November 24, 2009 11:40

Pete Doherty collaborators The Thirst brand police 'racist' after arrest ordeal

Armed police get involved in London band's Staffordshire gig

Pete Doherty collaborators The Thirst brand police 'racist' after arrest ordeal

Photo: Andy Willsher

Pete Doherty and Ronnie Wood-championed band The Thirst have said they are considering taking legal action against Staffordshire police after being held in custody for 16 hours without being charged following their gig on Saturday (November 21) in the county.

Frontman Mensah Cofie-Agyeman told NME.COM the police – who he said were armed – had no reason to arrest the band, and stated "it just comes down to racism".

Staffordshire Police confirmed six men – thought to be the band, their manager and a friend – were arrested outside the Oak pub in Burntwood, Staffordshire after CCTV operators deemed their behaviour suspicious and thought they may have seen a firearm.

Cofie-Agyeman, who denied any wrongdoing, said he had no idea of the unfolding situation as he went for a cigarette shortly after the band's set at the Oak had finished.

"About six or seven police cars pulled up," he explained. "They seemed very, very nervous. I remember the guy holding the gun to my head and he was shaking. He was literally point blank, almost."

After being taken to a police station a 45-minute drive away, the frontman said the band were put into separate cells despite protesting their innocence. The following morning they were released without charge, though Cofie-Agyeman says he wasn't given a clear explanation as to why police had taken the action in the first place.

"When we came out the cell the police were like, 'Yeah, we looked you up on YouTube, you're not bad actually. We quite like you'. We were just like, 'Are you taking the fucking piss?'"

The frontman added that The Thirst have already spoken to their solicitor about the situation, which he claimed was the result of racism.

"We've just spoken to a solicitor and it looks like we've got a case now," he said. "It comes down to no other thing – and it's sad to say in this day and age – but it just comes down to racism. That's all it can come down to. There was no reason for them to jump to that conclusion."

A statement issued on behalf of Staffordshire Police confirmed the band had done nothing wrong. However, Insp Dave Challinor, Commander Of Chasetown Neighbourhood Policing Unit, said police had been right to act after being alerted by CCTV operators.

"It is important to ensure the safety of the public," he explained. "Staffordshire Police responded appropriately and proportionately in the circumstances to the information given. The six men fully cooperated with us and face no further action."

The Thirst, who were forced to cancel a recording session on Sunday due to their incarceration, are now set to continue recording their second album. No future gigs have been affected, though the band are urging fans to check their MySpace for further information.

The Thirst were signed to The Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood's record label Wooden and have supported Babyshambles and Pete Doherty many times. They also previously recorded demos with Doherty.

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