Monday, July 20, 2009
The Smallest Policeman in the World - The Sequel
A week or so ago there was a spurt of outraged tutting about the story of a British street photographer arrested in Kent under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act
What interested me in particular was the photographer's account of comments made by one of the police officers who arrested him...
"For a further 5-10 minutes I stood in the street in full view of passers by handcuffed and accompanied and intermittently spoken to by officers xxxxx and xxxxx. Whilst sharing their views about the threat of terrorism officer xxxxx stated she had felt threatened by me when I took her picture. I cannot recall exactly what she said but I do recall her referring to my size and inferring she found it intimidating at the time (I am 5ft 11in and weigh about 12 stone)"
...which reminded me of something that happened to me a couple of years ago when I was photographing a demonstration in Whitehall (as per a longish post I made at the time here).
Cutting a long story short I was on the receiving end of a totally unlawful bout of harassment from an under-sized WPC who kept closing in on my personal space, under the watchful eye of half a dozen over-sized police officers not too far away.
It got to the point where I had to repeatedly back-off with my hands in the air, just on the outside, maybe not that outside, chance that I was accused of assault and had the crap kicked out of me; as I had already seen happen to another unfortunate half an hour before
All in the course of protecting the public from evil doers and trouble-makers, no doubt
My potential victim clearly knew what she was doing, as did I
These two stories, in turn, reminded me of the adventures of the Smallest Policeman in the World (actually, I've seen a couple, not just one) who gets wheeled out at select demonstrations and staged photo-opportunities featuring large, scary Muslims - especially recent converts with intriguing CVs
Does the Met have a conscious policy of using short-arses and women to make radical IslaMI5ts look scarier and photographers or other persons of interest look like dangerous thugs ?
Fucked if I know
But, speaking as someone who's been on the receiving end of some seriously dodgy behaviour, I have my concerns. The Metropolitan Police started losing my trust with this kind of provocation, plus the occasional public execution, long ago