road protests 1998
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Date: Mon, 09 Mar 1998 22:02:42 +0000
From: Gregory Sams
Organization: chaOs worKs
Subject: Re: www.tarcl.com
"An unusual day at chaOs worKs last Thursday. I have a new assistant,
Antonia, and took her down with a carload of activists to Somerset
so she could get some personal background on Fluffy direct action.
Got some unexpected experience myself. Wrote it up for one of the
alternative magazines who are supportive of my book- latest story
draft (9 MARCH [revised 14 MARCH]) follows."
BUSTED at DEAD WOMAN'S BOTTOM on 26feb98
I've not had much experience of the police before, other than going
through the breathalysed & banned routine many years ago - and getting
carried out of Claremont Road by four of them in the 1994 NoM11 siege.
So getting actually arrested at Dead Woman's Bottom was a special
experience for me. Some friends had made it their home for the past
eight months, trying to stop a road going through this quite beautiful
piece of nature - to a new open quarry mine so big it will be visible
from the moon. They'd been evicted a few weeks earlier, and were going
back to Somerset for a day of direct action - I went along for the
ride and the research. The Name? - it got that in the Middle Ages
when the area was used for executing witches and pagans - no doubt
for their own good, and in strict accordance with the law and judiciary.
Of course, I've just written a book,
UNCOMMON SENSE - The State is Out
of Date, which takes a pagan kind of view on the whole political
nation-state system that thinks it runs the world. The senior police
officer wasn't to know that though, when he ordered my arrest at 2:35pm
for a breach of the peace whilst alone in my wheelchair, at the bottom
dip of the hill on the public road through the area, surrounded by a
dozen relaxed policemen. I was just explaining to him that my companion
on the trip had wandered off before the police ordered everybody to
vacate - so she'd return and not know where everybody had gone,
including me - her lift from the middle of nowhere back to London.
Before I could finish explaining this to him he asked me to vacate the
area and when I continued to explain he promptly ordered my arrest for
a "breach of the peace" and four policeman lifted me and the wheelchair
into their van which it just happened to barely fit. Lucky, eh? At least
I was in good company - locked in the cage atthe back of the van was eco-warrior Arthur Pendragon, crowned King Arthur
on 3rd January this year at Kingston(e)-upon-Thames after successfully
reclaiming his Excalibur sword from the stone hand of the state.
It had been illegally seized by the police at the 1997 Reclaim The Streets
Party in Trafalgar Square.
There followed, I presume, the usual processing routine - compounded by
their finding some dried plant material on me (cannabis) and some
suspicious looking stuff of a non-controlled variety that should pose
no problem after analysis. I was immediately re-arrested, moved for
another routine, then locked in and out of the police cell four times
before finally getting released on bail, without charge, after darkness
had fallen. Though it's never happened before I wasn't confused or
surprised by the inane inhumanity of it, or pissed off that all they
wanted to really do was "find" as much crime as possible - they love it
- "Oooh, what have we here?" Never mind the absence of any initial
victim - the police will take care of that. When I understand why
something senseless is being done, it doesn't bug me so much.
In fact it becomes almost amusing, and if their search had somehow
missed one pill, I definitely would have heightened the experience
by taking it when locked in that police cell.
I have devoted a chapter in my book to the un-natural inefficiency
of organizations operated by the state - including the police force.
But even so, I got a real slap in the face at Dead Woman's Bottom
with a personalized Full Monty display of the plod in action.
The most striking single realization to hit me was that your basic
DHL courier driver, trained to use a hand-held processor, has far
more technological power and responsibility at his fingertips than
does your average plod and his average superiors. I had to spell my
full name out at least six times to different police men and women
for one reason or another - each time studiously jotted down in pencil
or pen on one or another of their multi-part forms or notepads.
I reckon the police could make a fortune at auction by selling
off autographs of all the famous people they have held in custody.
We are talking tedious and tiresome "business" practice. Notwithstanding
access to a few high-tech toys, today's police are STONE AGE in terms of
their procedures, their structural efficiency, and in their ability to
really harness today's technology. OK - let's imagine that the war on
drugs is over by the end of the millennia as the world's banking and
currency systems acknowledge that they would collapse were this vital
and valid element of world trade to be excluded. Let's even imagine for
a minute or two that the police aren't wasting ANY of their expensive
time on prosecuting victimless crimes and reasonable behaviour. OK this
is all good stuff, but now who's protecting us from the people who might
want to steal our money and valuables, our expensive substances and our
high-tech toys, our designer sneakers and cellular phones? You think
these guys are going to be able to protect us efficiently - even when
we're not funding them to waste their time on non-crime? I don't think
so. Most small supermarkets and bookstores adapt more efficiently to
technology than today's disconnected police. Maybe we should let the
supermarkets look after law and order. But that is almost as ridiculous
as what we have now.
The current police organism thrives on crime since ever more criminals
creates the need for ever more police, and "the force" inwardly assumes
crime to be an ever-growing problem. As an organism, of course, this
is it's best growth and survival strategy. The invention of ever-more
victimless crimes is a natural result of such a structure - a system
that verily feeds upon crime and grows along with it. Nobody gets
rewarded if the police reduce crime - and thereby the bulging jail
population and their own numbers.
Nevertheless, crimes with victims can and do still occur and most of us
would like to reduce the likelihood of us being that victim - without
needing to pack a gun, take up martial arts, or live in a fortress.
We could, reasonably, look at crime in society as a disease - and see
that the current approach to its treatment is actually prolonging and
exacerbating the disease that we are paying the plod physicians to cure.
You've heard the story of the traditional Chinese doctor who gets paid
small amounts regularly, but only while the patient is healthy and well.
Well what about a police force who survive by getting paid regular small
amounts when you are not threatened - and then have to foot the bill if
a crime does take place that causes you a loss? Doesn't that sound great?
It's actually more attainable than it seems. We already have two of the
parts - they are just not connected. We pay a substantial amount in
taxes already to fund a police force that depends on crime for a living.
That's one part. The other part was footing the bill when crime happens.
The insurance industry does that as we pay them regular small sums to
cover the whole cost of whatever we choose to insure. They pay money out
when crime occurs, and even if you are murdered right after you send in
that first cheque for fifty pounds, they will foot the bill for the rest
of your surviving partner's mortgage and the children's education and
upbringing. Believe me, they would be happier if you were not murdered
or even robbed. They have plenty of other things that people insure
against, from rain cancelling play to earthquake demolishing buildings.
What we basically want is to pay someone to protect us from crime and
to have that same someone compensate us for any lapse in their service.
This gives us a whole system with a complete feedback loop.
It would be in the interests of such someone to actually reduce the
level of crime that represents their lapses and their main cost.
And it would certainly not be in their interests to waste time and
money because some person prefers cannabis to booze, or indeed waste
money putting anyone in jail for their personal habits,
so long as they do not adversely affect anyone else's chosen lifestyle.
So, what does one suggest - should the competence, expertise and
trustworthiness of the world's police forces be directed towards
running the global insurance industry? Or should the skills,
technology, and responsibility of the global insurance industry
be directed towards making the world a less criminal place in which to be?
As a footnote - whilst I was sitting in jail following arrest at
Dead Woman's Bottom, a fax arrived in my office finally ending the
three-month search for a distributor to handle Uncommon Sense,
a book that fits this "Chinese doctor" concept into a larger framework.
In a funny kind of way, it seemed appropriate that this should arrive
the day I am in jail on two charges, both of them dealing with
subjects to which this book devotes a chapter each.
- Gregory Sams (revised 14 Mar 1998)
Uncommon Sense is to be launched 30th April - info & excerpts
road protests 1998
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