The S11 debate: should authorities use force to control protesters?
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Echo Issue Outline 2000 / 35 - 36
September 11, 2000, was the first day of a scheduled three day meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The meeting was to be held in Melbourne at the Crown Casino. For some months prior to the meeting a group calling itself S11 (September 11) had been forming to protest at the WEF about globalisation.
On the first day of the forum the protesters were very active. They successfully blockaded the Casino and prevented many delegates to the forum from entering the building. Accusations were made that the protest had not been a peaceful one. On the second day the police were much more vigorous in their approach to the protesters. It has since been claimed that police were unnecessarily violent and approached the protesters merely to subdue them.
Some 200 complaints of police violence have been lodged with the Victorian ombudsman and there is to be a formal investigation into the allegations against the police.
The issue has attracted significant media attention, as has the premier, Mr Steve Bracks. Mr Bracks has claimed that the police acted with 'restraint'. Many Labor voters appear to believe that the premier is pre-empting the investigation and that his remarks are premature.
What they said ...
'This is the group who said they were going to be non-violent. They broke their word and they deserve everything they got'
Mr Steve Bracks, the Victorian premier
'The police role is primarily to bring people before the courts so they can be judged and punished, not to dish out summary justice themselves'
Jude McCulloch, a lawyer and lecturer in police studies at Deakin University
Copyright © Echo Education Services
First published in The Echo news digest and newspaper sources index.
Issue outline by J M McInerney
S11 was a protest group called together specifically to protest against globalisation at the World Economic Forum.
It has been claimed that the group was spear-headed by a number of groups including the International Socialists, Resistance, Militant, the Democratic Socialist Party and the CFMEU union. The group grew to include significant numbers of private people and less formal organisations, such as students from particular schools.
The S11 protest group was partly brought together by an S11 Internet site which encouraged other people and 'affiliate groups' to come to Melbourne for the period September 11 to September 13.
The WEF is made up of large companies and political leaders. It is a forum for the discussion of economic issues.
The S11 organisations established an Internet site to promote and co-ordinate their World Economic Forum protests. The site used for this purpose can be found at http://www.s11.org/s14/s11.html
The site functioned like a chain letter encouraging supporters of its views to e-mail other people whom they believed would also support the September 11 to 13 protest.
The site includes lists of those organisations which are part of S11, gives advice on organising and finding accommodation in Melbourne during the WEF and includes 'protesting tips'. It gives its own explanation of the WEF, gives information on some of the supposed misdeeds of some of the multinationals attending the WEF and supplies answers to frequently asked questions.
The radical protest body and Internet news site, Green Left Global Action, has a section of its site given over to supporting S11.
The site can be found at http://www.greenleft.org.au/globalaction/s11/index.shtml
Green Left Action draws on the combined resources of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia; the socialist youth organisation, Resistance; the radical Internet magazine Green Left Weekly; Unionists against Corporate Tyranny and Links magazine.
The site supplies Internet links to a series of Green Left Weekly articles dealing with the WEEF protests and S11. It also supplies background information on globalisation; the World Economic Forum (WEF); the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
The World Economic Forum's On-line magazine, WorldLink, can be found at http://www.worldlink.co.uk/stories/storyReader$203
Though it does not deal specifically with the WEF meeting in Melbourne it does give an inside into Wef views on a range of issues.
Democratic Dialogue, a Northern Ireland think-tank has set up a site supplying information on freedom of assembly and protest in Northern Ireland, England and Wales, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, France, Italy, the United States, Canada, Israel and South Africa.
