This is special branch! Fiasco in field as police officers agree to use ‘talking stick’ to try and move hippie group from encampment
- 100 members of the Rainbow Family of Living Light set up an illegal camp near Blisland, Cornwall and asked police to use a ‘talking stick’ to engage with them
- Attempts to move them on descended into farce when officers gave in to demands on how to address them – prompting strong criticism from onlookers
- A clean-up operation took place as the hippy campers finally left last weekend
Once upon a time, when the police wanted to address a troublesome crowd, they would deploy the tried and tested loudhailer.
This being the woke 2020s however, officers dealing with a hippy group in Cornwall agreed to use a ‘talking stick’ – holding it in the air when they wanted permission to speak.
Talking sticks are used by indigenous peoples such as Native Americans. Having the stick gives the holder the right to speak uninterrupted and to be listened to with respect.
Last night critics accused Devon and Cornwall Police of ‘forfeiting its authority’ by submitting to the group’s demand to use the stick.
The incident took place near Blisland on Bodmin Moor, where some 100 members of the Rainbow Family of Living Light had set up an illegal encampment.
The group camped on ancient woodland, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, last month and were subsequently ordered to leave.
Devon and Cornwall Police’s attempts to move the hippy ggroup on descended into farce when officers gave in to demands on how to address them – by agreeing to use a ‘talking stick’
But attempts to move them on descended into farce when officers gave in to demands on how to address them.
Onlookers watched agog as police waited for the campers to engage in a group chant before providing an answer.
Officers dismissed the bizarre situation as ‘the nature of modern policing’.
The group has been accused of causing serious damage to the area, having dug up the ground for its ‘sacred’ bonfires and campsite.
Camping is also prohibited under SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) by-laws.
Talking sticks are used by indigenous peoples such as Native Americans. Having the stick gives the holder the right to speak uninterrupted and to be listened to with respect
Rupert Hanbury-Tenison, chairman of the Bodmin Moor Commons Landowners Association, said: ‘The officer was not allowed to address the group of about five people representing the gathering unless he took and held up a talking stick which gave him permission to speak.
‘After each question or request he then had to wait while the five joined hands, chanted at length and then eventually each gave an individual response to what had been asked. It took him about 45 minutes to get a sensible answer.
‘We said to him that by agreeing to take the stick and only talk while holding it he had forfeited any authority he had as an officer of the law. He replied saying that was the nature of modern policing.
‘What infuriated me is that if any of us commoners or landowners had behaved in the same way then we would have been prosecuted.’
They were also accused of illegally burying a cow after finding a heifer which had died during a breach birth.
Landowner John Holman said: ‘This is supposedly a group which prides itself on not straying on to private land and accuses humanity of destroying the environment.
‘They had their so-called sacred fire at the centre of the encampment which started off quite small but ended up much bigger with the ground for about 40 metres around completely trampled.
Farmer John Holman said: ‘This is supposedly a group which prides itself on not straying on to private land and accuses humanity of destroying the environment
‘They thought they were helping by digging up the turf there and placing it elsewhere but the ground underneath has been damaged, the lifted turf has died and the ground it was laid on has also been killed off.
‘About nine out of ten of these hippies were perfectly polite and amiable but there was a hardcore who were abusive and intimidating.’
A clean-up operation took place as the campers finally left last weekend.
The Rainbow Family was born out of ‘free love’ and anti-Vietnam war protests in the US in the 1960s and early 1970s. Practitioners say their beliefs are based on Native American traditions and they have a strong desire to care for the Earth.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: ‘Officers were respectful and keen to engage with all. The key principles of policing have not changed.’