HSBC3 Defence CampaignTagged as: economic_crisis police political_policing repression social_struggles
Neighbourhoods: newcastle_upon_tyne north_east
The HSBC 3 Defence Campaign was set up last December to defend three activists arrested on the 18th December at a protest against tax avoidance, on a UKUncut national day of action. The protest was lively but peaceful, and occupied many relevant shops and businesses supporting the cuts - including Mark's and Spencer, Boots, and Vodaphone. The three activists were targeted by the police to end the protest, to intimidate and deter young people from protesting against the government's savage public spending cuts.
Mark Pearson was the first to be arrested, accused of 'Breaking the conditions' imposed upon a demonstration. Patrick Reay was then arrested for apparently obstructing the arrest of Mark, and Toby Hobbs was arrested 4 days later whilst manning a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! stall, accused of obstructing the arrest of Patrick. Mark and Patrick were both given harsh bail conditions, banning them from the city centre, in a clear attempt to prevent their attendance at further protests. The arrests were transparently political in nature, and are part of a worrying trend of systematic police repression against anyone taking direct action against the cuts.
After a two day trial on the 28th and 29th of March, Mark and Patrick were found guilty, and heavy fines totalling £760 were imposed. The charges against Toby were dropped before the case began, which is certainly a significant victory for the campaign.
5 police witnesses provided the Judge with all the evidence he wanted to hear, and the strong defence was ignored. Mark was found guilty of Breaking the Conditions Imposed upon a Demonstration, despite the fact he was using a megaphone at the time the conditions were supposedly given. The judge ruled it was within his power to have heard the conditions. Patrick was found guilty of Obstructing a Police Officer in the arrest of Mark – despite the arresting officer not mentioning any obstruction in his report!
The clear injustice of the conviction of Mark and Patrick is a huge blow to the anti-cuts movement in Newcastle, and elsewhere, as it sets a precedent which will now make the police more confident to further reduce democratic rights, and the space of what is considered ‘legitimate protest’. As we have seen from the TUC demonstration on the 26th of March, all those taking direct action against the cuts are seen as criminals, and the police will not hesitate in acting against all effective forms of protest. If the HSBC3 verdict remains unchallenged it will be a dangerous precedent for those arrested in London on the 26th, as well as everyone else opposing the cuts.
For this reason the judgement must be fought and overturned, with an appeal to the Crown Court. We call upon all supporters and everyone within the anti-cuts movement to pledge full solidarity with the campaign, and offer financial support to fully cover the fines imposed. The HSBC3 verdict must be raised in all anti-cuts groups, and support on the streets for further solidarity demonstrations must be forthcoming. Only with this support can the campaign challenge the judgement, and defend the rights of all anti-cuts protestors.
To pledge financial and formal support contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
We can only oppose political policing together! They will not divide us!
HSBC 3 Defence Campaign
Find out more on the defence campaign blog.
Contact email: email@example.com