Resisting IV

What did I learn?

I found out about lock-ons. These are plastic or metal tubes about a metre long. You put your arm inside, and hold hands with the next protester inside the tube. Perhaps you tie or fasten your hands together. This makes it more difficult for the police to move you. When they try, if you go floppy it is more difficult to lift you: I saw someone attempt this technique but get moved anyway.

The police have stopped cars, found such tubes, and prevented them from going further; but possessing the tube is not itself an offence or a reason to stop the car. When stopped, the driver has to give their name and address, but no other occupant has to.

Some of the protesters seemed a bit blasé about arrest. I would be horrified. Arrests and court appearances cost money; sometimes it seems a person would be arrested simply to get them out of the way of the demonstration. The number of police and police-vans at the north gate was intimidating. If arrested, you must give your name and address, and they can take fingerprints, DNA and photographs. Pat of Pax Christi had been on a recce a few weeks before, and when she took a photo of the timetable at the bus stop, a passing patrol stopped to question her. For her, being completely open about action is part of non-violence, so she explained. The police completed a form about the conversation, which had to give a reason for it. They wrote that she “appeared disorientated”, which she found insulting.

A police officer might press the pressure points behind the ears. This is intensely painful, as I remember from when at school. They are not allowed to do this without consent from their “Silver”, who is at least chief inspector rank. They tend to resort to such tactics when they shut down the protest quickly.

Protesters had legal observers, trained to watch out for police tactics and actions.

Don’t speak to the police, particularly the police “liaison officers”. They seek information about protesters, in the guise of friendly chat. So now writing this I wonder whether what I choose to emphasise might be useful to them in some way. Careless talk costs lives.

Walking to the meeting house, down a ginnel, I passed a man urinating against the wall. Just starting to urinate as I passed, he swore when he perceived me, seeming embarrassed: not disgusting or shameless, then, simply he did not see a better alternative.

Too late back in Swanston to get the bus, I decided to sleep at the meeting house. There was a meeting going on there. I said I was with the Quakers, and asked to use the microwave. Eating my meal in the meeting room, I was interrupted by a man who asked me how Quakers started, I think to test me: first, he asked about our Famous Internee in the burial ground. So I explained that churches were controlled by law during the Civil War, and one man in 1652 thought he knew better. So we worshipped as we saw fit, arrogantly claiming that we were inferior to no-one, and getting imprisoned for it until there was greater religious toleration in 1688. He was nervous, trying to catch me out. “Enjoy your holiday!” I said, as he scuttled off.

Frederic Leighton, Winding the skein

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