Tower Hamlets Watch

Peggy the Peaceful Protestor. | June 3, 2010

Bumped into an event today in Pennyfields in Poplar. A chinese looking lady who i now know as ‘Peggy’ was sitting cross legged underneath the window of an Estate Agents in Birchfields Street.

She was approached by two policeman who asked her what she was doing there?

Peggy Protesting and Being interviewed by Police

I waited by the newsagents and overheard her tell them that;

“they took my money, and wont give it back, and that I’m telling everyone that goes in, that they wont give me my money back”

The Police there told her that she couldn’t sit there because she was blocking people from entering the shop. They went on to tell her that it was illegal to sit here as it was a hazard to passers by, and that if she didn’t move she would be arrested.

One of the police officers went into the shop after ‘Peggy’ told them what was going on, and was in there for several minutes. He then came out and told her that she would have to remove herself from the area completly, not just from outside the shop but entirely from the scene.

I could not see anything wrong with what she was doing. She was peacefully sitting there, not shouting, but just informing people that this shop basically stole her money. She was not blocking their entrance, and was sitting just under the window, quietly informing them of her experience. I’m not a lawyer and do not claim to know the law, but being asked to completley leave the area seemed a bit over the top.

She quietly pleaded with these Policemen that she didn’t think they were right to ask her to leave, but they insisted. Another Policeman turned up on a pedal bike, and then two more community police officers. Still ‘Peggy’ remained extremely calm, but obviously upset about the whole situation. She begrudgingly left the scene walking towards Limehouse.

I overheard two young mothers laugh, and say, that

“You want DVD”

in a chinese accent, and felt extremely sorry all of a sudden, for this lady, that no-one seemed to be on her side.

I followed her just across the road to just past the Oporto Pub and asked her quietly what went on. She informed me with broken english that;

“they took my deposit for a flat, but then wanted 6 months rent in advance. I do not have the money, and asked for my money back, they refused. I started today, to protest outside the shop by sitting and telling people quietly that they took my money. Most just ignored me. The people in the shop then came out and told us that I cannot sit there because I’m embarrasing the shop, and then they called the police”

I found ‘Peggy’ to be pleasant, if not a little upset about being treated in this way, first by the loss of money, and then by the Police. She then asked if I knew if this was right or not. I replied that I felt that this was completly wrong in my opinion, that I believe the police dont have the right to move you on like this. But then what do I know. In this day and age, a peaceful honest protest like this surely cannot be any harm to anybody. Why would the police take the side of a private shop like this?, when she wasn’t harming anybody or doing anything that I could see anyway, that could be honestly deemed illegal, and forced to leave the area?

Anyway, we both left and said our goodbyes. Not to sound overly dramatic but my day felt a little heavier at seeing her walk out of the area. I turned around and the Police stood their watching her walk down towards Limehouse. Surely they had better things to do than stand there watching her walk the entire length of West India Dock road? Dont get me wrong I completly respect the police, but somehow what I witnessed today, just didn’t feel right.

‘Peggy’, I hope you find some peace to all of this, Karma sometimes has a way of catching up with the best of us.

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