respects”.
But now the thug’s attention turned on the mounted branch.
The rocks, flares, fireworks and bottles which had been thrown at the officers who were initially not allowed to put their PPE on, were now being aimed at the police horses and their riders.
One of these fireworks/flares spooked one of the horses, and it bolted.
The rider ended up being knocked off of her horse and ended up on the floor with a collapsed lung and various broken bones.
The hostile crowd cheered as she lay motionless on the floor. They cheered. The police officer is still in hospital.
Let us now fast forward to last night.
During a debrief with the officers who had been the target of missiles on Saturday night, we have been told that one of the Sergeants shared his/her disgust at the fact that his/her officers had been told that they could not put their PPE on.
The officers, in the end, had no choice other than to put their PPE on because their lives were in danger.
During the debrief, we have been told that the response given to the Sargeant who raised his concerns was: “Today (Sunday 7th June) is another day”.
So let’s look at this ‘other day’: once again, after the peaceful protestors had gone home, the violent thugs hung around to unleash their violence on our police.
As this was the third day of protests and the other two days had resulted in violence, then you would have thought that our police officers would have been told to wear their PPE because anyone with an ounce of common sense would have known that things were going to turn violent.
And things did turn violent.
Officers who were told that they could not wear their protective helmets once again had to endure rocks, bottles and bricks being thrown at them.
And we have all seen the resulting pictures of bloodied officers.
Officers had to retreat from hostile crowds because it would appear that they were not given the right to defend themselves with the PPE that they had been issued with.
Level 2 public order officers had to retreat because they did not have their PPE on as thugs threw bottles and rocks at them.
This is why we saw the pictures of officers wearing only their flat caps, retreating, as the rocks and bottles rained down on them.
This is why we saw the images of police officers having to retreat from hostile crowds – the police weren’t allowed to don the equipment which they had been issued with in order to protect themselves.
Based on what I have seen and heard, I have made my own mind up as to why these officers were put in danger without being allowed to protect themselves.
The ‘powers that be’ appeared not to want our police to look ‘aggressive’ (by wearing riot gear) even though they knew that there was a high probability that the police would come under attack.
If this is the case – if it turns out that senior officers told their officers that they could not put on their protective gear because ‘it would not look good’ – then there should be a full Health and Safety Executive enquiry into why this was allowed to happen.
Our police deserve the right to defend themselves against the mindless and moronic cowards who had the intention all along to hurt them.
They should have never been told to ‘hold the line’ wearing only their flat caps as waves of bottles, rocks, fireworks and stones rained upon them.
It is a prime example of lions being led by lambs.
Senior Officers who, by all accounts, were too scared to make a decision that would have helped to protect level 2 and level 1 public order officers who were told to risk their own lives to protect buildings and politicians.
I think that if I still served in the Met Police, then I would be seriously thinking about handing my level 2/1 public order training tickets in.