The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

United Kingdom Tries Out ’1984′ as Training Manual to Suppress Zombie-Related Protest of Royal Wedding

I was forwarded this story rather vociferously and repeatedly on Twitter, which only goes to show that we have an engaged following even internationally, which is very humbling for The Zombie Rights Campaign.

In short, although great progress has been achieved in some areas, especially here in the ZRC’s home base of Madison and in nearby Chicago toward establishing and solidifying the right of Zombies and Zombie-like individuals to peaceably assemble, alas in the UK the world has just born witness to a frightening backslide:

This was going to be a very silly blog. A combination of geeks, hippies and protesters had decided to mark the Royal Wedding of Will and Kate by having a picnic dressed up as zombies- some thought it was a political protest, some just thought it would be funny. We’ve done movies, books, TV, videogames, the Bible and Live Action Role Play on this site, so reviewing a zombie wedding party seemed like it would fill up our personal bingo card and maybe even rank high in google. To this end, unable to get to London myself, I asked Hannah Eiseman-Renyard and Amy Cutler to go and get photos and quotes for what I thought would be a bit of fun.

Then Hannah phoned me from the police station.

Amy Cutler explains:

“We were fairly inoffensive members of the undead, who ate some homemade ‘brainnnsss’ cake earlier in the day, and travelled on to Starbucks where we sat down with some tea. At this point, four police vans (with sirens!) came round the corner and did a raid on Starbucks. We were stopped and searched under a special Section 60 for the wedding day – by sixteen police men, although there were only five zombies – and finally arrested and transported to the police station.”

This story presents some tricky issues for the ZRC. First, we don’t really have an established presence in the United Kingdom or a lot of expertise in navigating their arcane legal system or increasingly byzantine civil society. The First Amendment rights and privileges that the ZRC heavily relies on are obviously absent or greatly diminished in a society lacking, well, a Constitution for one thing. We’re talking about a legal system that, it must be noted, has regularly engaged in grotesque suppression of personal behavior in recent years.

Secondly, from the materials put out by the organizers it’s clear that the rally didn’t so much involve Zombies or raise the issue of Zombie treatment in society as it utilized the spectre of Zombiism as a rhetorical cudgel against the current conservative English government:

zombieflashmobinvite

I mean, really. Let’s be honest here. Any actual Zombies attending this convocation were probably doing so ironically. Hipster Zombies do exist, though in England I suspect they drink something other than PBR.

Meanwhile some of the press coverage of the crackdown, forwarded from some of the same people who wanted the ZRC to comment, has been less than stellar on the Zombie Rights issue to put it mildly:

This is perhaps the most ridiculous part of this whole day. Sixteen police officers to arrest five zombies, when everybody knows that zombies can’t run.

The Royal Zombie Flash Mob was a very, very silly event. Some people there might have thought they were overthrowing the government, some people were trying to raise awareness about important issues, some simply thought dressing up as a zombie equals funny. It doesn’t matter a huge amount if you agree with their politics, or how effective you think dressing up as a zombie is as an agent of political change.

This gets to the heart of the matter: for the ZRC, these Zombie public gatherings are *not* silly at all. We take them very seriously. It’s clear from the coverage of the event that these protesters were, in fact, targeted for resembling Zombies as much as anything else; the UK has now declared ‘Walking While Zombie’ to be a criminal offense:

Officers also swooped on five people, three of whom were wearing zombie make-up, when they entered a branch of Starbucks on Oxford Street. They were arrested “on suspicion of planning a breach of the peace”.

They were all handcuffed and held in a police van and gave their names as Amy Cutler, 25, Rachel Young, 27, Eric Schultz, 43, Hannah Eisenman-Renyard, and Deborah, 19, an anthropology student at the University of East London.

“We’ve been pre-emptively arrested under suspicion of planning a breach of the peace,” Cutler told the Guardian from the police van. “We went to Starbucks to get a coffee and the police followed us in.”

“We were just dressing up as zombies,” said Amy, who was wearing a “marry me instead” T-shirt. “It is nice to dress up as zombies.”

I don’t know how much more obvious the government in the UK needs to make it that minority opinion and dissent won’t be tolerated than to throw up a magical zone where all personal privacy and free speech rights disappear, then utilize it to attack anyone who even *dresses* like a disfavored minority group. Precisely what good end can come of legal authority like this?

By the time the marriage vows had been made, the police had imposed a section 60 blanket stop-and-search order around the whole royal wedding zone, after a few individuals were seen putting scarves over their faces in Soho Square.

The move allowed officers to search people without discretion. It can be issued when police believe, with good reason, that there is the possibility of serious violence or that a person is carrying an offensive weapon. It was imposed along with a section 60a order, which allows officers to remove headgear and masks from demonstrators.

The powers remained in place for several hours, although the police said the mood in both Soho Square and at the Republican Tea Party in Red Lion Square, Holborn, was calm.

