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SOCPA - the brown stuff

rikki | 19.07.2007 23:36 | SOCPA | Iraq | Repression | London

mainstream media has recently been consistently reporting that gordon brown has lifted the restrictions on demonstrating near parliament. this is a lie. socpa has not been repealed, and if anything the police appear to have been given orders to crack down harder than ever on the handful of peaceful campaigners who daily dare to point out that our government is still committing genocide in iraq

i keep reading that socpa is over, that gordon-'same shit, different asshole'-brown has "relaxed" the laws controlling protest. this is new new spin from new new labour. the reality seems quite the opposite. the campaign of harassment on peaceful protestors by the police has reached new peaks of lawlessness and violence.

last week, barbara tucker was at westminster county court to answer a case against her. the police claimed she had 'obstructed the highway' in august last year. it was the day of the huge national lebanon war protest and whitehall was closed to traffic. the march had passed by and barbara was outside downing street with her pink banner. somehow, she was 'obstructing the highway' all on her own. that evening she was held for several hours with tight handcuffs behind her back causing cuts and bruising.

when she attended bail, she was scared for her safety and took a friend along with her. at the police station, they were tricked into a corridor with no cctv, and then both arrested for 'obstructing police'. her friend steve jago was also charged with assaulting police. they came out with more bruising, and in steve's case a stab wound to his neck.

in court the assault charge was thrown out as a work of fiction, but both steve and barbara were found guilty of obstructing police. remember, the reason she was at the station was to answer bail for the august offence. the hearing for that offence had been put off twice by police, and they tried again a third time last week. the judge wouldn't allow a further adjournment, and the crown prosecution service offered no evidence. so basically the august charge was bullshit and should never have been brought. so barbara should not have been required to answer bail. so the incident should never have happened.

if you think that sounds unjust so far, check out the sentencing. during the case, district judge snow kept refusing to hear any evidence from barbara that related to anything outside the events in that corridor at charing cross police station. she kept trying to bring in her history of campaigning in the socpa zone, and the fears for her safety that the police reactions had created, but judge snow kept bringing it back to the station and that date alone. so, it was very weird that, after finding steve and her guilty, he passed a sentence of a community exclusion order, banning them from the socpa zone for a year. a community exclusion order is meant to be used to stop an offender from committing more of the same type of crime, but the offence of obstructing a police officer had occured at charing cross police station, outside the zone, and the exclusion order would not stop barbara and steve from obstructing police at charing cross on future occasions if they were so inclined. it would however stop them from peacefully protesting inside the socpa zone.

barbara and steve both lodged appeals against the conviction and the sentence, and are awaiting retrial.

what's all this got to do with brown? well, barbara took her pink banner to court last week to the hearing for the original august 'obstructing the highway' offence. she wanted to use it as evidence of what little obstruction she could cause on sixty metres of highway that the police had closed to traffic. but she didn't need to because the prosecution offered no evidence. she came out of the horseferry road court with some friends and supporters and was immediately accosted by police who claimed that she (holding her banner) was carrying on an 'unauthorised' protest. this was a whole week after the stories of brown's relaxation hit the news. police tried to wrestle the banner off her, and then four people ended up being arrested, mainly for 'obstructing police'. if brown's announcement were true, the police wouldn't be nicking banners and no "obstruction" would be necessary. two of those assaulted (barbara and steve) came out of the police station several hours later with more bruising and cuts at the hands of the police. barbara's right hand was still blown up to double its usual size the next day.

back now briefly to january. barbara had taken up position, as she often did, on the tiny traffic island in parliament square at the bottom of whitehall. it was prime minister's question time and she was ready with her genocide banner for blair to see as he was driven past. suddenly she was surrounded by police. eye-witnesses were aghast at the unprovoked aggression of several large policemen as they threw her over the railings, dragged her along the ground and held her face down on a wall until a van turned up. at first they told her she was being arrested for a possible breach of the peace - they claimed she intended to throw herself in front of blair's car (although she had been there several times before without the slightest sign of doing such a thing). they then changed the charge to resisting a police officer.

the case came to court today, and the crown said they'd upped the charge to assaulting a police officer. the first few police witnesses took the stand at clapham magistrates' court, and as their evidence was confused and contradictory, the crown lawyers huddled briefly and then changed the charge back down to 'resisting'. the trial continues on august 30th, but something far more sinister took place the moment the judge left the courtroom. one of the police witnesses, pc roger smith, re-entered the courtroom. this strange officer stalks barbara at all her trials (it remains unclear whether in an official capacity or out of some deranged obsession). this time, he was armed with a warrant for her arrest, for breaching the exclusion order set by dj snow. remember, she is appealing this dubious conviction and sentence, but today she was whisked away in a van to charing cross police station. there, she is being held in a cell at the hands of some of the men who have assaulted her in the past, and tomorrow she will appear at westminster county court in the morning with the possibility of a prison sentence as the outcome.

steve jago has heard that there is a summons out for him too.

welcome to brown's new new liberal labour. socpa is repealed. you can all demonstrate again. as long as you don't mind being assaulted, detained, and imprisoned.

the newspapers keep spouting this rubbish. even mark thomas believed it - i was very surprised when he cancelled his last 'mass lone demonstration' - i didn't think he believed politicians. perhaps they've got something on him, or it's just old age - who knows - disappointing nevertheless.

wake up britain. the state is still repressing the handful of peaceful protestors who keep on about the blood on the hands of brown and all the other members who voted for war. all they want is justice for the hundreds of thousands of innocents killed, for the children mutilated and deformed by depleted uranium. they want the corporate looters and the profiteering arms manufacturers to face the consequences of their evil actions. they want peace.

- e-mail: rikkiindymedia at gmail dot com
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