email@example.com (Michael Dickinson) | 24.11.2011 20:55 | London
mY First hearing at court charged with 'threatening and abusive language or behaviour' for shouting "NO MORE WAR!" during the 2 minute silence at the cenotaph remembrance day ceremony.
THREATENING AND ABUSIVE?
I walked across foggy London on Wednesday morning from Westminster to Marylebone and arrived just in time for my 10 o'clock hearing at the Magistrates Court there. The charge was 'threatening and abusive language or behavior likely to cause distress.' Defending myself, I corrected the prosecution's report that I'd shouted "'STOP THE WAR!' several times", I told the magistrate that I'd actually shouted "NO MORE WAR!" 3 times during the 2 minute silence to remember the war dead on Remembrance Sunday in Whitehall within hearing of the Royal Family, politicians and military dignitaries. I also pleaded (or is it pled?) 'Not Guilty' to the charge. 'Abusive' to propogate anti-war propaganda? The magistrate said that there would therefore be a trial that I would have to attend on January 16th next year in the same court house. In the meantime I would no longer have to sign on bail every day.
Talking of the Royals, last Friday morning I came within spitting distance of the Queen and Duke. I was alone on a traffic island crossing over from Parliament Square to Whitehall and I had to stop for this big black car which was approaching. As it passed, quite slowly, I looked at the passengers in the back seat, and lo and behold! it was her majesty and her husband. She was sitting in the corner with her hands on her knees, her expression one of lost worry, his a sneering snarl. As I continued on my way I wondered why I hadn't at least stuck out my tongue. It was the suddenness of it. You don't come across her highness every day.
In fact I nearly saw her again on Tuesday morning. I was on my way back to Parliament Square after taking part in a 'die-in' organised by the Fuel Poverty Action Group, carrying a plywood coffin in a "funeral march" from Westminster to the EDF Energy headquarters in Victoria in order to highlight the collusion between government and the Big 6 energy companies in Britain whose high prices force the poor to cut back on heating, causing deaths of thousands from the cold, when I arrived outside Buckingham Palace and found the way blocked. Iron barrier fences had been erected along the pavement and the road crossing to St James' Park was closed. While I was asking a policeman about the reason (a state visit by the President of Turkey), and for an alternative route, two other cops suddenly approached and stood close to me.
"And what are you up to today, sir?" asked one.
"That's no business of yours," I replied.
"What's your name?"
"I don't have to tell you that."
"If you'll just move over here, sir, we'd like a word with you." He poked me in the side, indicating a space a couple of steps away.
"Don't touch me!" I said indignantly. "That's quite unnecessary. Even an intrusion!"
He poked me again but I didn't move.
"What are you doing walking around in a Tshirt with 'WORLD STRIKE 2012' and 'ABOLISH MONEY' on it?"
"It's a free country. I have the right to wear what I like. I'm a British citizen."
"You're a British subject."
It began to look like a fruitless argument, but the other cop's radio phone went, and he told his mate that they wanted details. He got out his notebook and prepared to write them down.
"Right. If you'll just give me your name and address."
"I don't have to tell you anything. I know my rights. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be on my way."
And I walked off, leaving the rude rozzer lost for words, and feeling lucky to have escaped their interrogation. At Horseguards Parade I watched from afar as the horsedrawn gaudy coaches bearing the Royals and Turkish visitors arrived and left after a brief ceremony. The lemon-jacketed police presence was high, and the iron fences kept onlookers at a distance. I neither saw nor heard any Kurdish protesters calling for independence, although I'm sure some would have tried to get their message across.
I've been visiting the Occupy London camp in front of St Paul's Cathedral nearly every day since it started a month ago. Usually I have a free cup of tea and chat with camp members and visitors, and listen in on meetings. Occasionally I participate on the 'open mike' sessions where anyone can speak. Usually I talk about the 2012 World Strike and the idea of a moneyless world, and sometimes I perform the 'Sermon on the Mount' which I've learned by heart, but the other day I sang a song, adapting the words of 'The Locomotion' by Little Eva.
"Everybody's taking a brand new stance, now,
Come on baby, do the Revolution!
I know you'll get to like it if you give it a chance, now,
Come on baby, do the Revolution!
Stand up! Fight back!
Well, I think you've got the knack!"
Last week activists from Occupy London squatted a UBS bank in the City which had been empty for several years, planning to use it as a 'Bank of Ideas', for meetings, shows and seminars. An impromptu anti-war art gallery was opened on the ground floor and I added a few of my collage pictures to the wall, including one of British Prime Minister David Cameron sitting on the toilet, waving a Union Jack. At least breadline Britain still has freedom of expression. I would have been arrested for 'insulting the dignity of the Prime Minister' if my picture had been of the Turkish PM.
I've spent the last couple of days selecting treasures from the collection of photos, videos and essays collected on the Money-Free.ning site and transferring them to storage on my Facebook page. When Money-Free was set up over 3 years ago, Ning provided a free platform, but recently they began charging, and due to lack of funding, founder Davy King has reluctantly decided to close the site down. Shame. It was a very useful repository. Check it out before it shuts.
Here's a song by Leon Rosselson which I came across recently that I would have definitely included in the anti-war forum on the site. As a reason and defense for my 'crime' of shouting "NO MORE WAR!" during the 2 minute silence at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Whitehall, the lyrics seem to sum it all up perfectly:
It was Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph
The rain was falling fast
The Queen was there with her entourage
Watching the Old Comrades march past.
There were wreaths of scarlet flowers
And we wore our poppies with pride
The brass bands played funeral music
And one or two people cried.
When Big Ben chimed eleven
We solemnly bared our heads
And stood for the two minutes' silence
To remember the glorious dead.
It was at that sacred moment
That I heard an eerie sound
A ghastly, ghostly stirring
Seemed to come from under the ground.
And a voice rose up out of the darkness
A voice that was coarse and ill bred
Saying ‘I am the voice of the fallen
And I am the voice of the dead.
I speak for the silent slaughtered
The ones who rot under the grass
And we don't want your two minutes' silence
So stuff it up your arse.'
Then I thought I heard an explosion
And a kind of a sob or a laugh
And a strange aroma of corpses
Hung round the Cenotaph.
The Queen stood straight as a ramrod
And none of the mourners stirred
In spite of the two minutes' silence
No-one had heard a word.
Though it seems a small bunch of fanatics
Had tried to dishonour the day
By shouting ‘Remember Iraq'
But they were soon hustled away.
Then the two minutes' silence was over
And we heard the wind and the rain
And from Horse Guards Parade a gun sounded
And normal life started again.
It was Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph
The Queen was dressed in black
And the bishop conducted a service
For the ones who never came back.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Dickinson)
Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/11053