The sit-in organized by Kefaya started Sunday,3/25,07, at the press syndicate continued under siege until late Monday. After what happened on Sunday of assaults and beatings, it was very interesting to peek into the mind of a few police officers. On Monday me and a few friends decided to go over to the press syndicate and check out what was happening with the sit-in and the people trapped inside. The police were allowing people to go in, but were not allowing them out. When we first went there, we were trying to help a friend get out of the demonstration. When we tried talking to the police officers in charge, they were actually very nice and polite, however, they made it very clear that this particular girl will not be allowed to leave because she’s an activist and not just an ‘innocent’ by-stander. They said that she’ll have to be stuck inside until late at night so she’d learn her lesson and not repeat this mistake of protesting ever again. We couldn’t show our dismay at what they said so we kept joking around with them trying to change their minds, which at the end we realized would not budge.
Anyways, one of the girls who we were with is the girlfriend of one of the protestors trapped inside the syndicate. We decided to stay with her until she made sure her boyfriend was going to be ok. Meanwhile, one of my friends met me there and he brought a friend of his along. We were mainly four girls and two guys just hanging casually in the middle of all the Central Security troops, the plainclothes thugs, and the State Security officers across the street from the syndicate.
Standing there, from almost 5pm till about 8pm, we engaged in some very interesting and insightful conversations with three of the lower rank police officers who were there. Of course in order to gain some insight, and do some old fashioned ‘brain-picking’ we had to pretend to be on their side, or at least not on the side of the protestors. The first thing they asked me is whether I was a journalist or from ‘Human Rights’. I told him I was neither. The conversation started out with me asking one of them about the reason they are not allowing these people out of the syndicate. He started bitching about how some of them were stuck here since the day before and how they were tired, bored and wanted to go home. I told him, so why don’t you just let these people – the protestors – go, then you’ll be able to go home. The other officer told me that they’re not letting them out, because if they did leave the syndicate, the protestors would incite hate in the hearts of the people towards the government and that might start some widespread public riots where the security of the nation would be compromised. He told me that the people are repressed and under a lot of pressure as it is, be it poverty or injustice, he told me the people are prone to explode any minute. He also told me that if these protestors were allowed to leave the syndicate, it would only take a few enthusiastic chants and they’d trigger some widespread mutiny and unrest. Then, he said, the nation would go into chaos and the military would have to take some hard line measures to bring back stability and peace. Yeah…as if.
We had earlier seen this lady trapped inside the sit-in, and she was carrying a baby. I asked him why don’t you allow her to leave, she has baby with her and she’s been here since early in the morning. He told me that woman has a long criminal record, she has drug-related charges against her, and that he knew her well, she was from El Sayida Zeinab, and that she’s violent. I asked him, why would she be here if she’s a drug dealer? He said, “What do you think all these people are?”
“What? Drug dealers?” I asked.
“No!” he said, “They’re all hired… with money.”
I wanted to tell him what about the plainclothes thugs you hire? Aren’t they employed? Doesn’t the police go out and arrest these thugs, and collect them from police stations, then bring them to demonstrations to assault protestors? Maybe that woman is one of them. One of you.
Then we started talking about the amendments. I had pink ink on my pinky and that revealed the fact that I went to vote earlier, so I couldn’t really act too stupid on that topic. He asked me if I voted yes or no and I told him I voted yes (although I didn’t). I then asked him what this whole controversy was about and that I didn’t even know if these protestors were with or against the amendments. He told me “They want a ‘no’ vote. They don’t want the amendments to pass.” He then kept on going about how these protestors don’t even know what a constitution is. He started talking about how the people were retarded, not necessarily ignorant, even those who’re educated are dumb and do not go about doing things the right way. He said the people should be educated first. The other one said that when these things get violent, it’s the protestors that beat the police officers. I asked him how come? And how come you do not ‘defend yourselves’? He moved and behind him was a big ass video camera with lights and a tripod and all. He said they video tape the protestors beating them, so it would be justified when they beat the protestors. One of them started talking about how sometimes he feels bad about those protestors who get beaten and hurt. He said he feels bad especially for the girls who get assaulted in the middle. He kind of pissed me off. I told him that I heard a lot of people were getting assaulted and beaten yesterday, including girls. His excuse was that when one or two people gets beaten and hurt, it would be better than the entire group being collectively assaulted. He also said that when the designated few get beaten, the rest would get scared and they would not repeat this mistake again.
When the girl who was with us started waving to her boyfriend, who was across the street in the sit-in, one of the policemen yelled and told us if we were to stand there and wave at the protestors they would make us leave. He started telling us how these people were ‘bad’ and we should stay away from them and not be their friends.
One of them was talking with my friend about his family and his kids. He showed him pictures of his four children on his phone. I jumped in the conversations when the policeman was saying, “Do you really believe a bunch of them AUC students can make our lives better?” He was referring to the protestors, mainly implying they’re all a bunch of upper-class brats. One of them told me that I’m either too naïve and gullible, or too sneaky. He told me I should go spend a couple of months in Shobra or Bolaq. He said only then will I know what is really going on in Egypt. I acted stupid enough. I wanted to feel their brains. I think I did a little bit. It was interesting. They offered us tea. Mind you it was the six of us, ‘hanging’ with the three of them, surrounded by tens more of them. The group of police men standing to our right had another camera, it was set up and running, recording. They started to increase in numbers. I guess we started seeing some people coming out of the syndicate and the police were allowing some of them to get out. That was when we decided to leave. It was interesting.