Organisers of the annual Antepavilion architecture charity competition have released footage of police storming their building and arresting staff ahead of the opening of the rooftop tensegrity structure targeted in the raid.
CCTV footage shows more than 40 officers streaming into the canalside Hoxton Docksarts building in east London after the door was forced open with power tools.
Another clip shows eight officers pulling owner Russell Gray off his motorbike when he arrived at the building after being told about the raid. A third clip shows police pushing Gray against a shutter and handcuffing him.
Antepavilion employees jailed overnight
Gray, who heads the Antepavilion charity and owns the building it is based in, was arrested on suspicion of attempted assault and dangerous driving. He and two employees spent a night in jail but were released the next morning.
Police have issued “no apologies and no charges” following the raid, Gray told Dezeen.
It is thought that police believed the building was being used by environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion to prepare for protests against media groups that are dismissive of climate change.
Installation similar to Extinction Rebellion structures
The rooftop installation, called All Along the Watchtower and designed by a collective called Project Bunny Rabbit, is similar to structures used by protesters to block roads during demonstrations. One of two winners of this year’s Antepavilion competition, it will open to the public on 23 July.
During its construction, the arts venue hosted workshops that showed members of the public how to assemble similar lightweight, reusable tensegrity structures made of bamboo poles and steel cables. During the raid, police threatened to come back and remove the structure, according to Gray.
Police said the raid and arrests were “proactive action to prevent and reduce criminal disruption which we believe was intended for direction at media business locations over the weekend”.
However, Antepavilion insisted there was no connection between Extinction Rebellion and the installation. “Antepavilion has no links to Extinction Rebellion beyond commissioning the construction of an art installation at their site using long-established ‘tensegrity’ structural principles,” it said in a statement.
“Extinction Rebellion has sometimes used the same tensegrity principles to erect temporary structures at protest sites. The raid is clear evidence of the carte blanche powers police have been given to harass and intimidate, in the government’s efforts to crackdown on dissenting voices.”
Raid triggers concern among architecture community
The footage of the raid, which Antepavilion organisers have been projecting onto the side of the building, triggered widespread concern. “The more I look at this the more appalled I am,” tweeted architect and head of Central St Martins school Jeremy Till in response to the footage. “While the [right-wing] press bleat on about rising crime, 40 police raid innocent artists.”[…]