Report: Meeting with Metropolitan Police
We met the Met earlier this week and discussed arrangements for March 25th, including the question of banners.
Hyde Park is already booked for that date, so we could not start a march from there. Although they emphasised that if we elected to choose an alternative route, they would support that decision and help with the selection of a starting point, they asked us to consider the cost to the taxpayer of policing a march and the inconvenience it would cause Londoners. We felt these were reasonable considerations and so have decided that we will instead ask people to assemble in Trafalgar Square for 2:00pm on Saturday March 25th. We plan to start promptly, so please try to get there in good time.
This is not just a campaign about the Danish Cartoon affair, though we are strongly supportive of the cartoonists' right to draw any subject they like, and we offer our solidarity and support to the Danish people in this difficult time. We know some people want to bring banners showing the cartoons, or wear them on T-shirts, so we ask them to consider the following.
There are two broad contexts within which the cartoons might be displayed. One is "F*@$ all Muslims" and the other is "I am Spartacus/We are all Danes". We will not welcome displays that fall into the first category. This is not an anti-Muslim campaign, we do not endorse that sort of sentiment and we are proud to have support from some Muslims. We share our society with Muslims and will have no part in incitement of hatred towards them, our neighbours. If on the day we feel that any banners do incite hatred, our stewards will ask for them to be removed and, in the case of a refusal, we will ask the police to intervene. We are not prepared under any circumstances to allow this to be hijacked by hate-mongers.
And in anticipation of our resident BNP commentor: no, this is not a restriction of the right to free expression. We support your right to make whatever stupid and hateful remarks you like, but we reserve our right to ensure they are not associated with our campaign. So take them elsewhere.
We do regret that there was not a broader "I am Spartacus - we stand together, you can't just pick on one Danish newspaper" movement among the world's press and media. If people wish to reflect this sentiment and display the cartoons we would suggest either no caption at all or "I am Spartacus", "We are all Danes".
If there is then a police intervention on public order grounds it will be a clear case of a peaceful, constructive, legal display being interfered with by the intolerance of one or more groups.
We will be running a banner making workshop in London nearer the day, and will post a distillations of some of the best slogans from the suggest banners thread later. Wit is preferred to spleen, as always.