1,000 signatures reached
To: Newcastle City Council
Defend the right to challenge the cuts
We call on the council to demand:
All accusations against Mr Michael (Don) MacDonald related to this incident are dropped.
To publicly defend the right to free speech for the residents of Newcastle.
Why is this important?
Michael MacDonald was arrested on the night of the 16th February when he was at home alone looking after his young son. The arrest followed an incident earlier in the day when MacDonald, known by friends and colleagues as 'Don', engaged with Nick Forbes, the the Labour Council leader, in the street. 'Don' wanted to discuss with Forbes, the effects of the cuts to Newcastle's youth services, which the youth worker fears will have a devastating effect on the most vulnerable residents of the city. Don was not threatening to him. He didn't swear. He only tried to explain to Forbes, as a professional youth worker, the effects these cuts would have on the city's services.
The actions taken by Forbes and the police are not what we expect of those who are meant to serve and protect the residents of Newcastle.
It is important that situations involving the police as outlined above are not allowed to occur, which serve to intimidate and disturb the people of Newcastle who exercise their right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech. Although a minor offence, if charged Don would be left with a criminal record and there would a black mark against this hard-working and well respected community worker.
Don was served a fixed penalty notice under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, but has returned this notice to the court and has stated his intention to fight the accusation. His arrest has serious implications for public protest and freedom of expression in Newcastle and nationally. We stand with him against this attack on the right to protest.
The accusation is unjust, meant to intimidate and is preposterous.
It is clear that:
1. A civil servant has used their authority to demand an arrest.
2. The police have removed a family man from his home in the middle of the night when he had sole responsibility for his six year old child, detained him for four hours on the basis of a minor charge, during which time he was encouraged to accept a fixed penalty fine for doing nothing more than exercising the rights we all have as residents of Newcastle.
John McDonnell MP
Kate Hudson, national secretary Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Jerry Hicks, Unite Grassroots Left
Dot Gibson, National Secretary Pensioner Convention
Bill Bowring, Haldane Society Socialist Lawyers
Andrew Burgin, vice chair Coalition of Resistance