Fifth Edinburgh Uncut Activist Arrested

A UK Uncut activist was arrested in Edinburgh at around 12.30pm on Saturday for breach of the peace and obstructing the pavement. Under Scots Law, breach of the peace is a specific criminal offence, which can be prosecuted in the courts, and rare cases can lead to a custodial sentence.

The action had attracted a heavy police presence from the outset, with 6 police officers – including two Forward Intelligence officers – in attendance when the group assembled in Bristo Square this morning.

After visiting RBS, Barclays and Topshop, the small group of activists were at their final target of the day, BHS on Princes Street, when the police became more aggressive. Edinburgh Uncut had already left the shop voluntarily and were continuing their demonstration outside by handing out flyers and holding up a banner. The police started threatening activists with arrest for allegedly blocking the pavement (under section 53 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 it is an offence to wilfully obstruct a passageway and not desist when instructed to do so by the police), even though they were taking up only a small part of the pavement’s width and there was plenty of space for anyone else to walk around, or to enter and leave the shop.

Lothian and Borders officer A5910 roughly shoved one young man and restrained him against the shop window by holding both of his arms. The officer claimed that the man was obstructing a fire exit and that the megaphone he was carrying could be used as a weapon. The activist asked several times whether he was being detained and was told that he was not, but when he objected to being held, he was arrested. The police had to be asked several times before they would explain the reason for the arrest.

 

Members of the public who had witnessed the arrest were clearly upset by the police’s actions and can be heard shouting at the officers on the footage, telling them that no crime had been committed. The police simply told them that it was none of their concern.

A solidarity demonstration was called outside of St Leonard’s police station, where UK Uncut supporters and friends of the arrestee gathered to wait for his release. He was eventually released on police bail at around 6.30pm, with the condition that he is banned from Princes Street, St Andrews Square (the site of the current Occupy Edinburgh protest) and most of the New Town area. The police have also confiscated his megaphone and, for reasons best known to themselves, his hat.

This is the fifth time that a member of Edinburgh Uncut has been arrested this year. All of the arrests were in response to incidents in BHS and in three cases the charges were dropped, while a fourth member received a fiscal fine.

The arrestee has given permission for us to use the footage of today’s events, but has asked that his name is not made public. We ask that anyone who recognises him respects his wishes, and does not mention his name in the comments or in any other public forum.

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22nd October 2011: Edinburgh Uncut Returns!

We’ve been a little quiet over the summer but now it’s time to spring back into action. Hopefully you’re all ready and raring to take on some of Edinburgh’s tax-dodging businesses.

Assemble at 1100 in Bristo Square and we’ll go and track down some tax-dodgers and let them know what we think of their antics. Afterwards, we encourage you to join us in the pub for a drink, a chat and perhaps a little light plotting…

We also encourage you to share the Facebook event with your friends.

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27th August 2011: Reclaim the Royal Mile

After having a bit of a break over the summer, we were back on Edinburgh’s streets today, challenging tax dodgers wherever we find them. Today we were on the Royal Mile visiting the Fringe, and contributing our own flyers to the mountain of propaganda being handed out. So what’s the problem with the Fringe? Well, this year it was sponsored by Virgin Money, part of Richard Branson’s business empire, another branch of which – Virgin Enterprise – has just moved to Switzerland to avoid UK taxes.

It can be difficult to get yourself noticed in a street where hundreds of other people are handing out flyers, but we managed to attract a bit of attention by handing out free biscuits. This proved to be popular with the crowds and our fellow flyerers, and we managed to strike up some decent conversations with people who were interested in our message, and a few others who wanted to know which show we were advertising.

It wouldn’t be a proper Uncut action without a disproportionate police presence, and we had three of Lothian and Borders’ finest watching our activities today. Maybe our biscuits looked a bit too subversive – we did have pink wafers after all…

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3rd July 2011: The Death of Public Services

This weekend, Edinburgh Uncut decided to make the most of the fantastic weather by taking the opportunity to do a bit of outdoor protesting in Princes Street.

