People have concentrated on my acts standing (or rather sitting) in front of the Al Quds marchers blocking the route with my partner Mandy.
Amazingly, a little knowledge of criminal law and the rights of protesters baffled officer after officer who challenged me.
The saga which led to the bizarre situation that we were threatened with arrest to protect the rights of those waving the terrorist flag of Hezbollah adorned with an image of an AK47 gun was a farce but the fact that the Al Quds rally itself was allowed was not funny.
As a community we know that HM’s Opposition is a problem but HM’s Government is not much better. It was the Government that allowed this march to take place.
Seriously, the Police enforcing the will of the Home Secretary saw a wheelchair as a greater threat than a machine gun.
Before she was Prime Minister, Theresa May as Home Secretary said that the Al Quds march should be banned. She seems not to have passed the message on to her successors.
The stand off was not planned. I had moved to the route where the marchers had planned to go thinking that a large number of people would do the job that the Government should have but the Police following orders from on high moved us all away. Mandy and I refused to go.
A civilian support worker told me that I had to move. My lawyer’s mind kicked in, and I asked why? He walked away.
Two officers came and told me that the marchers would walk around me and they “could not guarantee my safety”. “That’s ok” I said, “I never asked you to, I’ll take the risk”. They walked away. Two more took over and said they would stand by my side”
At that point, the IHRC “Deputy Chief” according to his coat, approached the Police “if he doesn’t move, we won’t”. The officers looked at me, and much to the amusement of one of the officers, I replied that “we’ve got a deal, I’ll stay if they stay, I’m not in a rush.”
Another officer then told me that I had to move and that the Police had an order closing the street “ can I see it?” He shrugged and walked away mumbling that it was in a van somewhere.
After 45 minutes, a different officer told me that she would arrest us. I pointed out that the Police had said we could stay and so we were doing nothing wrong. She then went away and then came back to withdraw my permission at which point she warned me that we would be arrested. The Police had chosen the side of the terrorists.
And so it was that after nearly an hour a Police Support Officer moved me down the street.
Farcical as the stand off was, none of this should have happened.
The Al Quds’ march should not have been permitted. Notwithstanding the sanctity of free speech and the right to protest, Public Order allows for limits and static rallies.
There is no doubt that the Government are scared.
If this had been a Far Right rally it would have been moved.
If skinheads had been holding pictures of machine guns in the street they’d have been arrested but sadly when Iranian backed thugs want to march through London under a terrorist banner, the Government’s only response is “how many streets would you like”.
“We will never surrender” has become “we have surrendered”. We must fight back.