I’ve struggled to think about where I wanted to start with this article as there a number of complex issues to address and I don’t think that I will be able to address them all in this article. You may not agree with everything I have to say and you don’t have to.
So, let me be clear before I start this article proper; I am a left wing, liberal, pagan; and I am also a police officer in the UK. Most of my employment has involved supporting vulnerable people. Without going in to too much detail, my history of employment includes working as a domestic violence advocate; preventing homelessness for young people; and up until last year as a mental health support worker.
I believe that helping others is not just about having a job that I have enjoyed and also found immensely rewarding. That said, I think to some degree my career has had a strong connection to my journey through paganism.
I have had a strong drawing towards “Shamanism” which is a catch-all term to describe a range of different cultural and spiritual beliefs that have a lot of similarities. One of the main themes being that of a healer. Often times we think of healers as those who heal ailments. Whilst I have never healed a wound or created a healing salve, I have been there for people who have been in difficult situations; offering advice and guidance, and supporting people to achieve for themselves.
Part of the reason I was drawn to the police force is that I wanted to be able to help people in a different way whilst having a new and challenging career. It’s also a bonus that I get to help to stop criminal activity and put the bad guys away.
As a member of the public, I have always felt that I have been supported by the police when I have reported any crimes or concerns. The police have always responded accordingly when I have been supporting vulnerable people who have gone missing; have placed themselves at risk; or otherwise have been targeted by the criminal element.
So, I admit that I find it quite disheartening and disappointing when I see articles from other, left-wing pagans that are completely anti-police and articles that blame the police for a range of different issues; accusing the police of being in league with right wing organisations. Very rarely do I see any of these articles offer a balanced point of view or praise any of the work that police officers do.
Many of the articles that I have read discuss activism and protesting, which are both hot topics. Both activism and protesting take place for all sides with a range of divides. Everyone is entitled to the freedom of speech and the freedom to protest. However, I do not believe in the freedom to incite hatred, crime or harm to others. I do not believe in people being able to freely commit crime or cause alarm, distress, harassment or harm to others.
When it comes to protesting, there is a difference generally speaking between right wing activists and left wing activists. As an example, lets look as the EDL. It’s important to note that I do not support any of their ideals in any way shape or form. When they first popped up as an offshoot of other far right movements, they were quite disorganised and only appealed to a small demographic and caused all sorts of disruption. However, they are now an example of how the far right have professionalised and improved the image of far right protesting.
They correctly lodge plans with local police forces as to their intended marching plans, where they intend to stop for speeches, where their march will end and where they intend to go once the march has come to an end. On the whole, they stick to this and will police their own members to prevent anti-social behaviour, stop any criminal behaviour and ensure that to the outside world, they look organised and prepared. Usually, in order to protect their right to march and protest, there will be a police presence which helps prevent clashes with left wing groups wanting to disrupt such events.
This results in the police ‘condoning’ the right wing march by having a moving police barricade around the marchers to ensure that they can go from A to B without being prevented from exercising their rights. There are very few if any arrests of right wing members as a result of this process. To the outside world, this looks like the police are supporting right wing protesters; this very much is NOT the case.
In regards to a typical left-wing protest, they usually pop-up without warning and usually relate to protesting against a particular shop or franchise. Sometimes, they may even cement themselves to a city centre road. Police are set with attending to the shop keepers. Protester will then call the police out instead of talking with the police; becoming assertive with them with the laws in place. It has gotent to the point that police officers have to have “specialist officers” present whose only job is to film how police officers are interacting with protesters in order to protect police officers from false allegations made by left-wing protesters.
You just have to go on youtube to find examples of left-wing protesters getting in the face of police officers; seeing the way that they talk to police officers. Most often the behaviour is unpleasant, intimidating, and serves no purpose other than to make the job of policing as difficult as possible.
These issues can usually end up with protesters being arrested, especially if they then go on to fail to comply with lawful requests made by the police.
A lot of articles point to the wasted time officers spend policing ‘peaceful’ protests. Policing is not just about protecting people. Businesses also have a right to go about lawful business, whether we agree or disagree with what their business is. Employees of these businesses have a right to work without being threatened, intimidated or harassed.
An important note to remember is that police officers are people too. You don’t know if they have just attended a difficult situation that involved a persons death; domestic abuse; or supporting people through a burglary etc…
When exercising your right to protest, consider how your behaviour is being seen by others. I especially want to point out those who profess to be pagan and claim to do no harm, following a peaceful path.
Maybe there’s something to be said for working with the police, rather than against the police? Maybe more can be achieved through listening and discussing rather than accusing?
I think I’ll end the article here as it is already quite lengthy and I haven’t been able to cover everything I would like to discuss. In the future, I’ll be discussing more ways I see policing and paganism relating to eachother. I will also discuss various other themes and topics on paganism that I have found quite interesting.
So for now, it’s nice to meet you all. Be good and be merry!
I’ve struggled to think about where I wanted to start with this article as there a number of complex issues to address and I don’t think that I will be able to address them all in this article. You may not agree with everything I have to say and you don’t have to. So, let […]