You might have already worked this out from the subtle clue on our Facebook page, but our special visitor was Death. Sponsored by the coalition government, the Grim Reaper himself had come to help usher our public services into the next world.

Our first stop was BHS, where Death – who bravely stuck it out all afternoon in a heavy, black cloak – and a group of Uncutters who each represented a different public service facing cuts, lined up in front of the shop. Death then stalked along the line, killing off vital public services, accompanied by a megaphone narration, and attracting a broadly supportive audience of shoppers. Most people seemed receptive to our message and our tactics; there were even some children who wanted to have their picture taken with Death.

After visiting Topshop and Vodafone, all that playing dead on a baking hot pavement was starting to take its toll (what can I say – we’re all a bunch of work-shy soapdodgers who are unused to that level of exertion), so we decided to strike out into new territory and take our protest into the air-conditioned surroundings of the St James Centre. It was the first time we had ventured out into this particular shopping centre, and I think we were all quite impressed by the facilities: it was a far more comfortable temperature than the street outside, and had very clean floors, which are always appreciated when you’re staging a die-in. Unfortunately, the security guards didn’t seem so impressed and tried to make us stop when we had barely started, but luckily there was a member of the public who was willing to stick up for us. Apparently we have to write in advance to ask for permission if we want to highlight tax dodging in a shopping centre, so we queued up at the customer service desk to get all of the appropriate information before we left.

Lothian and Borders Police were conspicuous by their absence; we only saw two of them all day, and apart from a quick visit at Topshop and Vodafone, and then again at the St James Centre, they seemed happy to leave us to our own devices. Perhaps after all of the fuss with arrests recently, they’ve remembered that we’re not a threat to the general public.

Refreshed by our brief trip indoors, we headed off to the final stop on our tax-dodger tour: Boots. The die-in was performed again, we handed out the last of our publicity materials, and then gracefully retreated to the pub before dehydration set in.

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30th June 2011 – PCS strike – photos

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Charges Dropped Against Edinburgh Uncut Activists

This was first posted on BrightGreen:

In a victory for the right to protest against the tax dodging of big business and the rich, charges against Uncut activists in Edinburgh were revealed to have been dropped today. The activists, who were arrested just over one month ago, were today informed by the procurator fiscal that their cases would not be taken forward and they will not have to attend court this week as previously expected.

Two weeks ago Bright Green co-editor Alasdair Thompson, who was the first Uncut activist arrested in Edinburgh, charged with abusive or threatening behaviour under section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act (2010) for holding a banner inside BHS, was told that his case would not be taken to court if he accepted the offer to pay a fiscal fine of £150. The activists subsequently arrested for the same offence, but charged for a common law breach of the peace, will not have to pay a fine.

Tomorrow, the Defend the Right to Protest campaign will hold a demonstration at 1pm outside City of Westminster Court as the first activists from the Fortnum and Mason occupation face their initial court hearings. As they say:

Fortnum and Mason are one of many super-rich companies that avoid paying tax. Tax avoidance costs us an estimated £95billion each year, an amount that would pay for the government’s £81billion cuts program and more. Tax avoiders should be on trial, not protestors who raise awareness of their scams!

Please show support for the defendants and, if you can, attend the demonstration.

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Next action in Edinburgh: 3rd July, 1pm

As the Tories move to privatise our education, destroy the foundations of our national health service and leave us destitute in old age, with no proper pension to support us, we’ll be back on the streets of Edinburgh to show there is an alternative.

We’re going to spend the afternoon protesting against tax dodgers on Princes Street and would love it if you could join us. We’re even going to have a special visitor – and no, it isn’t Taxman …

We’ll meet at on Sunday, 3rd July at 1pm next to the Wellington Statue (East End of Princes Street).

facebook event

ukuncut.org.uk/actions/642

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