Brian Haw's display was removed early in the morning of 23rd May by 50 police officers. At 2.45am they turned up and started to load a container with all the placards and banners and almost all of Brian's personal possessions. [Photos | Video]
A timeline since Monday 8th, when the state won its appeal against the decision that the SOCPA legislation could not be applied to the protest which Brian Haw appears in full article and additions below.
forty yards of evidence of war crimes destroyed
On Monday the 8th, the state won their appeal against the decision that the repressive new SOCPA legislation could not be applied reactively to the protest which Brian Haw has been staging on Parliament Square for almost 5 years.
Since Monday there has been sporadic police activity at the site of the protest, and the police have sought to impose conditions on Brian and co-protestor Alex.
Regular updates have been posted on Indymedia UK. The timeline below is drawn from them.
Monday 8th May: AM: Decision is announced. Brian is refused leave to appeal the decision.
PM: Metropolitan Police contact Brian's solicitor and inform him that the protest is "authorized without prejudice", and that they make seek to impose conditions later.
On BBC London Tonight, Sarah Harris reports that "senior sources" have indicated to her that the protest will be removed within hours.
10 supporters spend the night at the square, with a BBC camera left so they can film any incidents. Police including the Forward Intelligence Team are visible in the square but do not interfere with the protest.
Tuesday 9th May: AM: Several newspapers carry the story. The Daily Mail proclaims "Gone At Last" rather too early. The protest is still there.
PM: At noon a posse of policemen visit Brian and demand that he fills in the 'official authorisation form'. They give him until Wednesday to complete the form, after which they state they will impose conditions.
They also speak to Alex , a Russian, through an interpreter. Alex signs a form. The police leave and a number of supporters stay overnight.
Wednesday 10th May: AM: Metal barriers are installed for PMs Question Time. This is a regular occurrence.
PM: The barriers are removed after PMQT. The police seem to have decided to accept Brian's original application and to dropped the demand that he fill in the official form. He is handed a letter containing conditions, and police say a further letter will set down a timescales for the conditions. Police visit Alex and film his display.
Later they return and hand Alex a letter imposing conditions on the size of his display and the articles he may have with him in the square.Thursday 11th May:
Police inform Brian's solicitor that by 3pm, steps should be taken to meet the condition restricting the size of his display to 3 metres in any direction. At 4pm another police posse visits Brian and cautions him, informing him he will be reported to the CPS.He starts to make a statement and they decide to leave before he is through. They do not attempt to dismantle any part of the display. Brian follows them onto the road when they leave, and the traffic is stopped for a while.
WHAT IS THE EYESORE?
ben and the hat
friday was a very peaceful day in the sunshine. the police did visit at around 4 this afternoon. an inspector, a sergeant and a videographer spent some time at alex the russian's display. remember that he was handed conditions earlier in the week. well they got out their tape measure, and the sergeant told the camera that 'this does not comply with the conditions", stating the time and date. he also pointed out on cam that alex was not present (another breach of conditions). and then they went away, without any dealings with brian.
brian was on fine form ringing his bell and crying out the words reported earlier in the timeline at
brian's demo has been described as an eyesore, but as the picture from the square this afternoon shows, the real eyesore is the effect of depleted uranium munitions on the babies of iraq, and this effect will continue for centuries to come. no wonder the government want to rid parliament square of this stain on their conscience.
and the mainstream media are no help. they want their soundbites, they pester brian all day with stupid questions and then they filter the facts through their editorial lenses and select what they want to print. as brian points out, why is it that tony blair can write an article, tony benn can write an article, church leaders can write an article, but brian just gets 'reported'.
if you wonder what you can do to help, and you can't spare the time to come down to the square, then just spend a few minutes writing to your favourite (or otherwise) newspaper, and ask them to allow brian to write a proper full unedited article for them. if enough of us write, there's a chance we can make this happen, and then some truths can be told. surely, after five years on the pavement at westminster he deserves that, before they sweep him away.
all is calm at midnight tonight, and supporters are not expecting any problems overnight. plans are continuing for the massive gathering of supporters on sunday at noon.
brian b's comment is correct - that particular picture brian haw was holding up is from afghanistan - one of many - there are similar pictures from iraq too. the use of depleted uranium munitions by western forces in iraq and elsewhere is possibly the greatest war crime ever committed, sentencing future generations to suffering on an unimaginable timescale.
it may be my imagination, but if anything, brian's display has grown even bigger, wrapping round the corner of the green.
last night at about 11pm, brian spoke with cindy sheehan in america who was outside the whitehouse at the time with the 'families against the war' group there.
more on their conversation later. cindy sheehan is of course the mother who camped outside bush's ranch in america after her son was killed in iraq. bush refused to meet her, and her case name became a cause celebre of the american peace movement and the mainstream media.
we are all brian haw
brian and the piper
samba in the square
it was as if there had never been any legislation passed against unauthorised demonstrations near parliament. it was as if tuesday's newspapers and monday's tv news reports, that brian haw's five year long protest was over, had never happened. it was as if bye-laws banning music, organised events, demonstrations and indeed ball games on the grass at parliament square had never been written.
another chapter in the 'alice in wonderland' world of the serious organised crime and police act was written as around a hundred supporters of free speech gathered with banners for a mass photo-call and demonstration in support of brian at noon in the square today.
there were no heritage wardens in sight to enforce the by-laws. there were no police at the gates of westminster. there were no community support officers to inquire what we were up to. as the samba band loudly kicked off, i spotted two police watching and talking on their radios from a discreet distance, but as i wandered over towards them, they legged it over westminster bridge.
some folk even shouted at the occasional passing police patrol - "look, this is illegal, come and arrest us", but for some reason (could it possibly be to do with the press presence?) they seemed to have called a total amnesty.
tomorrow afternoon, brian is wondering whether hugo chavez (who will be visiting westminster) may come and visit. if so it's likely to be around four in the afternoon. it will mark the first whole week since brian lost his case in the high court. he's still there. if anything his display has grown even larger. his photos of deformed children, the result of depleted uranium munitions, have become more conscience-shocking, and he is ever more defiant. he is trying to prevent the greatest crimes that humans can commit - the crimes of genocide - the crimes of killing women and children - the crimes of poisoning the earth - the crimes of looting and thieving the wealth of a people. he is not the serious organised criminal, and he will not leave the square.
please support him. write to the press. ask them to give him a platform. ask them to keep this issue in the minds of the public. visit him and give your support. stay overnight if you can. bring cameras and videos to film the police if they interfere with him. we can and will beat this law, and then this war.
another peaceful night and no police contact yet today. no repurcussions from yesterday's mass unauthorised (and loud) protest in the square.
hugo chavez is due to meet the usual "rebel left-wing" mps at around four this afternoon. he is dining with "red" ken at county hall from one. he has been personally invited to meet brian haw and expressed sincere interest. he will either drop in after his dinner, or corbyn et al will suggest walking over after their meeting at four.
more news on the 'mystery man' - see previous posts. after viewing high res photos i can disappointingly confirm it was not him although there is a passing similarity.
report and pics on chavez visit later tonight.
brian's ever larger demo
one of the new banners
chavez supporters outside downing street
before he was due, a policeman turned up and unceremoniously shoved an envelope in brian's hand at about 3.15pm, containing a letter from chief inspector terry at charing cross. more on the contents of this later, but i have been told it was not too worrying.
by four this afternoon, the square was packed with venezuelan solidarity supporters and a few police did some low-key crowd control to ensure the demo didn't spill on to the pavement.
the chavez convoy sped past and entered parliament.
a little after 5.30, the convoy left, exiting the gates right opposite brian, but to everyone's disappointment, didn't stop.
the chavez supporters tailed him up to banqueting hall where later many of them were allowed in. two of them borrowed one of brian's 'afghan baby' banners, and paraded it up past downing street. this was one among the many challenges to the socpa law this afternoon.
since the high court judgement last week, brian's pitch has definitely grown, with a new huge 'beep for brian' hoarding causing many more vehicles to do just that. he has more supporters there, also with new flags and banners, and there are more people staying overnight. the atmosphere is one of peaceful and empowered defiance, especially after the succesful show of strength yesterday.
tonight, there are nine people staying over in the square, including a young camerawoman.
at about ten o'clock, maria gallestegui, who has been supporting brian constantly for many years and who was his campaign agent when he stood for election as an independent, managed to speak (through two interpreters) to hugo chavez as he left the banqueting hall. he apologised that due to security issues and timings he could not stop to meet brian, and that as they were probably leaving tonight, there would be no more time. there is a slight possibility, that brian might go to meet him before he leaves and i'll report that if it happens.
at 7.25 this morning (tuesday), a police sergeant and a police photographer arrived at the square. they filmed the placards from every angle, and also took footage of the people sleeping there. they spoke to one of brian's supporters who was awake, and said that they wanted to wake brian in order to serve a paper. as brian is currently suffering some ill health and losing his voice, they were asked to please contact his solicitor, or at least make an appointment to come back when he had rested more. this seemed a reasonable request. the exchange was filmed by a supporter (as the police were videoing too). the police said that they would return in ten minutes, which they did. then they attempted to wake brian, and serve him the notice, but as he was unable to speak, they realised eventually that they would not be able to act legally, and went away.
at 10.10, the sergeant returned alone, but as the document was a legal matter, brian refused to accept it, instead asking them to send it to his solicitor (steve grosz at bindman's and partners). a supporter however did catch sight of what it said - "i am reporting you for the question to be considered of prosecuting you for failing to comply with the conditions imposed by superintendent terry under socpa 2005".
brian has pointed out that the sergeant today was not the same officer who fled the square last thursday (11th) after refusing to take brian's complete statement under caution. normal police practise is to assign an officer to a case, so that there is continuity and a known contact point. the use of different officers at different days as well as unreasonable early morning visits is seen as part of a continuing campaign of harrassment.
brian has not complied and they continued to film for a short while from across the road.
this may be a new way to try and get brian removed from the square.
of course, if the pictures are distressing, it is not brian that is the problem, it is the british government's approval of the use of depleted uranium munitions. presumably members of the public will be able to make arrestable complaints against tony blair for his behaviour which we find distressing and which causes us alarm. seems reasonable to me!
My face is on the front page, which was entitled "Curbing the Right to Protest". The inside story says "Time To Cry Freedom". I'm stood beside a placard stating "Face Of The Enemy In Kabul", a graphic colour photograph of a triplet born in Afghanistan, affected by our war material, depleted uranium munition. It's a tragic picture.
A person claiming to be a CID sergeant, D.S. Robin Gaskill from Charing Cross police station asked me to remove this sign, claiming he had a complaint from a member of the public and a child, saying they found it offensive. I was very upset, outraged. I told him "Yes it's offensive. Who is the offender? Which is the crime: doing this awful thing to babies, or displaying and crying out against it? Mr. Blair is responsible for this crime. Go arrest him."
We are not criminals for witnessing against this abomination. We will see you in court. We boomerang this complaint to the offenders, the government across the road. We are offended so much by police persecuting us as we try to stop the greatest crimes of all.
We want LAW says Brian Haw and co.
jamcam captures yellow-jackets with the pink barbara
brian pointed out that it was unlawful for them to do so and asked to speak to their chief inspector. they said he couldn't. he asked what law they were invoking to take his bell. one of the officers then took a roll of masking tape that was near the bell. brian asked again why they were taking his property. the officer replied "because i can". again brian asked what law they were using to take the bell. one replies that they are "following orders from the chief inspector".
the westminster abbey bells are ringing out loudly - some sort of dignitary is visiting there.
brian states "you are behaving unlawfully and abusing your position, you are bullies sir and have no permission to take my property". barbara tucker, who has been demonstrating with brian on a regular basis for months now, joined in, and at one point there is some sort of scuffle (caught briefly on the jamcam at that moment).
it is then that all becomes clear. the officer states "YOU CAN HAVE THE BELL BACK IN 6 MINUTES". and then tony blair arrives, passing by in his car to face question time in the house.
it is just before 3 in the afternoon now and an inspector has just arrived in the square. more information to follow shortly.
the officers withdrew, taking the bell and masking tape with them just before midday. brian spotted a chief inspector (blanchard) across the road and went over to him to complain. the inspector claimed that the police had acted in order to "prevent the bell being used as a potential missile". this seemed a rather bizarre claim given that tony blair must surely travel in some sort of bomb-proof car - it seems unlikely a hand-bell could penetrate the thickened bullet-proof windows or steel body. added to this, brian doesn't have any history (in five years) of throwing anything at passers-by, so it seems highly unreasonable to suspect he would be about to now. when asked why the bell was being kept as evidence, the chief inspector replied "under common law". the inspector did agree that since the westminster abbey bells were themselves so loud that "noise was not an issue", but that the bell had been seen as "a potential risk".
just before 3pm an inspector lyons, and sergeant shannon from charing cross arrived in a car to return the bell and the masking tape. no charges have been made by the police.
brian has asked his solicitor to make formal complaints to chief inspector terry (who set the socpa conditions) against the police with respect to the struggle over the bell, and the infringement of brian's right to free expression caused by taking the bell.
the serious organised farce continues....... pic to follow
at that time they also took a statement from barbara tucker about her assault, and later, around 5.15 a couple of community support officers were sent down to take notes and check the marks on her arm where she had been hit.
battle of the bell 1
battle of the bell 2
battle of the bell 3
battle of the bell 4
the bell has been fixed although police haven't returned the dinger that they claim was accidentally lost while in their possession. the good news is that it is now louder than it ever was.
it has emerged that brian received a summons in the post yesterday. brian receives post by a rather strange system. first the postman delivers it to the house of commons where it goes through their comprehensive security check. it is then stamped as cleared, and the next day the postman delivers it over the road to brian.
the summons, dated 15th may, accuses him of participating in an unauthorised demonstration on sunday 26th march. this was mothering sunday, and the day when barbara tucker and brian were both arrested (they say unlawfully) by the police. they also claim they were assaulted, and solicitors have made a formal complaint. bizarrely, this date was before the high court judgement against brian, and so it would seem that his demo at that time was still lawful. anyway, this rather leaky sounding case will be heard at horseferry road magistrates court on the 15th june. (nb previous socpa cases have all been heard at bow street, but it closes early june. horseferry road is INSIDE the socpa zone and is very near the channel 4 building. any demonstration outside the court in solidarity with brian would by law have to be authorised - can anyone see that happening?)
in a more sinister move, a police sergeant and a photographer attempted to issue a warrant on brian this evening at 18:22. he refused to accept it and they were unable to place it in his hand, instead leaving it, sickeningly under a little child's coffin which forms part of his display.
it is believed that the warrant summonsed him to appear at bow street on tuesday 30th may at 10am to answer a charge of failing to comply with conditions under socpa. more on the legal response to this later.
