Following the hearing for two antifascists facing charges for protesting against the National Front in Oxford, the police are pursuing the case against one but have dumped the other case.
Two antifascists facing charges for demonstrating against the National Front turned up at Oxford Magistrates’ Court in Oxford on Monday 11th Aug. Around three dozen people had come to show solidarity for the antifascists. The trades council, several councillors, university lecturers and over one hundred local people had signed a statement to support them.
The court was told that “over lunch” the police had decided to drop one of the cases altogether. They were charging one of the two for the “theft” of a Nazi banner emblazoned with the white supremacist 14-word slogan “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”. The CPS announced they had decided that it was “not in the public interest” to pursue the case: presumably because they were struggling to find a Nazi to come forward and claim ownership of the racist banner.
We have to ask how the police thought they could justify pressing charges of this kind in the first place, harassing protestors and wasting public money. Earlier this year another case against five antifascists collapsed, where the police had so little intention of going through with a case that the chief inspector booked his leave on the days of the trial. The sole purpose appears to have been to disrupt protest.
However, the police are going forward with the case against the other antifascist, charged with a public order offence and obstructing the police. The case will be heard on 11th and 12th November in Oxford Magistrates Court. This protestor needs the support of those who want to defend the right to protest against fascism more than ever. A new open letter will be circulated in the near future.
The police also attempted to impose bail conditions that banned the protestor from taking part in any protest in the UK until the trial. But the defence lawyer challenged this, and the protestor was given unconditional bail. This is another victory for the solidarity campaign. But the willingness of the police to use bail conditions, and flimsy charges to prevent protest is further cause for concern.
The handling of these cases shows a clear intention to crack down on any form of antifascist protesting. The protestor whose case was dropped had been served notice for deportation and had had their passport confiscated. The protestor was also required to report to the police twice a week until yesterday. This appears as pure and simple harassment in the context of a case that has now had to be abandoned.
We now need to build solidarity for the antifascist still facing charges. Please look out for the forthcoming statement, and for details of a solidarity gathering on 11th and 12th November.