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Fortnum 145: guilty of protesting sensibly

This morning 10 protesters have been found guilty of “aggravated trespass” at Fortnum & Masons. Laurie Penny commented “this is bloody ridiculous. I was there, it was a peaceful protest.” They were given a 6 month conditional discharge, with a£1000 cost order each, and one person got a £215 fine. This was for an action in which, as the police officer in the video below from the inside of Fortnum and Mason explains, the people there were “non-violent and sensible“. The footage filmed at the anti-cuts protest was shot by Green & Black Cross legal observers and handed to UK Uncut, which passed it on to the Guardian. It shows a police chief inspector telling demonstrators inside the Fortnum & Mason store they would be allowed to leave. After being led outside, Guardian footage shows the protesters being kettled and then arrested.The protestors today issued the following statement:

Today, the 10 of us who were on trial have been found guilty of taking part in a protest. A protest that was dubbed ‘sensible’ by the senior police officer at the scene. We were standing up, or more accurately sitting down, against our government making harsh cuts to public services, whilst letting companies like Fortnum and Masons get away with dodging a total of tens of billions of pounds of tax every year. Then we are put on trial, whilst it’s clear the real criminals are the tax dodgers, the politicians and the bankers who caused this financial crisis and who continue to profit. We are supposed to have a democratic right to protest yet people like us, exercising that right and expressing our discontent feel the force of the law and receive harsh and disproportionate sentences. We have been convicted of Aggravated Trespass, an example of a law created in the 1990′s as an attack on our rights to protest and which is used in situations like this one to turn protesting into a crime. We will, of course, continue to fight this and will be appealing the judgement.

As the government’s cuts continue to destroy the economy and people’s lives we will not be put off by these attempts at humiliating and punishing us.

The video is worth watching.

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