good for bristol

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Cops and Squatters

Relations between police and squatters can be difficult on both sides.  Currently the police are lurking around the Bristol squat scene digging for info.

I've got a bit of a crush on Emily Apple of Fitwatch and have been seriously impressed by their work over the last couple of years.  Recently they've done a series of excellent posts about how the police are and are not entitled to treat you.  They're aimed at protests and demos but relevant to squatting too:

Stay anonymous: how to respond if the police ask your name, address, etc.
Masking up: it's legal to cover your face except in limited circumstances.
Affinity groups: stick together with a group of mates you trust.
Fashion tips: change your clothes regularly - and not just your underwear..

Most of this is commonsense and the legal advice is useful.  For squattering my best advice is keep your head down, be discrete and don't shit on your own doorstep.

There's no point being paranoid and constantly looking out for undercover police or grasses.  There undoubtedly will be an undercover cop or two somewhere in the Stokes Croft / anarcho / squatter scene so generally keep your mouth shut if you're up to anything and leave it at that.  Police regularly approach people they think might be vulnerable offering money for information.  Politely turn them down if they ask you.

Oh, and if you get arrested always get a solicitor before making a statement.  The duty solicitor will do fine if you don't know a named solicitor.  In Bristol try and get either Nile Arnall or Sansbury Douglas.

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