in a calm and dignified statement, barbara told the arresting officers that they knew she had notified the metropolitan police commissioner on 3rd march 2006 and had failed to investigate the matter. the met had not dealt with this issue in a timely manner, and the commissioner had failed to authorise as he was legally obliged to do. she said it is not a criminal offence to say 'stop killing the children'. she pointed out that the commissioner was now the subject of an independent police complaints commission investigation, as were the two arresting officers themselves over previous dealings with barbara, including an alleged assault on her. she asked the police to go and do their proper duties before arresting her. after barbara finished her statement, she quietly allowed the police to lead her into the back of the van, and she was driven to charing cross.
she will be held overnight, and will face court in the morning where it is likely she will be remanded to holloway prison. her solicitors will be trying to contest the bail conditions in the crown court at the earliest opportunity.
barbara has been pursued and harassed by police for more than a year over her pink banner which she wears in parliament square and outside downing street on a regular basis. at first she was told she could not join brian haw's (then exempt) demonstration, so she sent an email notifying the police of her ongoing protest in order to comply. ever since then, although it is clear that barbara has notified, the police have failed to authorise her, and have 'reported her for possible summons' on more than seventy occasions. the only case so far to have been heard in court was thrown out by district judge snow as 'void ab initio', and since then, police have repeatedly failed to present evidence against barbara despite countless pre-trial hearings. cases against her have been thrown out on several occasions, and one previous attempt to restrict her movements with bail conditions was also challenged and thrown out. it seems that barbara has 'confounded' the law with her unorthodox notification by email of an open-ended protest "until this government goes". police have tried various other methods to restrict her, with cases of obstruction of the highway, obstructing a police officer, and even attempts to have her sectioned under the mental health act - but still after more than a year, nothing has been proved in court.
it seems they are not sufficiently confident to simply face her in court over a 'serious organised crime and police act' offence, and as the months go by, the pressure on barbara has been racking up.
the bail conditions imposed today bring into stark reality the conceptual black line that artist mark wallinger drew on the floor of tate britain as part of his recreation of brian haw's original 40 metre display which he has named 'state britain'. although the whole of the tate actually lies outside the proscribed exclusion zone, if barbara were to step over his line, she would be breaching bail.
instead, she chose to commit her breach in the very place that her protest is about - outside the residence of tony blair. she believes it is he who should be in the dock, for the crime of genocide, not her for holding her pink banner.
press journalist marc vallee will be posting pics of tonight's arrest on indymedia, and i will be posting a short video tomorrow.
their bail condition is that they are not allowed anywhere within the borough of westminster. since they live and work in hastings but often attend meetings in london, they normally use charing cross railway station, but have been warned to go to london bridge and to skirt the borough by public transport instead. this ruling is all the more bizarre in that it doesn't actually stop them from being in part of the socpa zone which extends over the river into lambeth in the area around the london eye. so effectively they could hold a further 'unauthorised' demo in the exclusion zone without being in breach of their bail conditions.
various protestors have refused to pay fines resulting from socpa offences. the government has recently brought in new legislation governing bailiffs collecting such fines, who are now allowed to break into premises and even to use reasonable force in order to seize goods.
brian haw remains in the square under strict new conditions laid down by an assisstant commissioner after last week's court ruling that superintendent peter terry had acted unlawfully by imposing conditions on brian's demo that he enforced with a night-time raid costing £28000 in may last year. the new conditions require other people to support brian in order that he may comply. with his long-standing close supporter and right-hand woman, maria gallestegui, currently suffering health problems, and with barbara now out of the picture, the pressure on brian is mounting. committed and helpful people are welcome at the square to legally join brian's ongoing protest and stay in tents on the grass overnight. please make sure you are self-sufficient, but please do come. he is still allowed up to 20 supporters and their rights to sleep in comfort have for the time being been acknowledged.
full socpa history can be found on indymedia at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/12/358863.html
video to follow
details at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/01/361139.html