Read and sign the Defend the Right to Protest statement on the hung jury in the case of Alfie Meadows, as well as the wide range of statements sent in to support Alfie Meadows. We demand justice for Alfie Meadows!
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 ferocious 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 out at a makeshift first aid point 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.
Statements of Support
“Unite stands proudly shoulder to shoulder with Alfie Meadows in his struggle for justice as we do all others engaged in direct actions to defend the social fabric of our society, groups such as, UKUncut and the occupy movement. This is a vicious government engaged in an unprecedented attack on our young and old alike, waging class war on the jobless, homeless and vulnerable in their attempt to defend the interests of a self-appointed elite of bankers, tax avoiders and multi-millionaires. Just as in today’s Arab spring and the bringing down of the Berlin Wall before it, when ordinary people stand up anything is possible. Solidarity, justice, dignity and respect are the values of trade unionism. They are the values of a decent society and the right to protest is at the heart of them all. In solidarity Alfie.” – LEN McCLUSKEY, UNITE General Secretary
“NUS believes that the fact Alfie Meadows will face a retrial for violent disorder is clearly an unjust decision. Alfie’s treatment at the hands of the police was disgraceful, not only did he receive life threatening injuries but now has to put his life on hold for another year. Of course we extremely pleased that 3 of the 5 other protestors on trial with Alfie were acquitted, a major victory in defending our right to protest. However we also believe that this shows justice has still not been served for Alfie and that there is still a long way to go before we see protest protected rather than admonished by the law. We believe the trial has shown the startling lack of police accountability and that attempts to criminalise protest are still inherent in the justice system. We fully support the campaign to gain justice for Alfie Meadows and to end kettling and believe we cannot see violent policing go unpunished any longer.” LIAM BURNS, NUS President
“The decisions of the court this week call into serious question the decision to prosecute these young people. For Alfie Meadows, surely, this young man who nearly lost his life has suffered enough, and all charges should be dropped. Evidence in court exposing the levels of police violence clearly demonstrate the need for an independent public enquiry.” JOHN MCDONNELL, MP
“The trial and the events that led up to it expose the hypocrisy that lies at the heart of the debate around our right to protest. Similar scenes to those witnessed in and around Parliament Square have been condemned by this Government when they occurred in the Middle East, but they stand condemned by their own silence when these events happen on their own doorstep. The police tactics – designed to deter legitimate protest – are simply another strand in the ongoing attack on our freedoms being carried out by the rich elite. We need to continue the campaign to defend our right to protest and to demand justice for those who exercise this right – beginning with Alfie Meadows” TONY KEARNS CWU Deputy General Secretary
“The trial of Alfie Meadows has once again exposed the corruption, brutality and lack of accountability of the Metropolitan Police. A jury of ordinary people were unwilling to believe the version of events that the police put forward in the trial. It is now time for the police officers involved in the attack on Alfie, as well as the other officers using violence against protestors, to be brought to account. Where is justice in this country if not in the court room?” KEN FERO FILM MAKER
“Our support will continue for Alfie in his pursuance for justice and all those that have been treated as criminals whilst standing up for their rights! No Justice. No Peace.” – MARCIA RIGG, Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign
“The treatment of Alfie Meadows and his fellow defendant are a disturbing development in the politicisation of policing and criminal justice in a clear attempt by the state to suppress dissent, especially amongst young people. Many others are, or have been, serving long sentences on questionable grounds after attending heavily policed peaceful protests where kettling took place, aka arbitrary mass detention. That Alfie, who nearly died from his injuries, remains in the dock whilst the perpetrator(s) has never been called to account is a disgrace. As an Occupier and mother I support the Defend the Right to Protest campaign and the rights of all young people to protest without fear of assault or arbitrary arrest and prosecution. Our children should not fear death or detention when calling for education for all.” SASKIA KENT, Occupy London supporter
