Wednesday, 27 April 2011
What does a guy have to do to get arrested around here?
Oh, yeah, that'll do it.
I don't know whether Alfie Meadows was involved in violent disorder during the student demonstration on 9 December, but it strikes me as unlikely. Almost any number of people were caught up in the pushing and shoving that went on around Westminster on that day. Why, if the police went through every bit of of film they have, they could probably make a good case against me.
I met Alfie Meadows during the campaign to keep the philosophy department open at Middlesex University a year ago. The students held an inpromptu demonstration outside Hendon Town Hall as it happens, on the evening of Barnet council's last AGM.
I didn't get to know any of the students well, but, from the little I did see, Alfie stood out as someone astute and rather brave. On one occasion the campaigners were discussing the next steps in their campaign, on the lawn in front of the Middlesex campus. One of the staff and a key figure in the campaign, Peter Hallward was holding forth. Alfie interjected to ask Peter to come clean on whether he was holding negotiations with Kingston University with a view to moving the postgraduate research department there. Don't such negotiations undermine our campaign to keep the philosophy department open here at Middlesex? asked Alfie. And, if you are negotiating, aren't you being irresponsible egging undergraduate students on to acts that could jeopardise their academic careers here at Middlesex after you and your research department have shoved off to Kingston?
He didn't come out and say so directly, but that was the import of what he said. In the event, the research centre did go to Kingston University, and the philosophy department at Middlesex stopped admitting new students. Alfie, as far as I know, is still a student there, one of the last to do an undergraduate degree in philosopy at Middlesex (or anywhere in the country possibly).
But Alfie and Peter seemed to have been on good enough terms on 9 December, because they were together at the demonstration, around the time that Alfie was seriously injured, hit on the head, he says, by a police truncheon. The injury he sustained caused bleeding on the brain, and he nearly died.
He has made a complaint against the police. How interesting that they should now make charges against him of violent disorder; he is bailed to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 9 June along with a handful of other defendants facing charges in relation to the 9 December demonstration.
One thing that I found very distasteful about this charge is the alacrity with which pro-police blogs reported it. Perhaps they think they are looking after their own. Well, in that case, I will look after my own and stand by Alfie Meadows.