Saturday, January 26, 2013

No verdict from trial of protester

The second day of the trial of Perth protester Kamala Emanuel ended on January 24 with no verdict from the magistrate.

Emanuel was charged with failing to comply with a police officer's direction to leave a legal, peaceful rally last April.

Twenty people protested outside the court in support of the right to protest without police interference.

Emanuel was issued a move-on notice when she had her hand on a banner that Perth City Council rangers were trying to seize. They claimed that the protesters were violating Council by-laws that prohibit the display of hand-held signs without approval of the Council.

The police officer issuing the move-on notice claimed that Emanuel was disorderly. Emanuel's defence team is arguing that the move-on notice was invalid because the police officer had no reasonable grounds to believe that that was the case.

The two police witnesses who gave evidence on January 24 both testified that they did not pay full attention to the relevant part of the episode with the banner, or that Emanuel was not disorderly at that time.

Since the April rally, Perth activists have mounted a successful campaign for free speech. Rangers have not harassed any activist event since the free-speech campaign began.

In addition to this on-the-ground victory, the defence is also arguing that the City of Perth signs local law does not empower council rangers to seize banners from protesters.

No date has been set for the issuing of the magistrate's verdict.

[This article was written by Alex Bainbridge for Green Left Weekly #951.]