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Anti DSei Critical Mass penned under s12/14

teterouge | 13.09.2007 20:21 | DSEi 2007 | Analysis | Repression

How we all went cycling on a legal protest and got the law used against us. But without finding out why.

The Pen
The Pen

Around 30 critical massers cycled off to entertain the arms dealers dining at the Dorchester. With their fair being subsidised to the tune of £900m by the Govt and their protection from a ribald musical mass of cyclists being subsidised by anyone who pays taxes here, we all felt a bit bemused when stopped by lycra clad cops at the end of Upper Grosvenor St (at junction of Park Lane) and told we were being held under s12 of the Public Order Act.

Insp Rowe, who looked quite fetching in his garb, told us it was from above. Some of the PCs didn't have clue what this meant; and neither did most of us; but we were penned and not allowed to move. About ten to fifteen minutes later Acting Superintendent Morgan told us that not only was s12 being applied, but also s14. We could protest, but only where he thought we could. His s12 notice (which didn't mention s14) told us that he "reasonably believed that our protest may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property and serious disruption to the life of the community". On asking him for the rationale behind his 'reasoned' belief he informed me that he did not have to share this with me and could only be compelled under judical review. I reflected to him that this was a little difficult in the circumstances.

So we milled around a little longer and then I left, but only after having to inform a PC what his boss had just said (that I could leave if I stopped protesting); and on his failure to comprehend, get his sargeant involved.

So what did the Police achieve? They held up the traffic far more than we would have done by cycling about; in my view they directly enabled the serious disruption to the life of the community (you should have seen the subsequent grid lock), and they held us on a whim that they didn't want or need to explain.

Given it took around half an hour from setting off to getting to Park Lane, it strikes me that they already had the notices printed before we left; so couldn't have formed an opinion about public disorder in that time; they don't communicate half as much as we might think they do; and many of them don't know the law they are enforcing.

The protest then, as at Climate Camp, also becomes one of rights - we appear not to have the right to non-violent protest unless we do what the state tells us...bit contradictory that one. And the state doesn't need to tell us why they have stopped us. And they can make it up as they go along.



Critical mass takes message around the streets of Mayfair

14.09.2007 09:26

The police issued a Section 12 to prevent Critical Mass cycling down either Park Lane or Curzon Street. After being stuck at the top of Upper Grovenor Street which feeds directly into Park Lane, we were surrounded by cops awaiting to be issued with the order for atleast 15 mins, upon seeking clarification with the superindendent, it was established that the cyclists had the option of either proceeding to the pen on the other side of Park Lane opposite the hotel, or continuing to cycle around the surrounding streets around and about the hotel (with continued police presence). An announcement was made on the soundsystem and all the cyclists came together and decided to not go to the pen but continue cycling.

The cycle convoy continued around surrounding streets, passing by many bars, spreading the message of denouncing the Arms Fairs, with facts that make it of direct relevant to ordinary Joe-Public such as the fact that taxpayers subsidise the arms industry by up to £12 million a year. After over about an hour, we reached Piccadilly Circus where we stopped in the middle of the street to deliberate what to do next, with our 2 MC's on the tandem with the soundsystem continuing to deliver much biting polemic. Unfortunately, one of the number got arrested for not moving into the pavement quick enough after the cops insisted we make way out of the road. He was charged, along with 7 others who were arrested for minor offences at the Dorchester.

While at the nick, a man came in claiming his car had been nicked outside the Dorchester Hotel, where 200 cops were in attendance (an indictment of proper policing you might reason!) He wasn't an arms dealer - to a few of us, he had a familiar face and we think he was a tv actor!!!!


DSEi Dinner critical mass addition

14.09.2007 12:47

While the majority of the cyclists were held at Upper Grosvenor St (at junction of Park Lane) three cyclists broke through and were subsequently stopped close to the hotel entrance by 15 or so police running into the street ("dismount or I drag you down") after some theatre, the cyclists were ordered and pushed of the rd on to the pavement and then stopped for cycling on the pavement. Threatened with a fine/ticked for cycling on the pavement they were "stopped" (only one or two of the three got searched), photographs were taken and at the end the three were told that they wont be fined for cycling on the pavement because that would be "disproportionate" (the police figured that out after two of the cyclists announced that they would contest any such fine in court because they were ordered and pushed on to the pavement).

Eventually two of the cyclists were send off (on foot) to the pen, armed with their stop and search form and some copy of a badly written paper telling them they would be arrested if they were found protesting outside the pen. The third cyclists was given no such paper, but a neatly filled out stop and search from, and was sent to the pen (cycling on the pavement to get there).

While the three cyclists were stopped and searched (all three were clearly protesters), the police managed to drag at least tow cyclists off the road who just happened to cycle by.

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