Court Hearing for Olympic ASBOTagged as: olympics repression
Today the Metropolitan police laid out their case to create the first 'Olympic ASBO' against Simon Moore. Simon currently has an interim ASBO and they are seeking to make it a full one. If it is passed it will be for a minimum of 2 years, a full year and a half after the Olympics has finished. The Metropolitan Police promised to seek to remove the ASBO after september but this 'promise' is not legally binding. The main thrust of the Met's position is to highlight the many peaceful protest actions that Simon has been involved in dating back to 2009 to paint a picture of an individual that has repeatedly broken the law and gone “outside the bounds of what is an acceptable, reasonable and proper protest” The trigger for the whole affair was the resistance to the building of a Olympic basketball facility at Leyton Marsh in East London, which Simon was involved in. A group of the Leyton residence opposed to the destruction of their community space were in the court room to support Simon.
The Met went on to explain that they would rather focus resources onto the 'very real terrorist threat to the Olympics' then on policing Simon and that this was a justification for the 'preventative' ASBO. They called many Police witnesses who recalled their interactions with Simon at various protests and actions over the years, most interestingly a detective from the 'Domestic Extremism Unit' All of whom acknowledged that Simons actions have been entirely peaceful which throws up the question of why the 'Domestic Extremism Unit' is focussing attention on him in the first place. The ASBO is re produced here for you to look through. The strangest element being prohibition 3 which reads “ Not to trespass on, or without the permission of the owner to interfere with, any building or land, while in possession of camping or sleeping equipment” Simon has repeatedly stated that he wishes to live on disused land in eco village communities and so this directly prohibits him from doing so, has no direct relation to the Olympics and could possibly continue for a year and a half after the Games. The judge seemed unimpressed with this Prohibition and indicated that perhaps this element may be amended.
What follows is Simons Statement which he read out to the court...
"I feel that this ASBO is symptomatic of the nature and feel of the Olympic games in London 2012 and the general state of consciousness of the authorities at this time.
I think it is clear to see from the delivery of London 2012 that these games are not simply about sport and amusement. They involve the channelling of very large amounts of public funds into the hands of private corporations whose primary aim is the make as much profit from their service as possible.
Partly due to this, I believe that a culture of greed has been created as London 2012. It has been reduced from an event which could be a benefit to everyone to a profit making exercise which places private interests above public.
The games offer the government the chance to increase its national and international image and popularity at a time when austerity and turbulence are becoming commonplace. The government appears to be desperate to use the games to better its image.
For these reasons I believe that there is a pathological desire on the part of the authorities and private interests to insure that the delivery of the games is executed to exactly as they intend. This is not a healthy, balanced and reasonable attitude and it is creating negative effects.
The needs of local communities in the areas where the infrastructure of the games are located are being ignored and in many cases overwhelmed or infringed on by the delivery of the games. This is evidenced by multiple examples including:
The intensive and ecologically destructive developments for games related venues on open metropolitan land at Hackney Marshes, Leyton Marsh and Wanstead Flats to name a few. This destruction of local community resources illustrates that the authorities believe is a price worth paying despite how unpopular the decisions have been in the local areas. It feels like a case of: 'the games must be completed at any cost'.
The pathological desire for results has created an atmosphere of intolerance towards anyone or anything that disagrees with any aspect of the games or its delivery.
This has meant that when local communities have expressed legitimate concerns about the way some aspect of the delivery of the games is being delivered in their neighbourhood, not only have they been ignored, they have been criminalised and penalised. The campaign to Save Leyton Marsh which is made up of residents and locals has been subjected to coercion and intimidation through the use of the law as it attempted to peacefully stand up for the protection of a community space which was taken without their consent for the construction of a basketball training facility. The construction has created a lot of problems for the locals there including the exposure to dangerous toxic waste in areas in which children, adults and animals regularly play, not to mention being effectively locked out of a vital community space indefinitely. Their concerns are legitimate and have not been listened to by the authorities to any degree which could be called understanding.
The use of measures such as the ASBO which are tools to coerce and punish, are being used for those who are engaging in ordinary peaceful demonstration against aspects of the games which are unpopular. They can and are being used to stifle legitimate dissent. This reflects a possible desire by the authorities to ensure that the public image that they are crafting for the games is not tarnished in anyway by peaceful protest. It is a further indicator of a pathological mentality which characterises the undertaking of the delivery of the games
Personally I do not think disrupting the ceremonies or sporting events of the Olympics would necessarily be an effective form of helping to awake people to an injustice. I think there is a risk of alienating and irritating those people who may be open to a message, but are also keen to enjoy these events.
However I believe that this use of punitive and coercive measures to intimidate and punish those who cause or are under suspicion of causing some form of limited, temporary and non-harmful disruption is unreasonable and is symptomatic of the pathological mentality which characterises these Olympics.
This attitude shows no attempt to understand why people have issues with aspects of the games including its delivery, its timing and its relationship with private interests.
The authoritarian nature and behaviour of the authorities in its behaviour in delivering the games are also present in its everyday activities, although perhaps in a less extreme way. It seems that our system of diluted fascism is becoming more fascist everyday. It need not be this way and it is within our power to change it.
In my case this ASBO has imposed on me a challenge whether to proceed with activities which I know are fair and reasonable and by so doing break the law or to succumb to its coercive nature and stop. I have decided to break the law.
The activities which I speak of include:
travelling around London and elsewhere and passing through and by the various Olympic routes and venues as part of a consequence of taking part in everyday activities including visiting family and friends and even coming to the court today. (in contravention of prohibition 1).
engaging in peaceful demonstration against unreasonable aspects of the games or other issues in, around or near Olympic venues or routes such as Leyton Marsh.
Living on disused land and using camping equipment such as sleeping bag, tent and other equipment in order to create low impact sustainable communities. (In contravention of prohibition 3).
I have decided that I would rather live in prison than be entrapped and controlled by fear of breaching the prohibitions contained within this ASBO. Control by fear is a worse prison than physical prison. Only reacting to fear can imprison the mind and spirit.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say that the heavy reliance of ASBOs and other forms of coercive or punitive laws to regulate society and prevent 'anti-social behaviour' is failing to create a just, peaceful and free society. I think we need a radically different approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour which is based on 'restorative' justice.
Sir I would like to put to you that if you think the prohibitions contained within this ASBO are just then you should do as you see fit. However if you see the injustice of this ASBO or any legislation which you think is unjust, you would show the highest respect for the law by resigning your post."
The full judgement will be heard on Monday at 10 am in Westminster Magistrates court.
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