DEFEND THE RIGHT TO PROTEST Meeting
Drop the charges against Barbara Muldoon
6pm Wed 24 April
Peter Froggatt Centre,
QUBAnti Racism activist Barbara Muldoon is facing a criminal conviction as a result of helping organise an anti racism protest in 2009. For three and a half years the police and the PPS have been pursuing charges that Barbara took part in an unlawful procession.
On the 22 October 2009 a demonstration took place outside the BBC building on Ormeau Avenue in Belfast. The demonstration was against the inclusion of BNP leader Nick Griffin on the panel of the BBC’s political flagship programme, Question Time. Similar demonstrations took place in a number of cities. The demonstration was attended by over 200 anti racism campaigners consisting of trade unionists, community activists, socialists and people from a black and minority ethnic background. A group of BNP supporters turned up to counter protest. Their faces were covered and they gave Nazi salutes and hurled racist abuse at those on the demonstration. The police refused to intervene to prevent this from occurring and instead arrested Barbara as the anti racism protesters were making their way to City Hall. The police alleged that it was an unlawful procession, despite having advised her that people should leave en mass and go to City Hall.
At the Court on Friday 19 April 2013 it was confirmed that the matter had been reviewed at the highest regional level of the PPS the evening before and that they were committed to ensuring her conviction. Barbara’s lawyers have been arguing from the beginning that the charges against her are ludicrous. This became increasingly so in light of the police facilitating illegal protests in respect of flags for the last four months. At Friday’s court hearing Barbara’s lawyers were granted an adjournment in order to pursue an “abuse of process” application against the PPS. That application will be heard on Friday 3 May 2013. If the application succeeds, then the case will be thrown out, paving the way for Barbara to take a civil action against the PPS. If the application is refused then the case will proceed. A conviction carries a possible sentence of six months imprisonment.
It is massively important that trade unionists, anti racism campaigners, activists and socialists are involved in protesting against these charges and protesting in support of the right to protest.