Yet another video of Celtic fans being targeted by police has gone viral online, showing that even as we approach a brand new year that the mind-sets and attitudes amongst Scotland’s Finest haven’t changed one bit and don’t look as if they will.
In the video, a group of supporters are being interrogated about why they’ve chosen to congregate together in an area of the stand where they don’t have tickets. If the match were in full flow this would be understandable. If people were trying to get to their own seats and found them occupied by other fans, fans who wouldn’t move, this would be perfectly okay. But the stand is virtually empty; one fan can be heard remonstrating that it’s an “hour before kick-off.”
That makes what the police are doing naked harassment.
One Celtic fan can be repeatedly heard first asking, and then telling, a police officer to get his hands off him. We all know if he had laid hands on the officer he’d have been arrested at once. Without a legal requirement to restrain someone a serving officer has no business at all putting his hands on anyone; that’s line one, page one, of the handbook right there. Officers of the state, restraining an individual or trying to, without cause … we’re in a bad place when that starts to happen and these people know that as well as anyone.
This video reveals the confrontational nature of the relationship between some of our fans and the police, and I think there’s sympathy to be found on both sides. The police have been stuck with a ridiculous, un-necessary and pointedly failed law for years now and it’s changed the nature of the way a lot of people in our support perceive them.
Yet this law grants them such latitude that you can’t possibly let them off the hook. So much of it depends on the discretion of individual officers and their commanders and there’s always the suspicion that FoCUS has been financially good for a lot of them and that so many are in favour of its retention for that very selfish reason.
Above all else, the blame must fall on the politicians who passed this rancid act. There are elections next year for the local authorities; it might well be that pressuring the parties in Holyrood works to move this issue, and then again it might not. But it doesn’t hurt to try.
I had written before on this site that no-one should have faith in any elected official who said they would vote to scrap this law if they were elected. When the SNP failed to get a working majority the opportunity was there to do it, and the noise which emanated from certain people suggested that it was very much bubbling away on the agenda. I revised my opinion based on that; I thought this law was on the verge of abolition. Yet it remains unchallenged.
Promises have been made to the fans over this, from a lot of people in a lot of parties. The votes exist to overturn this law, but we’re a ways down the line since election night and we’re not any further forward on a repeal. Our fans would be entitled to remember this as a stunning betrayal by our elected officials, and act accordingly when it comes time to cast the next vote.
I don’t doubt that honourable people want to see this Act in the bin. But that’s not enough without action. A vote needs to be called and this matter put to the chamber. Those who want to act with honour will get their chance. Those who want to piss all over the fans will get theirs. This is the time for people to stand up and be counted.
This law is a travesty. Every day it remains on the statute books is a disgrace. At this time of year you expect a little goodwill. The video in question shows that it’s in short supply in many quarters. There surely cannot be a politician on the left or the right who doesn’t know this disgraceful Act has had its day. Even those who framed it can surely no longer defend it and if they try they should be subject to the full humiliation of a parliamentary defeat.
That depends on others having the guts – or the integrity – to act as they said they would. Our fans – indeed the fans of all clubs who are opposed to this – deserve better. They’re fed up waiting on folk getting their act together.