Saturday, 1 May 2021

They Fought The Law and They Won - The Colston Four Supporters, The Sarah Everard Vigil and The Colston Four Victory!

Yay! The Colston Four have been acquitted of Criminal Damage! 

Well done every one involved.

Police pay 'substantial' damages and apologise to Colston 4 protesters after court arrests

From left, Rowland Dye, Ros Martin and Taus Larsen all received an apology from Avon and Somerset police for wrongfully arresting them under an unlawful interpretation of Covid regulations. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt/The Guardian
The four were wrongly arrested outside court for expressing support for those charged with toppling Edward Colston's statue. The Statue was erected many years after his death, erected by a local cult in his name.  Here is a local report on the Court case:
"Four people who protested in support of the ‘Colston Four’ before their first court hearing in January have received ‘substantial damages’.
And Avon and Somerset Police’s Chief Constable has also issued an apology.
In an out-of-court settlement, Chief Constable Andy Marsh has agreed that the four people should not have been arrested and fined for turning up outside Bristol Magistrates Court back in January, when England was under a ‘stay-at-home’ coronavirus lockdown law.
The four were arrested, taken to a police station and issued with fines, but those have now been cancelled and instead, the four have received compensation pay outs for damages.
Police have admitted that they should not have been arrested, and should have been given the chance to leave the area after being warned."

They fought the Law, and they won!

I know one of the protestors, who is a good friend, and I know he to be a very kind human and very intelligent. I wrote a song about this incident, rewriting "I fought the Law and the Law won!" as "They fought the Law, and they won!" Because they did. Good for them, too. Good for the police as well, to admit their error and pay the reparations. I hope they do it with kindness, humility and grace.

Here is a live performance of the song, from my studio, as part of my weekly show "Stopping the Spread is Spreading The Love!" There are links to MP3 and CD Quality downloads at the end of this blog article. All free, as usual. Enjoy.

What is really strange about this tale is that every protestor was given an order by police officers and every protester complied with the order, yet was arrested nonetheless. The two who chalked 'Support the Colston Four' and 'Let Justice Prevail' were arrested on criminal damage grounds, then de-arrested, and re-arrested from breach of COVID19 Regulations - which they were clearly not on breach of, as they were wearing facemasks, and maintaining physical distance. All four were issued with fines. The  Bristol Magistrates Court cleared them and awarded costs and compensation to the four protestors.

Reclaim These Streets and the Sarah Everard Vigil

I also added a verse about the High Court Case on behalf of 'Reclaim These Streets', which affirmed that COVID19 regulations could not be used to ban protests. We all know about the events at the Vigil for Sarah Everard. The facts that the police tried to ban the vigil on COVID19 Regulation grounds, even though Reclaim These Streets had made provision for a COVID19 safe event, with stewarding, physical distancing, PA system so no need to shout, etc was said by the court to be a misuse of the COVID19 Regulation.

The London Met withdrew from the case, and offered to support the vigil, and then dropped that offer. The Reclaim These Streets people were forced then to call off the official vigil. London Met was aware that citizens would gather anyway. They did and it was by all accounts well organised, respectful, COVID19 secure. The police waited until after dark to move in on the Bandstand, and physically removed some of the women who were occupying it.

Here is the interim judgement from the High Court asserting that the COVID19 Regulations did not amount to the right to ban protests.

Sonny Curtiss and The Clash

The Clash covered this song "I fought the Law" in the 80s, which was written by Sonny Curtiss, way, way back in the 1950s, when he was still in the US Army. I think that, given the subject matter is about a poor person using weapons to carry out a robbery, being arrested and jailed it has some merit as a folk song. However, Sonny was not thinking of that at the time, He just made the whole thing up. So in truth, it's not really a true folk song.

In writing this rewrite, I hope to fix that, and to enhance the depth of the folk story to articulate something of the poverty of healthy policing in England, 202.

Where all too often, Police forces do not and are not capable of responding in a trauma informed way to the prevalence of gendered abuse and violence, to survivors of grooming gangs, child abusers, rapists. A country where the Establishment can assert there is no institutional Racism by citing experts who were never engaged with, spoken to or asked for submissions.

 Where the Prime Ministers love affairs and his choice of expensive wall paper carry more weight in  the national public media discourse than the matter of the Prime Minister and Government rejecting zero community transmission strategy out of hand, and providing contracts to cronies worth billions of pounds, doling out hundreds of millions in the middle men's commissions, ill gained easy profits that are probably off-shored by now, in spite of the evidence and ample warnings by experts, the combination of which lead directly to the deaths of 130,000 citizens, chronic disease in 350,000, with some 3 million small business people excluded from financial support as icing on this bitter cake,  and much else besides.

Arrest the Criminals!

I have been saying since April 2020 that Johnson and the entire Cabinet should have been arrested last April to prevent further harm, on grounds of malfeasance in public office and corporate manslaughter. What is justice if it does not prevent harm?

COVID19 Regulations and COVID Deniers!

And since we're here, it's clear that the COVID19 Regulations are not equivalent to serious removals of Civil Rights as much as they are necessary Public Health and Health and Safety Measures needed during a badly managed epidemic, an epidemic which is not over yet.

Those Regulations are temporary, requiring a vote in Parliament every 6 months for their extension.  The fact that they are not the best regulations, that they do not provide for effective zero community transmission strategy is another worrying injustice. That failure to provide for zero community transmission is more of a concern than putative claims that civil rights and liberties are being trampled over. The nations right to adequate and timely health care is being placed at risk. That should concern us all.

We all know that Laws brought in as temporary measures often become permanent fixtures. The first laws drafted to extract Income Tax from workers wages were a temporary measure to help fund wars in Europe in 1799, brought in by William Pitt the Younger. So it goes.

