The London Autistic Rights Movement is organising a demonstration in support of recently diagnosed Asperger's syndrome sufferer Gary McKinnon, who is facing imminent extradition to the United States of America, rather than facing a UK court, for his alleged computer hacking activities over 6 years ago.
Date: Sunday 28th September
Time: 4 pm - 5pm
Embassy of the United States of America,
24 Grosvenor Square
Nearest Public Toilets:
Westminster Council publish an online map of their Public Toilet locations:
The nearest Public Toilet is at the Oxford Street end of Balderton Street - about 2 blocks North of the middle of Grosvenor Square - equivalent in distance to the West - East length of Grosvenor Square itself.
Name: Balderton Street Information: Number: 42 Wheelchair Access: Yes Type: APC Gender: M/F Opening Times: 24hrs Baby: No Disabled Access: Yes
Nearest Tube stations are Marble Arch and Bond Street
Bus routes 148 and 14A along Park Lane
Press and Media Contact: - Anya
Although the US Embassy is not within the SOCPA Designated Area, like the Home Office, it is obviously one of the top potential terrorist targets in Europe, let alone the UK, so there are armed Police guards (armed with semi-automatic assault rifles / sub machine guns etc.).
I am now the Police Liaison person for the protest on Sunday, or "steward" to use their term.
We have permission from the Metropolitan police in writing to protest peacefully in a dedicated enclosure outside the US embassy from 4-5pm.
I've spoken with the Met police and there are some guidelines that we ALL need to follow:
There will be 3 police officers, Seargeant Rudlin-Jones and also 2 PCs - looking after us. All are autism trained.
We ' ll be in a dedicated enclosure, made up of make shift barriers, right in front of the Embassy.
We MUST stay inside this enclosure at all times.
The 'Pen' area - not to imprison us but because police have duty to protect embassies and ensure that non-protesting members of the public can move around us freely. It is important that we keep to designated pen area.
If someone wants to leave pen area, for whatever reason, they must TELL ME FIRST and I will let the police know so that they are aware of what is happening and that the person going for a walk is not up to no good.
We are not allowed to walk around or towards the Embassy so people who are leaving the pen area at any time of the protest (having spoken to me first) should be directed to walk *away* from the Embassy
There will be armed police - this normal procedure for the US embassy and not because of us or anything we need to be concerned about.
DO NOT approach the armed officers. They are doing their job and if any kind of "altercation" occurs the police officers have a duty to protect the armed officers so it would cause potential difficulties and I'm sure none of us want it to come to that.
If the police feel that someone is doing something they are not comfortable with, they will speak to me first and then I will speak to the relevant person about it. So if I ask anyone to stop doing something, or I ask you a question about why you are doing something, PLEASE do not take it personally. I just want us all to have a peaceful day and adhere to the rules that the Met Police have given us.
I will be wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket on the day (at the request of the Met Police) so you will all be able to spot me very easily!
The plan is for us to arrive in the pen area outside the US Embassy (I'm sure it will be very noticeable) by 4pm so that we can start our protest on time.
I will arrive there early - around 3.30pm, so if you're not sure where to go, look out for a girl in a fluorescent yellow jacket. If anyone gets totally lost, my mobile is
[mobile phone number available to the media via firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sorry to sound all bossy in this email - I hope you understand that I just want to make everyone aware of the rules and my 'bossy' tone in this message is not meant offensively or arrogantly in any way and I hope you will forgive me. I just want it all to go smoothly and for it to be a very positive experience for us.
Some tips and advice about what to bring and what not to bring to the demonstration:
Amateur and even professional press photographers are all too frequently illegally harassed by jobsworth public officials and security guards, partly as a result of the Home Office's "climate of fear" anti-terrorism propaganda.
There are no laws which prevent you taking photos at the demonstration (ideally, if it is to have any effect, the mainstream media should be present), and the US Embassy is not anything special as a building, except that it is the sovereign territory of our major ally.
No Police Community Support Officer or private security guard or any US Embassy staff (outside of the Embassy grounds) has any power to seize your camera or mobile camera phone.
Even if you are arrested, the Police Constables (not PCSOs or private security guards who have no powers of arrest) have no power to delete digital photos etc. even if they have seized your camera or mobile phone, since that would be tampering with evidence.
Conversely, there are no laws to prevent the Police or security guards from taking photos or video of you, either.
Terrorism Stop and Search harassment
All of London within the M25 orbital motorway appears to be an area where Police constables in uniform (and Police Community Support Officers in uniform, but only under the direct supervision of a Police Constable, not on their own), can conduct Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 stops and searches, without reasonable suspicion.
The US Embassy is one of the top terrorist targets in Europe, let alone the UK, and so it does have armed Police guards.
The Metropolitan Police Constables in Uniform (*not* any plain clothes police) can stop you and search you, supposedly for weapons or explosives or anything that might be used for terrorism (i.e. just about anything). Despite tens of thousands of such stops and searches, they have never caught a real terrorist as a result.
If you are stopped and searched under normal Police powers, where there is some "reasonable suspicion", then you do have to give your name and address. If you refuse to do so on the street, then you will be dragged back to a Police station for fingerprint etc. checks on your identity
If you are stopped and searched under Terrorism Act section 44, without reasonable suspicion, then you do not have to give your name and address.
You have to be given a Stop and Search form, stating where, when, and by whom you have been stopped, and under what law. However, if you do not demand one, then you will not necessarily be given such a form.
What the Police and PCSOs often try to do, during such searches, is to copy, or at least rifle through, any wallet or notebook or mobile phone address books, credit cards etc. which you might have on your person , so do not bring private stuff with you on such a demonstration.
What to bring on a demonstration
- A sense of humour.
- Several friends and supporters.
- Press and Broadcast journalists and reporters.
- Posters, banners, leaflets, petitions etc.
- If you smoke, something to collect and extinguish your cigarette butts - Westminster Council bylaws and Government Anti-social behaviour laws and policies, could allow various public officials to slap you with a £60 Fixed Penalty Notice for littering if you throw you cigarette butt onto the ground.
- Something (non-alcoholic) to drink and eat etc.
- An umbrella (summer is over).
- Cameras and video recorders
- Spare batteries and USB or other memory devices for digital cameras and mobile phone cameras.
- Contact details of firms of legal solicitors who deal with human rights issues and arrests at demonstrations e.g. Bindmans - telephone: 020 7833 4433 or Kaim Todner - telephone: 020 7353 6660 (Gary McKinnon's solicitors)
- N.B. Unlike the demonstration at the Home Office, loudspeakers / loud hailers etc. are not banned in Grosvenor Square. (non-amplified megaphones are not banned in either place)
What NOT to bring to a demonstration
- Alcohol - even Police Community Support Officers now have powers to confiscate alcohol within a Dispersal Zone. All of the London boroughs of Westminster and Camden are now such Dispersal Zones.
- Being seen to be drinking alcohol on Transport for London Tubes or Buses is also now banned.
- Illegal drugs - obviously.
- Personal address and contact books or Mobile Phones or Personal Digital Assistants containing contact names, addresses, email, phone etc. details - jobsworth PCSOs and Police constables often attempt to rifle through these, during "stops and searches", even though they often have no proper legal power to do so.
If you must bring your normal mobile phone with you, then you should set a security PIN code, for both for the power on and keyboard locks, which might prevent arbitrary snooping, but which will not, of course, prevent forensic examination of the phone if you are arrested.