Summary Note: Just thought I’d let people know that if you invite me to anything on Facebook including gigs, picnics (or anything), or if you post any event in any Facebook group I’ve also posted in, the police will almost certainly be monitoring your event, and may even hold me responsible for anything that happens at it. I know this because the police intelligence team sent me a list of such events and groups telling me they believe I am ‘connected’ to them and warning me about crime and disorder at events unrelated to me, calling them ‘my events’. This appears to be due to my involvement in Brighton Queers Against Cuts, a queer political group which has never done any criminal activity whatsoever. Just FYI. (Hi police!).
On 30 July George Bostel from Sussex Police telephoned my workplace main reception and asked our office manager if he could speak to me about “events I was organising over the weekend”. On the telephone he told me that police intelligence had identified me as the organiser of events over Pride weekend which the police had concerns about, and that he needed to hand-deliver a letter to me. He declined to tell me what events I was apparently organising over the telephone and said the letter was for my own safety as they were worried these events may attract ‘undesirables’. As I now feared for my safety, despite not knowing what event I was supposed to be organising, I agreed he could deliver a letter to my workplace.
The police telephoning my workplace is not acceptable. Especially when they have my mobile number from when they were harassing me via telephone about my legal organising of Queers Against Cuts group on Pride 2012. This action could have caused me serious problems at work, and could have outed me if I wasn’t already out as a queer person at work.
I asked George the police technical support officer how I could tell the police that I wasn’t organising a BBQ, because I didn’t even know one was happening over Pride weekend. He said I could contact the council and they would tell the police, but insinuated there wasn’t much point because I’d been seen to be promoting this BBQ on Facebook and as such was now irrevocably connected to this event and listed as the organiser by the police.
So I emailed Annie Sparks and Inspector Roy Apps the following:
Dear Ms Sparks (and Insp. Apps),
I refer to your letter dated 30 July 2014 which was just delivered to me by Sussex Police. It says you believe I am organising a BBQ on the beach due to my ‘social media postings’.
Can I please make clear that I didn’t know there was a BBQ on the beach happening until I received a call from Sussex Police today. I don’t even know when or whereabouts this is happening.
I am not organising a BBQ on the beach and had no plans to go to one.
I do not know who is organising a BBQ on the beach.
Please can you remove me as your listed ‘organiser’ from this event and inform Sussex Police to do likewise.
If you or Sussex Police do not want to remove me from this event as an ‘organiser’ please supply me with evidence of where I am seen to be organising this event.
Can you also ensure that you and Sussex Police refrain from telephoning my place of work when I know that Sussex Police have my mobile number anyway.
If you have some information about this BBQ I’d be interested to hear about it as I like to keep informed about Pride events which other people are organising.
[My mobile number]
They both replied to say thank you for the information and they are pleased to hear I am not organising a BBQ on the beach. They also both telephoned me on my mobile and I explained I was not happy about the police telephoning my workplace earlier.
Roy Apps confirmed that the police had seen someone using my name promoting a beach BBQ over pride weekend.
I emailed him to ask for this evidence and received the following from George Bostel of Sussex Police (typos included):
I beleive your linked to these events
Have posted in this Group
The first event is a festival including a beach BBQ, organised by my yoga teacher. This already happened two weeks ago when I was in Cheshire visiting my disabled mother. The second is a gig of my friend’s band which I declined the invitation of, because I knew I would be in Cheshire.
The group is Queers Against Cuts, a group I created in 2012 in order for people to march on the pride parade in Brighton with an anti-austerity message. The group hasn’t met up for at least a year and the Facebook group is mostly people posting links to queer club nights and parties. With some research on Facebook after receiving the police letter, I discovered one of the events posted to this group (by someone I am not friends with) includes a beach BBQ. This was the first time I’d seen details of this event.
Finally the website is a site I built clearly stating it lists Facebook events various people have organised. Some of these people I have never met. Nowhere on my website do I list a BBQ over Pride weekend.
I find it shocking that the police are using intimidation tactics against me to effectively try to frighten me from attending, or even publicly talking about, any event ever, for fear they will hold me responsible for anything that happens at these events. This is clearly trying to squash my freedom of speech.
This is particularly ridiculous since here are my pride plans (Hi police!) which I’ve already been open about on Facebook anyway (Hi police, you’re welcome):
1. stewarding the trans bloc on the parade.
2. making some badges at the cowley club.
3. probably go to Queer Prom disco party.
That said, now the police have told me there’s a beach BBQ happening, it sounds interesting, and I may or may not choose to go and have a look (not as an organiser). I haven’t decided yet. If the weather’s nice I might go sunbathing.
Clearly a list of really radical dangerous activities there, that warrant police monitoring (<-Hi police, this is sarcasm). I believe this intimidation is due to the legal activism I have been involved in in the anti-cuts movement, and because the police didn't like my criticism of how they kettled Queers Against Cuts at Brighton Pride 2012.
Please post any solidarity statements and messages of support you may have in the comments, and share this on social media so people know what’s going on. THANKS xxxx