JUSTICE FOR ALFIE MEADOWS: STOP CRIMINALISING PROTEST!
Jurors this week failed to reach a verdict in the case of Alfie Meadows, who was charged with violent disorder after the student demonstration on 9 Dec 2010. Alfie suffered a extradural brain haemorrhage and skull fracture after he was struck on the head with a police baton. While Alfie may now face a retrial in the autumn, three of his co-defendants were cleared of violent disorder. These acquittals are not only a victory for those directly concerned but for all those campaigning against the criminalisation of protest at a time of unprecedented cuts to education and the public sector.
None of the protester defendants, Alfie included, would have been in the dock were it not for government's education cuts policy which means a generation of young people are now deprived of access to education.
The outcome of the trial means that Alfie's struggle for justice is not over. But the trial itself has lifted the lid on the use of violent police tactics on protests, and the criminalisation of protesters, which need to be challenged.
Footage shown at the trial revealed police indiscriminately attacking protesters throughout the day. Demonstrators were charged by mounted police on the pretext that there was "sustained and frecious violence" when the police log recorded an officer noting only that the cordon was under "slight pressure". Demonstrators were later crushed so tightly into a police kettle on Westminster Bridge that they cried out to police "someone is going to get killed". A doctor described helping to set up a field hospital in Parliament Square to treat protesters injured by police batons.
Yet not a single police officer has been disciplined or prosecuted following these demonstrations.
Indeed Silver commander Mick Johnson, who was in charge of the police operation on 9 December, was unable to specify any action taken relating to a police log which stated that an injured protester was "likely to die". He further claimed not to have heard of Jody McIntyre, who was pulled out of his wheelchair using force described by the IPCC as "excessive". When questioned about the policing of protest more generally, Johnson claimed that nothing "necessarily" went "wrong" on the G20 protests - despite the death of bystander who was hit with a baton while trapped in a police kettle. Johnson is now in charge of policing the Olympics.
The lack of police accountability relating to these events stands in stark contrast to the punitive treatment of protesters.
In this context we:Continue to support Alfie Meadows in his fight for justice.Support all those other protesters who have been arrested, bailed, charged or imprisoned and are fighting to clear their names.Call for an end to kettling and use of all other crowd control tactics that intimidate and threaten the right to protest.Stand in solidarity with protesters and others who have been victims of police violence and are campaigning for justice.