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Barbara’s Blog



Thousands of people will be protesting over the next few days at the G20 summit in London, exercising a right which is being increasingly curtailed – witness this shocking post by Barbara Panvel.

The Stirrer’s message board entry on the Stasi state (Stirrer forum link here) would not normally have made much impact on me and forebodings I hear expressed about movement towards a police state from time to time are soon forgotten – but now such concerns have been justified by a friend’s experience.

Neighbours of this retired teacher living in a small Welsh village were amazed to see four policeman and two policewomen arrive at her door in a large van at 8.30 one morning on the 11th of March.

Without having or finding a shred of evidence to justify this action her home was searched, she was arrested and taken to a police station, locked up for a couple of hours, interviewed, fingerprinted, DNA swabbed and then returned home.


Because four days earlier, with one other person, she stood outside a Sainsbury store and distributed leaflets urging people to boycott Israeli goods in protest against the disproportionate bombardment of Gaza.

The manager of the store called the police and two police cars with four police officers arrived. They spoke to both of the leafleters and the sergeant agreed that this was legitimate protest and that there was nothing illegal in the leaflets – but nevertheless asked for her name and address.

Though nothing incriminating was found at the house or elsewhere, she has been charged with conspiring to cause racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage and is on bail.

She believes that she was legally exercising her democratic right to peaceful protest and has written to her MP, whom she will see on Friday. It has also been suggested that she contacts Birmingham’s celebrated human rights lawyer, Philip Shiner.

Her companion has a different MP, Alan Williams, who is to protest against the disproportionate reaction to the picketing and will write to the Chief Constable of the South Wales Police Force to ask for an explanation and for the return of a computer.

Sainsbury’s management was no doubt ultra-sensitive at that time and had over-reacted because, a few days earlier at another store, a couple of boxes of Israeli peppers had been sprayed with red paint and a 'Boycott Israel' slogan spray-stencilled on the floor, by people with whom my friend had no connection.

Though a police website says that reasonable grounds for search and arrest can be established by obtaining witness statements or physical evidence, this innocent idealist faces serious but apparently ‘trumped-up’ charges for which there are no such grounds.

Police are reported as saying that anyone causing trouble at the G20 next week will be tracked down - but this example of their tracking skill certainly inspires no confidence – demonstrators on the 28th beware!

Who authorised this expensive and disproportionate use of police power and numbers – and why?



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