- Peaceful protester faces multiple charges after sitting on Parliament Square statue for 48 hours
- Defendant moved to protest after witnessing repressive policing of peaceful pro-democracy activists
- Latest in a series of attempted prosecutions of Occupy Democracy protesters
The Crown Prosecution Service will make its fourth attempt to convict an Occupy Democracy protester this Thursday 20th August when the trial of Danny “Plinthman” Baker starts at Westminster Magistrates Court. So far 15 defendants have been acquitted or had their charges dropped.
Daniel Baker – also known as Danny Freeman, founder of the group Love Activists – climbed onto the statue of Winston Churchill and remained there during a 48-hour standoff with police. Despite police assuring him that he was in their duty of care they refused him food and water and threated with arrest anyone who attempted to provide him with any. Green MP, Caroline Lucas, was threatened with arrest after attempting to feed Freeman an omelette [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNsARFuuwLc].
At the time Caroline Lucas tweeted a picture of herself, writing: “For those interested to know, passing omelette to protester counts as obstruction (rather than refusing him food, which of course doesn’t).”
Poet Martin Powell was arrested for providing him with water [https://youtu.be/iJ_1OCEgtdw] but no charges were filed.
Danny has been charged with failing to comply with a reasonable direction; engaging in behaviour likely to cause harrassment, alarm or distress; criminal damage; and theft of a policeman’s hat. He has entered a not guilty plea for all the charges.
Explaining why he was chose to occupy Winston Churchill’s plinth as a form of protest Danny said:
“When I arrived at Parliament Squarre I was met with TSG Police poised to remove protesters. I have never witnessed such a scene of aggression that had gone totally unchallenged by bystanders and members of the public. It absolutly infuriated me to see police officers grabbing peaceful people, forming a circle around them and then beating them before arresting them for exercising their basic human rights.”
“My aim in occupying the statue was to firstly reclaim Parliament Square for the protesters I had witnessed being brutally oppressed in a country that boasts to be so free. Secondly to express my freedom as an individual.”
Occupy Democracy held a ten day occupation of Parliament Square last October to highlight the democratic deficit in relation to issues such as NHS privitisation, austerity cuts and fracking. The Greater London Authority, led by London Mayor Boris Johnson, responded by fencing off the square stating that the grass needed to be protected.
The Metropolitan Police attempted to clear the square of protesters by making mass arrests. The subsequent trials of those arrested for sitting on tarpaulin resulted in an acquittal with a second trial for identical offences dropped. A trial set to hear the crime of holding a banner in Parliament Square was dropped by the CPS at the last minute and last week the former deputy chair of the Liberal Democrats, Donnachadh McCarthy was acquitted of assault charges.
Watch footage of Freeman coming down from the statue and being arrested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsA64KYGdMQ
Notes for editors: