According to The Guardian, the head of a right wing group known as the Young Britons’ Foundation has called for trespassing environmental activists to be “shot down” by police.
In October last year, when Greenpeace activists scaled the Palace of Westminster to protest against climate change policy, he called on police to “next time shoot them down … start with water cannon and if that doesn’t work, maybe crank it up a level or two”.
So what if police did start using water cannons on climate protesters? My hunch is that such brutality would result in what Michael Nagler calls a “paradox of repression.” Environmentalists might gain more public sympathy than they have ever enjoyed before, much like the civil rights movement did after Birmingham.
Does that mean they should welcome the water cannons? No. But it does mean that protesters shouldn’t let threats such as these scare them away from taking action. They pose a threat of their own if they remain committed to action.
What do you think? Am I being to optimistic? Would the general public ignore, or perhaps even applaud the use of water cannons against a Greenpeace activist who scaled a government building or national monument? Would the mainstream media not be sympathetic?