There was a van waiting outside. One of the activists waved to the man in the driving seat. They didn’t think there was anything to worry about then; not ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ but close. They knew that what was planned for the group entering the meeting space in Haggerston, five miles away from the Coronation route, had nothing to do with King Charles III or his cavalcade of self-congratulation.
The members of Animal Rising, the direct-action group that advocates animal rights and plant-based foods, had a training session planned. They were going to learn more about non-violent protest action.
But the Metropolitan Police was more interested in violent anti-protest action. The women and non-binary people in the meeting space had just made cups of tea and coffee and sat down in a circle to introduce themselves when the police arrived. It was roughly 10.30 am and 20 officers stormed in.
The officers told the group that they had intelligence that Just Stop Oil planned to disrupt the Coronation and pointed to leaflets, and paint used for screenprinting as ‘proof’. Most of the Animal Rising activists were cuffed but they had to wait about an hour for a police bus to arrive.
They were then held for three hours in the police bus before being processed at the police station and then spent a further nine hours in custody before being released under investigation but not charged. It was after midnight when the women were back on the streets, far from where they had begun the previous day.