Is Protest Becoming a Crime?
Tuesday 20th March 7:30PM – 9PM
House of Commons
Committee Room 11
Speakers include: Matt Foot (Criminal Defence Lawyer), John McDonnell (MP), Susan Matthews (Parent of Arrested Protester), Alfie Meadows (Student Defendant), Frank Fernie (Imprisoned for protesting), Tony Benn (MP).
The prison population is at the highest it has ever been, yet more young people are being arrested, charged or sent to prison for their part in protest. Around 350 students were arrested in connection with the student protests against fees; some 20 people were imprisoned and at least another 20 are still awaiting trial. These include Zenon Mitchell, a first year university student, currently serving 15 months for throwing a placard stick that did not hit anyone and Frank Fernie a young charity worker sentenced to 12 months for a similar reason. Would these protesters have received such heavy custodial sentences if the context were not a demonstration?
Alfie Meadows nearly died on the the night of the fees vote after being struck so hard on the head with a police baton that he needed emergency brain surgery. Yet he is the one facing charges for violent disorder and must prove himself not guilty before he can continue charges against the Police.
Recent policing of protest has also involved mounted horse charging, the kettling of school children and charging of protesters with “violent disorder”-the second most serious offence under the public order act. They include the threat of rubber bullets against a national student demonstration in 2011 and moves to criminalise new forms of protest as in the case of UK Uncut activists who were recently convicted of aggravated trespass for a peaceful occupation over the issue of tax evasion.
In this meeting Matt Foot will outline new and worrying patterns in the criminalisation of protest whilst protesters, defendants and their families will speak of their first hand experience of this process.
Other Upcoming Defend the Right to Protest Meetings:
Monday 12 March, Goldsmiths College, 6pm, Room: RHB 309
Speakers include: Alfie Meadows (Student Defendant), Merlin Emmanual (Co-founder Campaign 4 Justice), Matt Farley (Goldsmiths UCU), Hannah Dee (Defend the Right to Protest).
Tues 13 March, Kingston University, 6pm, Glattern Lecture Theatre, Penrhyn Road
Speakers include: Nina Power (Defend the Right to Protest), Andy Higginbottom (UCU Branch Secretary), Mark Bergfeld (NUS NEC), Alfie Meadows (Student Defendant), Peter Hallward (Professor of Modern European Philosophy).
Monday 19 March, 7pm, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS
Speakers include: Dannie Grufferty (VP NUS) Jennifer Hilliard (Mother of Student Defendants), Steph Pike (UK Uncut), Alfie Meadows (Student Defendant)
Monday 19 March, Queen Mary University, Mile End Road, 6pm, Room TBC
Speakers include: John McDonnell (MP), Susan Matthews (Mother of Student Defendant), Hannah Dee (Defend the Right to Protest) and Queen Mary UCU