Free Francis Fernie. Resist political sentencing

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Last week, a 20 year old man was given twelve months for violent disorder relating to protests on March 26th outside Fortnum and Masons. He threw two placard sticks, neither of which hurt anyone nor were capable of causing harm.

This man, pictured in one of Operation Malone’s witch hunts, handed himself in, gave admissions in interview and plead guilty at the first available opportunity. In mitigation his barrister explained he travelled to the demo because he felt strongly about the cuts, did a lot of voluntary work and was due to start university in September.

Twenty five minutes of footage were played in court, and the judge, Nicholas Price, made it clear he was punishing Francis for the actions of others. There was no evidence he knew any of the other people or that there was any element of conspiracy.

We are not pretending it is easy to face violent disorder charges and crown court trials. Several fitwatchers have had crown court trials and we know how scary it can be. We give full and unconditional solidarity to all those facing charges from these protests regardless of how they have chosen to conduct their cases.

However, these cases must be challenged. Make no comment in police interviews and if they want to take us to court, fight them all the way and make them prove their case. Remember self defence is no offence and policing operations can be challenged in court.

Nobody gains from locking up people like Francis Fernie – this was a victimless crime where no one was hurt. Society doesn’t gain, it loses. It loses a committed young man doing voluntary work and about to go to university.

The police and the courts are trying to crush dissent. The Met are going into intimidation overdrive using intensive stop and searches and arbitary arrests. Meanwhile, following the guidance of the ridiculous sentences given to the Gaza protesters, the courts are doling out disproportionate sentences attempting to show us protest will be not be tolerated.

Militant street action is always followed by a state crackdown. It would be unrealistic to expect anything different and it leaves us with a clear choice. Do we retreat back into our cosy lives or do we accept the risks and continue to build the struggle? Do we slink off with our tails between our legs or do we stand proud and defiant and fight back?

This is a sick system punishing a promising young man for the actions of others. It is a diseased system. It is rotten to the core and must be fought, resisted and broken.

14 thoughts on “Free Francis Fernie. Resist political sentencing

  1. erm , he pleaded guilty to violent disorder which i think is one level below “riot” which only the home secretary can sanction .His brief must have known he would receive a custodial sentence.Very bad legal advice IMHO

  2. he pleaded guilty to the throwing of two sticks, the 12 month scentance was highly disproportionate, especially considering his previous charity work and no criminal record. Frank was a good man who has now had so much taken away from him, please show support instead of trolling over what is a very real and devestating situation.

  3. I was given bad legal advice by my lawyers once. (Not going into details about my case lol.) Defence lawyers are lazy and complacent. They get paid by case, not per hour anymore. So its in there interests to wrap a case up soon as possible. So they give out the false hope of a none custodial sentence.

  4. Friend of Frank ,wtf are you on???? He followed the advice of his solicitor , who is paid vast ammounts of money to defend him.He(sol) must have known the likelihood of a substantial sentence.You know what this government is like at the moment ,and judged will have been ordered to come down heavily on any person found/pleading guilty. There is a course of appeal against sentence for Frank to take .Very unlikely to be increased and very likely to be reduced.He also has the right to chance his firm of solicitors too.Unfortuanately mentioning Franks previous charity work has bugger all to do with his conviction.Peter Sutcliffe used to do christian Aid work when he was younger!!

  5. In case there’s still anyone that doesn’t have a Facebook account, or that doesn’t want Facebook to know they read fitwatch.org.uk, the ‘self defence is no offence’ link points to a 30th Anniversary of the Bradford 12 event, to be held at SOAS, London on 23 July.

  6. I have real sympathy for Francis. Sentences for public order offences are ridiculous. There have been countless people imprisoned for violent disorder, even though they did nothing that could ever have hurt anyone. The judge handing out ‘deterrent’ sentences after the Gaza demonstrations in 2009 appears to have set a precedent for political public order. But it isn’t just about politics – the football community has also got used to stupid levels of sentencing. The aim seems to be to stamp on any level of working class / anti-authority organising.
    Having said that, the moral of the story is a) don’t hand yourself in, b)don’t admit guilt – even to your solicitor, c) don’t plead guilty. Fighting them on the street needs to extend to fighting them in the court room.

  7. Have I got this right?
    Violence:
    Protestor throwing a piece of cardboard at an armoured policeman.
    Reasonable behaviour:
    Policeman arbitrarily cracking protestor’s unprotected skull with a cosh.

    I was there on the day. Best wishes to Francis Fernie. One way or another, anyone prepared to campaign for social justice is in for a kicking by the authorities. Respect. In the future people will look back with pride at the actions of those who stood up for the rights of society’s more vulnerable people.

  8. I wonder if Alfie Meadows is worried ? I bet his Mum wishes she kept her mouth Shut! Tin foil hat indeed!

  9. Via U75: Frank Fernie has asked for his prisoner number to be made public so people can send him solidarity letters:

    Prisoner a766ce
    Feltham YOI
    Bedfont Road
    Feltham
    Middlesex
    TW13 4ND

  10. Compare this to the relative pat on the back convicted EDL thugs get for race hate crimes including mosque arson and physical attack of random Asian passers-by, and you will understand how the proto-nutzis of the EDL receive state protection through the courts as a counter-revolutionary fash group in league with Tory foreign policy, but anarchist protestors who oppose racism and war, are sternly punished.

    This dual approach to sentencing dates back to the time of Mosley when national socialists were treated with kid gloves in the courts when compared to anarchists, communists and socialists.

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