Skip to content or view screen version

performance art in the protest exclusion zone (short film)

rikki | 18.12.2005 01:16 | Repression | London

performance artist mark mcgowan walked backwards from parliament square passing downing street while wearing a t-shirt stating 'this is not a protest' and quietly chanting the same words. although briefly questioned by communtiy support officers he was not arrested.

ok, so not the most radical challenge to the ridiculous 'serious organised crime and police act' that bans unauthorised demonstrations in the exclusion zone around parliament, but nevertheless, once again pointing out the inconsistent and arbitrary application of this law by the authorities.

performance artist mark mcgowan was questioned by one community support officer before the start of his piece, and the officer held the view that the work WAS an illegal demonstration. however, his female colleague seemed satisfied that as it wasn't a 'static protest' and as he 'hadn't made any protest' to her, she was satisfied he could go on.

but in october maya evans and milan rai were holding a remembrance service reading aloud the names of british soldiers and iraqi civilians who died in iraq, and they were arrested. maya evans now has a criminal record. and last sunday, a group of people gathered in parliament square to observe and celebrate the meeting between american anti-war activist cindy sheehan, and parliament square one-man peace vigilist, brian haw. they were all threatened with arrest by pc cx3, but as his deadline came and went, they held a noisy demonstration right outside the gates of downing street, and left when they were ready to. police backed off and the threatened arrests didn't materialise.

so how do we know whether to take police threats seriously? and what really does constitute a demonstration? the way the law has been patchily applied makes it unenforceable, and soon the courts will have to agree.

the battle goes on. regular sunday tea parties and planning meetings carry on. and a public carol service attended by maya evans is planned for next wednesday at 6pm.