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June 3, 2017

I NOTICED numerous armed policemen in black paramilitary gear parading around in twos in Cardiff for the European championship final between Juventus and Real Madrid tonight and the huge iron road blocking system with gates to prevent vehicles from driving in with a bomb.
These clumsy iron barriers (the modern equivalent of a castle moat) first appeared during the NATO conference and instantly change a city centre into a military fortress. They are physical barriers which change psychological perceptions massively.
I instantly felt resentment and fear – not of terrorists and/or potential terrorist attacks but of the armed police themselves. I found their presence and the security measures both oppressive and deeply disturbing. It felt like a loss rather than a gain and it felt like a portentous, frightening and dystopian vision of the future.
I felt very uncomfortable and deeply resented the constant monitoring and surveillance in public places which people seemed, largely, to accept without raising even a murmur of opposition (again).
Crucially, mainstream media, including, of course, the BBC took a largely celebratory and triumphant tone in their reporting of the event and how Cardiff people were responding to it by concentrating on the meek and docile and we were left with the distinct impression that they were colluding with the movers and shakers by ignoring the menace of hysterical security overkill and concentrating instead on the marketing and promotional opportunities for Cardiff and Wales (never mind the threat to personal freedom and the psychological distress – think of the money making potential).
The deep fear is that you will be branded as somehow odd or deranged if you take a different view and question whether or not we need this level of gun wielding paramilitary oppression on our streets.
If it is accepted without protest that we need it for this event, then how many more times might we need it in the future? How long might it be until we have this paramilitary overkill on a regular basis and all our city centres become fortresses with helicopters flying overhead?
Three typically burly men in paramilitary black were walking outside my house one morning during the week when I opened the door to put rubbish out.
That is a highly odd and unusual sight in my street – where there appear to be no regular beat bobbies or friendly community special constables who actually know the area or gather valuable local knowledge which would help keep us safe – so I asked one of them what was up.
“Nothing to worry you, sir” he replied, contemptuously. I then asked him who they were and he pointed to the blue POLICE sign on his black shirt.
He didn’t offer his name and number or any proof of who he was and refused to confide in me in any way. That was very reassuring.
When will the police learn that if they are not willing to tell the truth to the public then the public will not tell the truth to them?
And when will the public learn that their perception of the truth can be easily manipulated and altered so that they will, eventually, be so afraid that they accept practically anything, anywhere, anytime?

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