Four #FreeAssange supporters were arrested in Piccadilly Circus under the covid regulations for failing to disperse and some were threatened they will be fined with a Fixed Penalty charge which they will received by post. Not everyone was threatened with a Fixed Penalty Notice (fine) (update 14/11/20). This enforcement power has been bestowed to the police by the government for six months. No exception applies for political protest. in effect the right to protest in the UK has been now completely removed without debate. Earlier in the day a small protest in Belmarsh took place.
First must say that the protest at Belmarsh was really good, there was a huge amount of public support, lots of beeps, thumbs-up, smiles and fist-pumps – the people in that area are magic. The police stopped by to let us know they were keeping an eye on us, there were just a couple of them and they were civil, pleasant even. J gave them a time that we’d leave and they drove past to check we were going just as we were packing up. Julian Assange is still in there of course, that continues to be the horrifying fact, but we left in good spirits, glad to have gone and (speaking just for myself) glad that the police had acted decently.
I didn’t see much of what happened at Piccadilly Circus as I was on a traffic-island on my own. I think my ‘negotiations’ with the police went on for about 20 minutes, it ended with them taking my details so that they could send me a fine. I understand they’re not always actually sending the penalty notices out so we’ll see.
They worked hard to get me to admit that I was protesting and in the end I just said “of course I am”. It was clear that it is now the act of political protest that is, in their minds, unlawful. Now, even if you are nowhere near anybody else, you may not demonstrate. In the spring/summer, they framed the situation as protest ‘not being on the list of permitted activities’ and, therefore, being unlawful. Now they’re saying there’s ‘no exemption’ for protest. So the rules are similarly mad but the nasty difference is that the police were unsure of themselves early on, now they’re much more practised and confident. There was no way that the ‘you can’t outlaw something as fundamental as political protest by leaving it off a list’ approach was going to work.
The right to protest in the UK has now been completely removed without debate! At least four arrests this afternoon at Piccadilly Circus #FreeAssange pic.twitter.com/orB9q7tMc5
— Emmy Butlin (@greekemmy) November 7, 2020
Shocking Arrest of @EfPress as Freedom Dies in Westminster!
Eros Outrage at Piccadilly Arbitrary Detention of Independent Media!@wikileaks #KidnapTortureRendition pic.twitter.com/NjnLKAfal1
— EF Press (@EfPress) November 7, 2020
Please visit this excellent interview with Jill Everette at Sputnik here: https://sputniknews.com/interviews/202011131081154223-exclusive-it-has-made-us-stronger-says-assange-supporter-charged-during-uks-covid-19-lockdown/
Thank you for this very well put together article. It shows the disgraceful behavior of the UK police intent on silencing all support for Julian Assange. These people have been protesting peacefully every Saturday for months and now, thanks partly to Priti Patel they are being harassed and arrested. It is another sign of the end of democracy. Equally, I notice in a more recent video of the same group of supporters, there were hundreds of people nearby, in Leicester Square tightly grouped around a street actor and yet the police did nothing. So they remove 20 peaceful protesters handing out flyers, but leave 100 other people completely alone. This is silencing of the truth. In effect if you speak out against the UK government, then you will be silenced.
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Why pay a fine? It is more honourable to do time in prison as a means of continuing the protest and let attention be further drawn to the injustices being inflicted on Julian Assange and all political prisoners in Britain!
Can we contribute to their fines?