Socialist Worker

Charges dropped against Gaza protester Jake Smith

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2194

In a fantastic victory today, charges of violent disorder were dropped against 24 year old Gaza protester Jake Smith.

Jake’s trial at Iselworth Crown Court was due to start today, but the prosecution offered no evidence against him and the case was dropped.

He has been charged that he attacked police on 3 and 10 January 2009 while he was protesting against Israel’s onslaught on the people of Gaza.

“I am elated,” Jake told Socialist Worker. “I’ve spent the last year thinking that I may go to prison.”

“It’s been a nightmare. I’ve suffered from depression and I’ve been unable to get a job. I haven’t even been able to see my family when I want to.

Jake was expecting to serve anything up to three years in prison, found guilty for a crime he has always said he didn’t commit.

“The police said they had footage showing me attacking them, but I’ve always said it wasn’t me. I’ve never attacked the police.

“They thought they could get away with it but I was lucky. I’ve had a fantastic defence team that encouraged me to fight the charges.

“No one hears about the way the police behaved on the demonstrations—it was disgusting. They weighed in with batons and shields. The level of violence towards ordinary people was really shocking.

“So many of the people being charged from the Gaza protests were convinced to plead guilty and many have been given jail sentences.

“After my case it makes me wonder what evidence the police really had against these people. If only they had fought the charges perhaps they could have blown more holes through the police cases.

“Legal teams really need to look at how the police treat protesters and encourage their clients to fight against the charges.

He also spoke about the need to unite the defendants. “The police and the courts like to treat each case individually and take the politics out of the situation. We have to stop them from doing that.

“The prosecution kept talking about us being part of anti Israeli demonstrations. That’s not right. We were protesting against the assault on Gaza. We all watched every day as hundreds of children lay dead or injured, as people were being slaughtered.

“Thousands of people across the country came out in support. Even the UN has talked about war crimes committed by the Israeli state against the people of Gaza.

“I think that the police have to be held to account for their treatment of protesters. The police want to demonise people who come out to protest, especially people in the Muslim community.

“Now I want to sue the police for unlawful arrest, stress and brutality.

“The actions of the police need to be exposed—look at the G20 protests, they have learnt nothing. We have to challenge the police at every opportunity—they have to be accountable.

“What has happened hasn’t deterred me from demonstrating and having a political movement around me really helped me keep going.

“We need to keep taking to the streets to make our voices heard now more than ever.

“We have to fight for the right to protest—generations before us fought for it and we have to make sure we don’t lose the right.

“The police case against me has fallen apart. That is not enough. We need to join together and fight for justice for all protesters.”


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Wed 24 Mar 2010, 16:22 GMT
Issue No. 2194
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