Maya Evans' diary

IssueDecember 2007 - January 2008
Comment by Maya Evans

As it turned out, having a warrant for your arrest is meaningless on a Sunday.

We were about 30 in number, all wearing identical T-Shirts saying “U Turn for Peace”. The traffic lights changed and a dozen of us started crossing.

Being at the front I was one of the first to sit down before police started limiting access.

I had almost forgotten to do so until I saw another activist taking the initiative. “Oh yeah” I thought, and sat down.

We linked arms seconds before police swooped, dragging us both to the pavement.

Adrenaline

Adrenaline was in full flow. We had already been frog-marched from the meeting point in a park, many of us had been followed by police officers earlier in the day.

This was one of those moments I had to be brave. I've only once been physically handled by police, when I sat in the road outside NATO headquarters two years ago.

It seemed to happen in a flash. A large faceless figure loomed over me and shouted at me to move.

It felt like being back at school and being told off for being naughty. I almost felt the instinct to apologise.

The next moment my arms and legs were being gripped firmly and I was carried off and dumped on the pavement.

It felt liberating not doing what I was told.

Immediately I got up and tried to get back onto the road. Police blocked the crossing. I felt determined although shaken by the confrontation.

Deranged

I marched a little way up the pavement like a “deranged rambler” and tried to climb over a fence about chest high. I was immediately pushed back and threatened with breach of the peace.

The officer asked me why I didn't protest in the penned area. I had to stop and think as I hadn't thought of a proper argument.

I said something about protesting where I wanted and walked along the fence.

Despite wearing sandals I managed to scramble over. The same officer closed in on me.

I was arrested for obstructing the highway. He and another officer started leading me away.

We passed someone lying down. Again, sitting down occurred to me only as an after thought.

I immediately did so and started to shout at the top of my voice that I was being arrested for disagreeing with British foreign policy which supports war and torture.

This drowned out anything officers were trying to tell me. It felt empowering being the one shouting rather than being shouted at.

I'd been helping to organise the action at the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth for six months, and then just before the event was notified that a warrant had been issued against me.

I had refused to pay a fine for reading the names of the Iraq war dead near the Cenotaph.

This meant the Bournemouth action could well lead to my being sent to prison.

At the custody desk, police learnt about the warrant. However, it being a Sunday, certain databases couldn't be accessed for confirmation.

I was kept for a few hours, then charged and released. Four days later, the Bournemouth charges were dropped.

Now I'm due in court for my unpaid SOCPA fine at 2pm on 6 November at Horseferry Road Magistrates Court.

Topics: Anti-war action
See more of: Maya Evans diary