first, his display was 5.3 metres wide (the condition required 3m or less)
next, he had not been in attendance last week when police visited him (condition requires that he is in charge of his display at all times)
then, he still had boxes or containers that could hold other things (not allowed)
and finally, that police could not 'tell at a glance' that there was nothing suspicious amongst his things (his stuff should be on display so that everything can be seen as non-suspicious "at a glance")
the only condition he had complied with was that he was not obstructing the pavement.
through the interpreter, they explained all this to him, and under caution, he was told that he would be reported with a view to prosecution.
after they left, he downsized his display to the required size, and there is currently a pile of his rubble behind the churchill statue waiting disposal.
brian and supporters have not been able to do a lot today due to the very windy and damp weather. they have had no new contact from the police.
if anyone feels moved to visit them i'm sure they'd appreciate the support. nights like this dampen the spirits, although of course brian has slept through far far worse over four winters now.
what will they think of next to harrass brian and co?
this afternoon, there was a pro-palestinian demonstration which passed the corner of the square. many of the participants shouted out "brian, brian, brian" in solidarity as they passed.
later, two pro-palestine activists, well-known at the thursday evening marks and spencer demos near marble arch, were using a megaphone on the little traffic island at the top of whitehall just south of trafalgar square. one of them, barnaby, continued to do so despite a police warning, and found himself the latest arrestee under the socpa law. there was a small solidarity demo outside charing cross station where he was held for a few hours before being released on police bail.
although the high court passed judgement that brian had no leave to appeal and could not remain in the square pending petitioning an appeal to the lords, brian notified the police officially of his ongoing demonstration and so then fell under the requirements of the socpa law. by law they cannot refuse him permission to demonstrate. they can only impose conditions. and the only sanction they have if he doesn't comply is to take him to court. of course in a magistrate's court, the judge has very little power to consider human rights issues, and brian will presumably argue that the current conditions are an infringement. i believe that although likely to find brian guilty, the magistrate will not have the power to ban him from the square pending his appeal, and i don't think the police can take him to court again for the same offence while an appeal is pending.
it seems possible then, that brian will be able to continue his demonstration in its present form while a whole new legal process continues. all this despite, and completely separate from the original high court case which was about whether he was exempt from the socpa law or not.
now, all this is only my view, and i'm not a lawyer, but it's very likely that since the socpa law is new and very controversial, the police are waiting to some extent to see the outcome of various court cases. certainly the feeling on the street is that they are not over-keen to arrest people either en masse or where there are clear ongoing legal arguments.
one example of this reticence was the total avoidance by the police of the demonstration last sunday in the square (samba band and all!) which was a clear breach.
another example occured in the early hours of yesterday morning.
at around 3.10am on sunday morning, supporters sleeping in the square were again woken by a gla 'heritage warden' attempting to enforce bye-laws. it was the same goon who had harrassed them the previous morning. this time they stood their ground and when he threatened to call in the police they called his bluff. around half an hour later, the police attended and far from backing up the warden, they told him to leave the peace camp alone, and not to waste police time. brian's supporters report that the heritage warden produced no id and had no paperwork and appeared to be working on his own initiative without orders from above. they don't expect him to bother them again.
tony blair is expected to attend question time at westminster on wednesday morning at 11.30 as usual. at present, brian has his bell back and it is now working louder than ever. if you're thinking of visiting brian soon and are free then, it may be a good time to show solidarity after the seemingly illegal mugging he received at the same time last week.
about 20 police have just entered the square with forward intelligence team photographers too.
they have started dismantking brian's display.
North of the square as I pulled up at lights, a futher 10/15 police were crossing the road onto the square.
Not too sure of the other chaps name, Alex? he is still there with a miniscule display, seemingly untouched at this moment in time.
Brian has now got only one or two placards and a few personal possessions that he managed to retain.
3 of Brian's supporters have been arrested - Maria, Barbara and Martin. They are being held at Charing Cross Police Station.
Brian and supporters are still in the Square and there has been no attempt to move them.
This police action has pre-empted a court hearing on 30 May to which Brian was summonsed to attend relating to the conditions which the police placed on his protest.
SOLIDARITY NEEDED TODAY IN PARLIAMENT SQUARE AND AT CHARING CROSS POLICE STATION
If you can get down to the Square now or later today, please come along.
Also people are needed to go to Charing Cross Police Station to support those inside.
unauthorised teddy bear protest
peace on earth
climbers watch banksy artwork being carelessly handled
police trying to force banksy art into container on top of pile
they know not what they do
ladder and chains
forty yards of evidence of war crimes destroyed
uranium baby trampled by police
so help me god
3 metres of genocide - all that is left
despite the fact that police were still facing judicial review and in negotiation with brian's solicitors about the unreasonable conditions they were demanding under the socpa legislation, they decided upon a pre-emptive strike, just like their masters, to remove opposition and establish their power.
so at 2.45am this tuesday morning, van loads of 'yellow jackets' swooped onto parliament square, barricaded half the road around a large lorry, deposited a freight container on the ground, and ignoring the pleas of demonstrators, began to dismantle five years of peaceful protest.
tomorrow morning, when tony bliar arrives at westminster for question time, his conscience will no longer have to face forty yards of genocide.
the tens of thousands of innocents he has condemned in iraq and afghanistan, the countless children born mutated, the lack of security for millions he has caused, the cultural and archaelogical heritage he has destroyed, the lies he told us in order to achieve these evil outcomes, all will be downsized to the requisite 3 metres. the police even brought a tape measure just to make sure. and if they want they can change the conditions again and remove the protest altogether at a moment's notice.
the brutal reality of the socpa law was there for all to see in the dawn light. pictures of babies left on the ground trampled under muddy police boots. crosses commemorating the dead lost in the muddle by heartless ruffians. artworks donated by banksy thrown in the pile like so much rubbish by ignorant pigs. personal possessions and survival items thrown in with placards with no inventory taken. items of evidence in court cases against the police now taken into custody by them. this is britain - we invaded iraq to bring them freedom and democracy we were told - now the jackboots stamp on our human rights, and even those two words are vilified in the ever obedient national press.
but there was hope in all this madness. hope in the human spirit. as dozens of police worked to destroy the evidence of war crimes, two of brian's supporters mounted the container with ladders which they then pulled up behind them. they disconnected the lifting-chains and knotted them around the ladders and then they remained there for hours, holding up the police operation until daylight, so that rush hour traffic could see them defiant with their placard "freedom of expression, not political repression". eventually the police moved in and arrested them. 'maria gallestegui', brian's long-time right-hand woman, and 'martin', a passionate young canadian who has recently joined the protest, were taken to charing cross police station. update on their legal status later.
'barbara tucker', a stalwart of the protest tried to stop police from damaging the large banksy canvas, and was arrested for 'breach of the peace'. update on her legal status later, but she was released from charing cross after a few hours and returned to the square this morning.
one protester tried to block the road with the metal barriers and police moved in very aggressively to remove him.
mainstream media began to appear through the night and the morning, but so far reports seem confined to small pieces on some local news.
brian has vowed to continue his protest and supporters have promised to stay too. there are reports he has stated he is going to fast. this is a man who has given up five years of his life in a tremendous sacrifice to see justice done, and he is not afraid to give up even more. he now has almost nothing to lose. the government has turned his existence into a zoo exhibit with just three metres of hard pavement for his cage.
if you can spend some time at the square in solidarity with brian and others, they would welcome your presence. they may also need wet weather equipment, plastic, umbrellas, hot drinks, other stuff - it will only become apparent what personal and survival items police have stolen as they take stock during the day, so ask and help if you can.
i also understand there has been a call-out for people to come to the square at 11am on wednesday (with bells and whistles if possible) in order to greet bliar as he passes to enter westminster for question time. this has been requested by friends of brian in solidarity with him.
maria and martin were originally charged with obstruction of the highway and obstructing a police officer. the highway charge was dropped, presumably when someone pointed out it was the steel container police had brought which was actually causing the obstruction. then they were told they had to appear at bow street on 25th may on the other charge. however later this was scaled down and they are now on police bail and have to report to charing cross on the 23rd june.
at about 8.30 there is a tense stand-off at parliament square. there are four inspectors there and police photographers, as well as vans of officers in nearby streets on stand-by. there are at least 20 supporters with brian.
finally, some further notes about the night raid. it was significant that very few charing cross cops were involved. the officers were drawn in from as far afield as brixton and walthamstow, with several different stations involved. many of the police were also reticent to say where they were from, perhaps a sign of some humanity - were they embarrassed to be there?
