Astrid | 07.07.2005 21:04 | Repression
Police not only refused access to paramedic crews to those with serious head injuries but also refused to even inform (medical) emergency services that there were such injuries in the area. But I guess when you beat an unarmed person unconscious you don’t want to put that call across your radio.
At about 5pm (???) at the west end of Princes St my buddy and I were removed from a pen of activists (enclosed on all sides by riot police - we were clearly marked as medics and scanning for injuries/ potential injuries) by a riot snatch squad of about 6 officers who were supported by fully padded officers (without shields and helmets). We in no way forcibly resisted our arrest but linked arms as they violently grabbed at us.
They used various means of dragging us off. My buddy was on the receiving end of wrist/arm holds that have left severe bruising on her wrists and upper arms. She was lifted by the handcuffs placed on her which she said felt like her wrists were breaking. Of the whole incident the thing I most clearly recall is her screams of pain.
I was lifted by my arms, now also severely bruised, and also by the use of pressure points - primarily under my jaw/ear - which has left swelling and pretty much continuous pain on the right side of my face. We were both carried face down behind police lines and dumped on the ground. I was cuffed behind the back and forced to stand as we waited to be processed and loaded into police vans.
Despie our continued requests at no point during our "arrest" were we informed of what we had done that warranted our detention. I was only cautioned (the "you have the right..."caution) after protesting loudly at my photograph being taken (whilst I was back-cuffed and physically forced to face the camera) by officers, which I knew was illegal without your consent unless you are under arrest. This was at least 1/2 hr after we had been removed from the crowd. When my buddy asked why she was arrested the police officer replied "For being a wanker".
My buddy and I were placed in the only two isolated cells in the van. Basically a metre square, roof high box with a seat. Officers passed us water under the door, whilst they continued to process other prisoners and fill the larger communal cell at the back of the van.
We firstly made sure we were both ok. (Relatively so) and then played samba - sang various songs out of key (well, I sung out of key) and generally tried to keep things as light hearted as possible.
After being driven in a circle for 15minutes, (due to crowds) then made to change vehicles into a seated van with 6 other female detainees. All were lovely, and the solidarity in the van was inspiring!!!!!! As we told each of our stories, and made sure everyone was ok, we were taken to a woman’s holding prison a few miles outside of Edinburgh.
We were slowly processed. Originally put 2 in a cell (with one mattress), then moved so we were 1 per cell. They one by one let us use a toilet as we awaited processing.
We weren't fed. Some of the prisoners hadn’t eaten all day due to being penned in by the police and were refused food. The police failed to fulfil their legal requirements in the form of contact ph calls - none of which appear to have been made. Our medic support/legal crew had no definite notification we were arrested until a national paper showed our arrests the following day - good thing they’re a perceptive bunch!!! Bibles weren’t supplied on request, (heh!) and unrecorded interviews were conducted with us (I’m not sure of the legality of this) by CID officers who never named themselves. The interview wasn’t about the situation of our arrests, but rather trying to glean information regarding future protests and who the leader of the anarchists was.
At no point during our detention were we officially charged. I only found out we *had* been charged when I was removed from my cell in the early hours and fingerprinted.
"You can't print me, I haven’t been charged"
"yes you have"
"Breach of the peace or something, now put you right thumb....."
We were not interviewed regarding our arrest. (The only interview was the CID evidence gathering re future action)
Food was brought to my cell at about 7am. They couldn't confirm with us it was vegan/and wouldn't supply labels of the microwaved "it could just be edible" food - so most of us weren’t able to eat. Many having not eaten since midday the day before, or earlier, depending on when individuals had been penned by the police.
At approx 9am I was loaded in a cell van and moved to the courthouse in central Edinburgh. The Reliance van (carrying 4 of us) arrived at courthouse to be met with a row of journalists taking flash photographs through the tinted glass.
We were individually processed and led down to the cell area... where my buddy was already locked up in the cell next door. (Having been moved in the first convoy from the detention facility that morning) There were two small cells for women prisoners - each with 2 benches and 6 women inside. All bar one were arrested from the demonstrations – all with similar stories regarding their treatment. The foreign detainees were having more problems in obtaining solicitors and also translators.
We killed hours with daft entertainment. "I spy with my little eye" (prison bars!!!!), ripping the cups into little snowflake-sized pieces - throwing them in the air and singing Christmas carols. - which infuriated staff so much they returned with named plastic cups for each of us. And a range of oragami ornaments were made out of toilet paper. Occasional (usually when we made enough noise to get attention from a turnkey by banging on the walls or all yelling) we were led to the toilet, or were given water on request. (in our named cups)Around 1ish we got fed (chips - the first thing we'd eaten in almost 24hrs)
eventually (at approx 3ish) my buddy and I were seen in court... we were essentially deported by our bail conditions, requiring us to report at our local police stations. Mine in Bristol, my buddy's in Sheffield - as of the following evening. We were banned from entering three council areas (Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth & Kinross) and a three-mile radius extending from George Sq in Glasgow. These conditions are in place till the 10th July. They made a special allowance for the 2 of us (?) to recover our possessions at Stirling, and so these conditions weren’t imposed till 10pm. While we were celled foreign activists were threatened with remand, as they couldn’t offer a UK bailing address.
After being returned to our cells and a good half hour awaiting the paperwork we were eventually released. (4ish) We were led to a side door, given our plastic bag of belongings and thrust out to a gauntlet of journos and then support groups. Big ups to the medics (especially our boy W) who had a support person there ready with hugs and food. (yay for you!) Also the other support groups ready to talk and making sure everyone was ok. I can’t express how invaluable prison solidarity is.
From then on it was a mad rush. It was wicked how many people went out of their way to sort us out (cheers for the lift to Stirling!!!!!!) – despite the fact we were disorientated, sleep deprived and generally feeling the effect of 24 hrs of pent up anger and frustration. Thanks to the indymedia folks who photographed our injuries, the fellow medics on site in Stirling- who gave us food - checked our injuries over - and helped us pack. All the people who were just nice and there with a hug. (And the academy… cough)
We got to Sheffield in the early hours of wed. After a final stop and search en route to the Stirling train station, 1 coach trip, 2 taxis and a decent stomp we arrived in Sheffield. The cost to Sheffield alone must have been around 50 quid each. I had a train ticket that I couldn’t use as the bail conditions took place hours before my train left from central Glasgow. In Sheffield I got a shower, a little bit of sleep - then headed back to Bristol. I had half an hour to spare when I reported to the police station as per my bail conditions.
Solidarity to all other arrestees, especially those still imprisoned on remand for not having a UK bail address.