Anti-scientology protesters were out in force in Glasgow on Saturday and once again they were met by a police response that raised questions about the force's attitude towards the "Church" of Scientology.
At 3pm a camera-wielding flash mob arrived at Buchanan St to picket the Scientologists' "Free Stress Tests" stall. The flash mob tactic was chosen, a masked pap told me, because of the recent heavy-handed policing experienced by the Anonymice, both in Glasgow and elsewhere.
Famously, a 15-year old was arrested in England for carrying a sign proclaiming Scientology to be a "cult", triggering a further surreal twist to the story, as police and Anonymice across the country battle over whether they can use the c-word on their banners. Strathclyde Police say "no", while in Edinburgh they sought for and received explicit permission to use the epithet.
Police in Glasgow are continuing to use elastic interpretation of the law, combined with an apparent love of intimidating teenagers, to collect names and addresses of Anonymous protesters. This week they used "Section 22 (or 23) of the Anti-Drugs Act" to search an individual, on the grounds that he was shivering. If anyone out there can confirm whether this Act exists and the extent of the search powers it grants, then folk would like to know. It makes a change from "Section 50"anti-social behaviour powers.
This kind of police action has caused concern because of the CoS's past behaviour towards its known critics, their so-called "fair game" (?) policy, partly responsible for kicking off the protest wave. There's also an age / power factor involved, as many of the protesters are young and new to both protesting and political policing tactics. The police in Strathclyde evidently relish being able to bullshit this group more.
Whether the Police have a special love for the cult, or whether they just want to collect names in their notebooks to make it look like they are "doing" something, that's not clear. What is clear is that the Church of Scientology hates to be called a "cult" and there are still a large number of people opposed to it.