the tents rise up
watching the tent city
let's not forget
faces of iraq
the first arrest
tent city 2
although police have been made aware of the plans for today's action, they were not officially notified and so they mingled with the crowd of roughly a hundred protesters, handing out leaflets warning them about the legislation and telling them they were liable to arrest.
at about half past twelve, in a burst of activity, the activists pitched all the tents they had brought, and before the police could react, there were more than twenty erected. the police made a couple more sorties through the crowd and gave out leaflets under the gaze of the 'forward intelligence team' cameras.
police were heard planning to wait until after the national union of students march had passed, and indeed, the parliament square protesters were allowed to run workshops and plays until mid-afternoon.
so at around 3pm a small group of police moved on three women who had been holding the 'let's not forget fallujah' banner at the front of the square near brian haw. they warned each woman that they were being reported for possible summons under socpa legislation for organising or participating in an unauthorised demonstration. they were ordered to give their names and addresses in order to report, and were warned they would be arrested if they did not give their details.
the first woman agreed to give her details, but the second refused, and she became the first person to be arrested and was put in a police van. brian haw (whose own demo is currently allowed under strict police-imposed conditions) pointed out that she was part of his demo, and he harangued inspector robinson who was in charge of the operation. after some time, the woman was de-arrested, and it was thought this may have been due to brian's intervention, but she had in fact decided to give her details after some time to ponder and gained release on that basis.
the police went through the same process a few more times, with apparently random targetting, and some folk gave their details and a few refused. in all, another five people were dragged off, including a member of campaigning group 'justice not vengeance', gabriel carlyle.
after these few sorties, the police took to observing once more. brian haw had a visit from inspector robinson who tried to ascertain who brian was claiming was currently part of his demonstration. the inspector didn't get too far with this. the protesters sang, played games, held workshops and discussions, and also arranged the tents into a circle. there were now twenty six tents in the protest, with one more that had been erected last night for one of brian's supporters.
at charing cross, all but one of the protesters has now been released, the one remaining is thought to be continuing to refuse to give details and may face court in the morning. one of those freed was told that that they may or may not be reported depending on the outcome of various test cases in court. they were not charged and no dna or fingerprint was taken. surprisingly, they weren't even stopped from returning to the square, and have rejoined the other protesters who are in an optimistic mood for the night's stay.
it is very difficult to judge what will happen overnight. on the one hand it seems unlikely that the authorities will allow morning traffic and members of parliament to be confronted by the peaceful tent city. on the other, it really won't look good if they wade in to remove the peaceful protesters in what would likely be a very difficult and costly police operation.