“During this difficult time when Alfie faces the appalling prospect of a retrial for violent disorder, we demand the that charges are brought against the real villains of the peace – the police officers that systematically carried out violent acts against protesters such as Alfie. As lecturers, we have a duty to stand in solidarity with our students and to continue to campaign for Alfie in his fight for justice.” MARK CAMPBELL, University College Union, National Executive Committee
“I am in support and stand in solidarity with Alfie as the sister of Christopher Alder who was unlawfully killed at the hands of the police in 1998 as seen on CCTV footage he was left to die at the hands of the Police, no one ever held accountable. Alfie is lucky to be alive today to tell the tale as many others that have lost their lives at the hands of the police and the state are not. We as citizens of the UK have a right to peaceful protest without the fear of losing our lives or being battered to a pulp by those that are supposes to help, reassure and protect, if we stand against injustice. Justice for the ordinary citizen when the police do wrong!” JANET ALDER, Justice for Christopher Alder
“Our government is fond of lecturing selected other countries about civil liberties and human rights. But over the last 20 years successive Tory, Labour and Coalition governments have made fundamental inroads into the right to protest and to voice collective dissent in our country. As the dissent grows in response to deepening recession and ongoing injustice at home and abroad, so too is the straight jacket on all our rights. If we stay silent, we will find those freedoms gone. Now is the time to act and speak out. And also to ensure that rights that were won over centuries – and which survived two World Wars – are at the centre of what will be in many areas a major debate on policing and justice – the election of police commissioners later this year. Don’t let those positions fall into the hands of people who back aggressive policing and who fear democratic protest. Wouldn’t it be far better to have guardians of civil liberties, like justice campaigners and human rights lawyers, in those posts?” GEORGE GALLOWAY MP
“Police should not receive protection when they are guilty of misconduct and abuse. They must be held accountable for their action and receive punishment fit for their crimes. Police are supposed to prevent crimes not cause them. I have witnessed first hand numerous inappropriate actions by police at the student protests, protests that were organised in response to serious and legitimate concerns about the scrapping of EMA and tripling of tuition fees leading to an inequality of access to education and economic oppression for a whole generation of working class young people. Alfie Meadows sustained shocking and severe injuries through a brutal, unnecessary, inappropriate attack on him by Metropolitan Police officers. He has suffered enough and justice is way over due.” ZITA HOLBOURNE PCS NEC, National co-chair BARAC
“I was in Parliament Square just as Alfie Meadows was, officers were acting like thugs, it is lucky nobody was killed by the police as they where at the G20, Aflie is testament to that. Yet how many of those officers have been brought to any sort of justice? None even the officer caught on camera beating the G20 bystander is yet to be prosecuted. Alfie Meadows is on the receiving end of disproportionate attack by the police and the courts, clearly designed to deter protests, we must all defend him.” ED BAUER, Education Officer Brimingham Student Union
“This was a political attack on the democratic right to protest. Alfie stood up for what he believed, at a point where the met were trying to criminalise dissent to delegitimise it. He’s been through enough trauma already. It’s time for some real justice.” SOREN GOARD, Education Officer Goldsmiths College
“I’m appalled that Alfie is facing another trail after the utter hell he has been through. The police should be on trial for the life-threatening injury inflicted upon him, not persecuting those exercising their right to protest. Drop th charges now” SEAN RILO RACZKA, ULU President
“The decision of a hung jury in Alfie Meadows case should not just be a concern for himself, or his family, but for our entire movement. The desire to send Alfie to prison comes not from seeking to uphold the law, but from the will to suffocate dissent to Tory austerity, and police brutality. Alfie’s fight is our fight, we need justice for Alfie and freedom for political prisoners.” NATHAN BOLTON, Uni of Essex President Elect.
“There is an assault on education by the Con Dem government and in response a strong protest movement has risen. It is no surprise that this has been criminalised. Protest and the police may assault you and they put you on trial. We have to raise a storm, the all out assault on everything from the NHS to legal aid, is accompanied by an attack on civil liberties. Resistance must go forward not just on behalf of Alfie but for all who stand up for a better future and in doing so risk being knocked down by our neo-liberal government” DEREK WALL author of ‘The Rise of the Green Left’