Click here to read Deepa Naik's statement re: Trenton's sentencing. 19 0ct 2012.

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END THE CRIMINALISATION OF PROTEST!

On 19 October 2012 Trenton Oldfield was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court for his protest at the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. He was given 6 months custodial sentence for his direct action against government cuts and a culture of elitism in the UK. This statement, written together with Defend The Right To Protest, calls for an end to the criminalisation of protest. List of signatories below.  To add your name, please email naik_d@hotmail.com

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On the 7th of April 2012, Trenton Oldfield undertook a direct-action protest at the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. The aim of his protest was to focus attention on the long-standing and entirely unjust inequalities in British society that are being severely exacerbated by government cuts and reductions in civil liberties. Trenton chose the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race because it is a symbol of class, privilege and elitism in Britain.

An astonishing 70% of the cabinet in the current government are Oxford or Cambridge graduates. This government is protecting the privileges of the wealthy while cutting the essential necessities of the majority and the poor and reducing people’s rights and freedoms. In the three days before Trenton’s protest, the coalition government (1) received royal assent for its bill to privatise the NHS, (2) introduced the Communications Data Bill to legalise surveillance of all digital communications of UK subjects, and (3) called on people to 'shop their neighbours' if they suspected they might protest at the 2012 Olympic Games. 

Trenton’s protest aimed at drawing attention to these injustices. He swam into the course of the boat race. The race was halted and restarted 25 minutes later. The action was seen by an international audience but it affected just 18 rowers and a handful of event organisers on a closed river, on a long weekend. The direct-action protest was wholly consistent with Trenton’s decade+ work in London on addressing this city’s unnecessary poverty and inequalities. The audience for the free event experienced a minor delay of 25 minutes. The BBC coverage ended at its pre-scheduled time-slot. Not a single complaint was received from the public by either the Metropolitan police or the BBC.

Trenton was initially charged with Section 5 of the 'public order act'. Hansard reports reveal that government ministers asked the police commissioner to increase the charge so that a custodial sentence could be achieved. On the morning of his first court appearance (23 April 2012) Trenton’s charge was significantly increased via the ancient common law charge of 'public nuisance' under which conviction can result in life in prison. On the 26 September 2012 Trenton was found guilty of causing ‘public nuisance’ for undertaking his protest.

The recent conviction and sentencing of Russian feminist rock collective Pussy Riot to two years in prison for their protest was rightly met with shock and anger for the lack of tolerance towards dissent under Putin. The very same lack of tolerance towards dissent seems to be happening in Britain as Trenton waits for sentencing on the 19th October 2012.

Defend the Right to Protest extend our solidarity to Trenton and wholeheartedly believe that he should not have faced criminal charges for exercising his right to protest. We are concerned about the change in the original charge seemingly due to political and media pressure. To us it is clear that this protest against inequality and elitism does not warrant a custodial sentence, least of all possibly years in prison. Defend the Right to Protest are also alarmed that this charge might be levied against protesters in the future. The only motive we can see for the CPS selecting this outdated legislation is that it offers courts the chance to hand down sentences up to life in prison.

After Wednesday’s verdict Trenton made the following statement:

"As inequalities increase in Britain and across much of the world, so does the criminalisation of protest; my solidarity is with everyone everywhere working towards more equitable societies.”

We urge an end to this wholly inappropriate over-punishment of Trenton and the criminalisation of protest. To add your name to this list, please email naik_d@hotmail.com or join this FB page.

Adbusters, Culturejammers

Agnieszka Mlicka

Aidan Mosselson

Aisha Gill, human rights law

Alberto Duman

Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths, University of London

Alejandro Colas, Birkbeck College

Alessandro Columbano, Birmingham City University

Alf Guedeney

Alice Lobb

Alison Lloyd

Ama Menec

Ana Kutlesa, Ivana Hanacek, Marijana Manic, BLOK Zagreb Centre for Cultural Refreshment

Ana Pedrosa, Manobras no Porto

Anastasia Kavada, School of Media, Arts & Design, University of Westminster

Andrea Gibbons, activist and writer

Andreas Lang, public works

Andrew Crowe

Aneta Szylak, Curator

Anja Marie Kirschner

Anna Maierski

Anna Minton, author of Ground Control

Anna Plyshtera

Ashley Wong

Atakan Mercan

Auro Foxcroft, Director Village Underground

Barbara Murray, editor and activist

Barbara Van Dyck

Ben Eastop

Ben Pritchett

Ben Watson

Benedict Seymour, Contributing Editor Mute magazine

Brenna Bhandar

Brian Ashton

Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Cany Ash

Cara Crewdson

Carolina Susaeta-Ball

Caroline Day, Save Leyton Marshes

Catarina Portugal, Urban Designer

Cath­er­ine Harty, Social­ist Party Act­iv­ist Ireland/‚Äčartist

Cathy Ward, artist

Charlie Charman, Games Monitor

Chris Vavlekis

Christina Mitrentse

Claire Reddleman

Clare Odgers

Clemens Apprich, Post-Media Lab, Leuphana University

Counterolympics

Cristobal Bianchi

Dale Farm, International Romani Union

Dan Hind, author The Return of the Public

Daniel Lowe, SOAS

Danny Dorling, author Inequalities: Why Social Inequalities Persist

Dave Zirin, sports writer, activist, author Bad Sports: A People’s History of Sports

