Dealing with 'Counter-Terror' police at the Airport
Originally published on Rabble.org.uk on 12 January 2016
Bristol Anarchist Chases Away Counter-Terror Police
Today at Stansted Airport, plainclothes police officers pulled aside a travelling anarchist (Tim from Bristol) and seemingly sought to coerce him into becoming an informant with a combination of intimidation, veiled threats, and offers of free alcohol. But when he started recording the officers on his mp3 player they quickly terminated the exchange and made a sharp exit.
He believes he was targeted by counter terror police because of his Anarchism, stating: “Anarchism is about ordinary people standing up to the rich and powerful – exactly what the police are there to prevent. These people claim to be protecting us, but they spend most of their time blacklisting trade unionists, spying on activists and harassing ethnic minorities.”
Here’s his full account of what happened today:
“As I was leaving the EU e-passport gate about 1pm today, I was approached by a man who came out from behind the desk to the left. He was a similar height to me, with short light brown hair/beard, and a light northern English accent. He said “Hi Tim, I’d like to have a word with you. I think you know what this is about”. I got my phone out and called a friend as soon as he started speaking. I told him I had a phone call which I needed to take. A man who had approached in the mean-time from the right, wearing a grey suit-jacket, asked me to turn my phone off. I repeated that I had to take the call. When my friend picked up I asked them to call my solicitor.
The man in the grey suit identified himself as a police officer. The man who’d originally approached me asked me to go with him again. I asked “am I being detained?” and he said “it’s nothing like that”. I said that I’m busy and needed to get on. He said “so am I” and that it wouldn’t take long. He kept saying that he wants to talk somewhere else because it would be “in your interest” and I wouldn’t want to talk about it in public. I just repeated that I wanted to stay where we were.
I asked him what it was about to find out if I could leave, and he said that I’m “heading down a dark path” and repeated that we should talk in private and “I can buy you a drink”. At this point I’d had enough so I told him “if I don’t have to talk to you then I’m leaving” and started walking. He said “we’ll come with you”. I said “I’d rather not” but he walked by me anyway.
He asked another question about why I didn’t want to talk, to which I replied “I’m not obliged to answer that”. He was obviously not going to leave me alone even though I’d made it very clear I wanted him to go, so I visibly got out my mp3 player and set it to record. I held it up and asked “who are you, what’s your name?” (he had so far refused to identify himself). He said “You don’t need to record this”. When I didn’t stop he turned away from me without a word and walked off briskly, joined by another man dressed the same (short hair, dark grey jacket). I followed him, repeating the question several times but they ignored me. Eventually the man who said he’s a cop stood in my path and said “calm down fellas”, allowing the two others to walk away. I left the airport and called the solicitor Raj Chada of HJA immediately to let him know what happened.”
This isn’t the first time that British counter-terror police have fled when faced with being recorded either – see https://corporatewatch.org/videos/2014/activist-harrassed-counter-terrorism-command. This just goes to show that if you’re approached by the police to be an informant, standing up to them is the best response. They don’t like it when we record THEM and ask questions, or when we stick together instead of letting them intimidate us one by one. Police feed on our isolation, so it’s when we stand up to them publicly instead of keeping our heads down that they back off and leave us alone.
If you are approached to be an informant, there’s some great advice on the freebeagles website – http://www.freebeagles.org/articles/grass.html . As a quick summary we’d say:
- Say nothing – you have nothing to gain by telling them anything, whether it seems important to you or not. Saying anything at all is a sign of weakness and makes you a target
- We’re always safer together. Let friends and comrades know what happened and make it public as soon as possible. Your local defendant solidarity group may be able to help
- Get in touch with a solicitor (see https://netpol.org/solicitors/ for a list of good ones in the UK)
- Put THEM under the spotlight – it’s a proven fact that police hassle people less when they shout about it and talk to the media
For information on police harassment in general, the articles by Bristol Defendant Solidarity are also well worth a read, covering everything from the bare minimum you have to say, to what to do when faced with raids and arrests – https://bristolabc.wordpress.com/defendant-solidarity/police-harassment/