A jury unanimously found student protesters Alfie Meadows and Zak King not guilty of violent disorder on Friday of last week. This follows a battle for almost two years with the police and the courts.
In response to the verdict Susan Matthews, Alfie’s mother said, “The struggle for justice for my son has finally begun. The whole family has been through two years of total agony. We have been silenced on what happened to our son. We can now move on to the really important thing, which is to get justice for Alfie”.
The two were arrested after taking part in the huge protest in Whitehall on 9 December 2010 against the tripling of tuition fees and the abolition of the education maintenance allowance.
Alfie was hit on the head by a police baton and had to be rushed to hospital for life saving brain surgery. His parents were warned that he could die, or suffer from life-changing brain damage.
Fortunately Alfie recovered from his injuries, but the police hounded him and Zak through the courts.
The first trial, heard at Kingston crown court, ended in a hung jury. Their three fellow defendants were found not guilty.
The second trial began at Woolwich crown court, but the jury was dismissed after the trial was abandoned after delays.
They had been arrested on the same protest where police kettled thousands of young people in freezing temperatures in Whitehall and later on Westminster bridge.
The court was shown film of police using batons and horses against tightly packed peaceful protesters on the day. On the footage showing the kettle on the bridge the court heard people pleading with the police that “someone is going to die” because of the crush.
During their trial Alfie and Zak, like other student protesters, did not stand alone.
Students, trade unionists and other campaigners rallied to their side. The Defend the Right to Protest campaign organised solidarity pickets outside of the court hearings and hundreds of people have heard Alfie and Zak speak about their struggle for justice.
This is a massive victory. Of the 15 protesters who pleaded not guilty to charges of violent disorder relating to the 9 December 2010 demo, so far 14 have been found not guilty.
Socialist Worker extends its warmest solidarity greetings to Alfie and Zak, and all those that have campaigned for justice.