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28 Mar, 2012 06:26

Trial of UK protesters: Student beaten half-dead ‘was looking for it’

Some 200 people attended a London demonstration to support Alfie Meadows and four others standing trial for their part in December 9, 2010 student protests. Meadows suffered a near-death blow to his head, allegedly falling victim to police brutality.

The demonstrators, who gathered outside Kingston crown court on Monday accuse police officers of leaving Alfie with bleeding on the brain, and say it’s the authorities who should be in the dock.“I think that’s completely unjust and rather it should be the police that hit Alfie that should be being pursued and charged and not Alfie himself who was a victim of violence on that day. Really it sends a message that the police can essentially do what they like and if you’re a protester, you are fair game,” Hannah Dee, Chair of the Defend the Right to Protest group told RT.Alfie Meadows, 21, and four other defendants aged between 18 and 24, pleaded not guilty of the crimes they are charged with. Prosecutor James Lofthouse alleges that the five played a key part in the violence, which engulfed parts of central London amid a 10,000-strong student protest against the rise of tuition fees.Alfie, a second-year philosophy student at Middlesex University at the time, was “prominent in the repeated thrusting of barriers towards the police line,” he said as he presented to the jury video evidence taken from police helicopter and CCTV cameras."It is evident he was intent on confrontation from an early stage. He dressed for it and he looked for it long before any containment was imposed,” he added.The demonstrators however see the young man as a victim, who is being victimized further by the system. “We are all Alfie Meadows,” their slogans said. He was one of 50 people who ended up in hospital in the aftermath of the crackdown. Hours of emergency brain surgery were needed to save his life.The same protest saw a disabled activist dragged from his wheelchair and pulled along the road.Yet despite video evidence, no officers were charged.As for protesters, UK courts haven’t been afraid to hand down strict punishments to them. One student got 15 months behind bars for merely throwing a placard that didn’t even hit anyone. Another – jailed for a year and a half, for just for throwing a joke-shop smoke bomb.“These kinds of offences, even if they’re technically correct, are trivial in the sense that they didn’t cause any harm nor could they have caused any harm to police officers dressed in full riot gear. So the real victims here are certainly not the police, but the protesters who’ve been beaten, attacked, and in Alfie’s case virtually killed,” said Peter Hallward, who is Professor at Kingston University.Alfie was charged soon after lodging a complaint with the police watchdog – its inquiry conveniently suspended because of this trial. After spending the last 15 months recovering from his injuries he could now face up to five years in prison.