Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (1)
I was arrested in Cardiff on Friday during the Earth Strike action and spent the day catching up with my sleep before being released on an unconditional bail to appear before a Magistrate in October, accused of breaking Section 139 (1) and (6) of the Criminal Justice Act 1989.
Without particularly going into the details and mostly just giving my thoughts, here is what happened.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (2)
I organise with and I'm one of the co-ordinators for Cardiff. I've spent the better part of a the past couple of months helping to wrangling all the cats together, organise various networks, promote the event and setting up things like the banner making session. So on the morning of Friday the 20th full of high spirit I packed my bag with the various bits and bobs I was going to need for the day – The main banner, gaffa tape, bunch of elastic thread and the fire alarm we'd sourced to make some noise at 1pm. Being a bit tired from the previous days banner making session I'd forgot to put the fire alarm back together after giving it a bit of maintenance. I grabbed my multi-tool and set off. I'd had it at a dozen actions to help cut, screw and open various things (which had gone through at least one stop and search with no issue or note) and didn't think much of it, it's a small tool to do a small job.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (3)
The audible sigh and eye roll from my fellow organisers is deafening, rookie mistake I know but bloody hell it's a fluffy A-B with the youth and the unions, there wasn't going be any drama!
In my bag I also had some smoke flares, something that we'd been keen on as they are fun to have at a demo and make for fantastic photos, used sensibly they are perfectly legal and there is really no issue with them at all.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (4)
So skip ahead an hour and I'm at the castle, I've put the fire alarm together and put the banner together, fixing it up with some string and gaffa (tent poles really don't cut the mustard, bit of advice here, for something substantial, use wooden poles) and wanted to test of the smoke. I went over to a patch of grass no one was sat in, lit the flare and put it on the ground. A bunch of Youth Strikers came and had some fun in the green plumes of smoke but I kept a eye on the smoke to make sure no one was grabbing it or being silly, they do get a bit hot and it is smoke after all. I think the sudden appearance of a funny smelling smoke made one or two parents twitch ever so little as they shouted to their kid to get out of the smoke and had a bit of cuss at me which I replied too with an apology, reassured them it was perfectly safe, that I had chosen a reasonably open space and that they were in fact gluten free.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (5)
I then picked up the now extinguished flare, walked past the police with it in my hands, giving them a nod, dowsed it in water and put the empty cardboard tube in the bin. Don't litter folks!
Some fifteen minutes later two officers walked up to me (6043 & 6268) and told me that they had been informed I was using some kind of smoke bomb or firework, I asked if I was being detained and was told that I was. “what's your name?” “no comment”, the usual waltz.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (6)
The police officer is acting under the notion that a smoke flare is a Category 4 firework and after a quick conversation with his superior comes back and informs me (If I remember correctly) that I am being detained and searched under the suspicion of having such a firework and to prevent threat to life. He did mention the section I was detained under but I was never given my stop and search sheet so I couldn't say specifically. At this point I know I am about to be arrested and that I'll be released later when they actually look up the law and realise their actions are unlawful. When he asks me if I have anything in my bag, I tell him I've got about the multi-tool, scissors and such.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (7)
He takes these and the two smoke flares I have on in my pocket and summarily arrested me for having possession of a what they refer to as a “bladed article”. Which to be honest came as something of a surprise to me. There is a a nice bit of footage of my face going from “yawn” to “what the flip?” as he tells me what he's lifting me for. He confirms the knife is legal but possession without purpose is his grounds to arrest.
When to van arrives I inform them that I will not be facilitating my own arrest and raise my hands in the Anarchist salute. I am double cuffed and told to stop resisting as he tries to force my arm round my back the wrong way. I tell him I am not resisting and that shoulders don't work that way. Eventually he gets it right and puts my arms where he wants them securing the cuffs tight enough to leave welts 24 hour later and I am lifted into the van for a free trip to Cardiff Bay police station.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (8)
In the station I overhear that I was arrested in part to get my identity and to give them time to work out the law on smoke flares which at this point one of them theorises maybe classed as a chemical weapon.
I decided to write this rather informal statement not because of the arrest (which I feel was somewhat over zealous to say the least) but due to the sad reality that tho they watched me light the flare, pick it up and bin it, all in a open manner, it was some 10/15 minutes later with an opener that tells me that someone sent them to harass me.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (9)
One of my fellow protestors and comrades in the climate struggle made the conscious choice to push the police to come and arrest me because they did not like what I was doing. To be clear, I was being arrested before I informed them that I had a tool, they wouldn't of even noticed it tucked deep in my bag under a bunch of stuff as it was. Even if I'm wrong in that slight assumption based on what I saw and heard, at the very least someone informed them upon request and they were pointed in my direction.
Why would you do this?
I'm sure whoever sicced them on me felt that the police were friends there to keep them safe, to facilitate protest and generally there to be used as a weapon against anyone who does something they don't like.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (10)
This is an utterly absurd reaction from a protestor and one of the most unsettling results of the liberal attitude towards to police, chants of “police we love you” and the encouragement of familiarity with them during protests. Simply because someone felt like the police we more on their side than a fellow protester I now face a possible three years in prison for possession of an item I used to put the protest together but heck even aside from the gift of my own stupidity I could have been someone with a warrant out for my arrest, I could have been a run away wanting to lie low, I could have had some weed on me or even cared to resist and end up getting a battering or worse by the law.
Do not talk to cops!
Particularly at protests and certainly don't dob on fellow protestors!
This really shouldn't need saying.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (11)
So some random guy did something you didn't like, there was no aggression, no one was at threat of harm, just move on and go about your day or better still, talk to your fellow humans and find common ground. This failure to communicate that resulted in someone feeling more comfortable asking the smiling coppa to deal with it rather than take responsibility for themself is endemic in our society and something that we really must rally against.
At worst, talk to a steward, it's what we make sure they are there for, to assist and support you.
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (13)
I just want to urge all of my more liberal minded comrades to take this into account and talk to their various groups and networks before they go to another protest.
Anyhow, my little drama didn't spoil what was I hear a fantastic day of protest with estimates going between 1200 to 3000 people. This is pretty serious numbers for Wales and flew right past our hopes of a couple hundred. I cannot thank my fellow organisers enough for all their hard work and that of the networks they represent. Huge respect to everyone who came out on the day, especially the Youth Strikers who have been leading the way in the climate struggle for the longest time now.
Keep it up comrades, we are all united behind you and together with any luck we will bring about the changes required at all levels to keep this beautiful planet of ours alive.
Footage from my time in the clink:
Statement from Friday's Arrestee in Cardiff (13)
@FrontGreen Crap that someone pointed you out, really :( I'm sure you'll get support later if you need it. Glad it was otherwise successful
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