Charges Dropped Against Edinburgh Uncut Activists.
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.
I wasnt saying “well X is bad as well so don’t protest against Y”.
What I was saying was if you think X is bad and what to protest against it then using the tools of Y, which is just as bad, is hypocritical. This is because the tools of A, B & C are ethical, practical and exactly suited to your purposes.
Its like you are, at the moment, protesting against someone polluting the environment with a 6 litre petrol engine by parking a 5.5 litre petrol engine in front of them and keeping the engine running yet a Pruis or even stack of bicycles would be just as effective.
There is a way to protest to your hearts content against companies behaving in a legal manner (as I said I’d protest at the actual tax offices). And you can do it without using the tools of organisations behaving in the same way.
And that’s not me naked on my couch, it’s Kim Jong Ill. I should really change it.
Hmm, this is depressing reading. Seems that our pathology to defend the indefensible knows no bounds.
Let’s see: arrested for standing in a shop holding a banner and causing no damage. Or owing the country millions of unpaid taxes as civil liberties and the right to protest evaporate.
And as for this argument of Uncut members using Apple products to spread their message and organise: the cement on my street was recently relaid by a company owed by a multinational investment group with ties to defence contracts. Should I not leave my house or should I just throw myself from my third floor window directly across the street?
You deal with the world as you find it.
Are we in an Enlightenment situation, or in an active civil disobedience situation?
Are we being ridiculed because what we are saying is so self-evident; or are they moving from trying to ignore us to trying to ridicule us because they can see there is about to be a fight, a fight we can only win?
In other words, I’m not sure whether I agree more with Schopenhauer or with Ghandi:
“All truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third it is accepted as being self-evident” (1788-1860).
Whereas Gandhi said of his successful campaign of non-violence against British rule in India:
“First we were ignored. Then we were ridiculed. Then they fought us. Then we won”.
Either way, now the trolls are here the outcome is assured!
Saying that UK Uncut activists shouldn’t use Apple products/have a Vodafone contract/wear clothes or whatever misses the point. I’m not involved in Uncut but I have a lot of respect for them, so I won’t try and speak for them, but I don’t think there’s a big problem with criticising a company for its practices and still shopping there.
We can’t drop out of society, we all have to consume to live, and not everyone’s in a position to make these “ethical” choices and only consume “ethical” goods, if you picked apart just about any company you’d find holes in it, you still have to eat and make phonecalls and get dressed and all these things. It’s the same argument as when people say “OMG such and such says they’re an anarchist, but they go to an NHS Dentist! Run by teh state, LOLZ!!!1” – just because you have an idea of how you’d like the world to be, doesn’t mean you can just avoid reality and drop out.
And anyway, our power comes through our position as workers not consumers, any fool knows that 😉
Seriously Douglas, that’s a rubbish argument. Taking action against various tax avoiders with the aim of highlighting the problem IN GENERAL, is a fine tactic. Let’s not waste 20 years trying to find precisely the worst culprit.
Glad to hear the charges have been dropped. Also kinda cool to have your own trolls I guess.
A pretty predictable outcome.
No one can see the point in prosecuting people, many of whom will in all likelihood end up as pillars of the community and some as top-rate taxpayers.
A tricky situation. People can’t occupy shops as they please, so the police have to be seen to be doing something, and although it’s a waste of cash, I can’t think of anything better at the moment.
Mr McLellan has a point, so why not do an Apple shop next? Might create some publicity and make some hipsters think twice about their Starbucks. US Uncut have already had them in their sites
By all means keep an eye on offensive comments but please, no censorship.
This really is rather tiring. As was pointed out, the ridiculous “well X is bad as well so don’t protest against Y” basically amounts to calling for people to completely drop out of society or do nothing, and ignores entirely the broader point we’re trying to make. I can’t be bothered getting into that argument now to be honest, but on the point of using Apple devices: I own an iPhone, it’s the only Apple device I have and I won’t be getting another. UK Uncut haven’t targeted them yet, but US Uncut have, and we reported on it here: http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2011/05/apple-next-in-line-for-us-uncut-protests/.
Great news guys! Very pleased that this has happened.
There are companies that are defined as bad by UKUncut. Therefore they are targeted by UKUncut. This, in of itself, is not a problem even if I totally disagree with your definition of bad and the targets of your protests (I’d started with tax offices myself). I also think that your protests are not as mild as you think. The cafe in BHS is popular with support workers and their mental health patients who see that cafe as a place that is safe to go to learn to be in crowds yet is quiet enough to be safe. Shouting and protesting can be very unsettling to those who dont understand the nuances of tax collection.
There is an undeniable hypocrisy in supporting the tax avoiding activities of others (like Google) and in the exploitative actions of others (like Apple). If the charge of hypocrisy is unpalatable then debate it. Prove me wrong. Banning me because I dont agree with everything that you believe is a very weak course of action.
Please, Bright Green ban the trolls!
Personally I don’t think its worth debating with them at all. I don’t think they come on here to have a debate they are just attention seekers wanting to get a reaction.
It just destoys any debate that could be had in the comments of an otherwise interesting and informative blog.
I know all the arguments about free speech but I would point out that places need to be reserved for people to have debates within the movement and I think this should be one of them. The Guardian, Twitter or the Daily Mail are where people who really disagree can talk to us.
Wait, what? “Some other companies are bad, so it’s hypocritical to protest about these companies?” That pretty much reduces to “You can’t fight every battle, so you shouldn’t fight any.”
Nobody is perfect in every respect. Saying UKUncut isn’t perfect is pretty much self-evident. If that’s the criterion, why should we listen to anyone?
Bright green has clearly entered the big league when they have their own resident trolls. Congratulations guys!!!!
I love the sheer hypocrisy of UKUncut. Its consistent use of email addresses and other online resources provided by tax minimisers that would put Green, Boots & F&M to shame is utterly contemptible.
As for the number of UKUncut twitter supports who tweet from Apple devices! The company that makes a lot of the Apple hardware has its own suicide rate greater than many countries. Where is the concern for the vulnerable and exploited there?
Until UKUncut gets its own house in order why should we listen to it?
And Douglas, if you don’t want to listen to us, no one makes you come here.
Yes, and they targetted the wrong company regarding tax. Its like targetting Greggs because McDonalds is avoiding tax.
Yes, that would be exactly equivalent, if Greggs were owned by McDonalds. Which they’re not.
Fortnum & Mason are super-rich now? They’ve made a loss some years, made a small profit others. Idiots can’t even target the correct company these days.
We’ve been through all this before Martin, see, for example, http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/blog-why-we-sat-in-fortnum–mason. Let’s not have this debate again.