On 29th April Queer Resistance the LGBTQI anti-cuts collective planned a Royal Zombie Wedding Celebration in Soho incorporating a picnic breakfast, performances, a zombie blessing and marriage ceremony by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence followed by a zombie flash mob through Soho.
This action, neither pro nor anti royal, was to highlight the impact of the cuts on the LGBTQI community, most notably;
· HIV care & prevention services
· Domestic violence services
· Treatment referrals for transgender people
· Hate crime prevention & victim support
· Youth homelessness prevention
· Anti-homophobic bullying work in schools
· Support to under 18s at risk of sexual exploitation
· Rape crisis services
· Disability living allowance and housing benefit
· Pride funding
The morning saw several arrests of early arrivals to the action; all were placed in cells, de-arrested and released after several hours. There was some particularly bad treatment by the police which included an alleged assault of one of the arrestees.
The group decided to persevere with the action and met in Soho Square at 12 o’clock, planning to picnic at 1pm after seeking confirmation from police that no arrests would be made for picnicing. Shortly after people had gathered at 1pm and before the performances were to take place individuals from the group spoke with police to once again confirm that no arrests would be made, the full video of this conversation is here: http://bambuser.com/channel/ronanshaun/broadcast/1615419
Approximately half an hour after this conversation the police evicted the group from Soho Square under threat of arrest, the full video of this can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zt98ys08vo&NR=1
Individuals from Queer Resistance are now in touch with legal advisers who are seeking statements from witnesses to the arrests; these should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those arrested are also asked to get in touch with Queer Resistance as we are planning a full debrief session to give support to those affected, discuss further action and to learn as a group from what happened.
Queer Resistance is a collective of queers and allies from across the UK coming together to fight the cuts – including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer folk. We come from all communities, backgrounds and walks of life and we share this common objective. As a group we strongly defend the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression both of which were denied to us yesterday.
I was one of five people dressed as zombies who were arrested for ‘potential breach of the peace’ in London on the 29th of April, 2011 – the day of the royal wedding. This is my account.
My friend Chris Farnell runs a zombie blog, and had heard there would be an event involving zombies for the Royal Wedding. As Chris lives in Norwich and I live in London, he asked if I would go along to take pictures and report for him. I had heard that Queer Resistance were some of the organizers and that there would be a gay zombie wedding as part of the celebration. I wasn’t sure on any of the finer details, but it sounded like fun.
I heard the event would be 10:00 – 12:00 at Soho Square. I had noticed that the Twitter hashtag #RoyalZombieFlashmob wasn’t moving at all that morning, but I didn’t think much of it.
I got zombied up in a bridesmaid’s dress, headband of white flowers, dark circles around my eyes and some ‘blood’ (lipstain) running down my chin & from a wound in each arm. My housemates said nice things about my costume and told me to have fun. I left my house in Archway at about 9:45.
On the way my mother rang and asked what I was up to. I told her “off to report on a zombie flashmob for the Royal Wedding”. She was tickled and said it was nice to see the tradition of alternative celebrations was still going strong. “Don’t eat any brains I wouldn’t eat, Kiddo.”
En route my friend Mary, a journalist with more than a passing interest in zombies texted saying she’d heard that the organizers had been arrested the night before, and be careful. Read the rest of this entry
April 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm
PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANY ACTION WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING ME.
So, regarding the conduct of the met police towards me and my trans friend on the 29th of april 2011, this is my account of the events that took place. Starting with arriving in soho.
To begin, me and my friend arrived in london a little before 10am, to attend a zombie flash mob picnic in the park to raise awareness against the cuts taking place in our country, focusing mainly on the cuts to the NHS, Education and our other public services, organised by Queer Resistance. This was an entirely peaceful protest that was really truly just a bunch of awesome peaceful people sitting around in Soho sq London having tea and dressing as zombies, shame I never got to attend.
At 10am we were in Soho sq looking for the group, seeing none of them around and a few people in bandana’s and hoodies playing up for the camera, we smelled trouble and decided to go elsewhere and try to find everyone else. I know I stick out like a sore thumb and am every coppers wet dream of an easy looking arrest on such a day as the royal wedding.
At around 10.30am we made our way out of the of the sq smelling trouble coming and not wanting any, as we walked out onto one of the a joining roads out of the area heading south we pulled our bandanas up as some paparazzi took our pictures, neither of us wanted our pictures used as part of some media stunt. As we moved further up the road we pulled our bandanas down as to not be concealing our faces, as we knew this would single us out, fat luck really because we had already been spotted by a group of 6 police officers, consisting of five male and 1 female officer who then proceeded to pull us over and use Section 60 to stop and search us.
We were perfectly compliant and didn’t kick up any kind of fuss, in fact were friendly and courteous to them, they searched through our belongings finding between us some zombie makeup, fake blood and a flyer for the zombie flash mob.
