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“Knock Knock” “Who’s There?” “Police Constable O’Grady” “Sh*t, RUN!”

Northern Irish law enforcement is a tricky topic and one that is very difficult to write about without presenting bias (something that can be very dangerous in my country), however I will try my best to contextualize my thoughts into a readable format for you guys (as well as hoping to poke fun at everything and everyone around). Also, I encourage you all to comment on mine and the other articles as it boosts our self-confidence and encourages us to write more for you guys. Literally any feedback is welcome 🙂

Just a photo to prove that I actually have friends and don't just sit around writing articles 🙂

Policing is a difficult issue where I am from because most of the violence that erupts has religious affiliation/influence, and also the police force that existed before the current one was called the Royal Ulster Constabulary (1922-2001), which had protestant roots and the job attracted more Protestants than Catholics at the time. Due to this, our current police force experiences the same issues (even though it is idealized as a wholly religiously integrated institution without discrimination. The reality, of course, is that this does not happen). Because of this stigma and the threat of opposing religious extremists, being a police officer is a much more dangerous job than usual and announcing you are in the police force is definitely discouraged. Out of the police officers I know, none of them are allowed to reveal themselves.

On top of this, there are religious groups (such as the well-known IRA: which stands for Irish Republican Army) who sometimes take policing into their own hands and exact their own form of justice. Just to keep a neutral impression on here (and because many readers may not be aware) this is not the only group (known as a “paramilitary organization”) that does this. Here are a few other groups that have claimed to be directly involved in “the troubles“:
-Provisional IRA
-Continuity IRA
-The Real IRA
-UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force)
-UDA (Ulster Defense Association)
-LVF (Loyalist Volunteer Force)
-RHD (Red Hand Defenders)

Note that affiliations with the above organizations are now illegal.

For more information on involvement of these groups, follow this link to read an article written by renowned journalist, Peter Taylor. In his article he states that “the troubles” was an ongoing conflict between national identity/territory, NOT religion, however in my experience growing up directly after the troubles, I have found that the lines between these have blurred slightly and that they are interlinked (particularly in my generation).

Police attitudes from the public are by no means a positive one, and many officers lose their life on duty. This news article details an event I remember clearly when police officer Ronan Kerr lost his life when a bomb was put under his car one morning, however it is fair to mention that blood is drawn by both sides.
One major difference between the police force in Northern Ireland and that in the rest of the constituents of the UK (Wales, Scotland, & England), is that in Northern Ireland, police officers ARE allowed to carry guns, however are not allowed to make the first shot unless they are being shot at first themselves. The police system are increasingly issuing tasers, batons, irritant sprays and other forms of “non-lethal” weapons.

My best friend Molly and myself. This photo was taken at the Golden Gate Bridge just hours before...

One interesting thing from my time in the United States so far is that I have been unlucky/lucky (I’ll let you decide) enough to be involved in a police case over the winter break (as a victim so feel free to send me lots of sympathy and nice presents; I like quirky socks and Ben & Jerrys Ice-cream. I’ll let you do what you want with that information…). So yes, while holidaying (an unofficial verb in English slang) in San Francisco, I was walking down Market Street at around 10pm on New Year’s Eve while the city was bustling with anticipation and partygoers (myself-included) ready to ring in the New Year with a few clinks of glasses. My first New Year’s in a foreign country; and in San Francisco no less?! This should be an amazing night… Or so I thought. Well, I was 3 drinks away from being a giggly walking bottle of vodka (I’m 21 guys and off Willamette grounds so no worries there) and myself and my best friend Molly  (shown above: also, click here to check out her AWESOME articles) were meeting another friend of mine to celebrate being away from home and in San Francisco. As we walked down the 700 block of Market Street, a brawl between two males erupted and there were two “gangs” of people screaming around them, thirsty for bloodshed. They must have been 18 or 19; definitely younger than Molly and myself. Anyway, we were cautiously walking towards this fight (a common occurrence back home) and thought to just quietly slip around. Unbeknownst to us, one of the “kids” fighting pulled out a gun and tried to shoot his rival. I use the word “tried” very loosely here because (luckily for his enemy) he could not have missed more. In a split second, several BANG’s screeched through the air and shock washed through Molly and myself. People screamed and ran, and all I could think of was “were those firecrackers?” Apparently I started hyperventilating and Molly rummaged through my backpack to retrieve my inhaler (first-world asthmatic problems at inconvenient times), and I looked down at my sweater which was now pinned through my chest.

