Today my trial for a two hour sit-in at Fortnum and Mason ended far faster than anyone estimated. The trial was scheduled to end on the November 30th, however a thin prosecution case was over in just 2 ½ days.
The case ended today with the police witnesses. Among the officers taking the stand was Inspector Clark, the chief police officer at the scene whom had been at the sit-in in Fortnum and Mason for the duration and confirmed that it was her view that it we were all “sensible and well behaved”. Clark was the officer filmed telling protestors that they would not be arrested before the systematic arrest of everyone taking part in the sit-in.
What became painfully apparent today was the arbitrary nature of the arrests on March 26th. In his evidence Chief Inspector Dean admitted that he was under instruction to use his discretion “to let peaceful protestors go”, however decided to ‘mass arrest’ 145 people on site. This blanket arrest has caused great stress and worry not just for the arrestees but for many family members and friends. Most arrestees where further held in solitary for 24 hours and many were denied access to a lawyer. 13 of my friends from Birmingham were in the store with me and it was particularly hard on some.
Now that most cases have been dropped and it has been admitted by the senior police officer on site that all the 145 arrestees where “sensible and well behaved”. It should be asked, what was the aim of the major police operation on March 26th? Under increasing scrutiny the operation looks increasing aimed stifling political protestors and perhaps even an intelligence gathering exercise?
The prosecution have now finished giving their evidence and ultimately their argument is that we took part in a protest. They are not attributing any ‘act’ to the defendants except for ‘not withdrawing’. We don’t think we have a “case to answer” and so after making the point that this does not amount to any crime, have closed our case too.
The Judge has called recess until Wednesday; when the court will reconvene and we expect closing statements from both the prosecution and the defence for a verdict is reached.
Thanks for all the solidarity we have received so far. All the defendants in the current case want to express their solidarity to everyone fighting against cuts and all facing trial for protesting. Good luck everyone standing up and taking action in coming weeks on both the 23rd of November to defend education and on the 30th of November in the largest strike in a generation.