Months after the G8 protests in Gleneagles last July, as many as sixty protestors are still awaiting trial for crimes as trivial as shouting at a police man (Meiklem 2006). Apparently, court officials themselves have asked whether every single case needs to be heard. Many of the cases have simply been dismissed due to a gross lack of evidence.
One by one, British citizens are given the verdict for their supposed crimes in Gleneagles, a process involving weeks or months in court, additional stress for those found innocent in the end, and the spending of thousands of pounds of tax-payers’ money. People involved in the G8 protests think the Crown prosecutors are out to prove a point, that being to exert police authority over the perceived unruly world citizens.
Medic Ruth, involved in the protests as a caretaker, was identified by police as a ringleader and was arrested by a group of twenty-five police officers who pinned her to the ground and used her pressure points to inflict pain and lower her resistance. She says, “To be fair, a tired-out street medic with a backpack full of dried apricots and water was quite the threat, so it’s lucky all those extra coppers were there.” Ruth was found not guilty of breaking the peace, a blanket charge that has led to a large number of arrests without conviction.
Another protestor, Pamela Smith, had her court case dismissed for what she believes was illegal police action. The English officers brought in to help the Scottish forces were not fully briefed on Scottish law and were told, “if it’s an offence in England, it’s the same in Scotland.” Her arresting officer used an English caution, something she brought up with court officials. She was eventually told that the case would not continue, as the absence of other defendants was unfair to her. She believes the case was “a farce.”
Gary, acquitted of assaulting a police officer, is disheartened by the continuing court cases and obvious lack of understanding between groups such as the protestors and police. He says, “It’s a bit of a shame because at the end of the day everyone there wanted to do something positive for the world. There’s this misconception between authorities and the police that we were just out to cause trouble. For me the big question is what actually happened at the G8? What was achieved by the whole thing?”
Many of those facing charges have received support from the Solidarity Group that provides practical help for protestors. A spokesman for the group says that of over 200 charges, only two people have been found guilty.
Meiklem, P. J. (2006, March 27). What Happened Next? The Big Issue in Scotland. Retrieved from http://www.streetnewsservice.org/index.php?page=archive_detail&articleID=641