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Arrested at Anti-War March, 20 March 04, after videoing cops

Barney Laurance | 24.03.2004 01:45 | Anti-militarism | Indymedia | Repression | London

I was arrested at the anti-war demo on Saturday after videoing the cops & walking on the wrong side of some white tape. I've been charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

I joined the very small anti-capitalist block at marble arch at around 12 noon. Forward intelligence team (FIT) cops were there to intimidate & photograph us, and I had brought a camcorder to video the march and the police. I recorded the flags, banners, and crowds, and got the compulsory 'watching them watching us' shot in a few times.

We joined the march, and I continued to video marchers and cops from time to time, often stepping away from the march to get a wider view. When I videoed the group of cops who were monitoring the anti-capitalist block, officer GD25 aggressively pushed me, demanding to know whether I had enough shots of his number. This cop appeared to have a particularly aggressive attitude towards demonstrators. He repeatedly asked me whether I wanted to get to Trafalger Square, an implied threat to arrest me. Other cops greeted me by name as I filmed them, a standard FIT petty intimidation tactic.

I later sat on a fence to video the march as it curved round a street, and a cop twice tried to pull me down and threatened to arrest me. I re-joined the march.

We passed Picadilly Circus, and were approaching Chris Eubanks' truck in the Haymarket. There was no traffic on the road, but the police had stretched a white tape down the middle, about four feet above the ground. Most demonstrators were walking to the left of the tape. The march was slowed by people pausing near Mr. Eubanks' truck. For mobility, and for the terribly conventional reason of wanting to continue to film marchers moving from left to right, rather than right to left, I walked just to the right of the tape.

Cops GD525 and HX38 told me to either leave or join the demo. I listened to their arguments, but decided to continue walking next to other demonstrators. They then started to drag me away from the march. I didn't know where they were taking me, and I lay down to stop them moving me. Lots of cops got involved, trying to drag or lift me, presumably with little or now idea where they were supposed to be taking me or for what reason. I got out my camcorder and took some video of the cops from the ground.

Some marchers came over and protested at my illegal detention, and apparently an inspector arrived and ordered the cops to let me go, which eventually they did.

I re-joined the march, now to the left of the tape, and continued to Trafalger Square. By this time a message had apparently gone out on the police radio, to the effect that I should be nicked. I was alone when I got there, and met some other cop, who demanded I go for a chat with him. I haven't been brought up to go off for private chats with strange men, and refused. He then arrested me quoting section 25 of PACE, which is about arrest powers, and eventually mentioning section Five of the Public Order Act 86. I sat down, hoping to attract attention to this totally unjustified arrest. As more cops got in on the act the arresting officer scarpered, leaving two hapless coppers to hold me while waiting for a van & book me in to Charring Cross police station. I tried to hand my camera to a friend, but of course the cops wouldn't let me.

At charring cross, I was charged with 'on 20 march 2004 at haymarket', us[ing] disorderly behaviour within the sight or hearing of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby', contrary to section 5(1)(A) public order act 1986. No-one has told me what this behaviour was supposed to have been, or what was disorderly or distressing about it.

A cop claimed to believe he would find evidence of the offence on my video, and I was made to hand over the tape.

I'm due at Bow street at Ten this morning (Wednesday) to plead not guilty, and to demand my tape back. I should also receive the cops' statements As the section five charge is relatively minor, legal aid is not available for me to pay a solicitor, so I'm going to have to run my own defence. I'll post an update soon.

Barney Laurance


Display the following 10 comments

  2. filming — zoe
  3. NUJ — paste
  4. Nonsense arrest — nonsensical
  5. update — Barney Laurance
  6. videoing arrest case — Bob McCabe
  7. unbelievable — freethinker
  8. NUJ — Barney
  9. further update — Barney
  10. What was the outcome? — Ed teach