Missing Peace collaboration with THTC clothing: Poets, Rappers, journalists and Beat-boxers come out in support of a free Palestine

"Take Me To Your Leader" - a personal account of police brutality and outrageous arrests at Occupy Democracy

It was only upon viewing the aggressive police tactics used against Occupy Democracy protesters whilst watching their live-stream one afternoon, that I decided to join the demonstration in a show of solidarity at Parliament Square. I was so impressed by the people I met on this first meeting - and the dignity with which they continued to conduct themselves in the face of overwhelming provocation, that I committed to attend as many of the planned occupations as I could manage.

What I witnessed and experienced first hand was extremely concerning. The readiness with which we were surrounded and hounded by the police on a daily basis was truly shocking. There were targeted arrests to scare off newcomers or those seen to be organisers. We were all pushed and pulled around the Square. I saw a man take an entirely unprovoked punch to the face by one officer, merely for sitting down. I saw one young woman dragged away by her hair and another woman who was pregnant rather viciously floored, despite clear pleas from herself and several others around her at the time. I even saw a disabled gentleman knocked from his walking aids during another provocation. All this to break up a gathering of around 30-50 people, sitting quietly on sheets of tarpaulin and hoping to discuss (somewhat ironically) if democracy was truly in trouble in the UK, to what degree and what might be done about it in a peaceful, open and civilised manner.

The tactics...

Charges ranged from the outrageous to the absurd: trespass, gathering in a public place, the playing of musical instruments, sitting on sheets of tarpaulin, holding banners and placards, even closing our eyes became an offence worthy of arrest as the authorities saw this as, "intent to sleep and therefore cause a nuisance".  I even witnessed a guitar being issued an official caution, once officers realised that upon being cautioned ourselves we would simply pass said instrument to the next capable player.

Officer: "Look...erm...the guitar is being issued with a caution. If the guitar is found to be...playing itself again...the human being attached to the guitar will be arrested..." 

I was arrested and charged with, "obstruction" for throwing a tub of hot food into the hands of Danny "Plinthguy" Freeman. By the time I had arrived at the protest on October 22nd, Danny had apparently had enough of the aggressive police tactics that he had been witnessing - and was 26 hours into a peaceful standoff atop the Winston Churchill statue. For health and safety reasons, the authorities were unable to forcibly remove Danny from his post. Due to his own health and safety concerns, Danny had refused to come down whilst police officers were still present.

The standoff...(Picture: Nigel Howard)

Given what I'd seen, I have to say I sympathised with his position.

The police made their own position that day quite clear; anyone providing or attempting to provide food or even water to this person was to be immediately arrested and could even face criminal charges. I honestly couldn't believe what I was hearing - surely this wasn't legal? It certainly wasn't right.

Given the rough handling of the demonstration so far, I made it clear to the officers that I understood the consequences of any attempt to throw food to the man, clearly stating that I had no intention of resisting arrest. I did say that I thought it was ridiculous - and that such an act would symbolise the sad state that this country had become.

I steadied myself on my feet and made sure the camera's were monitoring. Admittedly I did taunt the officers gently by making several gestures of throwing the food over the fence, mainly to try and guage how serious they were about this threat. They didn't appear to be joking, or in the mood to be - at this point the officers started tiptoeing, reaching high and stretching their fingers into the air like basketball players in order to prevent the transition. To be honest, I'd had enough at this point. The man was hungry and had a basic right to food and water. Of course he didn't want to come down whilst they were still present - they were behaving like bullies. I dropped my guard, as if to have given up on the endeavour entirely, as the officers followed suit, I launched the tub over their heads and into Danny's direction as best I could manage.

Perhaps by some divine intervention, the tub sailed beautifully over the officer's heads, cleared the fence and landed neatly into Danny's waiting hands. The crowd went wild. Unfortunately, at this point, so did the police...

The throw...
The arrest...

