Monday, April 07, 2014

Court Case three- The Crime of using a Megaphone Near a Station

I had been rather enjoying performing outside of Euston station. It’s a major London station and like most stations, the large area outside the station is owned by Network Rail and is ‘controlled’ by 30 pages of ridiculous byelaws. It was fun reading out the very byelaws on the megaphone bringing attention to their absurdity.

Most of the time, it was well received. On one occasion the duty manager - Barry - came up to me, having observed me for 20 minutes and expressed his admiration for what I was doing. Turned out that his hobby was public speaking (in his case about World War 2)

But sometimes the network rail staff would object and I may or may not obey them.

A charming officer, Sanjay, approached me once, saying he had seen me previously and wondered what I was doing and why. I got out my camera and recorded the conversation and attempted to explain what I was doing.

On one occasion, a network rail employee approached me and asked whether I had permission to use the megaphone. I told him that I did not need permission and repeated his claims through the megaphone. I think he felt a bit intimidated (understandably) so he went to call Network Rails lapdog – the BTP (British Transport Police) A small crowd had gathered by now and the police officer called was Sanjay. I was on a roll and instead of obeying Sanjay, I claimed I did not need permission and continued speaking. The crowd were getting right behind me and eventually he snapped and asked for my details. As usual, I questioned whether I had to give them to him and he threatened me with arrest if I didn’t supply them. I asked for the exact wording of the law but he could only come up with a rough guide. He claimed he didn’t need to tell me the exact wording.

As I didn’t have the time to go through the arrest, I gave him my name and he reported me for this so called crime. 

Several weeks later I received the kind invitation (summons) to Caesar’s Palace. I don’t think we give enough respect to Uncle Caesar. He’s awfully clever and got it all sewn up with all sorts of  tactics, tricks and illusions. One of the tactics upon which he operates is intimidation. There are many tricks based on this tactic. You receive a summons with a big emblem of the crown in the middle and its little you versus all of them. The feeling I get in my stomach when I receive one of those letters is not a pleasant one.

I put a message on facebook that I was going to this hearing asking for anyone to come along for support. Several friends agreed to come including a couple – Helen & Fabrice -  who had recently got their case dismissed. Helen had been ‘caught’ on camera going 36 in a 30 zone (nobody on the clear road at the time) and she required the prosecution to prove that the law applied to HER. She went through all the hoops they put in the way (Uncle Caesar ain’t lying down without a fight after all these years) and eventually got the case dismissed. We had a chat and she came loaded with a file full of great questions to use in court.
One of the most insightful comments I have had about the legal system was from a law professor who said ‘It’s like Alice in Wonderland.’ And indeed so it is which is part of their tactics. So in a sense, the only thing that I am prepared for is the unexpected.

To me court is just a theatre with great actors who don’t even know theyre acting. They have costumes as well (all members of the Law society have 30 pages of correct costume rules) Intimidation is part of the act. They take it all very seriously (only whilst they are in open court but if you hand around between cases or before and after, you will often find them joking about. I would recommend anybody to dress in smart black attire and sit in court rooms. Get there just as the court opens as that part is quite revealing. Take a notepad and start to analyse the proceedings from a psychological, financial and spiritual perspective. Plenty of good stuff to keep you busy.

One of the ways I look at it is that they re like wizards using spells to create the outcome which is to their advantage. These spells are very powerful. My experience is that even though I can talk in front of thousands of people from all backgrounds and hold myself in front of all sorts of intimidation including police intimidation, in their place of business, the spells are so strong, its very difficult to break them and to see through the illusion. I think that wearing a carefully selected costume can help break the spell. I ended up playing the part I was dressed to be like they were. I chose to wear tails, black trousers and a white shirt with built in black collar. I waltzed into the court (well its actually just a room) and started chatting to the clerk. A short middle aged woman of African looks, she said to me ‘Oh I see we have a character here!’ to which I responded – I presume its ok to be a character in here. Are there any other characters here? You seem like one too! The viewers gallery was full with people who had come to support me and I think that can also help.

They invite you for 9.30 am or 1.30 pm for their sessions. They invite everyone for that time so they quite happily keep you waiting for hours. This is just for the first hearing which is the ‘pleading.’ Pleading? Don’t slaves plead? For the first court case when I arrived I had no idea what was going on. I ended up hiring a barrister just for the plea part. He was pretty useless and of course makes his money whatever happens.

Back to last Thursday and case three. I meet up with Helen and Fabrice and go through their questions, picking some out for me to use. They were to be my Mackenzie friends which means they would sit next to me and court and I could consult with them during the case. We had to ