RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: There’s one rule for the woke, another for the rest of us. The world really has gone stark, staring mad
The acquittal of four statue-topplers in Bristol this week is further evidence of a world gone stark, staring mad.
Even though they were caught on camera committing criminal damage and made no attempt to deny it, they were found not guilty by a majority of 11 to one.
So much for the wisdom of juries.
The self-styled Black Lives Matter activists argued that tearing down a statue of 17th-century slaver Edward Colston and chucking it into the river was a legitimate political protest.
Even though they were caught on camera committing criminal damage and made no attempt to deny it, they were found not guilty by a majority of 11 to one. So much for the wisdom of juries
One of the four said that because Colston had been involved in the slave trade 300 years ago, demolishing it was ‘an act of love for my fellow man’. Defence counsel urged the jury to be ‘on the right side of history’.
Effectively, Colston himself was put on trial. Despite being told by the judge to ignore this sentimental smokescreen and concentrate on the evidence in front of them, the jurors obviously fell for it.
Then again, if the judge had wanted the case decided on the hard facts, why did he allow the defence to call a Left-wing academic to deliver a lurid potted history of the cruelty inflicted by slavery?
This was a verdict based not on the law, but on emotion. It gives licence to woke warriors everywhere to commit violent crime with impunity, provided they can claim they were doing it in the name of fighting racism, saving the planet, or whatever other right-on cause they happen to be embracing that week.
This case arose out of the Black Lives Matter protests which sprang up in Britain after the murder of George Floyd by a policeman in Minnesota in May 2020. Quite what the brutal killing of a black man in America had got to do with Bristol, or anywhere else on this side of the Atlantic, remains a mystery.
It gives licence to woke warriors everywhere to commit violent crime with impunity, provided they can claim they were doing it in the name of fighting racism, saving the planet, or whatever other right-on cause they happen to be embracing that week
But it was exploited ruthlessly by theusual bunch of far-Left activists here as an excuse to foment widespread trouble on the streets at a time the country was supposed to be in lockdown.
In Bristol, the death of George Floyd was co-opted by anti-Colston protagonists in the long-running argument about whether the city should continue to commemorate a generous benefactor who made his fortune from human misery.
Claiming to be acting on behalf of the people of Bristol, the four BLM activists were part of a mob which toppled Colston’s monument and rolled it into the harbour.
The police simply stood back and let them get on with it, just as coppers elsewhere cravenly took the knee in the face of similar protests.
For a while, it seemed the whole country was consumed with insanity. When the dust settled, Bristol Police belatedly studied CCTV film and finally brought the charges which ended in acquittal this week.
It came as no surprise to discover that the defendants — who maintained the statue was a ‘hate crime’ against the black citizens of Bristol — were all white, middle-class millennials called Sage, Milo, Rhian and Jake. Nor that the rest of the mob was predominantly white, too. Of course they were.
You’ll find the same kind of rent-a-rabble at every BLM, Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain demo.
The Colston Four’s defence was partly funded by the sale of special T-shirts designed by Banksy, every Guardianista’s favourite graffiti artist. Agitprop as fashion accessory.
Who can forget Met officers skateboarding and dancing with XR demonstrators who brought London to a standstill, closing streets and bridges for days on end
Even when the police can be bothered to make a few arrests, the courts tend to take a softly-softly approach
I suppose we should have seen this verdict coming. In recent years, British justice has tilted away from a rigid rules-based system to one where ‘values’ matter more than the law.
If you have the ‘right’ cause, you can get away with anything. Smash statues, deface buildings, block motorways and airport runways, disrupt public transport — you name it, you can expect leniency.
Just consider the way in which the police and the courts indulge BLM and ‘climate change’ protesters. Who can forget Met officers skateboarding and dancing with XR demonstrators who brought London to a standstill, closing streets and bridges for days on end.
Or that copper who asked Insulate Britain headbangers if they were sitting comfortably — and did they need anything? — after they glued themselves to the M25, causing miles of tailbacks. Even when the police can be bothered to make a few arrests, the courts tend to take a softly-softly approach.
Nine middle-class BLM activists who locked themselves together on the runway at London City Airport, grounding over 130 flights, walked free with conditional discharges after a district judge told them she respected their ‘deeply held beliefs’.
Protesters who broke into Stansted Airport to prevent the deportation of criminals and failed asylum seekers to Africa had their charges — which had been brought under anti-terror laws — quashed by judges in the High Court.
There’s nothing new, either, in juries siding with demonstrators. As long ago as 2008, six Greenpeace members were acquitted by a jury of nine men and three women of causing £30,000 criminal damage at a coal-fired power station in Kent. It was the first time that a claim to be causing damageto prevent harm to the environment had been accepted as a lawful defence.
Last year, half a dozen Extinction Rebellion demonstrators were cleared of criminal damage after arguing that their actions were justified because of the climate ‘emergency’.
Following this week’s verdict, no doubt Left-wing lawyers everywhere will be lining up to argue that others accused of criminal damage should be found not guilty because they were motivated by anti-racism.
Will the idiot convicted of daubing ‘Racist’ on Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square during the last round of BLM demos be entitled to have his conviction overturned on appeal?
(If Churchill was such a racist, why were so many West Indians christened Winston?)
Will it cease to be an offence for someone to swing from the Cenotaph in Whitehall, provided he claims that it is a legitimate protest against colonial wars?
How long before a brief gets up before a judge and argues:
‘Your honour, my client admits burning down the glasshouse at Kew Gardens. But he read recently that its founder was an enabler of slavery. And having just watched The Underground Railroad on Amazon Prime, he felt he must strike a blow on behalf of mankind.’
British justice is supposed to be blind. Yet this verdict, and others, demonstrate that impartiality and hard evidence are rapidly taking a back seat to blatant wokery.
But only if you claim to be acting from the purest of fashionable political motives.
Imagine if a bunch of Brexiteers had glued themselves to the A2 outside Dover to protest about the failure to curb cross-Channel immigration.
The Old Bill would send in the Heavy Mob and courts would hand down exemplary sentences.
And where were the ‘One rule for them and another for the rest of us’ brigade this week?
They managed to work themselves up into a lather of righteous indignation over a few illicit cheese and wine parties during lockdown.
But right now, as a bunch of BLM activists walk free despite committing criminal damage on camera, silence.
Which only goes to prove that there’s one law for the woke and another for everyone else.
Instead of examining the straight-up-and-down evidence against the four defendants, the jury in Bristol was asked to pass judgment on a man who died 300 years ago.
The world really has gone stark, staring mad.
Perhaps they should have put Edward Colston’s statue in the dock instead.
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