This was very much an anti-war demonstration and, with the case being heard on Remembrance Day, most of the 25 supporters were wearing white peace poppies on their lapels. Placards and banners pointed out Lockheed Martin's deadly business, called for solidarity with Judith and all census refusers, and for an end to wars everywhere.
Around 25 people took part, from Wrexham, Flintshire, Shropshire, Wirral, Liverpool and beyond. Some maintained a presence outside the court for the duration of the hearing, while others went into the court to support Judith.
MOVE ALONG NOW
Our presence outside the court seemed to cause consternation inside. Security were sent out soon after 9.30am to try and move us from our prominent but sheltered spot right in front of the court to a windy patch of grass opposite. A bit put out that no one was 'in charge' of the protest, the security guard quickly moved from asking, to ordering, to threatening us with the cops. Having established that the court had no immediate plans to use the bit of ground we were occupying for a function, end of season garden fete or suchlike, we pointed out its advantages and individually expressed our intention to stay. He said he'd been briefed from 'above' that we had to move, muttered darkly that we wouldn't want children to be caught up in police action against us, would we? and retreated inside. A while later, and after some CSOs had cheerily assured us we were fine where we were, a cop turned up and did a similar 'move or else' routine. None of us obliged, which prompted the Sergeant from Wrexham Police Station next door to pay a visit and tell us that 'the court' (whoever that is) would like us to move. In fact, it wanted us to move. He appealed to us to be reasonable, which in his view meant that we would agree to stand where 'the court' wanted us to stand, across the way. We said we'd move when we were finished, so he went back inside, consulted and came back out smiling to tell us we could stay after all thanks to the court's reasonableness. I think we were supposed to be grateful.
SOLIDARITY MESSAGES FROM SUPPORTERS
Judith was an hour late, courtesy of a cancelled Arriva train. While we were waiting we passed the time handing out flyers to passers-by, speaking with a number of local journos who had turned up to cover the story, and reading out all the messages of solidarity from British well-wishers, including many from Occupy London Stock Exchange and Finsbury Square, from Canada (where Lockheed Martin also has a census contract) and beyond.
Inside the court, Judith entered a plea of not guilty and the case was adjourned until 8 December, when it will be heard in Mold Magistrates Court, Flintshire, even further away from Judith's home in Shrewsbury and involving both a train and long bus journey (NB this date and venue could change).
Although we'd planned to observe a silent vigil at the war memorial at 11am, in the event we were still at the court, so we held the vigil there instead. Those who were able to stay longer then moved to the war memorial, where we held a further two minutes of silent reflection in a circle before sharing information about Lockheed Martin's deadly business, thoughts about Judith's case, white poppies, Remembrance Day and the impact of war. Joan Meredith spoke about the need to oppose drone warfare and about the protest camp at Waddington in Lincs. Judith spoke about her reasons for refusing to comply with the census, about how David Cameron's idea of a 'Big Society' was looking set to backfire on him big time, and thanked everyone for their support and solidarity.
FUTURE COURT DATES
We now have three future dates of census refuser court cases:
Refuser in Liverpool: 8 December (date amended - details to be confirmed)
Judith: 8 December, Mold, Flintshire (may change)
R Grenville: 5 January, Birmingham Magistrates Court.
Campaigners decry involvement of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib interrogation firms in UK Census
The UK subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, USA was awarded a £150M contract to provide data capture and processing support services for the 2011 Census in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The UK subsidiary of CACI, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, USA, was awarded an £18.5M contract to provide census printing and data capture services in support of the 2011 Census in Scotland.
Links to articles relating to Lockheed Martin’s involvement at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, and CACI’s involvement at Abu Ghraib:
Further information on campaigns around the 2011 Census:
Lockheed Martin and the England and Wales, and Northern Ireland Census:
CACI and the Scotland Census:
Privacy and data confidentiality concerns:
Lockheed Martin lobby government to push aside UK Privacy protections
Stop the War / Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament / Campaign Against Arms Trade joint statement and petition regarding the UK 2011 census:
10 Census Lies
2011 census is the work of the ’stalker state’
‘UK census data is protected’ …?
Indy Letters page – Glen Watson confirms lack of Census 2011 confidentiality legal powers
Office of National Statistics’ own privacy assessment acknowledges lack of confidentiality
e-mail: vd2012-imc [at] yahoo.co.uk