Brightlingsea - Day 4

19th January 1995 (eyewitness account)

Three sheep trucks came through in the morning, with what appears to be most of the Essex police force! (possibly second only to the Metropolitan in terms of violence). The police were typically violent to everyone, with lines of riot police crushing the crowd, which included children and pensioners. With a crowd make up like that, I will not be surprised if a protestor is killed soon, assuming these tactics continue to be employed by the state.

I myself was present, but around here the eyewitness account of events at the port ends, because I was arrested for Obstruction (though I failed to find out whether this was Obstruction of the highway, or Obstruction of a police officer in the course of his duties). I was handcuffed, and pulled along by the centre of the cuffs (the cuffs are rigid, and dig in to your wrists - the effects tend to last a few days). When I complained about them being too tight, another policeman said "its a shame they're not round your throat". Another said "if you don't go you'll get hurt"

At no time was I cautioned ("You have the right to remain silent...."), and the only indication given directly to me that I was arrested was the presence of handcuffs!

After the trucks got through, the police had a good old laugh about it all. One riot van had a police group photo. They seem to feel very proud about it all. Maybe they could compete for the title of 'sickest people in Britain'.They certainly are among the most hated.

It wasn't until over two hours later that I was allowed access to a solicitor.


21 arrests: one was for Section 4, Public Order Act (1986) - threatening behaviour, another for assault (a rather hypocritical allegation), all the rest for Obstruction as far as I know.

The person arrested for assault was charged, the Section 4 person was released without charge, and the rest of us were bailed till 23 February, when they will try and offer us a caution.


One problem was that only two of us arrested, as far as I know, knew anything about our rights when arrested. Furthermore, some of the others were telling the police far too much, and going on aboout the circumstances of the arrest. People were being asked to sign things they shouldn't be signing, and were willing letting their photo be taken (I hid my face when neccessary - only once did they manage to get a 'snap' taken, but their camera flash didn't work!).

Its basically because most people present at these demos have not done anything like this before, and haven't been told what to do - so if you are ever organising something of this nature, make sure people get some sort of 'legal briefing' or whatever you'd call it.


Maybe despite all the violence the Brightlingsea residents have seen they are still a bit naive about the police and the state (after all, most of us were, before we became involved in activism). One guy on Monday morning (i.e. before B'sea had seen any violence, and before any animal trucks had come through) wasn't though. He was comparing the British Police to the Gestapo - when the policeman he was talking to said that the comparison wasn't fair, the man said that 'he should know - he lived through it'.


Also, Otley (live exporter and foxhunter) was arrested (!) as he has a habit of provoking violence wherever he goes. In the case of B'sea, he has been riding with the front truck - so the police arrested him when protestors complained of him smirking and sticking up two fingers when riot police cleared the road of protestors. They told him to in future stay away from the port. He was not charged.