Monday, June 18, 2007

What if they gave a race riot and nobody came?

As we were in the general area of Westminster last Friday afternoon to see how the British Oppression demo turned out, and we were early, we decided to check out what Brian Haw and his chums were up to

They seemed a bit grumpy...

and like they’d had a rough night...

and like they really, really, really were trying to get arrested

Haw was having a serious argument with a policemen and recording everything that was being said with voice recorder

Someone else was marching up and down with a loud hailer calling out to bemused tourists with lines like ‘That man in the yellow jacket is full of shit

Someone else was waving a placard with ‘Bollocks 2 Blair’ in front of every car that was driving into and out of the Houses of Parliament

But the police were stubbornly refusing to arrest anyone in Parliament Square. Not that day anyway

To be honest, I had mixed emotions about what was going on. I’m totally behind what Haw is doing but I’ve always maintained that the police are simply maintaining laws made by the real bastards and getting into scraps with them is pointless.

On top of that, protests and demos do need some form of police presence. At one march a couple of years ago a few coppers saved my rear end when I was about to get my arse kicked by a bunch of ‘loyalist’ Irish psychos.

I was grateful


A little later on, five minutes walk away in Whitehall, we got to see what had come of all that publicity for the much heralded British Oppression demo

Not much actually

About 60-80 Union Jack waving White Nationalists had turned up. Most of them seemed to know each other and they were acting more like they were at a works picnic than looking for any physical confrontation

There were slightly more Muslims, maybe 100. Most of them also appeared to have come from one group and the majority were women; fully suited up and waving placards that all came off the same printer. There were maybe 30 or 40 men – their heads uncovered and acting quite relaxed

The Muslim Horde

and policing all of this there were at least 300-400 coppers. Most of whom were sitting eating chocolate bars and playing Nintendo in the 40-50 vans parked in the immediate area

And that was it

It was quite dull actually

And then a policewoman came up to me and tried to pick a fight.

I was standing on an empty traffic island in the middle of Whitehall, miles away from anyone, fiddling my camera when a little trog of a WPC brandishing a clip board walked up to me, stopped no more than a couple of inches from my chest and demanded…

‘Who are you’
‘I’m me. Who are you?’
‘Do you have a press pass?’
‘No? Do I need to?’
‘This area has been reserved for the press so I’d like you to cross back over to the far side of the street’
‘Um, OK but can I wait for the traffic to stop’

a minute or so passes, she’s standing even closer to me, smirking

‘Um, do you want me to run in front of the traffic’
‘No. Of course not sirrrr’
‘Why are you standing so close to me’
‘I’m waiting for you to move. I’m here till 10 o’clock and I can stand here till then’

another minute or so passes, the road is still full of traffic

‘look sirrrr a perfect opportunity’

I weaved between the traffic and crossed the road. Meanwhile WPC Ewok is pointing me out with a biro, marking my card, to a group of policemen

I spent the rest of the afternoon pissed off with myself for letting her get away with it. In my defence I am looking to get a residence visa in a country that requires a police check on me in the not too distant future. So I am a little sensitive about dealing with the police at the moment but that’s no real excuse.

The thing is a few minutes before my little encounter a drunk Australian bloke was walking down Whitehall, saw the BNP demonstrators, stopped and to no-one in particular said
‘Fucking racists’. At which point a policemen turned round and said ‘They have a right to demonstrate’. The Aussie said something back to the policeman that almost certainly included the word fuck and bamn! three coppers had slammed him against a wall and arrested him.

This was uppermost in my mind when my turn came. The policewoman was standing so close to me that virtually any move I made could have been presented as assault, she opened her confrontation with me with a line taken from ‘
How to start pub fights by asking questions that can’t be answered as rudely as possible’ and was hassling me going about my lawful business in a public place.

I’m a 42 year old white man with enough sense not to rise to provocation and it was all I could do to bite my lip. I doubt very much if someone younger, or browner, could have shown that restraint

That’s the great thing about being a copper. You can pick a fight with someone on the flimsiest of pretexts and if they react you can arrest them


The Full Monty

I suppose I could have told her I was about to join one of the demos but I’m not sure the Muslims would have had me and I didn’t have a Union Jack.

I’m still not sure why she picked on me. It was probably something to do with the fact that I obviously wasn’t a tourist and wasn’t part of the press pack. There was a big question mark hovering over my head and if there was thing that really irritates the shit out of The Machine it’s the thought of people it can’t classify. So back into the crowd of gawping American tourists for me.

Alternatively, maybe I was paying too much attention to the police presence rather than the demonstrators. People who take pictures of demos are supposed to focus solely on the most provocative placards they can find...
  • They are not supposed to photograph those spooky police photographers who now attend every demo and jam their frame-mounted rigs into everyone’s face.
  • They are supposed to only photograph those tiny, micro-sized coppers the Met thoughtfully places in front of the largest Muslims and most provocative placards (see previous post) not the 300+ other, considerably larger, coppers in the immediate vicinity
  • And they are most certainly not supposed to giggle at the police ‘spotters’ walking up and down the length of the demo surreptitiously peeking at comical laminated A4 handouts filled with pictures of wanted Islamists that all look exactly the same...

