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Substantive charges against Max Brenner protesters dismissed

Friends and supporters,

The substantive charges against the Max Brenner 19 (besetting and trespass in a public place) have been dismissed this morning in court. 5 defendants are however still in court fighting specific charges of resist arrest and assault police.

The decision on the substantive charges is nonetheless a big win for our right to protest in public places in Melbourne. We have beaten back their attempts to criminalize dissent and their attempts to silence a public pro-Palestine voice in Australia.

The magistrate Simon Garnet found that QV square is a public place and is subject to the same laws as other public lanes and spaces in Melbourne. He said in his final ruling: “In my opinion, the owners of QV and therefore QV management, by virtue of the Square and lane ways being subject to the S173 Planning and Environment Act agreement and therefore a ‘public place’… did not have the legal authority to apply conditions on members of the public who wished to enter QV square.”

He also ruled that to convict on the basis of the signs that QV management erected to dissuade protest would be a contravention of the Victorian charter of human rights. These signs said that people who wanted to demonstrate “against the political or social interests of a retail tenant of this shopping center” would be trespassing.

To quote the magistrate’s ruling directly “To interpret s9(1)(d) as submitted by the prosecution would, in my opinion, contravene their right to “freedom of expression” as enacted in the Charter. In addition, a refusal to leave after being requested to do so on the basis that the protesters were; “demonstrating disapproval of the political or social interests of a retail tenant of this shopping centre” is also not compatible with those human rights. “

Defence lawyer Rob Starry, who acted for some of the accused, said the decision had wide-ranging ramifications. “This case is really a landmark case in the annuls of the criminal justice system because what it represents is people have a right to express themselves politically,” he said.

Mr Starry said the decision could affect similar Occupy Melbourne protests and current industrial protests including the Toll blockade. “The Toll blockade is an industrial dispute, it should not involve the police unless there is a breach of the peace or other criminal behaviour but that has not been the case,” he said.

The defendants would like to thank all those who have shown us both moral and material support during the trial and we would invite you to join us:

This Tuesday (tomorrow) 8pm onwards John Curtain hotel (opposite Trades Hall on Lygon St) for a celebratory drink

This Friday 27th at 5:30pm to an action to RECLAIM QV SQUARE. It is vital, given the court’s decision to re assert our right to demonstrate in Melbourne’s public places. Students for Palestine has invited both those who support Palestine and other progressive activists to join us in taking back our public squares from Melbourne’s corporations.

JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP HERE:

https://www.facebook.com/events/397724523612319/

Yours sincerely
Vashti Kenway

Herald Sun article

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/chocolate-shop-protesters-charges-dropped-in-landmark-case/story-fndo3ewo-1226432775896

The Age article

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/charges-dismissed-over-chocolateshop-protest-20120723-22j4e.html


Judgement Day!

JUDGEMENT DAY FOR THE MAX BRENNER 19

MONDAY JULY 23RD 9AM

MELBOURNE MAGISTRATES COURT: 233 William St, CBD

19 pro-Palestine activists were arrested on July 1st last year for protesting outside the pro-Israeli military shop Max Brenner. They were charged with the ludicrous crime of ‘trespass in a public place’ and an antiquated anti picketing law, ‘besetting’.

The case against them went for a month, and cost the Victorian state thousands of dollars in court time.

The case is an important one, not just for pro-Palestine activists, but raises issues about public control of public space and the impunity with which Ted Baillieu’s police force is able to act.

The judgement of this trial will be handed down on Monday 23rd July at the Melbourne Magistrates Court at 9am.

We invite all those interested in defending civil liberties to join the defendants, the lawyers and activists either for

a) the final verdict at 9am
b) followed by a rally and media conference on the court steps

Please advertise widely
JOIN the FACEBOOK group:
https://www.facebook.com/events/264763553624994/?ref=notif&notif_t=plan_user_joined

Forward on this email


Reclaim QV Square! Defend the Max Brenner 19!

Students for Palestine invites you to
RECLAIM QV SQUARE
Queen Victoria Square, Queen Victoria Building  (Opposite Melbourne Central), Friday 27th July, 5:30pm 
On 1st of July 2011 19 pro-Palestine protesters were arrested for the ‘crime’ of trespassing
in a public place. This place was QV Square and the subsequent month long trial of these
activists revealed that the multi-million dollar company that runs QV centre treated the
square as thought it were a private space where companies must necessarily rule
supreme. Join Students for Palestine in an occupation of QV square and an attempt to
reclaim what should be public space.
FREE 
APARTHEID FREE HOT CHOCOLATE 
PROVIDED

(The protesters were arrested for disagreeing with the chocolateria Max Brenner’s support for the Israeli military)

Protest on Trial: Day 15 Prosecution responds to no-case submission

Friday 25 May

Mr Howard for the prosecution submitted a 28 page written submission to the Magistrate, rebutting elements of the “no case” submissions of the defence the previous day. He declined to give an oral submission, beyond stating that the prosecution case was not inherently weak and all elements of the defence were addressed.

After a break, the Magistrate, Mr Garnet, asked Mr Howard about the beset charge, in particular the Swanston St end of Red Cape Lane where there was a police line but no presence of protestors. Mr Howard that the protestors were manifestly responsible for the blocking of Red Cape Lane, “albeit by police members”. Continue reading


Protest on Trial: Day 14 Defence council moves for a no-case ruling

Thursday 24 May

Defence counsel gave written and oral submissions in support of “no case” applications for almost all charges against the 16 defendants.

Stewart Bayles told the Magistrate that he had been unable to locate any authorities that relate to the criminal charge of beset. There had been civil proceedings under the tort of nuisance in cases including Animal Liberation, Dollar Sweets, and McCoy Constructons, with the Dollar Sweets case in particular turning on when a picket line became a nuisance. Continue reading


Protest on Trial: Day 13

Tuesday 22 May

Senior Constable Jones testified about the circumstances of the arrest of Thomas Timms.

Leading Senior Constable Richards testified that he was part of the Public Order Response Team on the night of July 1 2011. He had helped to reinforce the police line outside the Max Brenner store at QV. Continue reading


Protest on Trial: Day 12

Friday 18 May

Senior Constable Beaumont testified that the line of protestors outside Max Brenner “became passive aggressive”, meaning that they linked arms and leaned back into police lines. Though the crowd had “surged” he and the police line had held their ground. He had later been part of the team that arrested Naomi Farmer. Continue reading


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