Alan Johnson, home secretary in England, refused to explain why the police are recording thousands of protestors and placing their names on a nationwide data base. The UK Guardian newspaper revealed thee existence of the list and indicated the presence of a covert apparatus which monitors people who authorities believe may constitute something that is labeled, “domestic extremist.” Johnson argues “I haven’t issued any guidance(to police) on the definition of that phrase. The police know what they are doing, they know how to tackle these demonstrations, they do it very effectively.” Actually, no one is challenging the fact police tackle demonstrations or control them, the issue is whether they collect data on those who protest and place that information on a nationwide data base.
A host of government officials expressed views on their concerns about such data bases, they promised to “look into the matter,” they assured one and all that no one was considered to be breaking the law by protesting, but there was need to get their name and keep it on file. We in America are quite aware the such extremists as Martin Luther King were viewed by the FBI as “domestic extremists.” I assume so were George Washington and Tom Jefferson by the British government.