Twiggy Garcia didn't plan on inviting Tony Blair to accompany him to the nearest police station, but then the former prime minister walked into the restaurant where he worked, and he figured he'd only have one shot to attempt to bring the Iraq War...
Tony Blair's tenure as prime minister of the UK has been over for nearly seven years now, but some Britons are still extremely upset at him. One British poll from last year even found that a fifth of the country thinks that Blair and his partner in war George W. Bush should face trial for invading Iraq. So far, five people have attempted to place Tony Blair under citizen's arrest—the fifth being my boyfriend Twiggy on Friday night. I decided to interview him to find out how it went.
VICE: You just placed Tony Blair under a citizen's arrest—how do you feel?
Twiggy Garcia: I feel great. Lots of people have been contacting me to say well done. I'm still in disbelief that I got the opportunity to citizen's arrest the former prime minister.
Was this a planned scheme? Did you wake up this morning knowing that you were going to try to arrest Tony Blair?
Not so much a plan, but it's something I have wanted to do for a few years. I had been waiting for the opportunity after seeing the website ArrestBlair.org, and it just so happened that we were in the same place at the same time. I believe Blair is responsible for the mass murder of Iraqi civilians after taking our country into an illegal war and breaking articles 31 and 51 of the UN charter, of which the UK is a signatory.
Where did you see him?
At a restaurant called Tramshed in Shoreditch—I was working at the bar. My heart rate increased when I found out he was in the building; there was a eerie presence, which some of the other staff noticed too. It wasn't like any other night. I couldn't believe he was there. His security people were sitting at the bar directly in front of me and I got nervous because I thought they overheard me say, "Should I citizen's arrest him?"
Did you act on impulse or did you think about what you were going to do?
I thought about it for a while. I went on the ArrestBlair website to see how to perform a citizen's arrest. Then I spoke to some of the other staff and they said I shouldn't do it. I then phoned my friend Callum and told him my plan. He said, "Go for it," and that was all I needed to hear.
What was he doing when you arrested him?
He was sitting at the head of a table upstairs in the restaurant with about eight other people eating dinner. I think he was out with his family and a few friends. I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder, and said, "Mr Blair, this is a citizen's arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge."
What was his reaction?
He said, "No, shouldn't you be worried about Syria?" and I replied that I can only address things that are within my grasp at any one time. Then he asked me, "But don't you agree that Saddam was a brutal dictator and he needed to be removed?" and I replied "Not by an illegal war." Then he started talking about how lots of people died in the 1980s. I paraphrased Robin Cook's resignation speech and asked why we needed to go to war to remove a power we put in place, and didn't our government and the US provide Saddam with those weapons in the first place?
What did he have to say to that?
He kept changing the subject and talking about Syria. He said, "I think you should be more concerned about Syria, to be honest." I explained to him again that I was placing him under a citizen's arrest because he is a war criminal, and invited him again to accompany me to the police station to answer the charges.
I'm going to assume he politely declined. What happened next?
One of his sons got up and went to get the plainclothes security from downstairs. I decided to get out of there sharpish—I've had a few run-ins with the police in the past and it never ends well. They have no respect for the laws they are supposed to uphold. I quit my job [at the restaurant] there and then. I'd been planning to leave anyway. I haven't spoken to my employers since. I feel a little bad... they were really nice.
Did Blair react in the way you expected him to react?
It all panned out pretty much how I thought it would, except that I didn't expect him to start debating with me. I think he actually believed the lies that were coming out of his mouth. We all know that the humanitarian angle of the war was retrofitted after the decision to go to war when Blair and Bush failed to get UN Security Council approval.
What do you hope will come from the attempted arrests?
I hope that it will keep people from forgetting that he is a war criminal. I hope one day he faces his charges at the Hague. People seem to think that those laws only apply to Nazis and African warlords.
If you saw him again would you do anything differently?
I'd probably get someone to film it. I was scared to get my phone out in case it was confiscated by his bodyguards. The police have held my phone for five months before when I had done nothing illegal. They are shits.
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