Seven Cheney court victories


In a major victory for protesters who defied police attempts to prevent a peaceful protest against US Vice-President Dick Cheney from taking to the streets in February, all seven activists who have so far faced court have had wins. These activists faced charges including resisting arrest, obstruction of police and assault.

Bruce Knobloch was acquitted on August 21. He told Green Left Weekly that he feels vindicated. "From the start we said that the police acted illegally. The charges were always a farce; a waste of our time and our taxes. The NSW government stands condemned. The decision to stop the march leaving the square came from [NSW Labor Premier] Morris Iemma's office."

John Morris was acquitted of two charges but was found guilty on August 24 of a minor resisting arrest charge — the only guilty verdict for any of the anti-Cheney protesters. The magistrate gave Morris a six-month good behaviour bond, and the charge will not be recorded.

All other protesters were acquitted or had their charges dismissed. These include Sarah Harrison and Anika Vinson, who were making fun of the police. Sydney magistrate David Heilpern threw out the charges of directing traffic and dressing up as police, saying "Australia has a long history of street theatre as part of demonstrations stretching back to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Vietnam Moratorium".

David Marr, in the July 11 Sydney Morning Herald, quoted the magistrate as saying that street theatre provided a "reasonable excuse" for wearing fake police uniforms, and that "Part of protest has always been challenging figures of authority".

Morris has declared that he, along with the other protesters, will be participating in the September 8 Stop Bush protest during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney.