russell higgs

04 Dec 2007 2,738 views
 
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photoblog image tuesday 04122007

tuesday 04122007



here's todays trip down memory lane, brought to you via the frontpage of the Evening Standard, march 6th 1990. The original photographer's name was Mike Floyd.

The events portrayed here are a few weeks before the big Trafalger Square poll tax riot of 1990 and before Thatcher waved bye bye.

Here I'm getting arrested outside Haringey Civic Centre (north London), monday 5th march 1990, after spending some time contributing to disrupting and stalling Haringey council. The council members were meeting to set their first Poll Tax, which was also to be one of the highest Poll Taxes in the country.

There were some eggs involved. They were mine and they inspired a Sun newspaper headline the next day that said "MOB HURLS EGGS."

It was the next day while I was on the tube, that I looked across at the other passenger's newspapers and noticed that I was on the Evening Standard frontpage, captioned into the role of "an angry protester".

The whole of the caption says..."Police restrain an angry protester during the height of last night's demonstration."

Actually the expression on my face isn't anger, it's simply me concentrating on making it very difficult to physically move me.

What's missing from the newspaper's account is that once the police did move me round to the side of the building, away from the media spotlight, that was when the arresting officers started kicking me repeatedly in my lower back. Plus it's a shame there was no camera in the police van, where I was held on the floor with an officer drilling his elbow into my face with the full weight of his body for the entire journey. Best of all I could have done with a photographer being present at the moment when we arrived at the police station and the officer grated me like cheese against the station's external pebble dash wall and then just before we entered the building he whispered menacingly to me "say nothing".

I'd been arrested plenty of times before, but that was my first experience of police violence whilst being in their grip and it was a bit intense at the time. It was worrying and I remember feeling relieved to be sharing a cell with another arrestee once inside the station, rather than being isolated and vulnerable to further abuse.

Plus after all that, the cheeky bastards charged me (falsely) with beating up an officer AND with trying to instigate a riot.

I've still got copies of all the arresting officers creative statements, I'll share those detailed gems with you another day.

Earlier that evening I'd also experienced some perfectly reasonable police. We were originally inside the public gallery, delaying the start of the council meeting, and the police that eventually carried me out of the building simply deposited me outside and suggested that I go away for a bit and cool off.

As it was I then went straight to the nearest shop and that's when I purchased my eggs.

Tomorrow we'll probably visit the frontpage of The Pink Paper from around 1989/90, some AIDS activism, catapulting condoms over the wall into Pentonville prison.

tuesday 04122007



here's todays trip down memory lane, brought to you via the frontpage of the Evening Standard, march 6th 1990. The original photographer's name was Mike Floyd.

The events portrayed here are a few weeks before the big Trafalger Square poll tax riot of 1990 and before Thatcher waved bye bye.

Here I'm getting arrested outside Haringey Civic Centre (north London), monday 5th march 1990, after spending some time contributing to disrupting and stalling Haringey council. The council members were meeting to set their first Poll Tax, which was also to be one of the highest Poll Taxes in the country.

There were some eggs involved. They were mine and they inspired a Sun newspaper headline the next day that said "MOB HURLS EGGS."

It was the next day while I was on the tube, that I looked across at the other passenger's newspapers and noticed that I was on the Evening Standard frontpage, captioned into the role of "an angry protester".

The whole of the caption says..."Police restrain an angry protester during the height of last night's demonstration."

Actually the expression on my face isn't anger, it's simply me concentrating on making it very difficult to physically move me.

What's missing from the newspaper's account is that once the police did move me round to the side of the building, away from the media spotlight, that was when the arresting officers started kicking me repeatedly in my lower back. Plus it's a shame there was no camera in the police van, where I was held on the floor with an officer drilling his elbow into my face with the full weight of his body for the entire journey. Best of all I could have done with a photographer being present at the moment when we arrived at the police station and the officer grated me like cheese against the station's external pebble dash wall and then just before we entered the building he whispered menacingly to me "say nothing".

I'd been arrested plenty of times before, but that was my first experience of police violence whilst being in their grip and it was a bit intense at the time. It was worrying and I remember feeling relieved to be sharing a cell with another arrestee once inside the station, rather than being isolated and vulnerable to further abuse.

Plus after all that, the cheeky bastards charged me (falsely) with beating up an officer AND with trying to instigate a riot.

I've still got copies of all the arresting officers creative statements, I'll share those detailed gems with you another day.

Earlier that evening I'd also experienced some perfectly reasonable police. We were originally inside the public gallery, delaying the start of the council meeting, and the police that eventually carried me out of the building simply deposited me outside and suggested that I go away for a bit and cool off.

As it was I then went straight to the nearest shop and that's when I purchased my eggs.

Tomorrow we'll probably visit the frontpage of The Pink Paper from around 1989/90, some AIDS activism, catapulting condoms over the wall into Pentonville prison.

comments (2)

  • ray
  • Thailand
  • 5 Dec 2007, 01:16
Perhaps a bit of a tactical slip-up here Russell.
If you had done your naked thing, the the attention would have been drawn away from your face, and the caption might have been something like "Police restrain well-hung protester...."

And about the "cheeky bastards...", perhaps the officer sprained his elbow from all that effort of drilling it into your face.

Very entertaining stroll down memory lane, Russell.
russell higgs: There's a 10 year time gap between this tale from 1990 and my first Naked Protest (outside New Scotland Yard police HQ) in July 2000.

The Observer newspaper headline for that first naked arrest was "PICKED UP BY THE FUZZ" ('fuzz' being a slang name for police as well as a reference to pubic hair). Most mainstream reports about Naked Protesting tended to be puns, "THE LAW IS AN ASS" etc etc.

In fact the mainstream media's tiresome coyness regarding visible genitalia resulted in a number of occasions when photographers would ask us to turn round, just so they could print a picture of our buttocks with yet another predictable pun. That's why we began to carry compact A4 placard messages in front of us, which firstly increased the chances of us being photographed facing forward, as well as ensuring there was at least some actual conceptual information contained in the reports beyond just the journalist's personal inhibitions and cliched thought patterns.

But as I say thats all 10 years away from this story. I'll reminisce here about Naked Protests another day.
Hey, claim to fame. Interesting account you have written, Russell. You look a little like Peter O'Toole in the picture.
russell higgs: Peter O'Toole? that's what my mum used to say.

she also thought my brother was like Omar Sharif.

thinking of my mum and protests, I once made a scrap book for her of all my press clippings and I titled it "What Are You Going To Do With Your Life Russell?". But from my mum's perspective it was focused too much on me being "Anti". She said she wanted to see me fighting "For" something. Bless her.

When I was continuously naked for a month in a prison segregation cell, she wrote and told me that although she didn't really understand what I was doing, she was nonetheless proud of me for standing up for my beliefs.

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