Unlawful Arrest, False Imprisonment and Torture by An Garda Síochána
crime and justice |
Monday July 08, 2013 15:20 by Shane
My account of my arrest and torture by undercover police at the counter-demonstration to the "Rally for Life" march on Saturday.
At the counter-demonstration to Youth Defence's "Rally for Life" march, I was manhandled and arrested for no reason by plain clothes police. In the van, I was pepper sprayed several times while handcuffed behind my back and pinned to the ground. I was kept in a cell for about two hours before being released without charge. This is my account of what happened.
The guards lifting me by the arms and pulling me by the handcuffs
At around 2:45 PM, on Saturday the 6th of July, I was standing on O'Connell Street at the counter demo to Youth Defence's astroturfed "Rally for Life" march. There was an extremely heavy police presence around the pro-choice side of the demonstration, with about a dozen of easily identifiable "undercover" cops present. At around this time I was notified by somebody near me (whom I didn't know) that the cops were hassling somebody (searching them and forcing them to give their details) seemingly arbitrarily, so I went over to have a look to see what was going on.
As soon as I came within two feet of what was happening, the cops instantly pushed me away and told me that I was "interfering". The cop that pushed me had the cheek to say "don't assault me!". I replied to him saying "you're assaulting me" and he said "I will assault you!". I still wanted to see what was going on, so I came back, but they pushed me away again and told me that I would be arrested if I tried to come back any more times. I asked the cop that pushed me away what provision in the law he was using to deny me my right to be there. He mentioned Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994. I knew however that that provision only applies if I was or had been acting contrary to the provisions of sections 4, 5, 6, 7 or 9 of the same act, which basically amount to either being drunk, threatening and/or insulting somebody, or blocking traffic, none of which I was or had been doing, so I went back one more time.
Seconds later a cop grabbed a hold of me from behind, and many more soon joined in. They had me pinned on the ground with my hands behind my back. They were trying to put handcuffs on me, but from what I heard them saying, it sounded like they were having difficulty doing so. I heard one of the cops saying to another "no, that's my hand". They dragged me across the road and forced me into the back of a paddy wagon. While they were dragging me across the road, and after they had gotten me away from the larger mass of people, they started talking about pepper spraying me, but seemingly decided against it.
Once I was in the back of the van, I was left alone with the driver. I couldn't see very well because my hair was stuck to my face with sweat, and I couldn't get it out of the way because my hands were handcuffed behind my back. One of the cops that had dragged me there opened the door of the van briefly to say something to me to the effect of "was that worth getting arrested for?". After he closed the door, I was left alone for what felt like a few minutes. Without really expecting it to work, I tried to wriggle my left arm out of the handcuff in which it was entrapped. To my astonishment, it was actually pretty easy, and I got it out no problem. A few seconds later the cops that had dragged me into the van returned. Now, in retrospect, it would probably have been wiser to keep my hands behind my back and hide the fact that I had escaped from their handcuffs, but I felt such a sense of pride in my work that I showed it off to them. They were not impressed.
As soon as they noticed, the rest of them jumped into the van and closed the door behind them. The van started moving. They jumped on me and pinned me against the floor of the van. They redid my handcuffs. I heard them again say something about pepper spray, so I closed my eyes as tightly as I could. I screamed as loudly as possible in the hope that I could alert somebody outside the van to what was going on. They pepper sprayed me several times in my face and my hair. It felt like my mouth was forced open as well to make sure that they got it in my mouth: I know that if I had been in control I would have tried to keep my mouth closed. I had a chest infection at the time, so between this, the pepper spray, and my face being pushed towards the floor of the van, I found it very difficult to breathe. I started shouting that I couldn't breathe and that they needed to give me some room to breathe. They told me to shut up. I couldn't see anything because I couldn't bare to open my eyes.
We arrived at the Bridewell. As I stumbled out of the van, not being able to see anything, and still handcuffed from behind, I could hear the cops laughing at me. They brought me to a water fountain and took the handcuffs off my hands. I tried to wash the pepper spray out my eyes, mouth and hair. It was only after about five minutes of washing that I was even able to open my eyes. As soon as I got my eyes open, the cops taunted me, saying things like "you stupid fucking idiot", "was that worth getting arrested for?" and "do you think you deserved that?". Once I had recovered from the worst effects of the pepper spray, they went through the formalities (taking my details, searching me and so on) and put me in a cell. I passed the time in the cell by making music (using my voice for melody and my hands and the walls of the cell for percussion) and meditating. At around 5:00 PM I was released without charge, but I was told I would be sent a summons, something which I very much doubt.
At no point was I told why I was being arrested; I only found out at the station when I heard one of the cops mentioning "sections 6 and 8" to another. I could not see the badge numbers of the cops who dragged me into the van and assaulted me because most of them were in plain clothes. None of them ever showed me any identification. Obviously after I was pepper sprayed I couldn't see anything at all. I do know that the cop that arrested me was from Store Street Garda Station (even though I was taken to the Bridewell), but I've forgotten his name (I have no charge sheet because I was not charged with anything). I would recognise it if I heard somebody say or it saw it written down. I also know that cop that seemed to be the most aggressive of the bunch was a baldy headed guy from Mountjoy Garda Station, but he was in plain clothes and never told me his name. If anybody who is reading this has pictures or videos of any of these events or can help in identifying the cops responsible for them, I would really appreciate it if you could get in touch with me.
The four guards who dragged me across the street. Does anybody know who they are?
The guard from Store Street Garda Station who arrested me (with sunglasses). Does anybody know who he is?
The guard from Mountjoy Garda Station who was the most aggressive of the bunch. Does anybody know who he is?
The guard from Store Street Garda Station who arrested me (without sunglasses). Does anybody know who he is?
Caption: Arrest at Pro Life Rally July 6th 2013