A pensioner was arrested after she allegedly affixed a placard to the door of an MP’s office using drawing pins, in what campaigners have called an “act of intimidation”.
On the morning 17 January April Bennett awoke to a dawn raid by police officers attending her home in Cornwall.
Bennett is suspected to have affixed a pro-Palestine placard to the front door of Cherilyn Mackrory MP’s office. She said she had written to the Truro MP, asking why she supports Israel, but got no response.
Footage shared on social media shows officers explaining the arrest on suspicion of criminal damage to Bennett, who is still wearing her nightclothes. The officers ask if she needs medical assistance as she looks very distressed by the situation.
“There’s damage to a front door of the MP’s office in Truro where damage has been caused. There’s been pins put in the door…”, one officer says.
The officer says that the matter could be dealt with using community sentencing, “If she’s willing to accept that she’s damaged the front door to the MP’s office by placing placards on there…”
“People are entitled to free speech and to express themselves in any way”, says the officer, and a man off camera responds, “Then what are you doing here then?”
The officer says, “I’m not going to look for drawing pins, I’m not going to look for a hammer.” Footage then shows another officer searching the house and taking some leaflets.
Bennett was de-arrested after agreeing to voluntarily attend a police interview, which she can be re-arrested for not attending.
Speaking following the incident, Bennett said: “I am angry – angry that war criminals, mass murderers, torturers, arms traders, the inflicters and enablers of genocide and brutality go free to continue the brutal mayhem they inflict on others across the globe, but our government chooses to hound, harass, arrest those who seek to lay bare their crimes.”
A spokesperson for campaign group Palestine Solidarity Cornwall said, “This was an act of intimidation by Devon and Cornwall police against a grandmother who has simply tried to hold her elected representative to account for the atrocities she, and her government, are supporting in Gaza.
“While it is reflective of the police harassment Palestine solidarity campaigners have faced across the country for speaking out against a genocide, it is outrageous they have decided to put a pensioner through this ordeal over some drawing pins.
“However, we will not be intimidated by these actions. The UN has described Gaza as a ‘graveyard for children’, and while our so-called elected representatives continue to support the massacre of children and refuse to stop the export of UK weapons to facilitate this slaughter, we will continue taking action.”
The incident follows a crackdown on pro-Palestine protests. In November, police told protest organisers it was “not appropriate” to hold demonstrations calling for a ceasefire on armistice day, following pressure from then-home secretary Suella Braverman.
The government’s counter-extremism lead has accused pro-Palestine protesters of having a “shameful extremist agenda”, while the government’s independent advisor on political violence and disruption has suggested making organisations pay to protest, as he seeks to find ways to ban them.
In November, a former official for Amnesty International was arrested at a demonstration in central London on suspicion of breaching public order laws for carrying a satirical anti-Israel sign saying, “Apartheid Israel – What a cuntry”.
Cherilyn Mackrory MP said: “It is not appropriate for me to make a comment on an ongoing police investigation. I fully support people’s right to hold different opinions on any subject. I am happy to speak with any of my constituents who contact me about the ongoing situation in Israel as with any other matter.”
In a statement on her website published in December, Mackrory said that, “the loss of every innocent life is a tragedy” but defended “Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, deter further incursions and strengthen its long-term security.”
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson said: “We are investigating two separate reports of criminal damage to properties in the Truro area and enquiries are ongoing.
“Due to this being a live and active investigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”