David Boulogne, photographer

David Burgess, activist 2003 'No War' Sydney Opera House

David Cannon

David Rosenberg, writer and educator

David San Millan, photographer

David Vannen

David Wearing, Department of Development Studies SOAS

Doreen Massey, author of World City 

Dr Bernadette Buckley, Politics Department, Goldsmiths

Dr David Dibosa, writer and academic

Dr Libby Porter, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University

Dr Nick Thoburn, University of Manchester

Dr Sebastian Kraemer

Dr S.Szczelkun, University of Westminster

Dubravka Sekulic

Ed McKeon, Music Producer

Eduardo Cassina

Ellen O’Hara, secretary This Is Not A Gateway

Emma Davenport

Esther Johnson, artist and filmmaker

European Alternatives

Evi Peroulaki

Fadi Shayya, Discursive Formations

Fanny Malinen and Steve Rushton, Bread and Circuses

Fran Tonkiss

Francisca Santos

Franco Berardi Bifo, author The Soul At Work: from Alienation to Autonomy

Gabriëlle Schleijpen

Gary Clark, Football coach

Ger Duijzings, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL

Gloria Morrison, Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association

Hamja Ahsan, Civil Liberties campaigner (Free Talha Ahsan Campaign) , Artist and Curator

Harald Hugues

Helen Wyatt

Hugo Moline, architect, Sydney

I.M.Trowell

Ilan Wall, Critical Legal Thinking

Isabel Simons

James Leadbitter, The Vacuum Cleaner

Jimini Hignett, Artist

John Carlos, writer and activist 1968 Olympics Black Power salute

John Cussans

John Pilger, journalist and author The Rulers of the World

John Roberts - Prof. Art & Aesthetics, University of Wolverhampton

Jonas Ranson

Jonathan Rokem

Joon Lynn Goh

Josephine Berry Slater, Editor, Mute magazine

Jowan Mohmod

Julia Bard, journalist

Julian Dobson, Urban Pollinator

Julie Sumner, Life Island Campaign

Julien Cheyne, Games Monitor

Justin McGuirk, journalist

Kate Rich

Katherine Stanley, Occupy Times

Kathrin Bohm, artist

Kris O’Donnell, Occupy London

Lasse Johansson

Laura Braun, photographer

Laura Colini, INURA

Laura Hunton

Laura Lumachi Hunton, teacher and counsellor

Lavendhri Arumugam, artist

Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities

Lia Ghilardi

Libby Porter, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University

Licia Cianettie

Lina Gudmundsson

Lise Autogena, artist

Liz Adams Architect Adams & Sutherland

Lorenza Casini, Manchester

Lucia Caistor-Arendar, Associate, Young Foundation

Machteld Elize Speets, the Netherlands

Mai Pal, Anti-capitalist Initiative

Mara Ferreri

Marc Herbst, co-editor of the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest

Marc McGowan, artist

Marc Perelman, author Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague

Marcus Kern

Margareta Kern, artist

Maria Isabel Botero-Hernandez

Marianne Mulvey

Marina Vishmidt, Queen Mary, University of London

Marisa Gonsalez, artist

Marta Braun, Professor Art History

Marte Mortinez

Matt O’Connor, Founder Fathers 4 Justice

Matthew Fuller, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

Matthew Hyland, Contributing Editor Mute magazine

Maureen Ward, Co-founder Manchester Modernist Society

Max Steckelmacher

Merlin Carpenter

Michael Edwards, University College London

Mike Davis, author Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism

Mike Wells, Games Monitor

Mira Mattar, Contributing Editor at Mute

Montse Seco

Nadine O’Connor, Campaign director Fathers 4 Justice

Nanna Nielsen, filmmaker

Nerea Calvillo, architect

Nick Blomley, Professor of Geography, Simon Fraser University
 Oliver Pohlisch, journalist

Othello De'Souza-Hartley

Paul Philippou

Paula Marie Hildebrandt 

Pauline van Mourik Broekman, Director Mute Publishing

Pocina Persina

Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters

Rafa Prada

Rainer Knupp, Feldenkrais Practitioner

Ramya Nair

Randa Lamirza

Raymond Obedencio

Rehan Jamil, photographer

Romeo J De la Cruz

Rosalind Laura Gray

Rowena Hay

Saika Alam, solicitor

Samur Berrak

Sandra Valencia

Sara Thor

Saurabh Vaidya, Urban Designer, UCL

Sean Dockray, The Public School

Siddharth Nandakishoran

Silvija Stipanov

Simon Brackenborough

Simon Hardy, Anti-capitalist Initiative

Simon Worthington, co-publisher Mute

Siraj Izhar, activist

Sonia Mehta

Space Hijackers

Spencer Ball

Stacey Hunter, Ph.D. Candidate, Architecture, University of Edinburgh

Stanislava Pinchuk

Stefan Dickers, Bishopsgate Institute

Stephanie Braun

Stephen Graham, author of Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism

Steve Dowding, Games Monitor

Steve Wright, Monash University

Stuart Croucher,Urban Designer

Tauri Tuvikene, Geography Department, UCL

Tijana Stevanovic

Tim Hart

Tim Mitchell, artist

TJ Constable Taylor

Torange Khonsari, public works

UK Uncut

Vicky Sholund, Save Leyton Marsh

Victoria Jackson Wyatt

Wende Anne MauderWendy Davis, Women’s Library

Yolanda de los Bueis