I Was Nearly Arrested for Wearing a Scarf

I was asked on Monday by @quietriot_girl to talk to @DAaronovitch about the brief moment when I was threatened with arrest on the day of the March for the Alternative. It was fleeting, and the officer and I were both firm but polite, so I hadn’t really thought about putting something down about it. Especially when compared with wider, more serious betrayals by police officers, the conflation of UKuncut with the Black Bloc, mass arrests for peaceful occupation, and the general media hullabaloo that typically follows such a large protest.

However @kmachin and a couple of others asked me to put this up on my blog, as opposed to Twitlonger, because it’s more easily linkable. So here you go, don’t ever let it be said I don’t pander to public pressure.

Sergeant Hanna's Badge

I was approached by a sergeant Hanna (pictured right) while I was walking along Oxford street with #anticutsleeds folk after the march (early evening; cold!) and asked to remove my pink scarf covering my mouth and nose under section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act, or I would be arrested. It was quiet, with just a few stragglers walking around. Most of the ‘action’ was then happening about 5 minutes away at Fortnum and Mason. I replied that I thought I couldn’t be required to remove clothing, and he explained that special measures in the CJA which can be signed into effect by a senior officer allow concealing one’s identity to be an arrestable offence. You can (a later google found out) be imprisoned for a maximum of 51 weeks for doing so.

I asked if I could take a picture of his I.D., and he reminded me that I was still wearing my scarf. I remarked that we had a similar name, and removed my scarf. We smiled at each other slightly ironically, and I moved on.

The encounter was brisk, but polite. Why is it notable? If I have nothing to hide, why not show my face? Because our criminal justice system should not require me to prove my innocence – not by what I wear or any other means. Reasonable suspicion, and the burden of proof; semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit – “the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges”* those are the principles by which we consent to be policed.

These powers of removing items that obscure identity were plainly brought in to enable their FIT officers (plenty on the ground) to get clear coverage of everyone – to build up a picture of regular protestors to target. For that same reason I believe the #ukuncut lot were arrested whilst the black bloc were running amok causing much more media-friendly trouble – for their phones (all confiscated); their networks.

How I imagine I looked to Sergeant Hanna, he was pretty tall.

Our criminal justice system works on a basis of innocent until proven guilty, not coercion and intimidation. Kettles, FIT, infiltration and arresting peaceful protest outfits like #ukuncut are all erosions of the principle of the right to protest – they are about scaring people off.

The media drive to distinguish the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’ protestors supports this erosion. The round condemning of so-called*** violent tactics demanded of all involved in protest, serves to limit the debate that protest seeks. It also allows Teresa May the ‘black and white’ tabloid fodder that she requires to ‘help the police with their work’ through legislature banning people from protest altogether. How can anyone oppose such moves if the only alternative to condemnation is being ‘one of them’?

Indeed, it’s worth noting that Yvette Cooper backed these measures. And I’m not making a party political point; rather that this false dichotomy of the peaceful protestor vs. the ‘violent few’ erodes the principles of free protest for us all. Think carefully about what powers we allow our government, because we might not always be able to trust the way that they use them.

“The spectacle of terrorism provides a socially cohesive common enemy, legitimises needs for vigilance, security, and new forms of police repression, and encourages the opinion that even the faultiest of democracies is superior to the reign of terror.” – Sanguinetti quoted in this book.

I say this earnestly as both a protestor, and a copper’s daughter (in one riot, my dad had a bit of paving slab chucked at him) I will not condone violence, but it is not my place to condemn it. What I want to talk to you about is how much I love all of the people there that day, police and protestors. What I want to talk about is half a million people, putting their bodies, one way or another, between the state, and the Tory-led government steamroller.

I am not a radical, I’m a lecturer, PhD student, theatre-writer who on Saturday was threatened with arrest for wearing a pink scarf over my face. I feel very strongly that our country is being torn apart by what you might term ‘real’ radicals. I wish someone would remove Cameron’s veil.

*oh yeah, quoting fucking latin, baby. **

** sourced from Wikipedia, though, like.

*** violence vs. vandalism; lets not get into it.

Share if you like:

14 Responses to “I Was Nearly Arrested for Wearing a Scarf”

  1. Liam Barrington-Bush March 30, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Excellent analysis Hannah, and good on the public pressure from the Twitter massive for pushing you to write this ;-)

  2. Karen March 31, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    Thanks Hannah – I wonder if anyone’s been arrested for it?

  3. etixx energy bar June 24, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    I’ve also moved toward mixing levels at the same time.
    Some of their training consists of choosing biking, running, rowing, swimming,
    and doing it for intervals or for a certain amount of time.
    Learn exercises with a Balance Ball at your local gym to focus on and enhance your overall balance.
    It greatly increases the body’s functional capacity for development of explosive strength and maximization of the
    short-term energy systems.

  4. Edwin July 4, 2015 at 6:22 am #

    In Peru, South America, a fiesta is the moment when the
    troupes of musicians and danhers take thee scene, performing and dancing throughout the city.
    I’ve even felt trapped in a rut similasr to the man in the story above,
    where I thought I could win all my money back, aand it never happened.
    If he corrrectly predicts the future demand annd sells these homes faster, he will tend to make
    a greater profit than the home builder thazt has negotiated a price in advance
    of construction with a buyer. These games can be
    accessed from various websites or app stores in the online market.

  5. Smart X Brain Health July 15, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Good way of explaining, and nice paragraph to obtain information concerning my presentation focus, which i am going to
    present in institution of higher education.

  6. Https://Www.Pinterest.Com/Jacklyin254/ July 21, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    This paragraph is really a nice one it helps new web viewers, who are wishing in favor of blogging.

  7. Leonardo July 23, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    As you keep implementing content marketing strategies, which is
    actually sharing quality information, then your visitors will keep on coming
    back for more. However, because they are free, users cannot have a custom domain name, rather the URL will
    be [insertname]. I discovered the way to make money on the internet.

  8. Misty July 30, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    In just a few days, you can have your shop up and running with Zen Cart.
    The website navigation should cater to both the users and the search
    engine bots. I discovered the way to make money on the

  9. Shana August 1, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    This is how quite a few website owners make substantial 6
    and 7 figure incomes each year. The website navigation should cater to both the users
    and the search engine bots. I discovered the way to make money on the internet.

  10. joomla.org August 2, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Most of these cash advances, generally known as “payday advances” for the reason that they’re thanks at or maybe around the
    customer’s following paycheck, are meant for short-term demands and usually must not be utilised in place of true credit rating If you are a college student
    and kama’aina ( of US, it is perfect for you to avail student education loans for low credit score.

    The reason for this is that many accounts can look
    on one statement and not other folks

  11. Barb August 2, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    It also supports some technical; specifications such as 3.
    Apps forr business: It comes with latest business apps ideal for
    business people across different industry verticals.
    This is the feture I have been wwanting the most, for a long time.

  12. Lawrence August 2, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

    Another 10% do it kind of well although not at a professional stage.
    If these eight steps seem overwhelming, welcome to the club.
    You will also find 30 free tools, and software programs to help
    you build a successfull Internet Business.

  13. Bud August 27, 2015 at 6:55 am #

    Many vintage cycling clothing items have reappeared after disappearing for several years.
    If the winding and the mechanism specifications are perfectly
    optimized, it will instantly produce a nice glow over the filament of the bulb.
    You cannot need to keep young kids in your house given it
    would never certainly be a comprehensive binding occasion.

  14. arachel October 12, 2016 at 10:08 am #

    hello!,I like your writing very a lot! percentage we keep in touch extra about your post on AOL? I require an expert on this space to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Looking forward to look you.

Leave a Reply