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Alfie Meadows: drop the charges, put the police in the dock

Sally Turner

Monday 26 March was the first day of Alfie Meadows’ trial for ‘violent disorder’ after police beat him into a near-fatal coma – a crime for which no police officer has been charged. Writes Sally Turner.

Despite having to receive emergency surgery for bleeding on the brain following a bludgeoning by a police batons, he is now facing up to five years in prison for causing ‘sustained and widespread violence and disorder’ along with five others.
On 9 December 2010, over 10,000 people – mostly school and college student – took to the streets of London to protest against the rise in tuition fees. It was the last of four mass demonstrations against the increase and was the day of the vote in parliament.
The demonstration route from University London Union was due to finish at the Victoria Embankment. However, a large section of the march broke off and headed into Parliament Square. The 20 year-old philosophy student Alfie Meadows found himself trapped after police kettled the demonstrators outside parliament. While he was trying to exit the area via Westminster Bridge the police viciously bludgeoned him with such force that he suffered an intra-cerebral haemorrhage, a severe condition which required emergency brain surgery.
Alfie himself was only one of more than 40 people seriously injured by the London Metropolitan Police’s thuggish, out-of-control Territorial Support Group.

The Defend the Right to Protest Campaign held a lively rally outside the court in solidarity under the slogan ‘We are all Alfie Meadows’, with over 200 people turning up for the morning demonstration. A number of speakers highlighted how Alfie’s case fits into a history of severe injuries and deaths at the hands of the police, for which no officer has ever faced prosecution.
Despite the fact there is no evidence that Alfie Meadows caused any injury at all, prosecutors are pinning their weak case on the allegation that he was wearing a balaclava. Why it is Alfie is being charged with violence and disorder while the policeman who nearly killed him is free to continue carrying a baton, to abuse, attack and potentially kill with no repercussions?
The answer is clear. By prosecuting Alfie Meadows and others for violent disorder, while extending legal protection to the truly violent police, they are sending out a clear message that anyone challenging the might of the state is a legitimate target for police violence and legal repression.
We cannot allow these attempts to scare protesters into silence to go unchallenged. We must all rally to support Alfie Meadows and the other victims of police brutality. This is a campaign against repression and a fight for justice – we demand the prosecution of the police officers responsible for Alfie’s life-threatening injuries and those responsible for deaths in custody.

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