Posts Tagged ‘Face Coverings’

The Countryside Alliance and particularly their Chief Executive Tim Bonner have been banging on about sabs & monitors covering their faces for as long as I can remember. I first commented on the subject here. It’s certainly something which has got under their skin to the point of obsession so when the laws regarding face covering were modified recently they once again shouted from the roof tops to anyone who was listening that they’d gained some sort of victory.

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Oakley Hunt Terrier Men.

Their headline of “New power to remove face coverings from violent protesters comes into effect today” suggests a radical change in police powers however the modification to the Section 60AA legislation is only minor and certainly won’t change anything from the point of view of those who wish to remain anonymous from the CA and their intelligence gatherers. Previously for a Section 60AA to be used it had to be requested and then authorised from an officer of Inspector rank or above and the relevant paperwork signed before it could be enforced. Now this order can be given orally by the senior officer at the request of officers on the ground.

It’s not hard to understand why the CA want to know the identities of those who stand against them. They hold files on all sorts of people from monitors to sabs and LACS employees. This is so, should the need arise they can try to discredit, undermine or even use this information for more sinister purposes by passing it on to the hunts and their thugs which the activists operate against. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had my photo taken by hunters and their supporters. They are clearly under instruction to do so at every opportunity and these will be passed on to the CA so a database of their activities can be built up over time. I imagine my own file is fairly large.

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Masked hunt supporter taking my photo (again).

So, what is the reality of the situation?

Well, nothing really changes. You’ll note in the headline the words “violent protesters”. The police can’t simply turn up at a hunt and demand all those wearing face masks remove them, they still have to justify this order in the same way as previously and simply wearing a face covering isn’t justification. Of course the CA and Bonner like to claim that sabs are violent protesters but the truth of the matter is the complete opposite.

Firstly sabs are not protesters. They are there to stop hunts from illegally killing mammals in direct contravention of the Hunting with Dogs Act. The hunts themselves are more accurately described as the ones protesting as they are openly flouting a law that they disagree with. Secondly sabs are non-violent. They gain nothing from acting in a manner which would detract from their main purpose and in all likelihood lose them the support of the general public. Of course we’re fully entitled to protect ourselves from violent assaults and will do so but it simply isn’t in our interests to act like thugs, we leave that to the hunting fraternity.

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More hunt thugs

Speaking of which we can now look forward to all the hunt thugs and terrier men being unmasked but notice how the CA and Bonner deny all knowledge of the existence of these people? The silence from Bonner et al regarding all the violence from the hunting side which made the national media several times this past season speaks volumes. The hypocrisy involved here really is astounding. In Bonner’s recent statement he says;

There are only two reasons for wearing masks and face-coverings in the context of a protest: to intimidate and harass, and to hide identity with the intention of committing criminal offences and avoiding prosecution”.

Now remember that sabs aren’t the ones protesting and apply what he says to the pro hunting side. I find it highly amusing the CA are attempting to hold the moral high ground here and even when they put together a short video on Twitter which is alleged to show sab violence they can’t really come up with anything substantive. I can say without doubt that any of the sab groups across the country could come up with hours upon hours of footage of hunters, supporter and “stewards” acting violently towards people and property. It is, quite frankly, laughable. Bonner can harp on all he likes, the reality is that perhaps now we’ll get more convictions against the terrier men and the violent thugs the hunts employ and if the police try and apply the rules in a hunt situation it will apply to all concerned and not just from one side.

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Tim Bonner, wearing a face covering while watching a hunt.

The tweet below sums up Bonner & the CA perfectly so I’ll finish with that. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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The same old story seems to arise every year. It’s a tired old thing, dragged kicking and screaming into the limelight by the CA’s chief halfwi . . . I mean chief executive Tim Bonner, and plastered over the pages of some suitably sympathetic media outlet (the Torygraph in this case). Headlines like “MP’s demand change in law to unmask violent hunt saboteurs” are usually the order of the day and while the sensationalism may be good from an impact point of view it really doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny and is very lazy journalism.

Lets take look.

“A group of MPs are seeking to amend the law to give the police more powers to force violent hunt saboteurs who try to hide their identity to remove their masks.”

First off – A group of MPs who are pro hunt and probably put in power with the help of the CA in the first place. Who are these MPs? The motion was tabled by Tory MP and former Solicitor General, Sir Edward Garnier, also a staunch supporter of the CA, so no surprises there then and I doubt the rest could be considered to be speaking for the majority of the electorate.

Secondly – Violent Hunt Saboteurs. Who are these dregs of society? For a non-violent, largely vegan organisation, hunt sabs certainly seem to like putting the boot it. There must be an absolute trail of bloodied hunt staff and supporters littering our countryside and A&E units come the end of the hunt season.

Except of course there isn’t and never has been.

With all the cameras and phones out there you’d expect the CA would be able to justify these kind of claims but it wouldn’t surprise to know they can’t. They may roll out the single bit of utterly inconclusive and questionable footage they have (which incidentally resulted in zero arrests from the police) and spout some hearsay about something that a friend of theirs said happened once but without hard evidence it is all meaningless.

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Part time Dalek and Hunt Steward.

On the flip side of course there is hours upon hours of footage which shows hunters and their lackies inflicting all sorts of violence on those who peacefully oppose them (see here and here for a start).

Timmy goes on: “In the past three years there have been a number of cases where hunt staff and supporters have been viciously attacked by animal rights activists wearing balaclavas, but no-one has ever been brought to justice for these crimes.”

Care to back that up with some facts? Nope, thought not. Did it also slip your mind about the sabs who have been killed in the past, the sab who was badly hurt from being run down by the huntsman of the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale hunt, the myriad of occasions week in week out where hunt terrier men, supporters and staff have resorted to violence. There really are too many incidents to list here but a short search on the web will bring plenty of results.

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Oakley Hunt Terrier Men

The article goes on: “A constable in uniform should be entitled to require someone to remove of items, such as face coverings and balaclavas, where these are used “wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing identity” and where they reasonably believe that an offence “has been, or is being, committed.”

I wonder therefore will that include the many hunt staff, terrier men and stewards who wear face coverings. The simple fact is they are engaging in an illegal activity just by taking part in hunting. The legislation may be weak and prosecutions difficult to achieve but that doesn’t detract from the fact that hunts openly break the law and it benefits their staff to not get identified. Bonner goes on to imply sabs are extremists and yet its the people of his ilk that are by far in the minority and extreme. Let’s face it, if you gain enjoyment from chasing a sentient mammal to exhaustion before killing it in a most gruesome manner I’d suggest old Timmy boy has his definitions a little confused.

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Tim Bonner

And what’s this? Who is this chap with his face covered while watching a hunt? It wouldn’t be you would it Tim? Don’t tell me, you were a bit chilly right?

The hypocrisy is astounding.

The simple fact is it bugs the shit out of the Countryside Alliance and the hunts they support. If I’d had a pound for every slow witted comment regarding face masks I’d heard I’d be a very rich guy indeed. They’re desperate to get the identities of all those who stand against them and face masks get in their way. So old Tim really is trying too hard, but then I guess he has to when there aren’t any facts to back up his claims.

I’ll leave the final word to Lee Moon, the HSA’s spokesperson:

“The Countryside Alliance is currently obsessed with saboteurs wearing masks, which we have always done and will continue to do so due to the very real threat of violent reprisals by hunt support. 

We would ask the Alliance to explain why so many of their supporters are regularly masking up and committing violent unlawful acts in the countryside?”