I Recognise Your Brutality

“Oi. I recognise you.” Actually, I recognised you too. I instantly remembered your face as one of those who stormed Trafalgar Square, and hospitalised my friends. You had attempted to arrest me whilst my arms bruised with baton beatings. I recognised your provocative attitude and nasty sarcasm. Now I recognise your brutality in your second attempt to silence me.

Around 10.30am a small group of socialist and anarchist activists met outside Charing Cross station. We did not come to practice our patriotism. Nor to watch two strangers marry from an institution that has brought us nothing but a bank holiday (and I spent most of that in cuffs). We came to exercise our imperative right to demonstrate.

Although nearly every organisation and political group disappointingly dismissed protesting at the royal wedding; I thought it was an important opportunity to show solidarity to those who had their freedom stolen in the build up to the wedding, under pre-emptive arrests, for thought crime. It was a time to respond to the police threats and ‘security clampdown’ by refusing to be bullied out of fighting for our cause, and not to rejoice alongside monarchists as though this marriage was the single most important event of our generation.

The arresting and charging of our comrades cannot be forgotten by encouraging us to fork out for royal wedding mugs, flags, condoms or any other materialistic junk. Giving us an excuse to get pissed in the middle of the day does not overshadow the memories of brain haemorrhages, house raids, horse charging and tyrannical ‘snatch squads’.

As we were such a small group, we decided we were likely to be quite ineffective as protestors, and so decided to head to the Republic street party. We stood about smoking and generally chatting – not protesting. We caught the attention of the British Transport Police who called their mates to come and search us under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994. This legislation permits police to search individuals should they suspect a possibility of serious violence. It is somewhat shocking that this should spout from finding some homemade placards in a bin bag.

They asked some of us for our details; failing to inform individuals that this information is not compulsory unless under arrest. We had one megaphone between us which was confiscated, and the police categorized one bicycle helmet as ‘climbing gear’. Nobody was carrying anything illicit.

All of a sudden we saw riot police charging at us, and within seconds we were kettled by 34 police from the Territorial Support Group. I fail to see the necessity of restricting the movement of 10 people barely carrying more than a sandwich and a packet of tobacco. We were then arrested at 11.38am.

I was arrested for breach of peace – not merely the prevention of. I was not read my rights and had to specifically ask for the identity of my oppressor. I was forced to provide my details although I had not done anything illegal and my intentions were merely to attend a street party.

We were loaded onto an unmarked coach – clearly to hide us from on-lookers, and to reinforce the illusion that the police are our protectors and friends. We were driven all the way out of London, to Sutton Police Station. Some of us were put into cells; still with no charge (and all belongings taken) and the rest of us remained cuffed in the yard. We were not told what exactly would happen with us, and the police said to expect to spend the evening in the cells until the ‘threat of breach of peace’ had ceased. We were handcuffed for around 4 hours, not allowed to use the toilet and at no point offered any water. Meanwhile our officers enjoyed cigarettes while I repeatedly asked for my cuffs to be loosened as they were so tight, it looked like I had self harmed.

There was no official de-arresting but we were eventually all released after checking to see we were not ‘wanted’, and free to head for a well deserved pint. To make things as inconvenient as possible, we were not even allowed to use the station toilet once released.

Clearly this was not a pleasant experience but I refuse to let this deter me from protesting and challenging the State. We must continue to act – there will never be enough cells to cage us all. We must show solidarity and support for all individuals arrested as Charlie Veitch, Alfie Meadows, Chris Knight. We must endeavour to propel our movement because the alternative is unacceptable.

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~ by Bobi Pasquale on May 1, 2011.

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