Before the situation in each of these countries is considered, there is a general discussion of the issue. The whole site supplies useful background information on the question. It appears generally quite neutral in its presentation of information. A clickable table of contents for the site can be found at http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/dd/report8/report8.htm#contents
The Age has a comprehensive collection of its articles reporting on the WEF, the S11 protest and the police response as part of its issues service. Links to the relevant articles can be found at http://www.theage.com.au/issues/economicforum/index.html
The ABC current affairs program, Lateline, ran a report on the WEF meeting on September 13, 2000. The report considers the possible effect of the protesters. The report can be found at http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/s176170.htm
On September 13, 2000, the ABC's 7.30 Report also ran a report on the WEF. It dealt with the impressions of the delegates after the meeting and includes the interesting observation made by some of the delegates that the protesters helped to draw the delegates together and made the meeting more productive.
The report can be found at http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/s176134.htm
Arguments in favour of the use of force by police to control protesters
1. The protesters were engaged in unlawful activities
It has been claimed that the protesters were engaged in unlawful activities such as obstructing traffic, trespass, blockading driveways and public roads, criminal damage, littering and illicit drug use.
The Victorian premier, Mr Steve Bracks noted some of the illegal behaviour which it has been claimed occurred. Mr Bracks has stated, '... on the first day we saw the premier of Western Australia Richard Court's car being jumped on and tyres slashed.'
The car of the Victorian Opposition leader, Dr Denis Napthine, was also claimed to have been vandalised.
The Herald Sun in its editorial of September 14, 2000, claimed of the S11 protesters 'They stopped people going about their business, bashed an innocent bystander [and] damaged private and public property ...'
The police indicated that over the three days 19 charges were laid against 12 protesters. The charges included assaulting police, criminal damage and hindering police.
2. Some of the protesters were violent
It has been claimed that some of the protesters took action which was intended to injure police officers, such as throwing ball-bearings under the feet of horses and nuts, bolts and other missiles at officers. Police deputy commissioner, Neil O'Loughlin, showed reporters marbles, large nuts and a screw which he claimed were weapons thrown at police during the demonstration.
Mr Steve Bracks, the Victorian premier, has stated, 'This is the group who said they were going to be non-violent. They broke their word and they deserve everything they got.'
It has been claimed that both an ambulance officer who was assisting a police officer and a Crown Casino officer were assaulted.
The Age in its editorial of September 13, 2000, stated, 'A blockade is an aggressive act; if it is to be successfully breached it requires an aggressive response. It is not surprising that the result is bruises and broken teeth.'
3. Police are entitled to use reasonable force to maintain public order
It has been argued that public order policing is about controlling and winning. The police argue that they need to control protesters to reduce the incidence of unlawful and potentially dangerous crowd activity. It is also argued that police believe they need to 'win' any confrontation with protesters in order to maintain control and authority for future confrontations.
Dr David Baker, a lecturer in criminal justice and criminology at Monash University, has claimed that 'If defeated, the police view the consequences for maintaining public order as dire.' The implication is that at future protests and demonstrations the crowds may take more extreme action, spurred on by the unchecked progress of previous demonstrations.
Arrests, it is claimed, are not the primary aim of a police force engaged in crowd-control. If arrests take place the arresting officer must leave the crowd control scene with the person under arrest. This would be undesirable as it diminishes police numbers. According to this line of argument, the legitimacy of police tactics cannot by gauged by the number of arrests made.
4. Police are able to use reasonable force in self-defence
The police have claimed that some of the force they used was employed in self-defence. It has been claimed that the running over of a female protester by a police car was an accident, however, that it was caused by protesters violently rocking the police car so that the driver was no longer in full control of the vehicle.
The officers involved have further claimed that prior to the accident when one of their number had got out of the car he feared for his safety as the protesters became agitated. It is also claimed that the protesters started hitting and kicking the car.
Overall it has been claimed that 42 police were injured during the protests. One officer has been claimed to have suffered a seizure after an early morning clash. This has been offered as evidence that the police had reason to fear for their safety. It has also been claimed that police wore protective eye-wear after being showered with glass and other missiles during Monday's protest.
5. The police acted with restraint
This claim has been made by the Victorian Premier, Mr Steve Bracks. Mr Bracks has claimed that the police showed 'extraordinary restraint'. Mr Bracks has further claimed that the police faced enormous provocation 'having balloons filled with urine dropped on them, fish hooks off bridges which were effectively designed to disable some of the police, there were bolts, there were nuts thrown, there were ball bearings thrown under horses.'
6. Protesters claimed their own right to free speech while trying to deny that to WEF delegates
This point was made in The Age in its editorial of Tuesday, September 12, 2000. The editorial claims, 'Protesters at Melbourne's World Economic Forum hang their credibility on the democratic right to freedom of expression and, with it, the right to protest. Yet any respect that rallying cry may have generated has been smashed by the protesters' hypocrisy: the tactics of the S11 group have prevented many of the forum's delegates and reporting media from getting in ... protesters denied WEF delegates the same right to free speech that they demanded in legitimising their protest.
7. The protesters might have damaged Victoria and Australia's international standing
This point was made in an editorial published in the Herald Sun on September 9, 2000. The editorial states, 'The World Economic Forum ... creates a unique opportunity to showcase the strengths of the Australian economy to foreign investors.
But the 800 international businesses and government figures won't be impressed if an army of mindless radicals disrupts their three-day talkfest.'
There was also concern expressed that if the S11 succeeded in disrupting the WEF, then this might encourage similar groups to attempt to disrupt the Sydney Olympics. It appeared to be believed by both police and various others that the policing the WEF was in some measure a trial run for the Olympics.
8. The police did not remove their identification as a prelude to their acting illegally
Neil O'Loughlin, deputy police commissioner in charge of operations at the forum, has stated that he had ordered that identification badges be worn by officers at all times. He has claimed that any of his officers without badges had not deliberately removed them. Rather, he claims, some badges were lost and some were pulled off by protesters.
Arguments against the use of force by police to control protesters
1. Most of the protesters were peaceful
It has been claimed that the vast majority of S11 protesters were peaceful. This claim has been made by some of the protesters themselves and by some of the commentators.
Sally Bodinnar wrote a letter to The Age in which she ated, 'I am a 39-year-old female, running a small business in rural Victoria and contributing to my community. I am not a hooligan ... I protested at S11 because ... I feel it is important to peacefully protest en masse.'
2. The police actions were punitive, not intended to result in an arrest
Jude McCulloch, a lawyer and lecturer in police studies at Deakin University, has claimed that the police action was not intended to bring about arrests as very few were made. Ms McCulloch has suggested that the aim of the police was to overcome the protesters by the use of force. She has further stated, 'A proactive strike by police is of dubious legality. The police role is primarily to bring people before the courts so they can be judged and punished, not to dish out summary justice themselves.'
3. The police were not acting in self-defence
This point has been made by Rod Quantok, a comedian and social commentator. Mr Quantock was at the S11 protest and has claimed that 'Peaceful, non-violent men, women and children, blockaders and bystanders like myself and my family, and members of the media, who posed no physical threat to police, were attacked ...'
A similar point has been made by Kate Wilde, who also attended the WEF as a protester. Ms Wilde has stated, 'I did not arrive wearing a ski mask or balaclava, nor secreting nails or balloons of urine for an attack. Nonetheless I and a small group of clearly outnumbered and non-threatening protesters were stampeded by a police force whipped into an aggressive frenzy by their superiors and sensationalised media reports.'
4. The police use of force was excessive, not reasonable
Mr Brian Pound speaking for the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance has complained that unreasonable force was used against journalists attempting to report the scene.
Mr Pound has stated, 'We are hearing reports of illegal violence having been used by police against our members. Journalists and photographers were injured in the course of just doing their job.'
It has been claimed that video tapes of the demonstrations show the police striking people of n the head repeatedly from above. Other reports have claimed that the police held people on the ground and hit them.
Mr Nick Sampsonidis, who co-ordinated first aid for the protesters, has claimed, 'The force the police used was very excessive. The head traumas we saw were unbelievable - so many split heads.' Mr Nick Sampsonidis has claimed he treated 400 people during the protest and sent 51 to hospital.
