It was smashing news this week for one anti-arms trade protester. Chris Bluemel, a music teacher from Southampton, was acquitted last Friday of assaulting Police – despite admitting to punching a cop in the face!
The case arose out events at last year’s Carnival against the Arms Trade in Brighton which saw a mass car-park invasion of EDO/ITT by protesters. Chris was charged with both Assaulting Police and Common Assault. His defence rested on the excessive force used by police in clearing the car-park and the beating he himself received. He showed the court photos of bruising on his arms and back — bizarrely taken on a Naked Bike Ride three days later (with the naughty bits covered by post-its!).
In their verdict three magistrates said that the evidence of PC Dugan, who received a punch in the face after beating Chris to the ground, had been ‘vague and contradictory’ in his description of the timing of events, while in contrast Chris was clearly a man of good character who had been ‘credible and consistent’ about what had happened.
Commenting on the policing of events, magistrates said that although the actions of police had been lawful at first, they descended into unlawful and excessive force in the last moments when protesters were being driven from the car park with batons and police dogs. There was no evidence of any violence used against the police by the protesters. In the circumstances Chris had been reasonable in fighting back against the police who were clearly ‘not acting in the execution of their duty’.
Chris told SchNEWS “This marks the end of an extremely difficult year, which began with a police raid on my house, in which a huge amount of computer equipment and campaign materials was seized, and ended with a trial on ludicrous charges. The police have so far refused to apologise for the disruption and stress they have caused to my life, including the fear of losing my job had I been convicted.”
Also See: www.smashedo.org.uk