But this is not all, when searching my person the female police officer said to me “Okay, I’m going to feel under your bra now” To which I replied “That’s not a bra” At this point her hands were still on my chest “What is it then?!” ”A binder” ”Whats a binder?” (At this point, may I point out her hands were STILL on my chest) To this I said “I’m Transgendered”
In this time she was feeling my chest way more than she needed to, this entire conversation took place while her hands were going over and around my chest while she held the same quizzical curious expression on her face, whilst she stared at my chest. I can say I was more than uncomfortable. She then after doing this, and being told I was Transgendered continued to misgender me, as did the rest of the police present. I tried to put their numbers in my phone but they told me to put it away or it would be confiscated and then they took it anyway when they put us in the van.
May I mention at this point, that I am a fully trained security guard? So I know how to do a pat down, that was not a pat down that was a grope and a violation of my privacy, and may I add that when searching a female bodied person you are not allowed to touch their chest, at all with an exception of a running of the backs of the hands down the front, once and nothing more unless you feel something and then you have to ask them to remove it.
She then went to check my waist and lifted my t-shirt a few inches to get a look at my binder, like I wouldn’t notice/it didn’t matter as I would most likely never say anything about it.
They went to talk to their commanding officers to run our details, make sure we had nothing outstanding and then we should be free to go, right?
Wrong, the police officer came back to inform us that we would be being taken to the police station, because if he let us go we would “Disrupt Will and Kate’s big day” and that they needed to get us off the streets, that we would be arrested and charged with a breach of the peace.
“For what?! Possession of a leaflet?!” Me and my friend exclaimed. Their only reply being we can’t take any chances and that the decision had been made and that there was no arguing with them, the officer who told us this did so very aggressively and with a lot of anger considering we had done nothing that was against any law.
May I add that I’m pretty sure he was the same officer talking to the protesters in the sq, see video = “Royalists would be offended: You’ll be arrested” Cannot be 100% sure until I have has a chance to ask my friend if it was the same man, I will get back to you all on that.
Chances of what, us dressing up as zombies, over a kilometer away from the wedding ceremony? Really, is this what this country has come to?
I am entirely convinced that the reason we got arrested was because of the fact that we were both trans and both punks, they weren’t stopping other people for more than a minute or so, one of which who they didn’t even stop, was a man who looked far more suspicious then us, how come we were stopped and he was allowed to walk on by?
We were then left standing on the pavement waiting for arresting officers to come and take us in the van to the police station for well over 20mins, them then getting bored with watching us, stuck us in the back of the police van, where they left us for a further half hour or so before someone came to collect us to take us to arrest us, I said jokingly “Whats the hold up, I can’t wait to sample the famous police hospitality! I truly can not wait to get to my lovely comfortable cell!!”
During all of this I was not once called a male pronoun even though I had told them my gender status, and among the misgendering one of the officers kept calling my friend a “Lad”.
Eventually we went off to the police station, merrily singing “I fought the law and the law won”
When we arrived at the police station we were processed like anyone else I assume, I have never been arrested before, although our arresting officers did not read us our rights.
The “Evidence” Which consisted of a leaflet and a bottle of fake blood was confiscated, they were both put under my name even though one item had been found on each of us, I didn’t see the point in mentioning it to them, after all it’s not my job to do theirs.
I was patted down, luckily this woman did not take any interest in my binder, or even go near my chest for that matter, now as I am not sure if it was the same officer or not as we were now separated, but the female officer who searched my friend cupped her crotch, not just once but three times, as she told me later that day.
I’m pretty sure it was the same officer but I can’t be 100% sure. My crotch remained completely untouched, which seems odd to me considering if there was a possibility of either of us concealing something it would have been me as I was packing and had very baggy trousers on, she on the other hand was wearing tight trousers with a rip up the leg, it would have been incredibly easy to see if she has anything concealed, so I can only assume it was to “Make sure” I will not be saying her identity as she wishes to remain unnamed.
We were then told we were going to be held until the royal wedding was over, so that we couldn’t “Cause trouble” Even though the officers before had told us we were going to be arrested and charged with a breach of the peace, which I can only assume was an in an attempt to intimidate us.
After this our photos were taken, and we were placed in cells, my cell stank of urine and was rather revolting. Whilst in my cell I had to use the toilet which is clearly visible through the camera which made me very uncomfortable as it was, what made it worse was a male police officer looking in at me as I was using said toilet…
After a good 2 1/2, 3 hours of staring at the crime stoppers number on the ceiling, I was getting incredibly frustrated and I knocked on the door to ask them when I and my friend could leave, and he came back to tell me the royal wedding was over and that we would be able to leave… Yea thanks for telling us!
Some people may wonder why I did not disclose the information about the police officers conduct towards me yesterday in the interview with Ruth Pearce, the writer of Lesbilicious when I spoke with her yesterday.
It was quite simply because I wanted to think carefully as it would be putting myself out there as trans, this was something I had to think through. This and the fact that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take action for the trans stuff aswel as the false arrest. I am not yet sure what my action should be as I am currently seeking advice from various organisations and people, I will be updating here what happens with this.
I’d also like to extend my solidarity to all who were there and all who got arrested.
And thank you to Ruth Pearce and everyone else who has been so helpful and understanding, you people are amazing 🙂
Feel free to contact me regarding anything to do with my arrest and the protest.