The arresting officers grabbed hold of me with such force that they ripped a chunk of skin right out of my left arm. This lead to bleeding, an immediate scar and some rather nasty bruising to come. They didn't mind that they were being watched, they didn't even mind that they were being filmed. Ironically this was exactly the kind of impunity with which the authorities had been acting all along: and which had inspired me to attend to the demo - and a fearful yet defiant Danny to climb the dammed statue in the first place.

The injury, day 1...
The injury, day 7...

Following an almost seven hour wait in a rather dismal cell at Paddington Police Station, I was lead into one of the available rooms, clutching a blanket and a terrible cup of coffee. Sitting awkwardly opposite my arresting officer, with a solicitor sat dutifully by my side, it was then explained to us that we were, "waiting for a detective to conduct the interview process."

"A detective?"

I enquired,

"For feeding a man some chicken?" 

After the officer assured me that this interview was about, "more than just chicken", my solicitor shot me a stern look, screaming silently, "no comment!"

To be honest I've always had trouble keeping my mouth shut in the face of injustice. It's why I do what I do, so to be fair to the man, I wouldn't want to be my solicitor on a day like this either.

As if on cue the detective then entered the room. He was a young man and was very sharply dressed in what appeared to be a tailored suit. He had fair blonde hair, bright blue eyes and clearly took this situation very seriously indeed. With coffee mug in hand and a fixed stare upon mine, he was certainly a far cry from the uniformed street officers that I was expecting to be dealing with.

The detective sat across from me and began the interview:

Detective: "Are you the leader of the Occupy movement, Mr Powell?"

Good lord. I thought. They think there's a leader? I mean, they think there's a leader? These guys haven't got a clue what they're dealing with...

This line of questioning continued:

Detective: "Do you know the leader of the Occupy movement, Mr Powell? 

Detective: "Is **** ****** the leader of the Occupy movement, Mr Powell?" 

A smile spread across my face, much to the unease of everyone in the room, including my poor solicitor. I wanted to tell them that we are all leaders and that yet, none of us were. I was keen to let them know that Occupy was more of an idea than a singular, "movement" - and certainly wasn't spearheaded by one or even several individuals that could be "dealt with" so easily by the powers that be. I felt compelled to remind them that the Occupy movements in the UK were themselves inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York - and no doubt in part by the extreme police brutality that they suffered for their efforts. I wanted to advise them therefore that the inhumane tactics they were unleashing upon us would inevitably create more discontent than they could ever hope to prevent. I wanted to explain to them that if they had been monitoring the situation (or myself) appropriately, that they would realise that I only attended the original Occupy London demonstrations twice. Not exactly leadership material, although I had written and performed in support of the idea and the philosophy behind it more than once. I guess that's enough in these times we now find ourselves in.

I was itching to remind them that the only reason I even attended the most recent set of actions in the first place was due to witnessing exactly the kind of aggressive police tactics that I had now become a victim of. I yearned to import to them that in every sense of the term and at every step of the way, that they were creating their own problems.

I longed to inform them that they were acting as if dealing with something completely alien to them, that in many ways, they were, and that was precisely why I was now being expected to suffer this unbearable "take me to your leader" routine, and all whilst sipping (extremely) watery coffee from a paper cup, whilst they sat across from me slurping smugly over real coffee served in actual mugs? The incredulous bastards!

Of course, I didn't say any of this. Fit to burst, I glanced right at my solicitor. The intensity of emotion in his eyes alone was enough for me to get the message...

"No comment", I replied.

"You knew exactly what you were doing when you gave him that chicken"
- The Metropolitan Police Service

Recipe for Disaster: New Monsanto Poem Pulled from International Anthology

Recipe for Disaster at the Gaia Foundation, London, 23rd May 2013


Forgive us Monsanto for being so bold
We were told that revenge is a dish best served cold…

The seeds of corporate greed over centuries sown
Long term effects on us of which have yet to be known
You've always reaped the benefits of corporate clones
But now it's you Monsanto that we have outgrown

The lies of your insecticides are starting to flower
Like politicians planted in positions of power

Did you think that we’d forgotten all your government ties?
The rotten fruits of your labour, so ripe for disguise

The Specials tonight: Feast your eyes!

