Snippets of informed gossip, intrigue and odd occurrences
Squall 15, Summer 1997, pg. 45.
Rifling The Ravers
Cruising back to London from the Easter Exodus rave we were pulled over by a group of fat machine guns ready to burst.
It was around 11am on Easter Sunday and the blue circus performer’s truck, complete with chimney stack and ornamental paint work, was being ably handled by a trapeze artist, who had herself been at it all night. Sprawled in the back were around eight slumbering aftermaths and a still bubbling four and a half year old girl.
The Anti-Terrorist Squad ordered us against a wall - “I said backs against the wall!’ - before proceeding to search our pockets for rocket launchers and our cigarette packets for Semtex. Even ripped rizla packets were held up as evidence of potential terrorist activity - “So what’s this for then?” said one, “roach?”
No, no you’ve got it all wrong officer, we use bits of cardboard to light fuses.
I suppose the forty minutes we spent being manhandled and prodded with machine gun barrels was prolonged somewhat by one post-rave casualty’s insistence that one of the coppers looked like a familiar member of the Stoke Newington Police Force - “Didn’t I buy some crack off you once?” He felt the necessity to ask.
However, twitching trigger fingers were eventually disarmed by four and half year old Leah, when she insisted that police take her name as well.
“Well I couldn’t faakin’ believe it,” Leah told Squall. “They handed me a note saying that under stop and search powers contained within the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, they were allowed to treat us like international terrorists.
What I want to know is how many flat-beds packed with explosives slipped passed whilst they were giving us the third degree?”
Fitted right up - a cautionary tale
A fifteen-storey former dole office seemed the perfect choice for an overnight squat to highlight the introduction of the Job Seekers Allowance last October so a bunch of likely squatters occupied the building with a view to drawing the media’s attention to this introduction and changes to Housing Benefit payments for under 25s.
In the morning, the JSA became law and the rozzers eventually realised the building was occupied. They worked their way around it, trying to work out how the squatters had gained entry. At this point one of the squatters - who wishes to be known as SOS (Sadly Optimistic Squatter) - was convinced that running round the building checking up on the police all day was pointless after a sleepless night, deciding instead to go and have a chat with them.
Having explained what the squat was about and when the occupants planned to leave, our SOS then attempted to get back into the building as agreed. Little did she know she had been talking to PC Tony Brittain, of the Metropolitan Police’s Forward Intelligence Team (FIT). This FIT ferret had failed to sniff out any information about the squatting of this huge building, despite having been specifically working in the area because of predicted actions outside local dole offices. Consequently, he was not in the best of moods when our squatter chose to inform him about the action after it had happened.
SOS: “So I can go back in now can I?”
Brittain: “Shall we let her? Oh all right then, go on. But you’re all out by six, right?”
She then spent a few moments convincing her slightly less sad and optimistic mates still inside the building that it was OK to open the door. After much cajoling they agreed.
No sooner had SOS put her foot in the door than Brittain and his pals had theirs in there too. With a sickly smile Brittain turned and said: “Sorry, SOS, I lied. I am a bastard aren’t I?” How they all laughed.
Brittain proceeded to point at people who had gathered outside the building to prove just how much he knew about activists and what they do, recalls SOS: “To be honest he wasn’t that impressive, but he knew a few names and was clearly aware of loads of different groups and what they do. What was most disturbing was his underhand, slimey pleasantness and apparent understanding of the issues. He was clearly trying to extract information from me” She later told Squall what she had learned from the incident: “I can’t believe I was so fucking stupid. Never trust a copper.”
McGreedy V the BBC
The McDonald’s Corporation dug itself deeper into the McLibel public relations quagmire last December, when the longest court case in English legal history finally finished hearing its testimonies.
Naturally the media were interested in the news value of the grand finale and amongst those attending the sum up speeches was Joshua Rosenburg, legal affairs correspondent for BBC news. However, Richard Rampton QC, who submitted his sum up speech to the court in written form, refused Rosenburg’s request to view a copy. Much to the further annoyance of Rosenburg and the BBC news team, McDonald’s then changed their mind and said they would give the BBC a copy but only if they gave a donation to one of McDonald’s children ‘charities’.
The outraged Joshua Rosenburg had no intention of funding one of McDonald’s public relations scams and refused the offer. As a consequence, BBC news coverage of the event was unusually non-conformist, and included lingering camera shots of the McGreedy logo presented in the very ‘factsheet’ over which McDonald’s are suing. It also included a quote from Dave Morris letting the audience in on the secret that “McDonald’s are one of the most successful propaganda machines” on the planet.
Meanwhile, an offer from McSpotlight to put Rampton’s closing speech on the internet was similarly refused. As Mike Love, Communications Director for McDonald’s UK, told Squall cryptically: “Those taking part in the action should look at the facts and be aware of the truth.”?