Somewhere around Whitehall a group of police officers surrounded a group of marchers and (seemingly without provocation) started attacking people in a fairly systematic way.
And a commentator responds:
I remember that very, very well. I had just reached Trafalgar Square when it happened and although I’d had the whole year of the strike to get used to it (May 1984, in Mansfield, remains the only time I’ve ever been struck by a policeman) it still had an enormous effect. You’re looking downwards, from Trafalgar Square, at Whitehall, with the Houses of Parliament behind, and seeing, with that backdrop, the police just charging and charging into the crowd was as indelible an image as I’ve ever experienced.
I had just left Trafalgar Square because I met a woman I knew and we decided to go for a coffee (middle class wimp alert!). I got caught up in it but luckily not hurt or arrested.
There is some discussion in that blog post about why the police were so violent that day. Were they ardent Thatcherites? Was it just that some people look for permission to be violent, and as soon as (they feel) official permission has been extended to them, go for it? I suspect it was a male-hierarchy thing that got out of hand. Here is the comment I have just posted at Crooked Timber.
I was on the edge of this event, because I had just met an old friend by chance and we decided to call it a day and go and have a coffee. The police sealed off the street we were in (I think it was Whitehall Place – can’t remember) and compressing the crowd there very tightly, then drove big white vans into the trapped mass of people. These were mostly families and stragglers. I saw parents passing their children overhead and lowering them over the iron fences at the front of the government buildings – there’s a small area between the walls and the iron, and the van couldn’t drive there. Everyone else was dangerously crushed. People could easily have been killed.
Hillsborough happened, what – four years later?
(sorry I am posting a lot today - I'll stop now)