Duncan Cartmel, a 21 year old Sociology Student, who attended the protest said “ the biofuels demonstration was peaceful, friendly and had a party-like atmosphere. The clowns were not annoying or upsetting anyone – quite the contrary, they contributed to an atmosphere of humour and fun.”
Julia Brownlow, a 23 year old volunteer with Edinburgh Agrofuels Action, said about the protest “it was completely peaceful and light-hearted. None of the protesters were being at all threatening or aggressive. A massive part of this was due to the presence of the clowns. The only aspect of the protest which was threatening was the action and attitude of the police.”
The members of the clown group reported that they were not fed properly, being given only an apple and two plain white buns in a 14 hour period. They also stated that they were not given enough water when they were detained.
Amy Naumann, a 20 year old Quaker and anthropology student at Edinburgh University, said that they had singled her out because she was visible distressed by her wrongful arrest, and because she had not been to protests before.
They interviewed Amy for 2 hours in total, and put her in solitary confinement in an obvious attempt to distress her further. They were asking her for information about other peaceful clown actions and telling her to identify people in photographs or they would bring extra charges against her. She became ill as a result of the stress and anxiety that the police were causing her, and required medical attention during her 24 hour detention.
Sophie Bastable, one of the clowns arrested said “we were there to create a carnivalesque atmosphere and interact with people in a positive non-threatening way. We never expected to be criminalised in this manner. We were under the impression that free speech and the right to protest was our right in the UK but the behaviour of the police have made us think otherwise.”
This latest move from the police is part of an ongoing campaign of harassing peaceful demonstrators over the last six months. Three environmental campaigners were detained for questioning at 7.30 in the morning last month, including one of the Clowns who was charged today.
Jon Panter-Brick of Plane Stupid Scotland said “they came into my flat at 7.30 in the morning last month and detained me for questioning, they were asking me to provide information about other environmental actions that had occurred over the last few months, and wanted me to tell them about future ones. They were obviously harassing me, and trying to intimidate me. Given how regularly this is happening at the moment, it seems to be part of an ongoing campaign of harassment against peaceful environmental campaigners.”
Two Edinburgh environmental campaigners have also been called up and asked by the police to become paid informants, including one member of Plane Stupid Scotland.
25 friends and relatives of those arrested turned up to support them in court.
(1) A comical and entertaining activist group that use humour and ridicule to challenge the status quo. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clandestine_Insurgent_Rebel_Clown_Army
(2) The protest was called by Biofuels Watch to raise awareness about the negative impacts this fuel source has: calling for a an EU moratorium on agrofuels from large-scale monocultures. Agroenergy monocultures are linked to accelerated climate change, deforestation, the impoverishment and dispossession of local communities, bio-diversity losses, human rights abuses, water and soil degradation, loss of food sovereignty and food security. www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/
The protest took place at the BP garage in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh on Wednesday 15th.