One local hero stopped as he was running away and asked if we were okay, and I very calmly articulated that one of the bullets had just pierced my chest. Like I mean I was really trying to be calm and I think it probably came across like I didn’t even care. I get asked “what did it feel like?” “Did it hurt?” Well, let me shoot you in the chest and see what you say -_- of course it hurt. I digress.

I couldn't pass down a photo opportunity now could I?!

So this local hero alerted the police officers and they gently propped me down to lean against a lamp-post and removed my clothing to look at the wound. I was wearing a serape-like sweater which was pinned into my chest and one police officer ran up, asked what had happened, and as I explained that it wasn’t meant to be buttoned into my nipple, he ripped it open. Now THAT hurt. It is at this point that I believe the lodged bullet launched out of my body as four separate x-rays showed that by the time I reached the hospital there was no bullet inside me, but there was a penetrating bullet hole. As the police officer did this, all I could think was “if this bullet is lodged in an artery, I will bleed out” (I’m a product of a lot of biomedical classes) and I definitely look back at his actions as foolish; but he was doing what he could to view the wound and assess my health.

As a result of this, I am now in constant contact with the police department regarding getting my clothing back (they took everything; right down to the very nice pair of underwear I was wearing) and details on the case however my calls are not returned and messages are not responded to, and I have never been transferred between departments so much in my life. From my experiences of the police system back home, this would not happen, however I suppose I cannot confirm this as I have never been shot in Northern Ireland (and hope not to). The other policemen present were very pleasant and definitely did what they could to keep me alive, and I cannot fail to mention the amazing work of the San Francisco General Hospital and their ER staff whom gifted me with a tiny vuvuzela-like thing to celebrate the New Year and who literally could not have worked harder. Also, my good friend Ning (who has also written many articles for the WWN) gets a special mention for gifting me the Aeropostale serape which can now claim to be bulletproof, and literally saved my life.

Just a BEAUTIFUL photo of my dear friend "The Ning"!

Two months later my efforts to get my clothes that were taken from me have been fruitless and information regarding what is currently happening is very contradictory. From my experiences of policing back home (let’s just say I had a very wild 21st birthday party), that case was handled quickly and fairly, whereas I seem to be stuck on a repeating loop of various elevator-style on-hold music. I realize then my above writing has been very discorded at times, and came across like I love the police force in Northern Ireland and hate the police force here; this is definitely not the case because I find the institutions themselves can be riddled with discrimination and create many different social problems for each country, however I believe that many of the individuals themselves carrying out the work are generally good people and are trying very hard to conduct their job in a hostile environment where much of society opposes their presence and system. To finish this on a positive note, I am going to leave a list of funny Northern Irish laws for you to peruse through, and hopefully I will see you next time

A movie about a bulletproof man that I am confident is based on my life.

1) Although Movie Theatres are open on Sunday, there is an old, unforgotten, and unenforced law which states that visiting the movie theatre on a Sunday is illegal. Thank God “50 Shades of Grey” was released on a Saturday: incarceration avoided. Phew.

2) In the Republic of Ireland, if a Leprechaun calls at your door you must, by law, give him a share of your dinner.

3) It is illegal to be drunk on Licensed Premises… such as a bar or pub. No comment.

4) The 17th of March marks a national holiday for Ireland and, as such, all restaurants, convenience stores and bars close on national holidays. This national holiday is St Patrick’s Day and until 1970 the Irish Government realized they would make a ton of money opening the bars and selling alcohol on this day.

5) Picking up abandoned baggage is an act of terrorism.

6) It is against the law to deface (this includes drawing/writing over or tearing) bank notes because they contain the queen’s face. The fine was raised from £1 to £25 in 1977, and then to £200 in 1982. Furthermore if you place a stamp with the queen’s face on it upside down, this apparently makes you guilty of treason.

I will be the most wanted man by the time I return home...

For further reading, here is an article entitled “30 Reasons Why Northern Ireland Is Weird But Wonderful”. It was sent to me by my sister and follows the same dry humour I aim to achieve.

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  1. 2 Comment(s)

  2.   By Mary on Feb 27, 2015 | Reply

    We are so glad you survived to tell us your stories Jordan! Hugs!!!

  3.   By djhender on Mar 11, 2015 | Reply

    Hahahaha Thanks very much Mary. I hope you enjoyed reliving the experience there and know that I did not ever get arrested lol. I have the flu right now but when I’m better I definitely want to go and hang out with the family 🙂

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