As one of the Stansted 15, I know that dealing with arrests sucks vast amounts of time and money from the cause
When I was arrested I did not hear most of the words of the police caution. I was being led from the front wheel of a deportation charter flight that I’d helped blockade at Stansted airport in March 2017. There were 15 of us in total, four around the wheel and 10 around a tripod behind the left wing. One of our number had been arrested before locking on.
As an officer put handcuffs on me and walked me to the waiting bus, he started to arrest me. “I am arresting you on suspicion of aggravated trespass. You do not have to say anything – ”. When I rounded the corner, glimpsing the collection of my fellow activists, who I’d not seen since we’d cut through the fence many hours before, we all cheered, obscuring the words. Once I was arrested though, and sat alone in a police cell for hours on end, those cheers rang hollow. When we were released, and eventually charged with a terrorism-related offence – one carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment – that jubilance was replaced by endless worry, stress and pain.
We must be wary of glorifying arrests and incarceration as the only valid way of engaging with a movement