The Battle of Hyde Park

‘The power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.’

General Instructions for officers of the Metropolitan Police Service

She said there is no reason
But the truth was plain to see
When Piccadilly was a circus
And Eros a chimney sweep

And boys from Southend-on-Sea
Could make music of the spheres
In that brief decade of hope
A lifetime away in years.

She walked between the lines
In a faded denim coat
Her blonde hair in a ponytail
In her hand a Jack & Coke

Picking up the plastic cups
From Hyde Park’s royal grass
Liberty leading the people
Pride of the working class.

Till the snatch squads waded in
Five bob for a tarnished crown
Handcuffed the non-compliant
(Which meant: those sitting on the ground)

Six coppers to each tanner
Kicked a man for standing still
And when she called out for her rights
They nicked his wife as well.

She said: ‘They’re fucking arseholes
But don’t stoop to their level.
And I don’t care, we agreed
To keep this protest peaceful!’

Her orange jumpsuit stencilled
Another woman shouted out:
‘Why am I being arrested?’

Dumb to public inquiry
Of wot legal violation
Through balaclavas they mumbled:
‘Coronavirus Regulations . . .’

So they marched through the protest
Ex-squaddies in a turf war
London’s most hated gang
Immunised against the law

Not citizens in uniform
Not policing by consent
But enforcing a Minister’s whims
With a truncheon’s argument.

And when they’d hit their quota
And had the footage for the News
This cast of masked-up actors
Left the battlefield on cue

To the jeering of their audience
(Who were really on the stage)
The media-managed spectacle
Of politics in the U.K.

But I have never witnessed
Anything as beautiful
As those coppers on the run
From the whistles of the people

And one hundred and fifty years
After the Paris Commune
The crowd of demonstrators
Declaring London’s freedom.

By silenced Speaker’s Corner
At the faceless Boys in Blue
A crowd of people shouted:
‘Who protects us from you?’

‘Fuck off home you wankers!’
‘Fuck off you Old Bill cunts!’
‘Fuck your fucking lockdown!’
‘Stick your Police Bill up your arse!’

Then danced the hokey-cokey
Turned cartwheels through Marble Arch
And a lifetime’s police harassment
Into a freedom march

Till Park Lane’s empty mansions
Unleashed the guard-dogs of the rich
With riot-shields and helmets
(They were only changing shifts)

Whereupon two-hundred coppers
Under cover of the night
And the corporate media’s blackout
Went looking for a fight.

But all they found upon the lawn
Was what they’d found before
People sitting discussing
The limits of the law.

And although the field was theirs
This day is forever ours
Eighty thousand people marching
Through London’s streets for hours

Marching for our freedoms
For the uprising to start
In this springtime of resistance
The Battle of Hyde Park.

Sixteen pigs guard Churchill’s sty
The dead safer than the living
But though many eyes are closed
Many more are opening

And we will never see
Anything less disgraceful
Than when this mob of violent thugs
Becomes the British People.

— Simon Elmer 


These images are of the anti-lockdown demonstration held in London on 20 March 2021, taken from footage by Subject Access, which I recommend as a corrective to the lies and propaganda of the UK Government, the Home Secretary and the corporate-owned media. This poem is written through Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale, which was recorded in April 1967.

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