My Day in the Cells

by ADAM RAMSEY

I was arrested outside Fortnum & Mason after the UK Uncut protest on suspicion of Aggrevated Trespass and Criminal Damage. Below is a summary of my experiences of the arrest and of being held. But before I write it, I want to be clear – I am not asking for sympathy and I am not the victim here. A day and night in a police cell is nothing to the impact of these cuts.

When we were inside Fortnum & Mason, the police made it clear to us: if we left, we would not be arrested. At 6pm or so, we left, together. The police kettled us outside the shop. I was towards the back, and so could not see exactly what was going on, though I could see in front of me people who had left about an hour earlier, having been let out by the police.

It then became clear that they were, one after another, leading people away to be arrested. So, we shared notes on what this was likely to involve, and sang songs to keep people cheery.

Eventually, it was my turn. I was placed in handcuffs, asked on camera for some basic details, then led down a side street by my arresting officers – one of whom later turned out to be a part time officer, full time German language student. I was told why I had been arrested (suspicion of trespass and criminal damage) and was asked a few basic questions & told we were in for a long night as they struggled to find enough places in stations to fit us all. Others who’d been arrested were in front and behind, and so we shared friendly banter in the street while we waited to be led away.

After about 30 minutes or so I was placed in between my two officers in the back of a people carrier, with another arrestee in between their officers in the row in front. I imposed friendly banter on the police as they drove us around London for the next two hours, and, to be fair, most of them responded in kind. I even had a good chat with one of the officers, who reckoned that most in the police force basically agreed with our points, though he didn’t quite accept my arguments about the multiplier effect. Otherwise, he played "Tap Zoo" on his phone, and listed various PCSOs who he and his colleagues thought were bad at their jobs.

Once at Ilford police station, they led us into a room called "the cage" where we met a handful of others who had also been arrested outside Fortnum & Mason’s. I waited there for an hour or two as the others were led off ahead of me to be processed. Again, I maintained friendly banter with the officers, who were by this point, pretty exhausted. Once the others were gone, though, an older policeman told me that being arrested "isn’t fun" (I do realise). "You ever planning on going to America?" "Want to get a job?" (er, I’ve got one I like, thanks) "well, if you want to go down this path…" He clearly didn’t appreciate the chat.

Then, my turn. The Sergeant at the station asked various questions – my home address, my date of birth, where I was born, whether I had a history of mental health problems, etc, etc, etc. They also told me I had a right to a phonecall (though they never offered it to me). They took photos, and all of my stuff, and sent me to a cell to change out of my clothes and into a set of plastic overalls. They then led me to have my fingerprints and palmprints taken, and returned me to my cell with a tray of lasagne.

Throughout the night, we heard the various noises you’d expect in police cells on a Saturday – a guy shouting for hours from down the corridor: "If you fucking hate me so much, why don’t you just fucking kill me"; "why don’t you just put a bullet between my eyes" etc. He was later taken to have a shower and wash "the skidmarks" from his boxers.

Hours later, once the sunlight pushed through the bottle-glass – 2 inch panes held in concrete – someone eventually pulled up the small flap on my door and asked if I wanted breakfast: "yes please".

I spent most of the morning drifting between sleep and boredom and hunger and the gentle headache of a caffeine addict. My breakfast and coffee never arrived. The duty sergeant had allowed me to take, for entertainment, a 1×2 inch copy of ‘my rights in the EU’ that I keep in my wallet. I read this. Twice. I pranced around my cell. I even did sit ups and press ups for the first time in a decade.

Then, eventually, an inspector arrived to interview me. I asked him the time: 2:30. "Can I have some food please," "What, you’ve not had anything all day?". He told me that he had been travelling all round London, and had to secure a decision about what would happen to us but hoped to get me out of there as fast as he could – apart from anything else, so he could finish his shift. My food arrived about half an hour later, along with a coffee. The cup was amusingly emblazoned with "Kenco" – never miss a chance to advertise.

Around 4.30pm, the inspector came and took me out of my cell to be charged. In the middle, the solicitors I had requested rang, and reminded me not to give any comment. I was charged with aggravated trespass, criminal damage charges had been dropped. Our date in court is in early May, and until then, I’ve been banned from the City of Westminster.

A few of the bits of stuff I had arrived with were returned to me – my wallet and some food. But, as they had indicated the previous night, not my phone, not my clothes or shoes. These are likely to be kept for months, I’m told. I was given a pair of plimsolls, and released into the public reception of the police station, where someone else arrested outside Fortnum & Mason’s waited. We took it in turns to ring legal monitors and our families, and to buy food for each other as the other 4 who had been taken to our station dripped out in their plastic jump suits. Once the six of us were out, we set off together, to start our journies home, sharing stories and complaining about our lost phones and our lost clothes and our lost day.

I got back to the house of the friends I’m staying with a couple of hours ago, warmed by supportive messages from Twitterers and friends. It seems that everyone arrested alongside me has been released, and been given the same charge – I do hope everyone is OK.

ADAM RAMSEY writes for Bright Green Scotland. He can be reached at: adamramsay@gmail.com.

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece