Please help us defend people’s right to protest, a fundamental civil liberty in any democratic society by doing the following :
Signing the petition which calls on Barra McGrory Director Public Prosecutions to drop the charges against Barbara Muldoon, an anti racism campaigner, and then forwarding the petition to your contacts http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/drop-the-charges-against-barbara/
Coming down to the Laganside Courts at 9.45am on Friday 3 May when there will be a hearing in Barbara’s case and show your support for her and protect the right to protest.
For more information on this case please see below.
You can also support the campaign by liking us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/641083799250976/643587385667284/?notif_t=like or by following us on Twitter @DropTheChargesB
West Against Racism Network
Barbara Muldoon, an anti-racism campaigner from Belfast, is facing criminal charges for taking part in a protest in 2009.
The “incident” took place three and a half years ago outside the BBC on Ormeau Avenue, when Barbara participated in a protest against the BNP appearing on BBC’s Question Time. The protest in Belfast 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 Belfast City Hall in order to safely disperse. The police alleged that as soon as the protesters moved, they took part in an unlawful procession, despite having advised her that people should leave en mass and go to City Hall to disperse from there (an advice which the Police Service of Northern Ireland now dispute).
It has taken three and a half years to bring this case to court. If convicted, Barbara faces a penalty of up to of six months imprisonment. It is clear that it is not in the public interest for the case to continue.
This case also has implications for the protection of the right to protest and peaceful assembly in Northern Ireland. It is being pursued under the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 which was introduced to deal with contentious parades in the NI context (i.e. communal parades that are either unionist or nationalist). Application of the legislation ‘on the spot’ to what was, in essence, a ‘static’ protest is a net widening of police powers to control protests in Northern Ireland. The ‘net widening’ resulting from the use of this legislation to regulate protests other than ‘communal parades’ impacts on people’s right to peaceful protest – be it in the context of current austerity measures, welfare reform, at the upcoming G8 summit or to highlight other issues of social importance in the future.