The Entrapment of Occupy Dame Street

Posted: March 19, 2012 in Dissent, Hypocrisy
Tags: , , , , , ,

Madam K and myself witness garda criminal behaviour and interview Willy, a homeless gentleman evicted from the camp

There’s been a lot written about the Occupy movement. Both from an international perspective and from a localised view. One thing stands out. There are very few who have not heard of it.

It’s not my intention to critique the movement. It will suffice to say that I see it as a symptom of where we are, rather than the solution. The kettle has started to boil!

This piece will focus on Dublin’s “Occupy Dame Street.” If folks are looking for an article that explores the mistakes and triumphs of the group I fear they will leave disappointed. I don’t particularly care whether trade unions, political parties and other groups were told to sling their hooks or not. I don’t particularly care to add to the various personality clashes that erupted, and were bound to do so, by smashing my own personality into the fray. Instead, I want to explore the tactics and the lawlessness used by the State to try to bring the die-hards to their knees. There is unity to be had in this. For it is the same with all. If you have a problem, you’d better shut your mouth, or else you’ll have the crap kicked out of you and you’ll get to play Dungeons and Dragons in the State’s medieval court system.

At a little after 3.00am on Thursday the 8th of March around a hundred gardaí, many of them in armour, invaded the camp on Dame Street. There were 15 inhabitants. People were ripped out of tents and told in no uncertain terms, to leave the area. Others were terrorised and assaulted in the camp’s kitchen and then told to leave the area. Some of the structures, including the kitchen were ripped to shreds by heavy machinery and trucked away as rubbish. The personal belongings of the campers and of many others were carted off by the interlopers and taken to Pearse Street Garda Station. Everything from laptops, the minutes of general assemblies, video cameras, to the very personal possessions of the movement, gone…

That evening a surprise protest, organised in a matter of moments at the general assembly, took the gardaí completely by surprise. It was called and it was on the road, on both lanes, as gardaí started to run towards their cars and vans. It was gratifying to see their flashing blue lights in the distance as the first of the sit-downs blocked all traffic. The one garda van that had managed to keep up with the march, didn’t puke out any little blue fascists with the balls to make any demands on the sitters.

When the march got to Pearse Street all hell broke loose as gardaí frantically called in support. They really needn’t have worried. It was a peaceful group, despite their righteous anger. The proof of that is that no gardaí were injured, despite their thuggish behaviour, which included a cowardly assault on a 15 year old girl. There were plenty of injuries handed out to the marchers however. Despite asking lots of gardaí present, what legislation facilitated them randomly grabbing folks and preventing them from going where they wished to lawfully go, I got no answer. It’s my view that the gardaí were extremely lucky that the intentions of the marchers were peaceful, to the extreme. This is not to say that folks didn’t get vocal or were afraid to assert themselves. There were lots of vocalisations and assertions.

Eventually a few were allowed inside the garda station to begin the process of reclaiming their property. They were told that each individual would have make a list describing their property, sign and date it and that the property would be handed back at some later date. Any property remaining after this would be handed back to the camp generally. Not a single item of property has been returned yet. Including heart medication and other essential materials.

Occupy Dame Street Occupies the Gardaí

So where’s the unlawfulness? It all seems proper, if a bit unfair. That’s surfaces for you. Just scratch and you’ll find something different.

On the 28th of February, a letter was delivered to the campers. It was from Superintendent Joe Gannon. Folks familiar with what’s written here will be familiar with the adventures of Joe. Basically if you need some muscle to beat the shit out of someone, you get Joe, that’s if “you” is the State. Not that Joe would be up to the job personally. No, not at all. Joe knows people.

Anyhow, Joe writes this letter, and comes across as all health and safety conscious. Of course to folks who are accustomed to Joe’s methodologies, like my good self, reading between the lines, it’s not really concern that one reads, it’s a threat. Here’s the letter in full:

To whom it may concern,

I write in the context of the ad hoc conversations and consultations we have had with participants in the occupy dame street camp over the last number of months

I also write in the context of the upcoming St. Patrick’s day celebrations, due to be held in Dublin City centre over the weekend of the 16th to the 19th of March, next st. Patrick’s Day, as you will be aware, and in particular the parade through Dublin city, is an event that attracts huge numbers of tourists and visitors from abroad and elsewhere in the country.

An Garda Síochána is charged with policing the festival and our objective is always to ensure that all of the st. Patrick’s Day events and celebrations pass off smoothly and that all participants and the large crowds of spectators at the parade can access and egress the parade route without any risk or threat to their health and safety.

An Garda Síochána’s policing of major events is very much predicated on adherence to codes of practice governing major outdoor events and health and safety stipulations under health and safety legislation. In that context, we are concerned about the presence of significant amounts of wooden pallets and other hardware in and around your “camp”. at the central bank plaza.

To that end I am therefore asking you for your assistance and cooperation IN REMOVING THE OCCUPY DAME STREET CAMP in order to facilitate the holding of the St Patrick’s day parade and to ensure that it passes off without risk of injury or harm to members of the community and visitors and to the satisfaction of all concerned.I would be grateful to receive your response to this letter by telephone, e-mail or post at the above contact points by the 3rd of March 2012.

Your cooperation in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Yours Sincerely,
Superintendent, Joseph Gannon

Please note that Joe has asked for a reply by the 3rd of March. It’s important for the contextualisation of what followed.

On the morning of the 8th of March, when the gardaí busted up the camp some printed sheets of paper were handed to the traumatised campers as an explanation as to what was happening. Section 24 of the Housing (Miscelaneous Provisions) Act, 2002, facilitated the thieves in the night. The date of printing was the 2nd of March, the day before the deadline for the camp’s answer to Joe’s letter.

I’ll print the important piece of the legislation:

Entry on and occupation of land or bringing onto or placing an object on land without consent.

19C.—(1) A person, without the duly given consent of the owner, shall not—

(a) enter and occupy any land, or

(b) bring onto or place on any land any object,

where such entry or occupation or the bringing onto or placing on the land of such object is likely to—

(i) substantially damage the land,

(ii) substantially and prejudicially affect any amenity in respect of the land,

(iii) prevent persons entitled to use the land or any amenity in respect of the land from making reasonable use of the land or amenity,

(iv) otherwise render the land or any amenity in respect of the land, or the lawful use of the land or any amenity in respect of the land, unsanitary or unsafe,

(v) substantially interfere with the land, any amenity in respect of the land, the lawful use of the land or any amenity in respect of the land.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) Where a member of the Garda Síochána has reason to believe that a person is committing or has committed an offence under subsection (1) the member—

(a) may demand of the person his or her name and address,

(b) may direct the person to leave the land concerned and to remove from the land any object that belongs to the person or that is under his or her control, and

(c) shall inform the person of the nature of the offence in respect of which it is suspected that person has been involved and the statutory consequences of failing to comply with a demand or direction under this subsection.

Refusing or failing to give name or address or failure to comply with direction.

19D.—Where a person—

(a) refuses or fails to give his or her name and address to a member of the Garda Síochána when demanded under section 19C, or gives to the member a name or address that is false or misleading, or

(b) fails to comply with a direction under that section,

he or she shall be guilty of an offence.

Arrest without warrant.

19E.—A member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant a person—

(a) who fails or refuses to give his or her name and address when demanded under section 19C(3)(a) or gives a name or address which the member has reasonable grounds for believing is false or misleading,

(b) who fails to comply with a direction given under section 19C(3)(b), or

(c) whom the member finds committing an offence under section 19C(1).

Removal, storage and disposal of object.

19F.—(1) Where a person fails to comply with a direction under section 19C(3)(b), a member of the Garda Síochána may remove or cause to be removed any object which the member has reason to believe was brought onto or placed on the land in contravention of section 19C(1) and may store or cause to be stored such object so removed.

(2) Any person who obstructs or impedes or assists a person to obstruct or impede a member of the Garda Síochana in the execution of his or her duty under this section shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) Where an object has been removed under this section without the presence or knowledge of any person claiming to own, occupy, control or otherwise retain it, the Commissioner shall serve or cause to be served upon each such person whose name and address can be ascertained by reasonable enquiry, a notice informing the person where the object may be claimed and recovered, requiring the person to claim and recover it within one month of the date of service of the notice and informing him or her of the statutory consequences of his or her failure to do so.

