The police officer told me I should have ‘stayed inside’ as women drove through the pitch-black Kelvingrove Park to Cop26 – Annie Brown

As someone living just minutes from COP26, I expected disturbances but not to be threatened by the event.

I was one of dozens of women asked by police Monday night to take a winding route home through a pitch-black park as I was not allowed to pass a roadblock in Glasgow.

After a busy day at COP26, I found myself on the wrong side of a barricade that stretches along Argyle Street, the route taken by the leaders’ car cardholders as they headed for a slap-up dinner at the Kelvingrove Museum.

At 19.00 I went to the barricade, which blocked the passage to my street – only meters across the road and within tempting sight.

There were hundreds of police in the area, serving every few feet of the barricade that stretched for at least two miles.

Side roads were also blocked, which meant that even reaching Argyle Street had taken a good half hour to hit dead ends of high vests in biting cold.

As I stood looking longingly at my street, I asked an officer when I could cross the few feet that would take me home in under a minute. “You can not cross. Not for hours,” he said.

When I pointed to my street, he said it was a “sterilized” zone, which must have made him feel very much like the FBI.

It was not a state of emergency, just some fat cats stopping their faces while discussing how climate change affected the starving poor.

We all understand that the mockery needed a safe route, but there were long, lingering spaces between each gas-swallowing procession.

And there were hours of opportunity for crossings when the high-ranking people sat by the trough.

At other major events, residents get local access if they show ID and an address, which I offered to do.

Instead, the officer told me to turn around, walk through the dark Kelvingrove Park, up past Glasgow University, down Byres Road, cross the road at the bottom and walk back .. a good four-mile detour. When I politely protested that the police did not safely suggest that I should walk alone through an unlit park where women had been sexually assaulted, he just shrugged.

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If the tragic murder of Sarah Everard has done anything, it has certainly highlighted the dangers that can hit women alone.

When I thought the cold had stunned his brain, I asked ten others, and all gave the same irresponsible solution.

A more senior officer said I should have stayed in, which given that the route had been at the last minute, was just him being an arrogant ass, while another said one could not shake a stick without hitting an officer, which made me long for a stick.

In fact, as feared, the park was black and I did not see a cop. After reporting all day, my phone’s battery was low and it felt too risky to use my flashlight.

Various entrances were closed off, meaning women wandered aimlessly and many were not from Scotland, let alone the city.

I had witnessed dozens of police squeezing at the mouth of roadblocks that could have been tasked with patrolling the park.

The police should remember that it is their duty to protect all citizens, not just the rich and powerful.

Between the negotiations and the walk, it took me over two hours to get home, so I hope the banquet gave the senior men heartburn, as it certainly did many ordinary women.


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