Instead of the angry and incoherent rant which I'd probably otherwise write, here are some photos I took last September of the messages on display in Parliament Square. Feel free to re-use, reproduce, redistribute, etc. They can take away the banners, but they can't erase them from the web.
Thanks to all who have been covering this story for Indymedia (especially rikki) - please keep up the good work.
WEDNESDAY 24 MAY 2006
BRIAN HAW SUPPORTERS GATHER TO GREET TONY BLAIR
Wednesday 24 May, 11am, Parliament Square, London
In protest against the police action of Tuesday 23 May, supporters of Brian Haw will be gathering in Parliament Square this morning. The gathering will coincide with the arrival of Tony Blair to Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.
Last Wednesday, a bell that Mr Haw had been ringing was removed from his possession for a short period of time which coincided with the Prime Minister being driven into Parliament. Despite Mr Haw being told that this was to "prevent the bell being used as a potential missile", it was clear that police were acting to prevent the Prime Minister hearing Mr Haw use the bell. [A]
At 3am yesterday morning the police mounted a massive night-time operation to dismantle Mr Haw's display. They left him with only what would fit into a 3 metre space. Most of his personal possessions were also removed. Three of Mr Haw's supporters were arrested in the process. [B]
The police stated that they were acting to reduce Mr Haw's display in order that it comply with conditions set out under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 under which Mr Haw has been given permission to continue demonstrating.
However, Mr Haw has been summonsed to appear at Bow Street Magistrates Court on Tuesday 30 May for failing to comply with the conditions and had hoped that the police would respect his display and refrain from taking matters further until the matter had been heard in court. Mr Haw considers that the conditions are totally unreasonable and his
legal team have been considering seeking a judicial review of the conditions.
Mr Haw's placards and banners amounted to both a body of material showing the injustice suffered by people, mainly in Iraq, as a result of this Government's foreign policy and also a huge show of support for Mr Haw's stand for peace and justice by people from all corners of the world.
In support of Mr Haw, Jenny Jones, of the London Assembly Green Party Group, said, “In my view, Brian is doing us all an amazing service. He is the visible presence of widespread opposition to the aggression on Iraq and a constant reminder to both the Blairs (PM and Met Commissioner) that this government is out of touch with the people it wants to govern. If Brian is moved, it means a loss of civil liberties that will diminish the whole of society. I have asked the Metropolitan Police Commissioner how much last night's police operation cost and whether this is was the best use of police resources given all the real problems we face with crime and terrorism.”
CONTACT & INFORMATION
Parliament Square Peace Campaign: www.parliament-square.org.uk
A. See the entries for 17 May on
my banner's bigger than yours
this banner is illegal
police keep watch
a silent moment
meanwhile this morning around 30 supporters turned up to make some noise as bliar arrived at parliament.
the square looked like a model of totalitarian demockracy, with four distinct demonstrations watched by police forward intelligence and other officers and inspectors, backed up by a van in a side street.
while brian's revelation of war crimes was restricted to 3 metres on the back of the pavement and was closely supervised and harrassed, the pro-cannabis group and the english parliament group had much wider banners attached to the front railings without restriction. barbara tucker tried to put a small hand-written 'protect free speech' sign against the front railings and was immediately swooped on and threatened with arrest for breaking socpa conditions.
meanwhile there was confusion as to whether bliar actually passed the protests this morning. normally he arrives accompanied by police motorbike outriders and a landrover after the roads have been blocked off. today, police stopped the traffic, and two jags (not prescott) slipped into the front gates quietly with no escort. whether bliar was aboard, or whether he snuck in the back way like the criminal he is, is a matter for conjecture.
later, outriders appeared to escort several official cars out round the square and towards number 10, but again it didn't seem as though our 'genuine kinda guy' was in them.
it's likely though that he heard the demo. with piercing military whistles, bullhorns, bells and shouts, "nazi blair, nazi blair", brian's supporters could not be missed.
brian himself was in subdued mode today, clearly exhausted by the experience of the last couple of days. contrary to mainstream reports he is not "on hunger strike", but he is fasting and praying at present, his belief in a god helping him through these dark days.
supporters are bringing some much needed bits to the square. any help is appreciated. as they discover what important bits and pieces the police removed on monday night, the pettiness and viciousness of the attack is becoming clear. their mobiles, a lifeline if attacked again, are useless today, because chargers and batteries were taken. new umbrellas are being donated, but they had to suffer the cold windy wet weather without protection for a while as some of their large umbrellas have also been locked away. retrieving property from charing cross station is of course a kafkaesque nightmare of impossible hoops to jump through.
he claimed that they could not sleep on the grass of the square, and that they could only use an area of 3m on the pavement. obviously, six people can't sleep in a 3 metre space, and arguments ensued. these went on for quite some time. the inspector apparently told them he was going to go off to get a drink, but that he'd be returning to move them from the square. however he didn't return.
on wednesday afternoon, after the bliar demo (reported earlier on indymedia and doug's film at http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/05/341313.html), several inspectors came to check the display area. the protestors had set up a 'life raft' of several layers of tarpaulin and wood to protect possessions and sleeping bags and so on, and were trying to maintain the 3m by 1m area. maria asked the officers if they had a tape measure to check it, and they said they would be returning with one. when they came back, they did indeed have a tape, but as some media was there, it seems they got embarrassed about using it in front of the lens - i suppose they thought it might look just a touch farcical and petty. instead, they said that they didn't think it was necessary and then left.
last night, the protesters were not disturbed. perhaps this was because of the torrential rain and windy weather. they were joined by a visiting homeless woman who they shared their chinese meal with. it was a cold and tough night to get through, but these brave peace activists are vowing to keep the vigil.
if anyone can spare a decent sized sleeping bag, they are in need of one. attempts are proving difficult to retrieve personal possessions that were stolen in the police raid.
jenny jones (green party gla member) has received an answer to her query about the police raid. it cost £7,500 and took 78 police officers. it seems inconceivable that there were not some real criminals that those police (drawn from several london boroughs) could have been dealing with instead.
today, the sun came out and brian and supporters were mulling over the thought that it was lucky they weren't in night clothes when the police came. otherwise, since all their possessions have been impounded, brian might still be wandering round the square in stripy pyjamas with maria following behind in a nightie.
the number of passers-by giving support, cars tooting horns, and even tourists in tour buses shouting out support seems to have risen dramatically after the raid. various visitors were holding up new banners in defiance of the law, and 'time out' magazine have donated a large banner with the text "time out supports brian haw and free speech in london".
radical comedian and campaigner mark thomas visited the square this lunchtime to launch the first of a serious of silly 'authorised' protests in the socpa zone. this was simply a protest in support of abolishing the law abolishing the right to protest in the area. he'll be back at midday on saturday 3rd with a pro-surrealism demo. realists and post-modernists are not invited, though a dadaist enclave might be tolerated. he's inviting ideas for future events from all who wish to attend.
