Wednesday, January 05, 2022

updated

Guardian: BLM protesters cleared over toppling of Edward Colston statue 

...In closing statements following the nine-day trial, the defence had urged jurors to “be on the right side of history”, saying the statue, which stood over the city for 125 years, was so indecent and potentially abusive that it constituted a crime.

After just under three hours’ deliberation, a jury of six men and six women found the so-called “Colston Four” not guilty by an 11 to one majority decision at Bristol crown court on Wednesday afternoon.

“This verdict is a milestone in the journey that Bristol and Britain are on to come to terms with the totality of our history,” said David Olusoga, the broadcaster and historian of the slave trade, who gave evidence in the trial.

Olusoga said: “For 300 years Edward Colston was remembered as a philanthropist, his role in the slave trade and his many thousands of victims were airbrushed out of the story. The toppling of the statue and the passionate defence made in court by the Colston Four makes that deliberate policy of historical myopia now an impossibility.”

Clive Lewis, the Labour MP, said: “A British jury has confirmed the toppling of Edwards Colston’s statue was not a criminal act. The real crime was the fact the statue was still there when protestors pulled it down....

But some critics reacted with fury. Scott Benton, a Conservative MP, denounced the verdict as an “absolutely appalling decision”, tweeting: “Are we now a nation which ignores violent acts of criminal damage? This sends out completely the wrong message.”

The former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie said he could not help “questioning the sanity of the jury”. He added: “The verdict was a shocking signal to every lefty protester in the country that they can damage with impunity as long as they chant the phrase hate crime.”

The UK: Hate crime laws, hate speech laws, and what in the US would be "jury nullification", as law.
I prefer the first amendment to this shit. If the state is allowed to judge it will become self-serving.
Toppling the Colton stature was a criminal act. I might have joined in.  My parents broke federal law. They risked their future on principle. Saying they didn't break the law, is an argument against law itself.
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I was thinking of amending what I wrote above, bur I realized I don't need to.
The “Colston Four” were charged with criminal damage. Under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, defendants charged with destroying or harming property can argue they had a “lawful excuse” for their actions. This is because safeguarding property – whether it is a house, a car or the statue of a slave trader – is less important than protecting public safety or preventing a more serious crime. To demonstrate “lawful excuse”, defendants must show that they acted reasonably and they honestly believed they were acting for these reasons.

...One of the key arguments was that the group was acting to prevent the more serious crime of public indecency.

...The judge, HHJ Peter Blair QC, didn’t allow jurors to decide on the grounds of misconduct because there was insufficient evidence on the matter. But he did allow them to consider whether the statue was offensive. One defendant said in court that the statue was “offensive to the true character of Bristol...”

"public indecency." "the true character of Scotland

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