The complaint that the police use of force was unreasonable is based on two claims. One is that force was used against people who were engaged in no crime and were offering no resistance, such as peaceful protesters and reporters. The other claim is that the level of force used by police was extreme and inflicted unnecessary injuries on the protesters.
This last point has been made by Marcus Clayton, a lawyer with the law firm Gordon and Slater. Mr Clayton has stated that he believes the protesters have a strong case to put against the police because police 'are not entitled to beat people into submission - that is against the law.'
5. The police removed their identification numbers, indicating they intended to act unlawfully
This point has been made by Mr Leigh Hubbard, the secretary of the Trades Hall. Mr Hubbard has stated, 'The fact that the police weren't wearing ID badges suggests premeditated provocation.
6. Freedom of speech and assembly are recognised rights within Australia and overseas
Though Australia does not have a bill of rights which guarantees freedom of assembly, it has been noted that Victoria has a long and honorable history of civil disobdience ranging from the Eureka Stockade in 1854, through the unemployed movements of the 1890s and 1930s to the anti-Vietnam moratorium marches of the 1960s.
Further the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and two of the associated Conventions refer to the right to assemble and to the right to stage protests.
7. The protesters did not seriously inhibit the freedom of speech of the WEF delegates
According to this line of argument, all of those who attended the WEF are powerful and influential people who did not need a voice at the forum to have their views heard and acted upon.
This point has been made by David Wroe, a satff writer with The Age. Mr Wroe has stated, 'The average WEF delegate would have more of his or her words reproduced in newspaper column centimetres, TV sound bites, Hansard transcripts and conference discussion papers than all the protesters put together.
The forum delegates are not the silenced, disaffected majority, denied their right to a voice in society. They are listened to all day every day, and every word they speak is picked up and acted on.'
8. The police cannot be used to implement the agenda of a particular government
It has also been claimed that the police may have been authorised to take action against the protesters by the Bracks Government. The premier's ready defence of the police immediately after their action has lent strength to this claim.
It has been suggested that if it were true that the government did influence the police response to this would have been improper as it would have violated the principle of separation of powers. This is a key element of the Westminster system of government. It holds that the different arms of government must function independently of each other or citizens' liberties could be at risk.
Lawyer and lecturer in police studies, Jude McCulloch, has noted that 'The police serve the law, not the government or the premier.'
The police response to the S11 protest seems to mark something of a turnaround in their treatment of protesters. The Victoria Police were criticised for the handling of the protest that surrounded the closure of Richmond Secondary College. Subsequently they appear to have made a significant effort to handle encounters with the public in a non-confrontationist manner. A an instance of this, police were generally considered to have handled the Waterside workers' dispute in a subdued fashion.
Whatever the validity of the police response to the S11 protesters on September 12, 2000, it was clearly significantly more forceful. It will be interesting to note whether this more aggressive style of crowd-control becomes the norm. The nature of future police crowd-control measures will in part depend on the recommendations made by the Victorian ombudsman when he reports on his findings.
These resent developments are also likely to have some impact on the popular stnading of the Victorian premier, Mr Steve Bracks. Mr Bracks Government has just served the first year of its three-year term. MR Bracks enjoys very high popularity rates as the people's preferred premier. After he declared his strong support for and approval of the police handling of the S11 protesters there were numerous letters to the editor from people who objcted to his position on the question and to his leadership style.
The S11 issue seems to have polarised Mr Bracks' support to some extent. Previously he enjoyed a large measure of support from both the conservative and the more radical sections of the electorate. His recent comments about the S11 protesters are likely to lose him some support from the more radical sections of the electorate.
It is far too early to say whether the S11 protest had any impact on the WEF delegates. Some of the delegates indicated that they had some sympathy for some of the protesters views, however, these indications are not enough to suggest that that the protest had a major effect.