VIDEO TECHNICAL HELP - if you have trouble viewing this film - download VLC player (available free for mac, linux, or windows at www.videolan.org/vlc). use 'save as' to get the film file onto your computer and then open it in VLC player. VLC player will play a huge variety of media files without your need to worry about codecs and it's totally free and doesn't take over your computer like some other players do.
once again, a call-out, if anyone has a spare decent sized bag they could donate, that would be very much appreciated.
today, there were very few police around.
it seems likely (although my predictions tend to be a bit awry!) that they'll be left alone now until the court case on tuesday morning.
brian haw is summoned to appear at bow street magistrate's court on tuesday morning at 9am (NOT 10 as previouly thought), so supporters are urged to be outside the court at 8.30. he is charged with offences under the socpa act of failing to comply with conditions - this is believed to be the first prosecution of this kind. other socpa prosecutions previously were for holding or participating in unauthorised demonstrations.
when asked by jenny jones of the greater london authority how much the police operation to remove brian had cost, sir ian blair came up with the figure of £7,500 yesterday. today, he is reported as having lied. the actual figure was an astonishing £28,000 and involved 78 officers over six hours.
with the www.peopleincommon.org picnic, and other supporters, there was quite a festive atmosphere there in the sunshine this afternoon.
barbara tucker and charity sweet took a stroll up to downing street this evening at around 6pm, to sing a few songs. barbara was carrying a banner that stated a fact "78 met police in dawn raid on "free" speech". as the two women stood outside downing street singing, a small crowd gathered.
police for some bizarre reason decided that these women were holding an 'unauthorised' demonstration inside the designated zone, and despite re-assurances that they were simply singing and holding up a banner with a statement of fact for which they needed no authorisation, the police decided to act on the safe side and 'report' them for contravention of the serious organised crime act.
there was some confusion as the police seemed to have no idea which section of the act they were acting under, and they agreed that they hadn't actually witnessed any 'serious' crimes taking place, but after getting on their radios, they explained they were using section 132 and 137 on the women. it was pointed out that 137 refers to the use of megaphones, and they were asked whether they had seen any megaphones. as they hadn't, they agreed it must just be section 132 they were using. - whatever law they were quoting, the thng is that they 'reported' barbara and charity for the offence, and (subject to crown prosecution service approval), the two women will receive court summonses for their offences through the post and will face charges at a later date.
you might call this procedure polite and civilised fascism.
barbara asked repeatedly to make a statement, and eventually the police took one. they also allowed her to parade infront of the cctv camera which will have to do for photographic evidence, although supporters repeatedly asked for abusive 'neil' (see comment at http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/05/341508.html) or another forward intelligence team photographer to attend.
according to sunday newpaper reports, a lib dem mp has raised the question of the cost of policing and surveillin brian haw's demonstration. the reply admitted that the estimated cost was around £150,000 per year.
i ask for why?
if you ask for why too, try asking email@example.com - send him an email
there is still a request for a reasonable sized sleeping bag - if anyone an spare one, please take it to the square asap.
there is a plan to make a short video soon to show what survival kit is required if you want to join brian's demo at the square. the last thing they need is people turning up and becoming a drain on their own resources, but properly sorted folk are extremely welcome to join them.
brian himself faces the magistrate on tuesday morning at bow street magistrate's court at 9am.
supporters are welcome outside the court from 8.30am, and there is a public gallery if you wish to view the proceedings.
parliament square art theft - banksy artworks stolen in dawn raid!
first they came for the peace protestors - soon they'll come for you
sunset in the square today
supporters are welcome at the court in the morning - gather at 8.30am. there is a public gallery if you wish to view the proceedings. some supporters will be watching over brian's display while he is in court. he is charged with failing to comply with conditions set under the socpa legislation, and as organiser could face up to fifty one weeks imprisonment and/or £2500 fine.
there will be a full court report here on indymedia of course.
brian is also due to appear at horseferry road court (inside the socpa zone) on 15th june to answer a separate charge of participating in an unauthorised demonstration. this bizarre prosecution relates to events which took place on 26th march which was before the high court decision about his exemption under the act - at that time he remained the only person in the country who didn't require authorisation.
some of his supporters outside the court
brian greets his supporters
police need help moving crowd control barriers - luckily a clown assists
the press scrum after the hearing
spot the brian in the scrum
back at parliament square, the protest continues
he was charged with failing to comply with conditions under the socpa act as set out in letters on the 9th and 16th may from superintendent terry at charing cross police station. the conditions he is alleged to have breached included a limit on the total size of his display of 3m x 3m x 1m, having no items within other containers, having items laid out in such a way as to make it possible at a glance to see that nothing suspicious was there, and always being present or having someone known to him present at all times such that no object could be added to his display without his knowledge.
the crown prosecutor made a joint application for adjournment. he said that although there may be little or no contention over the facts of the case, the defence were likely to put forward arguments about the proportionality of the conditions requested with the human rights of freddom of assembly and freedom of expression in mind. he suggested that the defence should present a skeleton argument in 21 days (by 20th june), and the crown should then have 14 days to respond. this would then mean a pre-trial hearing would take place on the 11th july to decide how long the case would be likely to take and to fix a time to hear it.
before deciding, the judge wanted to check what brian's plea was, as it would be silly to continue the process if brian was pleading guilty. his solicitor, laura higgs from bindman's, said that brian did not want to enter a plea today as a large part of his property had been taken by police in the dawn raid last week, including legal papers and evidence pertaining to the alleged offence. brian himself pointed out that if he had successfully burgled the police station and removed eveidence, the case would not be likely to proceed until the police could come up with the evidence. his was the reverse position as they had stolen evidence from him.
the judge suggested that brian could issue a 'police property act' summons against the police over this matter, but that for now, the judge would enter a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
a letter from the met police had asked the crown to push for bail conditions on brian which would hold him to the conditions laid out by them in the letters of the 9th and 16th. the defence argued that he is currently complying with the conditions, and that if he did not, the police would have the remedy of issuing a further summons. adding the strength of a bail condition would effectively mean he might be prosecuted twice for the same offence.
the judge agreed with this and remanded brian to appear at the court again on the 11th july on unconditional bail.
outside the court, there was a bit of a mad press scrum, with lots of stills photographers and camera teams from sky, bbc london, and channel 4 in attendance.
in parliament square, supporters who had gathered were happy that the police attempts to add bail conditions had failed. the demonstration will continue in its present from while legal arguments are resolved.
solicitors have made some sort of agreement with charing cross that brian and supporters can have some of their personal belongings back.
brian is currently due to appear at horseferry next month in connection with an 'unauthorised' demo said to have taken place on mother's day. however, at that time, the high court had not yet reached the decision that the socpa law applied to brian, so it seems unlikely the case will succeed. solicitors are trying to have it dropped as it really is a waste of everyone's time. however, as the police seem happy to spend £150,000 per year on brian (in answer to a libdem mp's questions in the house) and £28,000 on their recent night-time raid (although the ever more disingenuous commissioner sir ian blair lied to green mep jenny jones about this amount), who knows?
the bbc jamcam, which had been pointing across westminster bridge for several days starting just before the night-time police raid, is now once again on the square.
brian's display and protest at present conforms to the draconian and clearly politically-motivated conditions imposed by police. other protests in the square are allowed without restriction. even the pro-iranian rally yesterday had no conditions imposed and attracted quite a large number of people. last week's demos pro-marijuana and demanding an english parliament (not connected) were both allowed without condition, with large banners attached to the crowd barriers and a huge poster van driving round the square.
mischievous radical comedian and activist mark thomas has had no conditions imposed on his 'pro-surrealist' demo on saturday 4th at noon, even though some 'realists' have threatened to stage a counter-demo at the same time!
but brian's evidence of genocide and war crime must be contained in 3m x 3m x 1m - make of that what you will.
brian has kept up his vigil now for an astonishing five years, and his many friends and supporters are holding a get-together at 5pm tomorrow the 2nd june to mark the anniversary with a celebratory party. all are welcome - bring something to share, enjoy the late afternoon sunshine that is promised, and give brian the thanks, respect, and encouragement he deserves for his astonishing dedication to the truth.
