Protestor held at gunpoint, handcuffed and arrested for swearing

Taken from Indymedia UK 18th September 06

outside downing street this evening barbara tucker was arrested by machine-gun carrying police, thrown against the railings, and rear-restraint handcuffed.

her alleged crime? – behaviour liable to cause alarm or distress – namely swearing.

peaceful barbara tucker (left) stood outside downing street early this evening, with her pink ‘ blair’s genocide’ banner round her neck, and a yellow placard quoting the human rights article of free expression (suspended by h.m.govt.).

after the court hearing last week, when lawyers trashed the police SOCPA case against her and also had bail conditions lifted, we all thought there would be some respite from the met’s clear campaign of intimidation and harassment, while further cases go through the court. indeed, yesterday, it appeared that was the case, when her protest drew no police attention. (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/09/350931.html)

but this evening she was approached by two officers from charing cross police station who claimed not to know who she was, nor that she has been the subject of 50 previous reports for ‘unauthorised’ demonstrating. as per usual, they claimed that she had not notified her demo, despite the fact that she notified by email on march 6th and has had numerous meetings with the police since then.

also, rather than ‘report’ her for possible summons, these two officers threatened her with arrest! she started shouting the place down, pointing out that last week’s court case had been thrown out by the judge as ‘void ab initio’ – meaning it should never have even come to court and had been flawed right from the start. she shouted about harassment, and amongst this outburst, she used some swear words. the diplomatic protection officers came out from behind downing street gates, and brandishing their machine guns, including actually pointing one at a supporter who was trying to get close enough to take down police identifications as she was thrown against the railing, they used handcuffs behind her back to effect an arrest under section 5 of the public order act.

this legislation is often used by police against persons who swear at them, doesn’t usually require rear restraint, and is generally dealt with by an on-the-spot fixed penalty notice. however in barbara’s case, two vans turned up, she was bundled in the back of one and taken to charing cross police station, where she was held for nearly four hours. there she managed to speak to her lawyer eventually, but this was after an independent police review team kicked up a fuss. police had told her that the lawyer didn’t want to speak to her, while he was being told that she was being abusive and could not speak to him.

police were originally talking about holding her several hours for interview (virtually unheard of for a section 5 offence), but under intense pressure and multiple phone calls from her lawyer, she was finally released at around ten this evening. she refused to take the penalty notice telling the police to send it directly to her solicitor’s ready for appeal.

this endless campaign of intimidation against this lone peaceful woman is indefensible. the metropolitan police must surely have taken leave of their senses. their only defence is that she notified them of her demonstration by email rather than on one of their application forms, and because of this they have embarked on this endless course of harassment. notification by email is surely not a criminal offence, and anyway, peaceful people should not need to notify anything anyway.

it is time the police, and particularly superintendent terry, came under proper public scrutiny for their actions. at the very least, terry and his associates should have a restraining order put on them to stop them approaching the vicinity of Barbara tucker

. in another small illustration of the contempt these people have for free speech, one of her supporters had to rescue her banner and placard after they had been thrown in a passing refuse cart by police at downing street.

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