Bad Eggs with Uncle Sam’s “Orange Surprise”
Served in surgical strikes mainly launched from the skies
(Caution: May contain chemical agents and lies)

From generational genocide of children you slaughtered
To pesticides pushed upon our sons and daughters

Fast forward through time and we’re asking ourselves
How the same toxins that made life in Vietnam hell
Are now active ingredients in the food that you sell?
Dioxin's boxed-in and on the way to our shelves?

When Monsanto modifies our federal officials
It’s not just our food that becomes artificial
Collateral damage now so unilateral
They’re selling us pests inside food labelled “natural”
And even made legal these dark arts they master
It’s the wealthy’s unhealthy recipe for disaster

But the alarm has been sounded; time to Roundup these villains
Cut the GMO crop of propped up politicians
Uproot the truth to dish the dirt on their unearthly decisions
And campaign against the grain of their botanical prison
Until organic revolution panics them to submission

And once we've baked all the fateful mistakes of the hateful
We’ll serve sweet justice up in the States by the plateful

- Martin Powell


"The NSA is Trackin' You Down"

 You Better Watch Out 

When you're online
Careful what you talk about 
I'm telling you why 
The NSA is tracking you down 
The NSA is tracking you down 
The NSA is tracking you down 

They're making a list, 
And checking it twice; 
They're gonna find out who's naughty or nice. 
The NSA is tracking you down 
The NSA is tracking you down 
The NSA is tracking you down 

They see you when you're Tweeting  
You're emails traced incase 
Your national pride is fleeting  
And they need to give chase 

With little tapped wires, and telephone calls, they're hacking our lives and then storing it all 
The NSA is tracking you down 
The NSA is tracking you down 
The NSA is tracking you down 

They see you when you're Tweeting 
You're emails traced incase 
Your national pride is fleeting  
And they need to give chase 

You better watch out 
When you're online 
Careful what you talk about 
I'm telling you why 
The NSA is tracking you down 
The NSA is tracking you down 
The NSA is tracking 
The NSA is tracking 
The NSA is tracking you down 

(Tracking you down)
Forget about rights, they're so yesterday! They've got millions of files down at the NSA 

(The NSA is tracking you down) 
(Tracking you down)
(The NSA is tracking you down) 
(Tracking you down)

People's Climate March: Reclaim Shakespeare Co. Recreate Deepwater Horizon spill at BP sponsored British Museum

Yesterday, before heading off to join in the People's Climate March I had the pleasure of teaming up with the Reclaim Shakespeare Company's brilliant campaign, "BP or not BP",  to bring the Deepwater Horizon spill into the heart of the BP-sponsored British Museum. We did this to highlight the terrible human and animal suffering caused by BP's gross negligence. 70 of us then joined in silent meditation, focusing on the destruction caused by BP and the need to rid our world of oil. We were honoured to work with both the Quakers and "DANCE" yesterday morning to challenge the Museum on its despicable choice of sponsor. We then headed to take part in the People's Climate March, which was officially the largest demonstration for planet Earth in history. 

Photo's by Anna Branthwaite

"BP is guilty of gross negligence
Why does the British Museum stand by? 

BP is guilty of gross negligence,
Why's this museum promoting its lies? 


Click here to learn more and sign the petition

The true capabilities of the WaWe 9000 Water Cannon the Mayor and the Metropolitan Police don’t want you to know.

I would like to start by referencing an article by Phillip Oltermann published in the guardian earlier this month; Phillip exposed how the German authorities are currently phasing out the WaWe 9000 due to safety fears”. Here is what I consider to be 3 key pieces of information obtained from his report: 

  1. An engineer at Ziegler with whom this recent deal has been struck told the Guardian that the cannons the government have just purchased have been built no more recently than 1995 and still use old-fashioned, pre-digital technology inside the passenger cabin”. 