THURSDAY 1 JUNE 2006
5 YEARS STANDING UP TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
Brian Haw supporters gather to show respect for his achievement
Friday 2 June 2006, from 5pm, Parliament Square, London
This Friday will be the 5th anniversary of Brian Haw arriving in Parliament Square to start his continuous vigil for peace and justice – 1825 days and nights of witness for innocent people overseas who have suffered as a result of this government's foreign policy.
Mr Haw came to what is now his famous vigil site opposite the House of Parliament on 2 June 2001 in order to protest about the effect that the UN economic sanctions on Iraq were having on the ordinary people of the country. He started with one placard and over the years his display built up to over 40 metres long. Mr Haw's placards and banners amounted to both a body of material showing the injustice suffered as a result of this Government's foreign policy and also a huge show of support for his stand for peace and justice by people from all corners of the world.
Over the period Mr Haw has fought many battles in the court in order to defend his right to freedom of speech. In a landmark case in October 2002, a High Court judge ruled that any obstruction caused by Mr Haw's display was not unreasonable given Mr Haw's right to freedom of speech. Once Mr Haw's protest had been established as lawful the authorities were unable to remove him despite several further court cases. Mr Haw has also had to face abuse and aggression from those who do not respect his message of peace and justice as well as those in authority. In one incident in May 2004, the police mounted a middle of the night operation to remove Mr Haw's display, only to have to back down the following day as they had not acted legally, and return the banners and placards.
The Government finally resorted to changing the law to remove Mr Haw. Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 has become highly controversial in that it removes the presumption in favour of free speech at the very heart of power in the UK by banning all unauthorised protests in a large Designated Area, up to 1km around Parliament. Just before the law came into effect, Mr Haw won yet another case when three High Court judges ruled that the legislation could not be applied retrospectively and therefore did not apply to him. For 9 months Mr Haw was the only person in the country who was able to protest legally without authorisation near Parliament. However, on 8 May this year the Court of Appeal ruled that section 132 of SOCPA did apply to Mr Haw. Since his protest came under police control, Mr Haw has appeared in court for breaking the conditions that they have set upon his protest and will be on trial during the summer.
For the meantime Mr Haw remains in Parliament Square continuing to voice his message of peace and justice. He has many, many supporters all over the world and a number of them have been staying with him since the threat to remove him became more serious.
One of Brian Haw's supporters, Emma Sangster said, “We will be gathering in Parliament Square from 5pm tomorrow to celebrate Brian's courage and his achievement. He has given up 5 years of his life, day and night, for what he believes in. And we will remember why he is there – saying to the government again and again - 'not in our name'. Brian is voicing that message for so many people around the country, who were so rightly opposed to what this has been done in Iraq. And he is standing up for the freedom to say that to those who most need to hear.”
CONTACT & INFORMATION
A Brian Haw timeline events, details of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act and much more information can be seen on his website at www.parliament-square.org.uk
5th anniversary peace cake
the first five years
just the beginning
brian reflects while the party goes on
another new banner
appreciation was also shown to two women who have given tremendous practical support and encouragement to brian over all these years - emma sangster and maria gallestegui.
brian didn't partake in the food himself as he is still fasting since the police removed most of his display in a night-time swoop early last week.
there were no problems with police at this gathering, despite some supporters sporting new banners, and quite a crowd gathering in the square.
two constables tried to deliver a letter at 3pm. the letter was addressed c/o bindman's and so brian refused it, asking them to send it to his solicitors.
while brian is only allowed to continue his protest under draconian conditions from the metropolitan police, yet another authorised protest with no conditions began today in the square. a large crowd from the tamil community gathered to support the start of a five day hunger strike against the treatment of tamils in sri lanka. this protest is reported elsewhere on indymedia, and i have posted a short film interview ( http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/06/341884.html).
some of mark thomas' surrealist protesters
surreal troops nearby
thaya the hunger striker with some young supporters
the tamil protest on sunday afternoon
brian haw in the recording studio
on saturday lunchtime there were four authorised protests and one unauthorised in parliament square.
brian's vigil is still ongoing though of course a lot smaller and under severe restrictions from the police. by contrast, the three other demos were all allowed with no conditions. first, there is the ongoing hunger strike in support of the tamil struggle in sri lanka. this attracts quite a lot of supporters - i counted about 70 on saturday and nearly a hundred on sunday. brian is restricted to twenty for his stand against illegal occupation and genocide by our own government. there was also a demonstration by azerbaijanis that seemed to be around 50 or more in strength. although i left the square beforehand, i heard after that three men had locked on to the railings infront of parliament with a neck d-lock, and other chains. it took police some time to remove them.
thirdly, radical comedic activist held the second of his series of authorised demos (again with no conditions imposed) - this time the demo was in support of surrealism, with the resulting comic banner and display possibilities on view. the fourth and the only unauthorised demo was by a small group of anarchist pro-realists who were there to protest against the surrealists. idid my best to dob them into the police - just to try to force the police to have to make artistic distinctions and analysis before enforcing the law, but despite all these protesters around, i just couldn't find a cop. but brian still faces the draconian restrictions!!
on sunday, the tamil supporters swelled in numbers to nearly two hundred at one point - still with no restriction and hardly any policing.
brian himself left someone else in charge of his display temporarily, and went to a north london recording studio to record some songs. in this well-earned break from routine, he seemed to be enjoying himself, and he demonstrated a fine singing voice, helped by backing singers and a second guitarist. there will be more info on this recording coming soon, and a short video of one of the sessions to follow in the next couple of days.
the legal battle against the conditions imposed on him will be continuing, and the police are certainly looking political and partisan in the way they have imposed no conditions on all these other large and accasionally unruly protests.
the battle may have been won the night 78 police stormed brian's displays, but the war (in every sense) is far from over.
he was arrested by police and charged, under the serious organised crime and police act, with carrying on a demonstration without authorisation, and using a megaphone (which is banned at any time under the law).
when he appeared at bow street magistrate's court yesterday morning, he presented a fully researched legal defence which if accepted will throw the socpa law once again into disarray and have huge possible implications for brian haw's continuing protest in the square.
with legal matters, the detail and wording are so important. as i am not a lawyer i will try to give an overview of the arguments here and hope that i don't misrepresent something in the process.
chris presented three seperate lines of defence as follows.
firstly, under section 3 of the criminal law act, it is a defence in law to show that a smaller crime was committed in order to attempt to prevent a larger crime from occuring. (an example would be if you saw a rape going on through a window and you broke into the building to try to stop it. if charged with breaking and entering it would be a lawful defence to show you were preventing the rape and you would be found not guilty.) chris' argument is that he was committing the socpa offences while attempting to report and effect the arrest of offenders of much larger crimes. this defence relies on the claim that tony blair et al committed crimes under the international criminal court act as well as domestic law. while the crime of 'agression' is not defined here, and 'waging war' is not considered a crime under domestic law, the crimes of 'genocide', 'war crimes', and 'crimes against humanity' are regarded as such heinous international crimes that they can override any domestic legislation. also, 'murder', 'conspiracy to murder' and 'conduct ancillary to murder' are of course crimes under domestic law. these were the crimes that chris highlighted with his actions that day, and he was doing this as near to the offenders as he could get.
secondly, chris argued that he was acting in accordance with principles established after world war two at nuremberg. this is where, famously, the defence that 'i was just following orders' was thrown out in dealing with nazi perpertrators. under these principles, chris showed that he was pursuing his legal duty to disobey the british government in order to prevent the illegal war of aggression against the people of iraq.
finally, referring to defence arguments set in a precedent case by lord wolff, chris showed that his action was 'of necessity' and he was 'acting under duress of circumstances' to prevent the greater evil of the deaths of thousands of iraqis as well as british servicemen and women. lord wollf put four conditions in his ruling and chris coverdale showed that he complied with all of them, namely that (a) his action was taken in order to prevent a greater evil act, (b) the greater evil was directed at people whom chris had a reasonable duty of care towards, (c) that his own action was reasonable and proportionate (chris argued that using a megaphone illegally was considerably smaller proportionately than using a cruise missile illegally!), and (d) he was driven to act in order to prevent harm about to happen.
the magistrate said he had a lot to think about and so adjourned the case until friday morning when he will give his decision at bow street at 10am.
if found guilty, chris will immediately appeal to a higher court. if found innocent under these legal arguments, it has huge implications for the trials of brian haw and other peace activists, as well as throwing aspects of the socpa law into unworkable disarray, including the banning of megaphones.
verdict will be announced here of course, but if you wish to support chris, then please gather outside the court at 9.30am on friday (9th june).
judge cole's decision appeared to wilfully ignore aspects of chris coverdale's thoroughly researched defence (reported at http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/06/342190.html)
the judge concentrated on a house of lords ruling that a 'war of aggression' is not a crime under section 3 and said that this 'was not the sort of case that section 3 was designed to cover' in his opinion. but chris' defence had already pointed out that there was some doubt over the definition of 'war of aggression' and instead listed further crimes which clearly ARE covered by section 3. the judge tried to lump everything together under this one argument and also added that he was satisfied chris' actions were indeed a demonstration and not an attempt to report crimes. section 3 is the legislation that allows the defence to show that it was necessary to commit a lesser crime in order to stop a greater crime.
he handed down a 12 month conditional discharge with no fine, but £250 costs.
chris will appeal to the crown court.
this is slightly confusing information and so i'll clarify it here. the ban was imposed on brian more than a year ago by westminster, and it pre-dates the start of the socpa law in august last year.
the high court gave this ruling a couple of months ago and informed the parties involved, although the public press announcement was only finally made yesterday. in the meantime, brian remains unamplified while negotiations take place between brian's lawyers and the council so that he can use the megaphone at certain times with council permission. it is thought that this permission will give him immunity from prosecution under the socpa legislation which otherwise bans all use of a megaphone in the designated 1km area round parliament.
one of brian's supporters, the incorrigible barbara tucker, has been getting herself in a spot of bother again this week. she has made a new striking large black and pink banner which she wears around her neck. it announces starkly, 'bliar's legacy...genocide'. while she wears this and other banners at the square, police seem to have taken the view that she is part of brian's protest and have given up arresting her (or indeed assaulting her - see previous reports). when she wandered up to downing street a couple of sunday's ago, she was 'reported' for unauthorised protest. she was there again when blair emerged for question time on wednesday but the police ignored her. they did however 'report' her for possible summons when she stood outside downing street again on thursday. if the crown prosecution service decide to proceed with prosecutions, she is certainly building up quite a collection, having been reported several times before.
barbara tucker's legacy banner
just brian's small demo remains after immigration swoop on alex
last week, barbara was reported yet again (and again) for unauthorised demonstrating, and she may have been directly responsible for changing tony blair's security plans for pm question time at westminster. last wednesday, just before blair was due, barbara sauntered up to downing street to proudly show her new public information sign - 'blair's legacy - genocide'. police at the gate got very itchy, and unusually, came out to deal with her. lots of agitated radioing went on, and they were clearly trying to get police from charing cross to come and deal with the situation. because of the constant flow of tourists there, police have to take a softly, softly approach. barbara's argument was that she could not possibly be causing an obstruction all on her own by wandering around among the tourists, and it was only the police intervention that was creating a problem. she agreed to move to the centre of the whitehall thoroughfare, away from the gates, but more frantic radioing ensued, and the next moment, blair's courtege left downing street unusually by the back exit to take him to parliament. charing cross police eventually attended the scene and reported her to the crown prosecution service for possible summons.
later that afternoon, she went to downing street again, but this time police told her she could carry on protesting without interference! bolstered by this, she returned again on thursday, but this time she was aggressively pushed around by several burly officers from charing cross and once again reported. her total of 'reports' is now twenty five, but she has only received one summons so far. this was for her arrest on mother's day during which both her and brian are pursuing a claim of assault against the police. interestingly, while being processed at charing cross, barbara was told by the sergeant that if she dropped the assault claim, they would drop the socpa charge.
yesterday, israeli premier ehud olmert swept into westminster accompanied by israeli soldiers, a helicopter, and the usual police entourage. the same day, anti-zionist protester alex tsiorulin was snatched by immigration officers, and police vans arrived to clear away his long-standing display at the corner of the square. full story at http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/06/342704.html
at about 3pm, activist matthew cuffe (blairwitch.typepad.com) started parading his 'solidarity in the uk' banner round the edge of the square while shouting about the need to impeach blair. he attracted a ridiculous police over-reaction, with more than a dozen officers including forward intelligence. as he'd had a drink, they arrested and charged him as 'drunk and disorderly' thus neatly removing his protest without resort to the socpa law.
at horseferry road tomorrow morning, there will be various socpa-related plea and pre-trial hearings taking place.
barbara tucker and brian haw both face the next stage of their case resulting from the arrest on mother's day 26th march (bizarrely before the high court decision bringing brian's demo under the socpa legislation).
also in court will be the five people who were arrested following a demonstration organised the day that britain handed over control of the jericho jail in palestine and within twenty minutes it was attacked by israeli troops leaving many dead ( http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/03/335903.html). although organisers notified police of their intentions, under socpa legislation their demo was still illegal because the police cannot give permission within 24 hours - this must surely be the strongest human rights argument yet to appear in court since there was a demonstrable and clear need for a spontaneous demo and the law as it stands denies the right to hold one. tomorrow's hearing will likely set a date for the full trial.
perhaps the police read my article and realised the stupidity of this case? anyway, with just a day to go to the hearing, they've now changed the charge against brian to 'obstruction' while the charge against barbara remains (on the basis that they claim she wasn't part of his legal demonstration and was there separately).
brian claims he was trying to stop them from illegally taking his pink banner which had been made and given to him by barbara. since police have also stolen evidence from brian pertaining to this case (as well as legal papers) in their ridiculous night-time raid last month, it seems unlikely a fair trial can be heard.
perhaps the police will read this too, and just drop the whole sorry farce. meanwhile brian and barbara are pursuing their claim of assault against the met.
lock-on demo 3rd june
barbara outside downing street
how many cops?
next, a pic of the incorrigible barbara tucker outside downing street as mentioned in the wednesday 14th update above.
and finally, the banner matthew cuff was parading, and just how many cops does it take to arrest one person? as described in the same article above.
these pics were shot by one of brian's supporters in the square.
