Just because you're not paranoid it doesn't mean They aren't out to get you. Sometimes the little scrotes of the ComPol are just looking for an easy mark, but often I wonder if they're not acting under orders. It could be just your turn to be unlucky and get pulled over, or maybe it's my intuition the pair of goons who abruptly pull in front and way too fucking close to me with their tuk are after something more than a routine stop and ticket.
This is the last thing I need right now, I'm already pissed-off at having to pedal against an unseasonably bitter bone chilling northerly wind on the way home. Fuck it! I'll just have to contain my annoyance and be polite to the little wankspurts.
The tuk door slides back and out get the cocky little bastards. Well I know the form; I've read the briefing that you can get off CycloSolidarity, best to get it over with. "Good afternoon officers. I hereby inform you that your actions are being videoed by my helmet cam and are being uplinked to secure storage to be used in evidence if required. I have also summoned independent legal witnesses. Please would you explain under what law, and upon what grounds you have stopped me?"
The Compie looks surprised. I think he was expecting to be able to bully a poor little cyclist into accepting a ticket or several, or maybe he just wants to administer a kicking, and anyone will do; what he wasn't expecting was someone to be knowledgeable and assertive. Well he picked the wrong man on the wrong day. You can almost see the gears grinding behind those dull eyes for a second as he struggles to respond. These part-time pigs just don't have the brains of the full-time CityPol.
He regains his composure. "You have been stopped because we noticed you cycling erratically. It appears to us your pannier may be overloaded and may be affecting your balance, contrary to the Safe Cycling Act. I'd like to see your licence please."
I hand it to him, but also "I hereby require you to provide to me or my legal representative a copy of the on-board vehicle camera video of my riding prior to your decision to stop me as evidence to use in my defence." His colleague is beginning to look decidedly annoyed. I notice that his hand is resting on his wand. "And furthermore I will only consent to a search of my pannier in the presence of independent legal witnesses with video equipment."
His partner is looking really angry now. Had I not been wearing a helmet cam, and had this been later at night in a more out of the way place I'm sure I'd have been given a good zapping with the wand by now, and some story made up to fit the charges, any head cam video 'unavailable' due to my 'breaking' the equipment during a struggle. But this is a busy road with plenty of witnesses riding by, so I don't think they'd be stupid enough to try anything, though I could be wrong. The first Compie is looking really hacked-off now; the wind is slicing through his badly made uniform as easily as my cycling gear.
He finishes scanning my cycle licence, his device beeps a confirmation of its validity. "Mr Davies, we could both stand here getting cold waiting for your legal observers to arrive, so why not allow me to search your pannier now, admit your guilt to a charge of Cycling While Not Being In Full Control Of Your Bicycle, and accept the ticket. It'll be cheaper and less hassle for you."
"Because I am not guilty of that offence, and if my pannier is searched I don't want have anything added to, or taken away from it. I insist upon my right to independent videoing of any search in accordance with the Limitation of Executive Powers Protocol as defined in Chakarabati vs Rex."
He's beginning to seethe now; cheeks reddening, nostrils flaring. Perhaps I've overplayed it but the law is the law; even in these times. He's about to say something else when help arrives. It's one of the informal network of volunteer legal observers who I summoned with a preprepared panic blurt; I'm also a member of this mutual support network. After introducing myself and explaining the situation my witness also takes video notes to his helmet cam. While noting the Compy's number he notices something that I, heart pounding, adrenaline coursing through my veins, and eyes watering from the cold despite my wearing wraparound glasses have missed. He speaks:
"Officer 5778: In the course of making an independent record of this incident I note you are wearing a Consensus badge in contravention of the Community Police Regulations. This fact has been noted and videoed." Yes! The Compie looks taken aback. I love it when they trip themselves up. There's a hope now I can get myself out of this, or if it goes to court I've got a defence that they weren't correctly uniformed at the time of their stopping me, so rendering the stop unlawful to use against them.
Both of ComPigs are looking nonplussed now with their case falling apart. "Given this violation of procedure you may wish to reconsider your continuance of the apprehension of Mr Davies." He sounds as if not only does he knows his stuff, but that he might actually be a lawyer.
Another two observers arrive; now the Compies look outnumbered and intimidated. The silent one is about to speak when their radio crackles with a report of a domestic violence incident nearby. That's the excuse they're looking for to back out of this confrontation. Their eyes light up at the thought of some really exciting work, and the credit they would glean from being there first to deal with it.
"We're needed elsewhere" says the articulate ComPol, tossing my licence back to me. "But we'll be keeping an eye out for you. Ride safely now!" The tuk rasps into life and shoots away, lights and siren on, leaving a group of four chilled cyclists behind.
Teeth chattering from the cold I thank everyone for their help. We shake hands, flick each other our contact details in case they are needed and then set off together in a northwards heading peleton, trying to get some warmth flowing back into our numbed legs and taking turns at the front to block the penetrating wind for our comrades. It saves a lot of energy that way. I think the flow of relief is helping me along. It feels good to know that together we were able to thwart the officious bastards; and you have the protection, however scant, of a network of like-minded people. The links of electronic solidarity have certainly proven their worth today. One day - who knows when - I may be the one riding to someone else's aid.
Eventually we split off and go our separate ways. Rob, the first rider who came to my aid, but who works in insurance rather than the law, is the last to go. He turns his carbon fibre racer off toward Purbrook, gives me a thumbs up, and accelerates away. I've not seen a bike that good since before the Crises. You can't find any for sale now, even if you could afford one.
Alone once more I feel isolated and vulnerable. I don't know whether those Compies really do have it in for me, but it's best to assume that they do. I'll take the bus for a few days, and then try to vary the times I ride in and out of the city as well as the routes I take for a while after. When I get back home I upload the camera footage and a blurt of the event to the CycloSolidarity forum. It will be lodged there for future use if anyone needs it. Though I'm still shivery with the adrenaline rush, and a borderline case of hypothermia I can feel warmed by the satisfaction of winning a small victory against Them. The trouble is though, that far too often the tide flows against us.