  1. The German police have themselves admitted that several flaws in the design of the WaWe 9000 contributed to the death of left-wing activist Günter Sare, who was ran over by a WaWe 9 at a protest march in 1985. German police officers also described the aiming of the cannons powerful water jets at a specific target as "a matter of luck" and that the vehicles suffered from engine noise and a cockpit layout which meant those inside had only a limited sense of what was happening outside. 

  1. Video evidence of Robert Booth, a reporter invited to take part in a military training exercise in Belgium to demonstrate how water cannon could be used to peacefully disperse large crowds. Despite assurances from everyone involved that officers “never aim for the head” as a matter of policy, Robert was unexpectedly and unintentionally hit in the back of the head during filming. Robert was clearly unnerved by the experience and concluded that “Despite their high tech systems, these weapons seem as capable of being miss-controlled as any other – and the fear is that if you can be accidently hit in the head during a simple training exercise, worse could happen in real life if they are introduced on our city’s streets”.  

It is important to bear in mind that this accident happened in a controlled environment, with water cannon equipped with technology far superior to that of the “pre-digital” WaWe 9000’s that Boris has decided are fit for policing in London. Sohow exactly are the police planning to minimize the risk of accidents of this nature - given that they will be operating outdated and now unwanted weapons based on pre digital technology?  
With some of the most vulnerable people in this country the most at risk from austerity measureshow long is it before someone is innocently struck down by one of these monsters and is seriously injured or [god forbid] loses their life as a resultTaking this hypothetical a stage further, what if the police were to deal with this incident in the same irreprehensible way that they dealt with the case of Mark Duggan? Then the powers might actually have a riot on their hands.  

As if the incredible force behind these weapons was not enough - something that nobody in power is telling us about is that these vehicles are also designed to be filled with tear gas and are capable of delivering this upon demonstrators with just as much devastating ease as they can water. While I am not at all suggesting that the second these weapons arrive in London the Metropolitan Police are going to have a field day and start dousing innocent protesters with tear gas, they will soon have the capability to do so. Such an act would of course require approval from the home office, however - given that Boris has already decided to purchase these weapons at the behest of the Metropolitan Police without waiting for a final decision from Teresa Ma how can we trust both him and the metropolitan police to respect these procedures in the future? It is also worth noting that any future home office approval could also lead to the use of “smart water”, which contains an invisible marking identifying an individual’s presence if hit or sprayed at a protest or demonstration.  

Yet another reason to oppose the purchase of water cannon that I am not hearing nearly enough about is that these vehicles are expected to last at least 5 years. With a general election looming on the political horizon, do we really want to hand over the potential power of these weapons to an as yet unknown ruling majority?  

Finally, it strikes me as somewhat ironic that in the very weekend following Boris decision to purchase not one, not two, but THREE of these dangerous and undemocratic monster’s to control future protests  against austerity - 50,000 people took to the streets to take part in the People’s Assembly Against Austerity – the demonstration, which brought central London to a standstill last Saturday involved a march from the BBC’s office at Portland Place and a rally outside the Houses of Parliament. Tens of thousands of people marched in unity from across the political spectrum to demand an alternative - and not one arrest was made. Yet further evidence that there really is no justification for the purchase of these weapons to tackle political unrest on this issue - which is probably why the BBC practically ignored the gathering on their doorstep – and why David Cameron declined to comment altogether. 

If the powers that be are in genuine fear of violent unrest due to future austerity measures being announced – they need to start a genuine dialogue with the public and hold genuine opportunities for debate on the alternatives.  

We need to call on Teresa May and the Metropolitan police to service to reverse this decision and assure us that these dangerous weapons will never reach our shores, just as we have assured them that we are equally as fearful of losing our democratic right to demonstrate peacefully in Britain – and that nothing – not even 21,000 gallons of water will serve to dampen our spirits, our cleanse our commitment to justice. 

You can call Teresa May at the Home Office and voice your opposition on 0207 219 5206.

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