Newspaper items used in the preparation of this outline
Available as a press cuttings package (with an issue outline reprint): price: $37.50 (NO LONGER AVAILABLE)
13/9/00 page 16 editorial, 'World trade and "civil" protest'
13/9/00 page 16 letter from M J Anderson, 'S11 must be proud of harming Melbourne'
13/9/00 page 16 letter from Danielle Eastlake, 'Free speech isn't just for S11'
13/9/00 page 16 letter from Sally Bodinnar, 'Protester, yes. Hooligan, no'
14/9/00 page 1 news item by Sophie Douez, Adrian Rollins and Murray Mattram, 'Police face violence probe'
14/9/00 page 9 news item by Amanda Dunn, 'Probe ordered after police car hits protester'
15/9/00 page 4 news item by Ewin Hannan, 'Bracks honors police for WEF "restraint"'
15/9/00 page 4 news item by James Norman, 'Forum witnesses damn baton "frenzy"'
15/9/00 page 4 news item by Misha Ketchell and James Norman, 'Car incident police "feared for safety"'
15/9/00 page 10 letter from Kate Wilde, 'Sensationalist media missed the point'
15/9/00 page 11 comment by David Wroe, 'What, no Satanists down at Crown?'
16/9/00 page 23 analysis by Murray Mottram and Sophie Douez, 'Behind the battle of the barricades'
16/9/00 page 26 letter by Rod Quantock, 'Straight questions for the Premier'
16/9/00 page 26 letter from Toby Channing, 'Premier redefines "reasonable force"'
16/9/00 page 27 comment by Jude McCulloch, 'Disobedient citizens are citizens nonetheless'
16/9/00 page 27 comment by Ewin Hannan, 'A touch of the Jeffs'
16/9/00 page 27 comment by Andrew Clark, 'S11 can celebrate at least one win'
16/9/00 page 27 comment by David Baker, "some bayed for blood and that is what they got'
12/9/00 page 10 editorial, 'Hypocritical protesters lose the plot'
13/9/00 page 17 news item, 'Protesters up in arms over police "revenge"'
14/9/00 page 1 news item by Michael Bachelard, 'Three days of anger end under wheels of justice'
14/9/00 page 20 news item by Michael Bachelard, Guy Healy and Ben Mitchell, 'Lawyers reading the riot act'
14/9/00 page 26 editorial, 'S11 protesters fight a losing battle'
14/9/00 page 26 letters from C J Anderson and Roger Barnett under the heading, 'Protest an old Aussie tradition'
The Herald Sun
9/9/00 page 26 editorial, 'Forum must not be hijacked'
12/9/00 page 18 editorial, 'Cowars at the casino protest'
12/9/00 page 18 comment by Des Moore, 'A failure of leadership'
12/9/00 page 19 comment by Andrew Bolt, 'Peace shot to pieces'
14/9/00 page 18 editorial, 'Fine effort by the Force'
14/9/00 page 18 comment by Andrew Bolt, 'Actually, a lot of good has come out of three days of S11 protest'
Analyses of TWO newspaper items on this issue
Article analysis No. 1
Letter to the editor
On September 16, 2000, The Age published a letter from Rod Quantock, a comedian and social activist. The letter was headed, 'Straight questions for the Premier'
Interestingly, despite the heading, the letter does not ask any questions of the premier. The heading serves to attract attention, as the reader wishes to know what these questions might be, however, it does not reflect the nature of the letter.
The letter starts with Mr Quantock identifying himself as an opponent of the previous government and as a very politically committed person. He indicates that he spent seven years working to bring down the former Kennett government. His attitude to the previous government is indicated in a string of pejoratives, 'undemocratic, un-Victorian and un-Australian'. These criticisms are mere assertions, however, they appeal to commonly held values such as a respect for democracy. Whatever it means to be 'un-Victorian' or 'un-Australian' is not spelt out, however, as most people identify strongly with their state and their country they would be likely to reject anyone whom they believed behaved in a way which was contrary to their state or nation's ideals.
