On Saturday 5th November Steph along with three other campaigners, went into the Barclays Bank dressed as bankers.They stood silently in the front window holding signs saying ‘Greedy Bankers’ & ‘Barclays Dodged £3 Billion Taxes Last Year,’ & ‘Fat Cat Bankers.’ Crowds gathered outside the bank, and welcomed the UK Uncut action.
Managers closed the doors to the bank, but they did allow customers to enter and continued trading. Bank staff were not evacuated from the building. Barclays Bank managers called the police claiming the ‘reputation of their flagship new store was being tarnished.’ Police asked the UK Uncut protesters to leave Barclays Bank.
When Steph refused to leave she was arrested.
Steph Pike was told by police she would face charges of ‘aggravated trespass.’ These are the same charges that UK Uncut protesters have been initially convicted of arising from the UK Uncut Fortnum and Mason action on 26th March.
UK Uncut is a grass roots anti austerity network.
However when Steph appeared in court the charges brought were that if she had been allowed to remain in the bank, peacefully protesting, then her presence would, in the opinion of the police present, have led on to disruption of the day to day business of the bank, and therefore, she would have committed aggravated tresspass.
The CPS acknowledge that Steph was part of a peaceful protest, and that she did not obstruct, nor threaten staff. They contend that she would have gone on to disrupt their business.
A recent study has shown that Barclays Bank itself is ‘corroding the British economy’ due to excessive pay for top bankers. Barclay’s CEO John Varley was awarded 4.4 million pounds ($7 million) for 2010, 169 times that of the average worker in the U.K. and 4,899 percent more than his predecessor earned in 1980, when the Barclays boss earned 13 times more than the average worker.
Steph charges are similar to those faced by other UK Uncut protesters.
Responding to their convictions by a Magistrates Court in London, Steph said; The Fortnum and Mason 10 have been found guilty of aggravated trespass! So, we have the right to protest, as long as we protest how, where and when the authorities dictate – that is NOT the right to protest. Criminalise us if you like – we will protest, we will be peaceful, we will not stop!
Steph and her supporters launched a campaign to defend her from the steps of the Magistrates Court in Manchester on 22nd November, as part of Defend The Right To Protest
Defend The Right To Protest, is a wide network that supports and helps defend people who face charges arising from protests.
Steph has been an inspiration to campaigners and to the public. She has led actions in Manchester exposing corporate tax dodging at Vodfone and Top Shop. She helped lead a campaign to keep open Manchester Advice service where she worked, until it was closed down due to Council Cuts. She built the mobilisation ‘Block the Bridge! Block the Bill!’ to defend the NHS, organising buses to take people down to the protests. She has marched on all the anti cuts and the trades union protests held this year.
‘Defend Steph Pike! Defend the Right to Protest!’
We will not allow Steph to be silenced or criminalised. The bankers and tax dodgers who are the real criminals. It is they who should be facing charges.