While similar abuses have occurred, tragically, in recent years in the United States as well, they’re hotly contested and the tide certainly seems to have turned against such actions recently. Madison in particular has been at the forefront of re-establishing the right to peaceful protest as Governor Walker was forced to back off his seizure of the Capitol building by the courts here in Dane County.

To see such far-ranging and radical powers granted to the very police who could abuse them with absolute discretion is chilling to say the least. The oppression of the Differently Animated (or their lookalikes) that followed is as predictable as the rising of the sun.

Whither England, and the future of the English Zombie? The ZRC wonders. On the one hand, while much of the early analysis falls into the old ‘talk about Zombies by talking about Zombie movies’ trap, positive doings are afoot, including, potentially, a Zombie protest lurch:

So, what next? We’re thinking of arranging a protest lurch. Please get in touch if you want to be involved (amycutler1985@gmail.com), and come and be a manacled zombie shuffling round Soho, in a walk in support of our right to be zombies whenever we goddamn like.

The perfect model, of course, is Bub from Day of the Dead, who I’ve saved for the end, as probably the most famous zombie prisoner. Don’t forget he ate through his manacles in the end though.

(Well, he got out of them, anyway. I wouldn’t say he ate through the chains per se; it’s not strictly true and it plays into the unfortunate ‘Zombies are eating machines’ stereotype.)

A protest lurch is precisely the proper response to oppression like this. The Zombie Rights Campaign sincerely hopes it has the desired effect and opens up the public sphere once again to the Differently Animated and their allies. We seem to be drawn once again into defending the inalienable human right to free speech as it applies to people who fail to properly understand and empathize with the plight of the Zombie in order to safeguard it for everyone *including* the Differently Animated:

We (four) are looking at our options. If Deborah, 19, wants to get in touch then please do. We were stopped and searched using legislation designed to prevent football hooliganism, and the police used the powers of arrest as an arbitrary method of dispersal. We were released without charge as there was nothing to charge us with – but they were clearly hoping we’d crawl away, chastened and grateful that it was over. However – and I can’t emphasize this enough – we weren’t doing anything illegal. This was police harassment.

This was pretty mild police harassment as it goes and almost every officer we met was perfectly pleasant – but this does not undo the overall shittiness that our right to free assembly was revoked and we were illegally arrested and detained simply because the police didn’t like the look of us.

We are looking into things such as Black and Green Cross, various legal aid, Liberty, maybe even the Twitter joke trial people.

When it comes to battles to fight, I never imagined mine would be the right to dress up like an idiot, but this is the one that’s happened to me and I’m not going to let it slide. Being arrested and detained for nearly four hours is not an expectable, acceptable, or legal consequence of wearing some fake blood.

Metropolitan police: you have messed with the wrong zombies.

Dressing up like a Zombie doesn’t make one an ‘idiot’, but allowing the police to abuse their own citizens for appearing too Zombielike, or too Asian, or too Muslim, or any other ‘suspicious’ class would certainly qualify as idiotic. We wish the Zombies and Faux Zombies of the UK the best of luck in overcoming this campaign of injustice, and hope that along the way a better, free, more Undead tolerant society can be realized.

The alternative is almost unthinkable, but nevertheless well spelled out by a previous citizen of the UK:

There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always— do not forget this, Winston— always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— forever.

Yesterday that face belonged to one of the Differently Animated. Today that face belongs to a protester dressed up as a Zombie. Tomorrow it could belong to anyone.

Related media:


(A journalist who had covered the Faux Zombie protesters finds himself assaulted by the police acting under the Section 60 authority. His story and additional documentary evidence can be found here.)

A video interview with said Faux Zombie Hannah:

A video interview with others who dressed up. Note in particular the comments around the 3 minute mark stating that they were arrested on the presumption that a Zombie, or anyone dressed like a Zombie, was a de facto potential troublemaker:

A counter example of how a government can properly embrace and celebrate its Zombie population can be found here.

Pictures from that far prouder day here in Madison:

IMG_1532
(Madison’s now-current Mayor Paul Soglin, then campaigning for the valuable Zombie vote)

Postscript: The ZRC wishes to condemn the following Anti-Zombie apparently commentary made to The Guardian in the wake of these events:

American-born artist Jennifer Verson had come down from Liverpool with her three-year-old daughter Ella and a group of friends. They were all dressed as zombies – anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian Britain being the land of the living dead. Her daughter was holding a sign saying “Princesses are pigs”; her friend clutched another saying “Princesses suck (their thumbs)”.

This is precisely the wrong message for an American to take abroad, even as the Zombie Rights Movement gains ground so rapidly here at home. For shame, Ms. Verson. For shame.


About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.

Comments

2 Responses to “United Kingdom Tries Out ’1984′ as Training Manual to Suppress Zombie-Related Protest of Royal Wedding”

  1. Brendon says:

    There’s no fool like an old fool.

  2. Brice says:

    Greetings I found your blog by mistake when i was searching Live search for this matter, I must point out your webpage is really useful I also seriously like the design, its superb!

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