Student protester in court after almost losing life at hands of police.

Posted: June 9, 2011 in Police, Protest March

Alfie Meadows, a philosophy student at Middlesex University, was struck by police batons as he tried to leave the area outside Westminster Abbey during protest in December. Police attempted to block Alfie from receiving treatment in the nearest hospital, claiming it was for the treatment of police only. He was left unconscious with bleeding on the brain. Today the 21-year-old goes to court on charges of violent disorder at the same demonstration, and faces up to five years in prison. Violent disorder is defined as “where three or more people (including the accused) use or threaten unlawful violence and, the conduct of them taken together is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their personal safety.” Mr Meadows, said: “I exercised my right to protest against something I feel strongly about. I ended up in hospital after being struck on the head with a police baton. I am now being prosecuted for violent disorder at that protest. “I strongly deny the charge. The outcome of the investigation of my complaint against the police is due shortly. “I hope it results in lessons being learnt by the police for the future policing of protests so that no one will ever endure what my family and I have. I am extremely grateful for all of the expressions of concern and support for me by members of the public.”

Unfortunately this is not a lone incident, but another to add to the list. Jody McIntyre was dragged from his wheelchair by police and hit with a baton during the same demonstration in December. Last month, an IPCC-supervised inquiry found that police actions were “justifiable”; the statement also said there was “evidence” that Mr McIntyre “was inadvertently struck with a police baton”.

Hundreds of protesters, including Mr McIntyre, are expected to demonstrate outside Westminster City magistrates’ court today, where Mr Meadows and 43 other student activists will appear over the next two days, charged with offences including violent disorder, affray and theft. Anger from protest groups against policing tactics has been running high, with campaigners from all areas being arrested and charged for an assortment of offences. Fifty-five people were detained in a string of pre-emptive arrests on the day of the royal wedding and 145 people were arrested during an occupation of Fortnum & Mason in March, the trial for which will be held on July 4th. Mr Meadows said that it was time “to show we have a right to protest – a right that has come under threat over the last couple of months”. He and a fellow protester, Bryan Simpson, have set up an umbrella organisation called Defend the Right to Protest to support arrested students and activists. “People can come together and realise there is a lot of strong unity behind the right to protest,” Mr Meadows said. “It makes you feel less isolated… Support and solidarity is what we need now.” Mr Meadows’ claim has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Scotland Yard denies that it is cracking down on protests. A spokesman said: “We understand the importance of the right to protest, but people who break the law and endanger those who wish to protest peacefully by committing criminal offences must face the inevitable consequences of their actions.” The solidarity picket will be held outside Westminster Court, 70 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AX from 9AM.

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