Manchester & Salford Magistrates’ Court, 8.5.14

Barton Moss local Protectors. Photo: Tristan Woodwards

Barton Moss local Protectors.
Photo: Tristan Woodwards

By Em, occupier and protector: charged with obstructing highway and officer; case dismissed

Yesterday, cases were dropped and protectors were acquitted. Today in Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court, things were no less action-packed.

Kate – who had been in jail in Birmingham for breaching bail since turning up to help with Barton Moss Camp clear-up, and had been threatened with incarceration until a trial scheduled for October – arrived in police custody to answer first a bail hearing and then a separate charge of wilful obstruction of highway and police. Classified as a ‘political prisoner’ by activist legal support group Green and Black Cross, Kate’s decidedly unthreatening face has been splashed across facebook under the banner ‘Free Kate’.

Protectors turned up to court wearing straw trilbies (just like Kate often wore on camp) and ‘Free Kate’ t-shirts. After a tense morning awaiting the bail verdict, there was a whisper followed by a massive cheer – Kate had finally been granted bail, Kate was Free! A hasty amendment with black marker pen was made to t-shirts so they now read “Freed Kate”, although there was then a frustrating hiatus while documents were shuffled between Birmingham and Manchester.

In the meantime, I had charges of wilful obstruction of highway and officer dropped, then returned to court as an assistant for Rosie who was representing herself and still being asked to answer a charge of obstructing an officer. Occupy’s Bear and, of course, Kate were being represented by a Lizars solicitor and barrister and were also facing obstruction charges. Halfway through proceedings Kate’s paperwork was finalised and Kate was released from the perspex box into open court to sit with everyone else. That was an emotional moment. The tiny public ‘gallery’ in Court 3 (a row of about 8 seats) was woefully inadequate for the supporting protectors.  Upstairs, another court was packed out as protector Mark was defended by Rachel of Lizars – and found not guilty of making threats.

The Court 3 story will be continuing tomorrow.




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