(Image from here)
Today saw the prosecution make their case against Alfie and the four others standing trial with him. James Lofthouse for the prosecution showed video footage of the Dec 9th student protest, using aerial helicopter images, police cameras and CCTV (although youtube footage was also used to establish identity in two cases, raising questions once again about the wisdom of putting protest material up which the police have easy access to). All five are accused of one count of violent disorder relating to a twenty-minute period around 6pm that evening, with two of the five also accused of a further count of arson. The jury were handed round copies of the indictment and a map showing the route of the protest that day, whose status Lofthouse confirmed was lawful.
The prosecution, as usual in protest cases, relied heavily on arguments that drew upon the ‘wider context’ and Lofthouse made reference to Charlie Gilmour and the cenotaph, as well as the royal convoy (the former of which, it should be noted, played no part in the charge against Gilmour and the latter of which no one has been charged for). Lofthouse stated that there had been reports on Dec 9th of protesters ‘carrying weapons’ so police were granted the powers to stop and search and to request that facial coverings be removed. Lofthouse repeatedly referred to ‘scuffles’ and ‘mass surges’ taking place during the day, and argued that ‘violent disorder’ can encompass events that last more than an hour (though the charge here relates only to a brief period in the twenty minutes around 6pm where barriers were pushed back and forth).
Lofthouse argued that the ‘bulk’ of the protest had taken a wrong turn during the protest and in response, police had set up various lines behind barriers and at 2pm or so had been ordered to don protective headgear and get their shields out. By 3:23, a full containment order was in place, with vulnerable people allegedly allowed to leave.
Despite editing and the way in which police cameramen are trained to film away from any police violence, the footage inescapably showed images of police behaving aggressively towards protesters, as anyone who was there on the day would remember. Somewhat embarrassingly for the prosecution, the DVD froze up multiple times during the screening, and inclusion of much of the footage was hard to understand, seeing as it didn’t really relate to either of the charges, but Lofthouse insisted it was important that the jury got a ‘sense of numbers’ of people on the protest.
Following the screenings and the individual charges, the officer who had compiled the footage was briefly interviewed to confirm that he had put it together and to check the dates when footage was edited.
Tomorrow sees police witnesses up before court, and the Silver Commander on the day will be examined on Thursday.