Racism, Humour & Police Oppression–An Update

Back on February 12th, I posted on my blog, a post entitled Racism, Humour & Police Oppression when I expressed my views on the actions of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in seizing all copies of a fanzine on sale at Old Trafford before the Man U v Liverpool game on 11th February.

The police chief in charge of the operation was quoted as saying

Match commander Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts said: “Shortly before kick-off we were made aware that a Manchester United supporters’ fanzine being sold outside Old Trafford featured a potentially offensive image.

“Officers are now seizing the fanzines and in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service we will take appropriate action against anyone either found selling this particular fanzine or provocatively displaying the image in public.

“Officers have also been made aware of a t-shirt on sale outside the ground that is also deemed to be offensive.

“We are also seizing these items and anyone found wearing one will be required to remove it and hand it to police.

“At this stage we have arrested one man in relation to the t-shirts on suspicion of a racially-aggravated public order offence and we will be continuing to work with the clubs to minimise the impact of the image, which we consider to be offensive.

“I have taken this cause of action as both items are potentially offensive and we cannot be in a situation where hundreds or thousands of people were displaying offensive images at a football match.

Well today, the head of the CPS for Greater Manchester, Lancashire & Cumbria,  issued the following statement:

24/02/2012

CPS decides no further action in ‘Red Issue’ fanzine matter

Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS North West Area said:

“I have decided that no further action will be taken in relation to allegations surrounding the publication and distribution of the ‘Red Issue’ fanzine at Old Trafford football ground on 11 February 2012.

“During the investigation into the matter by Greater Manchester Police, the issue of potential incitement to racial hatred was raised. As result I consulted the CPS’s Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, who are responsible for advising on suspected cases of incitement.

“Following this consultation I have received advice from a senior lawyer in that Division that although the fanzine distributed may have been offensive to some people, there was insufficient evidence to prove that the content was intended to stir up racial hatred, or that it was or likely to do so. I have therefore concluded there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for incitement to racial hatred against any person.

“It is not a crime to possess material that is threatening, abusive or insulting, or hold views which others may find unpleasant and obnoxious. It is a crime to distribute this sort of material to the public, if it is intended to stir up racial hatred, or in circumstances where it is likely to have that effect.

“In the file sent to us by the police we were also asked to give advice in relation to slogans on t-shirts seized at Old Trafford on the same day. I have decided also that no further action should be taken in relation to that material.”

The statement makes it very clear to me that the CPS wanted nothing to do with any prosecution because there were no offences there and that this material was neither offensive nor likely to stir up racial hatred. It was in fact a strong anti racist point that was being made. Oh and the “mask” might have fitted a Gerbil, but nothing larger than that. it was on the back of a small A5 size magazine.

So, where does that leave Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts? Acting in a manner that is way outside his powers it seems. At the time of those fanzines being seized, Private Eye, which was also on sale at stores around Old Trafford where Red Issue was being sold had a similar picture in of people in Klu Klux Klan outfits and described them as Chelsea  Captain John Terry & friends.  As the current Private Eye stated ( before today’s announcement)

“No charge has been brought so far [against Red Issue] and nor has Inspector Knacker seized any copies of EYE 1307 with a similar gag featuring white hooded “football –fans” backing John Terry.”

I hope the publishers of Red Issue now sue GMP and its legally incompetent and freedom restricting Chief Superintendent Mick Roberts who clearly does not understand he has to act within the law and is not judge and jury.

 

RED ISSUE 1 GMP 0 (Own goal by Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts)

 

 

Stand up for Freedom – its time us football fans stood up for our rights. We do not lose our legal rights simply because we want to attend football matches despite what the police may like to think.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

I have posted on here about problem cyclists and those who irritate me. I intend to do the same about motorists and other road users when I get round to it.

However, today I want to have a rant about those cyclists who seem determined to get everyone else to hate us.

 

Firstly, there was a debate in Parliament on Wednesday night about a “Flashride” which was to start at 18:30 on the Mall and go round the West End (or part of it) ending up in Parliament Square. Apparently 2000 or so cyclists attended and generally brought even more problems to London traffic at rush hour. Was this a sensible idea?