The bottom line – I still think picking on the police is a distraction but I have absolutely no doubt that within the police there are some cunters in uniform who are absolutely loving the way the environment is changing in this country

And I still do not know who was behind that frickin’ demo...



Shahid said...

I'm usually quite restrained with police too, but I'm pretty sure I would have got arrested.

And by the way, how do you know the group of "Muslims" were Muslims?

Great pics btw...

Anonymous said...

The police are going to be very careful not to cause a scene with minorities like Muslims and the BNP. It's very bad for PR and the illusion of democracy. It's us that gets it instead...

Stef said...

@shahid - I appear to have neglected use of speech marks around the word Muslims - my bad

@anon - An old friend was explaining to me over a beer recently that the security forces are fairly confident that they have most of Muslims who represent a serious domestic threat under tabs. It's the non-Muslim, White people with dissident tendencies they're worried about and trying to flush out and profile.

We are all potential terrorists now...

The Antagonist said...

....or, as I once said to Shahid elsewhere, "We're all Suspect Pakis now!"

Great post, great photos. Lots to comment on, I'll be back....

Oh, and while I remember, someone -- one of the flag-waving brigade -- reckons they know who was behind the demo:

The Antagonist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Antagonist said...

At which point a policemen turned round and said ‘They have a right to demonstrate’.

Not the first time a policeman has been on the scene of a similar protest defending people's right to protest, only last time round it was the rights of the radical 'Muslims' to protest that was the order of the day.

And, while the BNP types might have a right to protest, in the same way that everyone else doesn't without permission, they're still "fucking racists" so fair play and credit where it's due to the Aussie for having the temerity to point it out to no one in particular.

Well done for not getting arrested, a feat that is increasingly difficult in this day and age.

Stef said...

I'm not pretending that my experience on Friday was anything but the most minor brush with plod. However, it brought home to me how easy it is for them to initiate a confrontation with someone and bang them up as a consequence.

The difference between someone walking away from a stroppy copper demanding compliance with non existing laws and getting arrested for assault is thin

Shutter said...

Well done for reporting this very, very curious incident when the dogs definitely did not bark.

My bro. had a good way of dealing with cops getting heavy he spoke Norwegian - which they didn't understand and he didn't know --- but they never seemed to discover that.

I am sure that somewhere - if only for idle amusement, they have assembled a rogue's gallery of the lunatics who hang around taking pictures of Plod taking pictures of the lunatic fringe.

You missed an opportunity however to say that you would move off the isalnd jusrt as soon as you managed to get a snap sans any traffic - for Google Earth Panoramio y'see.

Or simply suggested a candle lit dinner for two ?

Stef said...

Things I should have said or done in hindsight

- 'If you want my phone number why not just ask me?'

- Replied in Italian

- Taken a dive and pretended she'd hit me in the nuts ... and said something in Italian

- Taken her number

I do however have her photograph and am looking forward to our next encounter

Shahid said...

l'esprit de l'escalier

Stef said...


Charity Sweet said...

It's so interesting to read others perception of what one has done.

I am the chick commiting the whiteboard crime of B2B. Explaining to the millionth cop why I have a right to be in a place of public access when he is determined to arrest me should he provoke any physical response and should I fall into his questions of entrapment I know so well.

Personally, I have never resisted arrest and the the majority of bent coppers sent to DEAL WITH HAW'S MATES ARE PRETTY VIOLENT.

Charing Cross and Belgravia are known to be political police stations where pretty much anything goes that has bugger all to do with law.

And... there are good cops on the Met. I have met many - trust. I look on the naughgty ones who try to bully me for exhibiting my artwork as needing a telling off from mummy dearest who isn't shy to voice her opinions.

Most probably was a bad night as since Brown slithered into power the pressure has been incresed by the police judiciary and the state in general.

Chief Justice Phillips who heard Brian's case at Royal High Courts of Justice???

He was a silly man in a silly wig wearing a silly dress and talking shit?

How in heaven's name was I supposed to take the man seriously when he was so busy playing dress-up with his mates?

The £76,000,000,000 TRIDENT question is...

Gordon Brown GAY?

Is he happy with his decision to fund these continuous illegal crimes of war?

Charity XXX

Stef said...


I totally understand what you were/ are doing

after all, you don't know if you in a prison until you try the door

it's just that particular day everyone seemed a lot grumpier than usual

and I think we all know the answer to the question is Gordon Brnwo happy with his decision to fund these continuous illegal crimes of war?

all the best


Anonymous said...

I guess the toll is mounting on Brian with continuosly being harrassed by the state and especially now in being dragged through the courts on trumped up charges when the state will not admit their own crimes... ahem...

As females, we all get fed up with big men attempting to bully us with the threat of violence when clarity of mind and situation should be the only prerequisite for what could be a most civil conversation.

Some idiots are just idiots and people are people. There is much good and only a few rotten apples attempting to sour the future. This I believe... peace is possible when we start telling the truth from an open heart.

Art is an invaluable tool of humanity to record history for posterity.

From the history of Britannica, it is the artwork of that time and about that time, including the written word, that should educate the young as to the truth of what once was... and what could be...

This I believe with all my heart.

Charity XXX