week ago yesterday we were raided. It was quite a
night. I had just taken some photos of my American
flag, which Id set out for the 4th of July holiday,
and was working with them on the computer. I looked
out the window and saw a jeep turn in our street.
They will usually come in to turn around and go back
out through the estate (theres only one road
in and its the same way out, British counter-insurgency
architecture). I thought nothing of it, but then another
jeep came in behind that one, and another, and another,
and another. I shut the computer down and shouted
to Anthony in the kitchen The cops are
here, then went out to the front garden where
my daughter was playing. One of our neighbors was
on the ball and had come out as soon as she heard
the jeeps and their distinctive whine. Ill
take her for you, she said, scooping my daughter
up and going over the gate as an amazing number of
cops, all kitted out in their robo-cop gear were streaming
in over her.
cop stopped me and asked was this the McIntyre house
as some of his colleagues slipped down our alleyway
into our back garden. It was a gorgeous summer evening,
really sunny. The street quickly took on the air of
a bizarre carnival as it filled with people, hundreds
of cops and their jeeps and all the neighborhood kids
and their dogs and the rest of the neighbors. There
were jeeps ringed at the end of our street and going
up one side of the road and down the other. At each
jeep one or two cops stood guard, looking a bit like
black-clad Michellin men in their riot gear, bullet-proof
vests and other accessories, including their machine
guns at the ready. Inside the jeeps were a number
of other cops, ready to go should trouble arise. Our
neighbors counted 14 jeeps in our cul de sac, and
33 jeeps all told, from our street, the street that
goes up to us and the main road in. If they hadnt
taken my camera and I had the wit to think
to do so I would have taken photos. It was
really an amazing (for lack of a better word) sight,
one I will not be soon in forgetting. I was in a bit
of a haze and a little afraid to make eye contact
or be caught looking at them when I went outside to
the front garden now and again during the search,
checking on my daughter.
had a blast, I must say. The weather was wonderful,
she got to play in our neighbors (bigger) garden,
she had chocolate cornflakes for dinner and got to
stay up well past her bedtime. She hadnt a clue
what was going on shes only two. The
woman who watched her later told me about what it
was like for her growing up getting her home raided.
When she was 4, she recalled, and stood screaming
in the bathtub up the stairs, screaming so hard and
so long she gave the raiders such a fright they did
not want to go in. And always the house wrecked afterwards,
always. We, in comparison, were very lucky.
first they had allocated 2 search teams for our house
but quickly decided that was not enough manpower for
them, they sent for 2 more. The team in the sitting
room went through every book, even my daughters
baby books. It wasnt just a matter of opening
a book and thumbing through it, they literally went
through every page. They went through all my daughters
toys, taking an old mobile that hasn't worked for
a year (she uses it to "call Grandma") as
"evidence". They took my journal, which
I had on the computer table because Id copied
a poem from it onto the computer recently; the journal
was two years old and had nothing to do with anything.
It was a bit weird watching them going through our
things, and resisting the urge to peek at what they
were looking at things youd forgotten
youd even owned or kept as a keepsake. Odd to
be curious about your own things, and to fear that
curiosity. Watching a stranger looking through things
pulled from a drawer, wondering, What on Earth
is that? What did my aunt say in that letter? What
bills are those? Where did those (undeveloped) rolls
of film come from? Are they baby pictures I forgot
to take to Boots? I didnt even know those were
there! What is that? You feel if you ask about
it you're just creating more interest in something
you haven't a clue about. Even weirder when they were
in our bedroom, where the keepsakes tend to be more
personal than ones you would absentmindedly shove
in a drawer downstairs. When they were looking at
all of our Irish history books they despaired at going
through them page by page, there are so many. A whole
wall of them in one room, the width of the house.
Every room but the bathroom has books and bookshelves.
They went through all the things in the bathroom,
too. Toothpaste, deodorant, rolls of toilet paper,
baby shampoo and bath, rubber duckies and q-tips.
All those things you really should throw away but
let clutter the back of the tub. All looked over,
rummaged. Worse than if you were selling the home,
like on those House Doctor shows
at least then youd make the effort at getting
rid of the clutter, instead of living with it as you
do. I felt stupid saying Excuse me, or
Sorry, passing one or two of the cops
going up or down the stairs. Ever polite I am, I didnt
want to be rude.
the end of the raid, they asked us had we any complaints.
Of course we both said wed like to complain
about the fact they raided us to begin with, but that
wasnt the sort of complaint they meant. They
started to file out the hallway, ready to leave, and
asked if wed any last words, just to be sure.
Yeah, get the hell out of my house, you bastards!
I said. Better late than never. They laughed. What
could you do?
3 hours they took going through everything in our
home. There was nothing for them to find, as the raid
was politically motivated anyway done in response
to the political pressure being put on cops over the
protest at Dundonald House; it is hard to gauge the
thinking behind the raid as those who carried it out
are far removed from those who gave the order. But
in our case it was purely political, done solely because
of our political beliefs and not because we are engaged
in anything illegal. This is not to say that the idiots
who went to the media boasting about the supposed
document they stole arent responsible for giving
a green light for everyone who was involved in the
protest to have their homes raided. Surely however
the way the raid was conducted was a bit over the
top and unwarranted given the circumstances.
they did no damage, although maybe its just
coincidence that the backlight on my stereo display
doesnt work anymore (the bulb could have run
out). Still it makes me more paranoid than I already
am about speaking in my own home.
last couple days I have been angry, so angry I could
spit. I dont really have any outlet for the
anger and it has gotten me down. Whenever I think
about my camera - a gift from my parents that I use
as a creative outlet - I get angry. Dont even
get me started on the computer but at least
I can come to the cyber café and escape for
a couple hours at a time. Its not the end of
the world, not by a long shot, but it is frustrating
as hell. Youre made nervous in your own home,
fearful of your own things, paranoid; its a
violation of your sense of self, your security, your
sense of space, your privacy. The most valuable/expensive
things you own are taken from you, with no indication
of when they will be returned or in what condition.
You are left wondering when the police will return
and what will happen then. When you shut the door
on them as they leave your house and clamber back
into their jeeps, you arent given any sense
that it is over; rather you are left with the horrible
feeling that the other shoe is yet to drop. And that
feeling you must live with until it does.
house felt strangley empty after they had gone, deflated
like when the last guest from a disastorous party
has departed and youre left with the debris
of revelry. Were still finding bits of paper
and things displaced, a note from Anthonys mother
published in the paper wishing him a Happy Birthday
when he was in prison years and years ago, an old
eye-mask from when my parents once visited us and
my mom gave me the bag of freebies from the airline.
I have finally replaced my knick-knacks in their proper
positions, couldnt stand looking at the shelf
with them like askew reminders of a presence that
didnt belong. When I did so I felt things shift
a little back to normal. Disturbed, not quite right,
but then not left in the awkward space chosen by someone
who doesnt know where things go but doesnt
want to make too much of a mess, either. And I straightened
the pictures on the wall, too, getting a strange satisfaction
of setting them just right, a bit like the belated
Take that, parting shot I lobbed at their
laughing backs when they left. What can you do.
Id like to thank everyone for all the well wishes,
both messages to The Blanket and other places;
it is appreciated and helps us not to feel so isolated.
also like to point out before I go that our home was
not the only home to be raided, all told 25 homes
were raided last week, including ours, and Marian
Prices home was raided twice in the same week.
people who have called to express their support have
commented that they thought the bad old days were
over. Things may be happening on a much smaller scale
now, but it doesnt look like the lessons from
the recent passed have been learnt very well at all.
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