Thames Valley police get heavy handed
(This article first appeared in the uk.music.rave newsgroup and is reproduced with permission.)
On the night of Saturday 2nd/Sunday 3rd December 2000, an outbreak of violence marred an otherwise safe and peaceful party, near Amersham in Bucks. Who was this initiated by? Thames Valley Police of course!
The usual "containment" strategy that TVP use, to be seen to be doing something about free parties, was employed.
Usually this involves one or two police cars blocking the entrance to the party, until they get too bored or too cold or get called away to attend to other matters, and then just showing up to see that the party is winding down without trouble late Sunday morning.
This time, though, TVP seemed to have conjured-up some additional resources from somewhere or other - as they'd brought up a small army with them - you would think you were in a riot zone - not near a free party site!
I got there slightly late, having been to the J10/Fushion/Valley Moods party in Berkshire earlier that night - so much of the action happened before I arrived - but this post uses eyewitness reports, and information from one of the victims, as well as the J14-Survival crew, as well as what I saw myself.
I'd received a tip-off of the potential trouble ahead on the journey to Amersham, but was quite surprised by the level of police presence blocking the entrance to the road that the site was down.
Several mounted police, a massive "mounted police" vehicle, several riot vans, two land rovers, and loadsa panda cars. I phoned a friend on site who told me of a back way in.
This road too was blocked, but by a smaller (but still intimidating) police presence - One mounted unit, one van and a couple of pandas. Parked up the car about 1 mile away - in an area that wouldn't arouse suspicion. Got back on foot to the road leading to the alternate way in, one empty panda car.
Up the road a bit more we see the site entrance, blocked by mounted police and several vehicles. Discuss with friends our chances of making our way across a muddy field to get around the pigs. Good thing we didn't try this strategy [see later], a bit further on found a tall hedge to creep around without being seen.
Got into the party about 3am. It turned out that a police helicopter had spent about 90 minutes flying low over the party site (which probably made more noise than the rig did!).
Now for the nasty bit. Some folks *had* tried to make it in across the field, only to find that TVP had a dog unit, and the pigs unleashed their hounds on a group of 6 munters.
The dogs took down several ppl, to be backed up by some thuggish ossifers, who laid into one of the blokes who was lying on the ground, still being savaged by the dog. Four ossifers joined their canine companion, booting the poor guy, whilst one pig repeatedly coshed him over the head with a torch.
A small young woman tried to intervene, only for the pigs to start on her. They literally dragged her, kicking and screaming, across the field. I saw this girl later on the Sunday afternoon when she had been released. She was covered in bruises, and had some nasty cuff-burns on her wrists, where the police had twisted her arms up her back whilst she was cuffed.
Apparently, she'd told them, at the point that the first ossifer had grabbed her, that she'd come quietly and peacefully - but they continued to beat her for some time.
The police had removed their badges so that their numbers couldn't be taken. In total 5 or 6 people were arrested - for criminal damage (to the crops in this muddy field) caused by them peacefully walking across the field! Also police had been picking off cars around the party site, and searching them with dogs.
At one stage TVP threatened to raid the party and strip-search everyone on site, and the system crew barricaded themselves into the main party building (a barn with a hunting lodge attached to the side), to keep the pigs (and their dogs, that they'd brought up on site, to chase munters around the site with) out.
The police then eventually left - having failed to stop the party - and there was no sign of Babylon presence after about 5am - until they showed up again later in the morning.
By this time the party had acquired a new cannon in its arsenal - a photography student rumoured to be from Reading, who was making a video documentary for her finals project. She began filming, and interviewing them (successfully bluffing them that she was an ITN journo!).
At this stage the pigs attitude changed, and they backed off ... not to be seen again. The party finished at 4pm Sunday afternoon (it was starting to get dark ...) - and there was no police presence on the way out.
Its worth mentioning that the only trouble or violence at this party was that executed by Thames Valley Police. The crowd was a safe one, with lots of happy, friendly people, who just wanted to have a good party.
Despite the police intimidation and violence (or perhaps, because of it?) this was a real banging party that had the dancefloor full until they switched the music off late Sunday afternoon, with everyone determined to make the best of it - and continue in defiance.
Be warned that if travelling to a free party - you are potentially at risk from stop-searches and even unprovoked police violence - if they have the resources, the police will attack, unprovoked, anyone in or around a party site.
So much as walking across a field can be considered "criminal damage", which Thames Valley Police seem convinced warrants the use of extreme violence to prevent.
Report by Simon
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