What my friend and others have demonstrated is that the COVID19 regulations as they stand are not really part of a conspiracy of tyranny and that the Courts are well able to assess their validity in ways that protect our liberties and civil rights.

The nut-case COVID denying, anti-mask, anti-vax propaganda does infringe on our rights, by generating a genuine health and safety risk. They have directly contributed to, they have added to the  confusion emanating from 10 Downing Street, by muddying the waters so to speak, in ways that have  caused three successive surges of infection.

Political Grooming Gangsters infringe on all our rights by conducting psychologically abusive media campaigns and operations designed to target and exploit studied biases and vulnerabilities for political and economic advantage over otherwise decent people. This is an issue we must address.

My other COVID 19 songs.

I have other songs that deal with aspects of this dreadful shituation - 'We know how to groom you' , 'Bully, Bully, Bully',  'Be Alert!'  and 'Jacinda and The Little Bugs'

They Fought The Law and They Won

Here is the track on Soundcloud, downloadable as a CD quality .wav file.

Here is the track on Reverbnation, downloadable as a 192k .mp3 file.

Both links go to the song page on their respective sites, you will need to download from there.


The Colston Four were on trial 
for toppling the slavers statue 
people came by to support
outside Bristol Magistrates Court

Mr Larsen on his bike and trailer, playing reggae music
at a safe distance,  for the defendants in the trial, 
bringing a big,big, big smile
officer told him he could not stay, agreed he could cycle past on the road. 
Larsen was arrested  on the spot
breach of coronavirus rules he was told
"I was in a safe place, I wasn’t endangering 
anyone’s health, wasn’t posing a risk 
I wasn’t going to be spreading no infection, you know I'm not that sick!"

He  fought the Law and he won! They  fought the Law and they won!

Mr Dye, a retired teacher, had education in mind
stood on the court steps, with his sign
"Slave trade. Arms trade. Bristol wake up!”
officer said 'move on', Mr. Dye he agreed
but he was arrested as he tried to walk away.

He fought the law, and he won! They fought the law, and they won!
Ms Richardson, A gardener, came to plant some seeds 
"Support the Colston Four" she chalked on the sidewalk
Ros Martin, the artist then  arrived, 
“Let justice prevail.” she chalked on the pavement 
when ordered to leave they complied, 
yet they were arrested side by side
for criminal damage, then de-arrested, and
re-arrested for breach of the Covid  rules.

They fought the Law and they won! They fought the Law and they won!

Jessica, Anna, Henna and Jamie went to the high court to clarify
Corona Safety Laws cannot be applied
to ban protest, that  is misuse of the law.
London Met accepted, but would not help out
they broke into the vigil, which Priti gave the shout

They fought the law and they won!  They fought the Law and they won!

New Verse written 6th January 2022!

Jake, Rhian, Milo and Sage 
Were sent to trial for criminal damage
For toppling the Statue of a Slaver
Colston's legacy of harm celebrated
Bristol's folk had tried for decades
to have that Statue taken down
The people decided to take action
The Courts said clearly that was not a crime.


And yes, Colston was a slaver, he caused immense harm and that harm is harm that cannot be undone and thus cannot be set aside due the logically fallacious argument that it was part of 'mores of the times' and we ought to consider Colston's philanthropy as mitigation. 

That's a ludicrous argument, without merit.

More information has been passed my way via the Bristol Radical History group.

In this rather superb article, the BRH folk looked at The Colston Statue and it's history and unveil myths within myths, and unearthed some astonishing insights.

One of which is the general working public of Bristol refused to fund the making and erection of the Statue. Another is that it represents an early form of the current NeoLiberalist cult of the individual, and the right or entitlement of wealthy individuals charity to assume moral superiority - in essence those who impoverish the community by doling out limited alms retain an authoritarian and spiritual position of superiority to the mass.

The article highlights how important an accurate and honest history really is. The statue topplers were correct to topple it: such a characterisation and ritualised celebration of venal avarice has no place in a healthy 21st century city.

Rees-Moggs comments on the goodness of food banks ignores the depravity of venal avarice among his peers that created the need in the first place:

"To have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are," he said.

"Inevitably, the state can't do everything, so I think that there is good within food banks.

"The real reason for the rise in numbers is that people know that they are there and Labour deliberately didn't tell them."

Rees-Mogg is someone who needs toppling from his lofty position, quite clearly.

Another example of the 'benefits' accrued by the Wealthy in praising publicly the appearances of charity rather than undertaking any genuine change in the conditions the created the need in the first place. 

From the BRH article :

"For example, in 1884, the combined contribution of all the Colston related charities made up only 1.5 per cent of the total cost of relieving the poor that year. Not only was the amount collected fairly insignificant, despite all the fanfare, but it was also distributed in a badly organised and arbitrary manner. A report into the condition of the poor in Bristol published in 1885 directly criticised the Colston Societies in stating:

The higher interest of charity will not be served, it appears to the Committee, until… the total sum collected by the three societies is distributed on some general and well-conceived plan.[14]

This kind of criticism of private philanthropy grew in the late nineteenth century as it became clear that the charitable donations provided at the whim of a few rich ‘do-gooders’ could not deal with the widespread, chronic and abject poverty that characterised the Victorian era. However, public displays of charity by business and civic elites had another, perhaps more important, role than merely poor relief. Jordan notes that:

Although the fiscal contribution of the Colston Societies was superficial this should not lead one to understate the importance of philanthropy as ritual in the maintenance of urban power structures.[15]

Thus the ritual and ideological aspects of the ‘cult of Colston’ may have far outweighed the actual practical benefits to the ‘poor’.

And so it goes. More than statues need to be toppled in 21st Century England.

Kindest regards


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