The next paragraph turns our expectations of Mr Quantock's political allegiances on their head. He roundly condemns the current premier, Mr Bracks, describing his behaviour as 'craven'. Tis is am very negative term suggesting extreme cowardice. One of the words craven is often coupled with is 'cur'. Mr Bracks is being condemned for his support of the Victoria Police treatment of the S11 protesters. Mr Quantock describes this treatment as 'police brutality'. This is a highly emotive description of police behaviour, intended to lead the reader to reject both it and the premier's support of it.
The paragraph ends with Mr Quantock indicating that given how Mr Bracks has behaved he hopes it will not take seven years to remove him. This is a quite startlingly reversal. To move from someone who has worked for over seven years to bring a particular party to office to someone who wants to see at least that party's leader removed suggests that Mr Bracks has behaved very inappropriately in Mr Quantock's eyes. The concluding phrase 'to get rid of him' is colloquially expression showing a complete lack of respect for Mr Bracks. This is probably intended to develop a similar attitude in the reader.
The next paragraph is very personal. It opens with a first person statement, 'I was at that protest'. Followed by another and then another. 'I saw what happened. It happened to me, my children and my friends.' These statements create a number of effects.
Firstly they give Mr Quantock the credibility of an eye witness. He was there and so knows what happens. Readers are likely to find this first hand account believable, however, there may be some who doubt where Mr Quantock is aware of the what the protest was like apart from where he himself was involved. There may also be those who doubt Mr Quantock's objectivity and who believe that as a protester he has an interest in casting the police in a poor light and his fellow protesters in a good one.
Secondly, these statements suggest the innocence of the protesters and their peacefulness. Mr Quantock moves from referring to his own involvement to that of his children and friends. As he does so it comes to appear increasingly less likely that these people were violent. In particular, stressing the fact that he had his children with him suggests that this was a peaceful protest as the reader is likely to believe that he would not bring his children into a situation he knew would be dangerous. This reference to 'what happened' to his himself, his friends and his children also manages to suggest that all were the innocent victims of police brutality. The sentence, 'It happened to me, my children and my friends' is quite disturbing as it leaves undefined the extent of the police violence they are claimed to have suffered.
The next two paragraphs are actually dot points making statements for which Mr Quantock claims there is 'ample witness, video ad photographic evidence'. The first dot point stresses the violence of the police; the second dot point stresses the peacefulness of the protesters. This is a very effective contrast, with each claim serving to increase the impact of the other.
Mr Quantock describes the police supposed 'brutality' using a string of pejorative adverbs, which collectively have a quite damning effect. Each one builds on the other as we move from 'viciously', 'uncompromisingly', 'irrationally' and 'indiscriminately' through to 'cowardly'. These are all merely assertions, supported by Mr Quantock's further assertion that there is evidence for them, however, as a rhetorical device this piling up of accusations is effective and may well persuade the reader.
The second dot point, again stressing the peacefulness of the protesters, once more includes a reference to Mr Quantock and his 'family'. It also refers to other 'women and children' who attended the protest. This is a classic coupling of the traditionally innocent and helpless. In times of catastrophe and disaster it is the 'women and children' who are always to be helped first, because they are seen as innocent and vulnerable. Here women and children are claimed to have been spared nothing. Instead, Mr Quantock asserts, they 'were attacked, seemingly with the Premier's consent and publicly expressed approval.' Mr Quantock probably intends the reader to be shocked by this supposed reversal of accepted behaviour and to condemn the conduct of the police and the Premier accordingly.
