Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/302/13789
Drop All Charges Against Day X Detainees
RENE BRAVO, Marcela Massingnotti and Karl Debbaut were arrested on Day X, 20 March, the day war started in Iraq. Five people were removed from a bus in Catford, south London, arrested and prevented from taking part in a lawful protest at Parliament Square.
This followed a successful lobby of the Town Hall by around 100 students from four Lewisham schools, some accompanied by their parents. Rene and Marcela are parents of one Forest Hill Boys School student who joined protests organised by Youth Against the War. Another two detainees, later released without charge, were a student from Sedgehill School and his father.
About half the students on the lobby, plus six adults including parents, had boarded a bus to go to Parliament Square to join thousands of other students in protests against the war in Iraq.
The police boarded the bus as it was about to depart and said they would take their names and addresses. Having done this, they said the students were truanting and would be removed from the bus and returned to school.
Most students had permission from their parents to take part in protest action - some parents were present. But the police then began to brutally arrest Karl Debbaut, which scared some of the younger students who ran to the back of the bus.
Despite adults and some older students appealing to the police to restrain themselves they began grabbing out at the nearest person and dragging them off the bus, handcuffing them and placing them in police vans. Along with Karl, Rene was dragged from the bus, wrestled to the floor, held face down and handcuffed.
When Rene's wife Marcela appealed, she was also arrested. In all four adults, including three parents, and one student were arrested. After being detained for nearly 12 hours
Rene Bravo was charged with assault on a police officer and using threatening words and behaviour.
Marcela Massingnotti was charged with assault on a police officer and obstructing a police officer.
Karl Debbaut was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray.
The other students were also illegally removed from the bus and returned to school in police vans.
Please send messages of support and solidarity to Rene, Marcela and Karl and affirm their right to lawful protest c/o Solidarity with the Lewisham Three, 34a Kender Street New Cross SE14 5JG.
Write to the Crown Prosecution Service saying it would not be in the public interest to pursue charges against Rene, Marcela and Karl and to demand the dropping of all charges against the Day X detainees.
Rene and Marcela are due to appear at Greenwich Magistrates Court, Blackheath Road SE10 on 4 June for a pre-trial hearing. Karl Debbaut, having been charged with more serious offences, has elected to stand trial at the Crown Court but will also appear at Greenwich on 4 June for a committal hearing.
In The Socialist 31 May 2003: