Jasmine York’s verdict & collective action (What’s Happening newsletter #16)

State violence

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Jasmine York’s mixed verdict

In our previous newsletter, we described how people gathered in solidarity at Bristol Crown Court in recent days for the trial of Jasmine York. Bristol Anti-Repression Campaign (BARC-KTB) supports people who took to the streets in opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts (PCSC) Bill and who are facing ongoing persecution. And as BARC-KTB explained, York “was brutally beaten by police at a demonstration” on 21 March 2021. On this day, the group said, “demonstrators like Jasmine faced repeated and excessive violence from police officers”.

On 7 February, York’s verdict came in. BARC-KTB said:

We are happy to hear that Jasmine was found not guilty of the 2 most serious charges in her trial today. We are saddened and enraged about the guilty verdict against Jasmine for arson. Regardless of the verdict, we always knew that the charges against Jasmine were trumped up and outrageous.

The group continued:

The Crown Prosecution Service dubbed Jasmine a ‘leader’ and ‘instigator’ of a ‘riot’. In actual fact there was no evidence of this whatsoever. This was reflected in the jury’s unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict for riot. Jasmine was found guilty of arson to a bin, which she had pushed towards a police line to create an obstacle and prevent more police violence. The prosecution claimed this bin was damaged by the flames from a burning police car. We find it ridiculous that Jasmine was found guilty, despite zero evidence being presented that the bin was damaged by the fire.

It also insisted:

We are proud that people in our community stood up against the violence of the police. We need to build real community power, and grow our strength to resist against state control. Today’s acquittals for the two most serious charges against Jasmine are the first ‘not guilty’ verdicts in the Bristol ‘riot’ trials. BARC will continue to support more defendants in winning their cases, and to support those in prison too.

Other News

  • There are protests planned on 12 February across the UK against the massive rises in the cost of living. As Unite the Union says: “Inflation has already reached 7.5% (RPI, or 5.4% CPI). Wages are not keeping up. The Triple Lock for pensions has been broken and Universal Credit cut. Ofgem will announce the next increase to fuel bills on 7 February, which will further add to this crisis. Additionally, in April we face an increase to National Insurance at the same time as a further hike in fuel bills. We can already see how some will try to spin the cost of living crisis to serve their agendas. They want to use it to justify cuts to public services and the scrapping of environmental measures. And they will no doubt try to blame workers who try to defend their living standards.

  • Workers won a High Court case against the fire and rehire strategy of UK supermarket giant Tesco.
  • Around the UK, hundreds of teachers, refuse collectors, cleaners, and others are engaging in strike action. 
  • In Greece, farmers protested against rising energy prices by parking their tractors on a national highway.

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