The letter concludes with Mr Quantock's call for a 'full and open inquiry' into what he reference to as an instance of police 'assault'. This is a particularly powerful word which carries the implication that that the actions of the police were in fact illegal. Mr Quantock claims that the police gave no warning before they attacked and that they removed their identification badges. This last claims carries the implication that they knew they were about to be involved in an illegal action and so did not want to be identified. However, the focus of this last paragraph is really on the Victorian Premier. Mr Quantock wants the inquiry to look at 'who ordered this assault.' The implication of this request would appear to be to suggest that the premier may be directly responsible for the supposed police violence. Thus the letter finishes on the note with which it began - a condemnation of the Victorian Premier, Mr Steve Bracks. By not making this final accusation directly, Mr Quantock may more effectively plant doubts in his readers'. He also frees himself from the possibility of legal action being taken against him by the Premier and puts Mr Bracks in the position of having to actually voice the allegation himself if he is going to respond to it.
Article analysis No. 2
Letter to the editor
On September 13, 2000, The Age published a letter to the ditor from Danielle Eastlake of Spotswood.
Ms Eastlake's letter has been headed, 'Free speech isn't just for S11'. This serves to focus the reader's attention on what is one of the key claims of the letter, that other people, apart from the protesters, have a right to freedom of speech.
The letter is very succinct. It is made up of two, three sentence paragraphs.
The first paragraph opens with a claim about the protesters, 'S11 says it wants democracy.' The implication of this is to cast a vague doubt on whether this is in fact the case. By writing that S11 'says' it wants democracy, rather than stating 'S11 wants democracy', Ms Eastlake plants that doubt in her readers' minds. The next sentence uses a rhetorical question to further fan the doubt. 'Isn't democracy about free speech?' The reader is obviously intended to concur that free speech is an important element in any democratic society. The next sentence drives Ms Eastlakes' point home as she refers to the supposedly 'idiotic' behaviour of some of the protesters, which, she claims, 'shows these people don't practice what they preach.' Ms Eastlake is implying that the behaviour of the protesters infringed the freedom of speech of people such as the WA Premier who wished to attend the WEF.
Ms Eastlake has highlighted some of the most dramatic instances of protesters' supposedly illegal behaviour - '[barricading] the WA Premier's car, slashing tyres and spray painting'. These acts of apparent obstruction and vandalism are presumably intended to bring home to the reader that the protesters were acting outside the law and were infringing the rights of others. The colloquial expression 'these people don't practice what they preach' is likely to bring the point home briefly and forcefully for many readers. Also, referring to the protesters as 'these people' automatically serves to distance them from 'us' the majority of readers who, by implication, think differently.
The second paragraph focuses on the policemen and women and the delegates at the WEF rather than on the supposedly inconsistent and illegal behaviour of the protesters. The writer is attempting to bring home the individuality, the humanity of the police officers. The aim of this is presumably to arouse the readers' sympathy for them and to have the reader see them as more than official functionaries, as people rather than as their job. "Behind every police officer is a man/woman with a family.' The reference to family humanises the officers in a way similar to Rod Quantock's letter (analysed in the last edition of The Echo), where a reference to families was used to humanise the protesters and make them seem peaceful rather than menacing.
Businessmen and women are treated similarly. We are told that they 'are all humans'. The aim of this appears to be to bring home to readers the point that the WEF delegates are also individuals like each of the letter's readers. Ms Eastlake may in part think this reminder is necessary because some of those who opposed the WEF stressed the wealth and privilege of the delegates in order to argue that they had excessive power over the average citizen. Ms Eastlake appears to be trying to establish common ground between the average reader and the delegates by stressing their shared humanity.
The article concludes with the statement, 'They have a right to free speech'. The 'they' being referred to would appear to be the WEF delegates. This assertion brings the letter full circle. It began by noting that S11 protesters present themselves as champions of democracy and by extension of free speech. It concludes with the implication that by limiting the free speech of the WEF delegates the S11 protesters are behaving inconsistently or hypocritically.
This is the implication of the letter's heading 'Free speech isn't just for S11'. Once the whole letter has been read the headline can be seen to be carrying two implications. One is that others, apart from the protesters, are entitled to free speech. The other is that the S11 protesters appear to be trying to monopolise freedom of expression and hold it 'just' to themselves.