(4) An object removed and stored under this section shall be given to a person claiming possession of the object if, but only if, he or she makes a declaration in writing that he or she is the owner of the object or is authorised by its owner to claim it or is, for a specified reason, otherwise entitled to possession of it and, at the discretion of the Commissioner, the person pays the amount of any expenditure reasonably incurred in removing and storing the object.

(5) The Commissioner may dispose of, or cause to be disposed of, an object removed and stored under this section if—

(a) the owner of the object fails to claim it and remove it from the place where it is stored within one month of the date on which a notice under subsection (3) was served on him or her, or

(b) the name and address of the owner of the object cannot be ascertained by reasonable enquiry.

(6) Where the Commissioner becomes entitled to dispose of or cause to be disposed of an object under subsection (5) and the object is, in his or her opinion, capable of being sold, the Commissioner shall be entitled to sell or cause to be sold the object for the best price reasonably obtainable and upon doing so shall pay or cause to be paid to the person who was the owner of the object at the time of its removal, where the name and address of the owner can be ascertained by reasonable enquiry, a sum equal to the proceeds of such sale after deducting therefrom any expenditure reasonably incurred in its removal, storage and sale.

Penalties and proceedings.

19G.—(1) A person guilty of an offence under this Part shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €3,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one month or to both.

(2) In any proceedings for an offence under this Part it shall be presumed until the contrary is shown that consent under this Part was not given.

Now, as can be seen, the proper procedure when using this legislation, is to inform any and all suspects, of the nature of the offence suspected and the penalties associated with a conviction under the offence. Folks being ripped from their sleeping bags and told to leave, without having this explained to them, have had their rights violated. Folks who have had their property taken without having this explained and an opportunity to remove their property, have had their rights violated. The good folks at Occupy Dame Street have been royally violated and not a single voice from the mainstream media or political world has so much as batted an eyelid.

Fair enough, I wasn’t present for the raid. But I was present later on, when John Rogers’ flag was stolen by a member of the gardaí. It was ripped right out of his hands and no warning or explanation was given. Cardboard, obviously capable of substantially damaging Dame Street Plaza, was expertly grabbed and destroyed by the State’s fascists in blue, before it could go off. Again without warning or explanation. In other words, the gardaí mugged people and stole their property.

John Rogers deals with the garda who stole his flag 🙂

I’ve used the word “entrapment” in the title of this piece, where did that come from? That’s quite easy. Basically speaking, entrapment is when a person who wouldn’t have broken the law, does so, due to some trickery perpetrated by the gardaí. The occupy movement had a good relationship with the owners of Dame Street Plaza. Indeed they even offered to replace the wooden fencing the campers used with metal fencing. They never once asked the camp to leave. Indeed, at one point, due to a rumour from a garda, when we manned the Courts to fight a possible eviction, the owners of Dame Street Plaza, went to great pains to explain to the campers that they had not set anything in motion with regard to an eviction. However, due to pressure (or whatever) from the gardaí, who had secret talks with the owners, it was agreed to evict the camp. The problem was that nobody bothered to tell the campers this. The first they heard of it was when a hundred thugs smashed the camp to pieces, stole private property and sent their victims wandering into the night.

As with Rossport, Gannon’s goons largely avoided arresting people. Why go there when jackboots are so much quicker and cheaper than prosecutions…

There were about three arrests in all, to date. In one of those arrests, an activist who was on the ground, arrested and under the control of the gardaí, was pepper sprayed. I’ve a feeling that there’ll be no conviction if it goes to court. I know a complaint has been given to the paintjob Garda Ombudsman, so I’ll not be holding my breath for justice to be dispensed.

On the upside. As I said earlier, the kettle is boiling. I cannot wait to see who gets scalded.

  1. Seán Ryan says:

    For anyone who wants to be on the #OccupyDameStreet SMS messaging list, text “Occupy” to 0831179648

  2. Socialist says:

    Hi Sean, do you have an email where you can be reached?

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