Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]