Well firstly, let me start by saying that cyclists ARE part of the traffic and have the same right as motor vehicle drivers to be on the roads. If all the cyclists in London switched to other forms of transport, then the overcrowding on the roads and trains would increase massively. At morning and evening rush hour, I am often one of 20-30 people on bikes waiting at each set of traffic lights.

So, if it is accepted that cyclists are part of the traffic, then what could be the objection to this ride? Well the ride was to highlight the debate on the Times’ newspapers Cities Fit for Cyclists campaign. A laudable effort by the newspaper to improve safety for cyclists. Some of its ideas I support, others I don’t, but overall I do support the idea of improving road safety for cyclists (and indeed for all road users).

My problem comes with deliberately staging a “protest” (some say celebration) ride at rush hour, designed or intended to cause the maximum disruption to motorists. As cyclists we share the roads with motorists and we want them to show us consideration. So is being as inconsiderate and obstructive as possible for motorists the way to encourage them to show us consideration?

 

You think that is unhelpful to cyclists causes, then try the following

https://www.facebook.com/CyclistsForRightOfWayUK

This is a facebook page/ group entitled  “Cyclists for Right of Way”. So what are they campaigning for?

This page is set up to campaign for the UK government to implement Right of way for cyclists in the UK.
An increase in cycling and safe conditions to cycle in could solve a multitude of problems from,
improving public health,
reducing obesity,
reducing congestion on streets,
lightening the burden on public transport,
less wear on roads,
making our streets and cities more pleasant places,
providing independence for children.

Now forgive me for pointing out something rather fundamental, but cyclists do have a right of way on the roads in the UK already (excluding special roads – eg motorways). On a cycling message board, the founder of this group says (to other cyclists)

This page is set up to campaign for the UK government to implement Right of way for cyclists in the UK

When pressed on how this page is going to help and what he is aiming to do, said campaigner states

quite simple..a Facebook page setup to make UK roads more safer to cycle on.

Well that clarifies everything then. Start a facebook page and the roads are now safe. No need to have clear aims goals or targets. Just need a facebook page. Wonder if George Osborne has thought about this to takle the budget deficit – just set up a facebook page George.

Incidentally, how do you make something “more safer”. Not “safe” or more safe” but “more safer”. What is that when it is at home?

So is the person wanting the government to implement that which has always been implemented or are they suggesting that cyclists should have right of way (priority) over other road users. Are they really suggesting other road users should have to screech to a halt so cyclists and turn across their path, ride through red lights etc. Not the most thought out idea.

What that campaign does suggest to many people is that somehow cyclists do not already have the right to use the roads in the UK. In other words, it is going to have the effect of reducing the belief in the rights cyclists already have.

Not a well thought out campaign whichever idea it is trying to promote. At the time of writing this blog, there are around 50 or more posts on one message board from cyclists who appear as perplexed as me as to what the founder wants.

Cyclists who are demanding what already exists are showing they have no understanding of current position. Cyclists demanding to have the right of way are simply living in cloud cuckoo land, it cannot work in practice and shows a lack of consideration for other road users.

 

The person behind that Facebook page may be a bit of an idiot, but more worrying is the person behind Cyclists SOS, a blog which has as its title

Waging war on dangerous drivers…A Revolution is born out of the cyclist constant war against nudgers, drink drivers, make-up applying drivers, non-signallers and all other forms of motorists who share the ambition of harming cyclists who just want to ride! The war will also focus on the drivers ally – the half asleep pedestrian and the pothole Local Authorities. So we’re taking the war to the roads…….

Now do we really want to talk about war? Isn’t aggression, violence might is right etc behind so many of the problems on the roads?

It also claims:

However we will provide evidence of dangerous driving and take action!

I am intrigued/ worried by what this means. The CPS (usually) prosecute criminal cases in the UK. To bring a private prosecution usually costs £000s as well as many hours of time. I have visions of mobs of angry cyclists going round in their lycra to terrorise drivers and meet out summary justice

On a different level, last night, the person behind this blog claimed it was generating lots of interest. Yet despite plugging it on loads of cycling websites and elsewhere  it has had only 232 hits in over 24 hours. Hardly ground-breaking or lots of interest.