'bliar' and the magna carta copy
the burnt document
barbara tucker - 29 not out
brian haw had been due in court on the same charge, but then some bright spark at the met must have noticed (or perhaps he read it here) that on that date, brian's demo was still exempt from socpa legislation as the high court had not yet found in favour of the government appeal against a previous ruling. so instead, with one day to go, they notified brian that instead they were charging him with obstruction. this charge arose from his trying to stop them taking away a pink banner that belonged to him while they attempted to arrest barbara. the pair are mounting a counter charge of malicious prosecution and assault.
brian accompanied barbara to the court and stood up to have his say. judge evans was not happy to hear brian's views at length. both brian and barbara pointed out that in their night-time raid last month, the police not only removed brian's placards, but also removed evidence pertinent to the case, as well as sensitive legal documents containing information vital to the defence. since the police have been unwilling to return this stuff or even say where it was kept, it throws the whole case into jeopardy for obvious reasons. when brian started talking about tony blair's illegal war and the genocide of the iraqi people it was all too much for judge evans and he cleared the court.
meanwhile the jericho five were also pleading not guilty. the israeli army illegally raided the jericho prison within twenty minutes of the british relinquishing control. as soon as the palestinian solidarity group heard about it they informed the met of their plan to hold a demo at downing street that evening. among those protesting were mp jeremy corbyn, along with fifty or so others. police were warning that the demo was 'unauthorised' and were attempting to collect names and addresses of participants in order to 'report' them for the crime. only five have since received summonses. this is an important human rights test of the socpa law as the law does not allow protest within twenty-four hours of notifying the police under any circumstances. clearly this protest was demonstrably necessary and spontaneous, and so the law will be severely tested by the human right to free assembly and free speech.
later today, mark barrett and dan idler arrived at downing street having walked thirty-five miles overnight from runnymede on the 791st anniversary of the signing of the magna carta. they were commemorating the fight for 'liberty under the law' that removed the king's right to behave with impunity. they are calling for a new political settlement and forming a civil rights movement, bringing together various organisations and pressure groups to work towards a written constitution to rein in the executive's arbitrary use of power and build a more just and better society for us all in the future. (more info at www.peopleincommon.org).
mark made a short speech outside the gates of downing street and attracted a crowd of tourists including a french school class. he donned a blair mask and set fire to the copy of the magna carta he had brought with him from runnymede.
at the same time, another protestor (blimey, hasn't anyone heard you're not allowed to do this sort of thing anymore!), mark evans, handcuffed himself to the railings at downing street. while mark was finishing burning the magna carta, four police motorbike armed cops swooped in to deal with mr evans. he was protesting about inadequate checks on psychiatric patients released into the community after he'd suffered a random knife attack for which he's had inadequate compensation. police released his cuffs and took some details - then handed the matter over to some charing cross cops that had turned up.
more police farce ensued when a woman officer started hassling mark barrett and telling him she was reporting him for unauthorised protest. he was refusing to give his name and address until she explained under what authority she was demanding it, and the poor woman kept going back and forth to the van and was being ordered to carry on. but it slowly dawned on amused activist supporters that she'd been told he was the one handcuffed and eventually she had to back down and apologise when the mistake became clear.
gradually some police drifted off, and the two marks went off to watch the football, but then at that point the incorrigible barbara tucker arrived over from parliament square with her new pink banner. after unfurling it and wandering around in front of the gates a bit, she got a warning from a cop to leave or she'd be reported. barbara maintains that she has notified the police of her continuing demonstration and as they have to give permission under the law, and as they cannot reasonably put conditions on her mobile one-woman protest, she must be authorised. copies of her notification are in the hands of the met commissioner, charing cross police, the independent complaints commission, her soliciitors, and judge evans among others.
the police gave her till 5.15 to move, which she didn't, and after a few more minutes grace, an officer comes to fill in a 'report' form. this was her 29th!! and she took the opportunity to make a full and frank statement about the continued police harrassment of her legal right to protest. once they'd filled in all their forms, the police left, leaving barbara once again standing outside downing street with her pink banner in the sunshine.
despite 29 reports, the only summons she has received is the one for the 26th march. the hearing is next week the 22nd at horseferry road.
meanwhile at parliament square a police car drives past brian and another very professional upholder of the law sticks her tongue out at brian and calls out 'piss off' - the number plate of the police vehicle was taken. this incident reminds me of the off-duty shout of 'wanker' from forward intelligence team photographer 'neil' in the early hours of the 23rd may as he passes brian in the square.
the legal ramifications of the police raid on brian's site continue. his solicitors have been trying to establish under what legal grounds the police acted, and the police seem to be finding it hard to clarify this, citing laws that did not actually give them the authority to act thus. since it's been pointed out that they have effectively snatched legal documents and sensitive evidence relating to court proceedings both against the police from brian, and against brian by the police, they seem concerned to allow him to come and retrieve what he wants. however, if they did indeed act illegally, then they should surely return everything to him at the square as soon as possible, rather than suggesting he come and select items.
the battle continues. the farce continues. but while this all seems so amusing, ridiculous, and comical, let us also not forget the real point. that the whole reason for brian's vigil and for the protests and actions of many others who want to exercise their freedom of speech - the illegal war and the genocide - continues too.
the offending banner
after a while though, two officers attended from charing cross. they declared that an illegal demonstration was taking place and that they were going to report barbara and steve for possible summons. this made barbara's 30th 'report', although she has only been summoned once. the police then tried to report 'steve' (his first) but as he did not believe he was committing any offence he only was willing to give his first name. police threatened to arrest him, and he co-operated fully stating again that he did not believe he had comitted an offence but would go to court.
despite his completely peaceful demeanour, the police insisted on handcuffing him. steve refused to make this easy for them, and resisted passively, pointing out that he was not resisting arrest, but was resisting the unnecessary use of handcuffs. by now, three policemen were using various painful holds on him attempting to cuff him, and officer cx149 was witnessed kneeing steve hard in the thigh.
after struggling for some minutes, and attracting a large crowd of mainly tourist passers-by, the police finally managed to cuff the powerful but unruffled man. steve kept his composure and his placid stance throughout. when they were trying to push him into the car, he calmy told them to let go of him and he would sit down himself. they finally got the idea, let their hold off him, and he quietly got into the back seat by himself with dignity intact.
by now, nearly fifty passers-by had gathered (mostly tourists), and steve's supporters were busy explaining to them about the repressive socpa law and its violent use they'd just witnessed.
later, a small group held a solidarity vigil outside charing cross station. they were told that he had been seen by a doctor and a nurse, and that he had assaulted a police officer - that old chestnut!
some food and drink was passed into the station, and latest news at time of posting is that steve is still refusing to give any details on the grounds that what he did was not a crime. so he has been held in custody for nine hours now, and has still not been officially charged. police are considering whether to take him to court in the morning, where it's possible but hopefully unlikely that he may face imprisonment until he co-operates by giving details.
given the fact that so many socpa 'reports' have not led to summonses, that the assault charge is laughably fictitious, that the violent arrest was witnessed by so many and videoed, and that imprisoning someone effectively for holding one banner up outside downing street might not go down too well with the mainstream press, it is clear the stakes are high.
more news in the morning........
short film posted at http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/06/343058.html
there's different format videos there too