The police and the Director of Public Prosecutions are facing strong criticism for bringing charges against a group of peaceful protestors at the G20 demonstrations in London last April. The activists, who wore a variety of fancy dress to the protests, have been formally charged with impersonating police officers.
Critics say that the charge is an attempt to divert attention away from allegations of police brutality at the protests, for which one police officer is now to be prosecuted.
The eleven campaigners, member of the Space Hijackers, drove a disused police vehicle to a demonstration on 1 April this year. Several of them were wearing police helmets but none appear to have been fully dressed as police officers.
One of those charged, journalist Leah Borromeo, who wore a black bra and boiler suit, said “If I’m guilty of anything, it’s of impersonating a stripper, not a police officer”.
She accused police of being “drunk with the illusion of their own powers”.
While there have been a few prosecutions for individuals accused of violence during the protests, there is no suggestion that the Space Hijackers did not behave peacefully.
They will be tried at the City of London Magistrates' Court in February 2010.
Their lawyer, Raj Chada, suggested that “In light of the numerous allegations of violence and misconduct against the police that have marred the event, perhaps the biggest joke is the decision to prosecute those peaceful protestors playing loud music and wearing fancy dress”
Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said he was “extremely surprised that there are going to be prosecutions that do not meet the very important test of whether a prosecution is in the public interest.”
The Space Hijackers are a nonviolent anarchist group who use comedy and theatre in an attempt to draw attention to what they see as the hypocrisies of capitalism.