Guilty verdicts for five Critical Mass participants arrested on night of Olympic opening ceremony

One found not guilty, while three other defendants were discharged during course of trial which began earlier this month

by Simon_MacMichael   March 14, 2013  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

Five cyclists arrested during Critical Mass on the night of the Olympic Games opening ceremony last July have been found guilty at Westminster Magistrates' Court of offences relating to a breach of section 12 of the Public Order Act. Nine people originally went on trial earlier this month from a total of 182 people originally arrested, but three were discharged earlier on during the proceedings, while one was found not guilty today.

So far, there is no news on sentencing. Our report on the background to the trial can be found here.

 

 

 

13 user comments

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Just had to google this:

Section 12 - Imposing conditions on public processions
provides police the power to impose conditions on processions "to prevent serious public disorder, serious criminal damage or serious disruption to the life of the community"

In other words 'We don't want you lot down ere.' Are the 5 persistent offenders?

Cheers, G

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [983 posts]
14th March 2013 - 17:12

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So 177 people were detained without good cause. A lesson for the police perhaps, although I doubt they'll learn anything from it (being a bureaucracy like any other, albeit one armed with batons, tazers and pepper spray.)

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
14th March 2013 - 17:34

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As I said earlier, it's a shame it came to this, but in the middle of a massive security operation, a publicly advertised ride could have been infiltrated by anyone with really bad intentions, and so although detaining lots of people can be thought of as over reaction, in the context of what was happening there may be a different view, "better safe than sorry".
Police in a fix, do what you think correct and you are damned, fail to do it and something serious happens, you are damned as well. Rock vs hard place.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
14th March 2013 - 17:40

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Ditto,
I was very anti all the special conditions for the Olympics but just maybe these were trying to prove a political point . Or just didn't shut up when asked?

posted by mattsccm [201 posts]
14th March 2013 - 18:07

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doc wrote:
a publicly advertised ride could have been infiltrated by anyone with really bad intentions,

This sort of hysterical what-iffery could be used to justify absolutely anything at all.

But, yes, the police _are_ in a difficult position, they're supposed to exercise their judgement to maintain the peace and not interfere with the political process. Protest is part of that. And it's arguable that CM is a protest anyway.

The idea that 170-something people were forcibly prevented from doing what the law determines to be acceptable is a black mark for the police and they've done more to damn themselves than anyone else.

posted by Ush [296 posts]
14th March 2013 - 18:30

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I think this was knobbery of a particularly idiotic kind, a deliberate attempt to exploit the opening ceremony by an 'unorganised' ( Oh really Ken? ) group, and they got exactly what they deserved.

Critical Mass do not represent cyclists or cycling, and their rent-a-mob attitude makes life harder not easier.

I'd like to see them go away.

posted by crikey [81 posts]
14th March 2013 - 18:48

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Is there a Daily Mail link to this page ffs? Police should be there to facilitate protest(they certainly seem happy to do so for the idiots from the EDL, BNP etc)not stifle it.

posted by paulfg42 [335 posts]
14th March 2013 - 21:36

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I'm strongly pro CM in general, but to try and ride to Stratford on the opening night of the Olympics, against every clear warning not to do so, was plain dumb. The ride assembled in the usual place in Southwark, the police told them in no uncertain terms not to attempt to go north of the river (and indeed put road blocks on the bridges in an attempt to stop them), and the CMers did so anyway.

You have dozens of heads of state (some from nations more-or-less at war with one another & some from nations vastly more security-paranoid than our own), diplomats and other dignitaries, world famous athletes tens of thousands of general public heading from all over the country for a once in a lifetime experience.. oh, and a bunch of fireworks barges with God alone knows how many tons of ordnance.

It won't have been regular Met officers running the security for all that - but it was regular Met officers tasked with keeping the unruly & unpredictable mob that is CM well clear of the various armed and no doubt twitchy security who were. Democracy and due process? Probably not - but in the circumstances it's the best outcome they could have managed.

Look at it from the police's point of view - if the CM participants of that day were prepared to ignore the Sec 12 to make a point, what else might they be prepared to do? Cause a threat to human life (other than their own), surely not.. but gum up the works for the sake of making a point? 'tis pretty much CM's modus operandi after all.

posted by angus h [11 posts]
14th March 2013 - 21:53

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Free the CM5!

posted by a.jumper [632 posts]
14th March 2013 - 22:52

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We have something in this country called "freedom of speech" and "freedom of expression" Around 65M people died in the last century fighting for those rights which we now take for granted. Be careful what you wish for.

Get out and ride

posted by davidtcycle [58 posts]
15th March 2013 - 9:41

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What a waste of everyone's time. Let's look at the facts.

CM has a long history of meeting to cycle on the last Friday of the month. Most participants view the ride as a party not a protest. Turn up and see how few flyers or speeches, generally none. Historically CM goes where the front leads so the front reflects the mass and goes to 'interesting' places. e.g. Pro-Abortion protests, Stop the War, Free Tibet whatever wherever. All in all a handful of arrests over the last decade. Less than occours in Soho on 1 Friday night.

So the olympics were in town of course the mass was going to be sucked out that way. A huge proportion of London went out east to attend or get close to the biggest party globally that night.

Then the police. Bollocks to the damned if they do/don't argument, senior police mgt failed to grasp that a few random pedallers would have their usual cycle. 180 arrests to end up with a couple of convictions? Despicable keeping of the peace.

I'd recommend trying a CM, it will never be everyones cup of tea but it's worth a punt to make your own mind up.

Adios Amigos

posted by BigManLittleHair [9 posts]
15th March 2013 - 10:46

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I'm a bit torn on this one.
On the one hand, I've some sympathy with the view that the Police shouldn't be basically enforcing some sort of "Boris-and-Seb-let's-keep-the-plebs-away-from-the-UK-PLC-showcase" mandate. Not everyone was so enamored or bothered about the Olympics so why shouldn't they be able to go on a ride around their own city? After all they're footing a large chunk of the bill for it. All seems a bit heavy-handed, especially in the context of things like the Zil lanes for dignitaries.

On the other hand, I've not much sympathy for CM and the "let's stick it to the man" way they go about things. They could have gone anywhere they wanted, they were told clearly where they couldn't go but they forced the point. There are obvious policing issues with staging something like the Olympics and I don't think it was unreasonable for the Police to ask them to stay away. It reminds me of the petty little "I've got my rights" types who moan about things like road closures for marathons and insist on trying to drive through anyway. I think it's generally a good thing that societies stage sports and arts events and sometimes you have to suck up the inconveniences of the ones that don't interest you personally.

It does seem to have gone too far and probably could have been handled better but on the whole I'm struggling to feel too sorry for them.

posted by Chuck [251 posts]
15th March 2013 - 11:16

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Why should cyclists be asked to stay away?

posted by paulfg42 [335 posts]
15th March 2013 - 22:23

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