SUPPORT FORTNUM & MASONS OCCUPIERS – DEFEND THE RIGHT TO PROTEST

Posted: July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

TUESDAY 5TH JULY, 1PM
CITY OF
WESTMISNTER COURT

*NOTE NEW DATE * BRING A WHITE SUIT

…On 5th July the
court hearings of the first batch of people arrested as part of the UK Uncut
sit-in in Fortnum & Mason on 26th March will take place.

This is an
occupation that was described by a senior police officer on the scene at the
time as ‘sensible’ and ‘non-violent’. A member of the public in the store’s café
also described the sit-in, which included a bagpipe player, beachballs and
balloons, as ‘the perfect accompaniment to my tea and scones’, UK Uncut, a group
that uses direct action to highlight alternatives to government’s public
spending cuts, called the action in response to the £10m/year tax-dodge by
Wittington Investments, the owners of Fortnum & Mason.

Having been
assured they would be allowed to leave, protesters left the store to find
themselves kettled by riot police. They were then arrested one-by-one,
handcuffed, and driven to police stations across London. The arrestees were
strip-searched and had their DNA and fingerprints taken. In a possible breach of
arrest protocol, police failed to interview all those arrested. Protesters were
finally released up to 24 hours later in all-white tracksuits, having had their
phones and clothes confiscated, in unfamiliar areas of London.

Lynne
Owens, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has since admitted
that the arrests were made for intelligence purposes. At the time, the police
spun the arrest of 145 peaceful demonstrators as evidence of a successful
policing operation on 26th March.

The arrests were condemned by lawyers
as ‘confusing political anger with criminality’ and ”threaten[ing] the right to
peacefully protest’. A coalition of unions and NGOs released a statement of
support for the protesters saying that they ‘were treated in a political and
deceptive manner by the police which sends an ominous message about the right to
protest’.

Sophie Stephens, a supporter of the defendant’s campaign
Fortnum 145 [12], said: “This mass arrest has been clear attack on the right to
protest and civil liberties, and happened amidst calls for police to be given
even more powers to spy on protesters. This is political policing, clear and
simple, that has no place in a civilised society.”

The Fortnum and
Masons protesters are being targeted solely for the “crime” of protesting
against the cuts. Everyone should join the call to demand these charges are
dropped.

Why the tax avoiders should be on trial

Fortnum and
Mason are one of many super-rich companies that avoid paying tax. Tax avoidance
costs us an estimated £95billion each year, an amount that would pay for the
government’s £81billion cuts program and more.

So why not
charge…

SIR PHILIP GREEN for avoiding £285million in tax by registering
his business under his wife who has Monacan residency

BOOTS for paying
only 3% corporation tax on their profit of £475million in 2010 after moving
their headquarters to a Swiss PO Box

TESCO for avoiding £100million in
stamp duty land tax despite profits of £3.4billion and controlling 30% of the UK
grocery market

Tax avoiders should be on trial, not protestors who raise
awareness of their scams!

www.defendtherighttoprotest.org

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