A report from the CON-initiated meeting to help establish a defence campaign for the Critical Mass 182
As reported before, the police – in a fit of Olympics-induced hysteria – arrested 182 cyclists on the regular monthly Critical Mass bike ride on 27 July. So the Counter Olympics Network initiated a meeting – which took place last Thursday evening – to help establish a defence campaign, in liaison with Green and Black Cross.
Around 100 people turned up, including many of the arrestees that Green and Black Cross (GBC) had already made contact with, as did – and this was an especially valuable aspect of the meeting – some of the 182 who weren’t already in touch with GBC. (GBC have taken on defence co-ordination, at least to the extent of trying to trace people, getting them in touch with one another, and linking them up with appropriate lawyers.)
There were also people at the meeting from 3 different legal firms who’ve taken on some of the 182 [though there's at least one more firm involved too], together with other Critical Massers, CON people, and others – including a few from groups that work on issues of activist support, the right to protest, etc (though if was acknowledged that CM rides aren’t generally considered to be protests as such).
There was an introduction to the legal issues surrounding the police’s purported use of the Public Order Act, and discussions of related issues – including news of a successful challenge to the bail conditions by one arrestee already. The solicitors at the meeting are all currently giving advice on these cases free, and will continue to do so at least up to and including any further challenges to bail conditions – such challenges being generally thought to be a good idea.
There was discussion of the possible roles of a defence campaign, and of its importance in terms of other CMers not arrested last time, as well as in terms of its wider political and policing significance. But there was agreement that launching a more general defence campaign would be kept on hold pending an arrestees-only [plus GBC] meeting, which is being organised by GBC any day now – since any campaign around the arrests needs to be done with the views and interests of those arrested having priority.
The most important thing we can all do right now (apart from generally making a fuss about the police behaviour in any forums open to us, and of course ensuring that the turn-out on the August CM ride is absolutely massive) is to spread the word in any direction which might reach arrestees, since some are still not in touch with the main bulk of others from the 182.
So please push this message out:
If you were one of the 182 cyclists arrested on 27 July, and aren’t already in touch with GBC, then e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org as a matter of urgency.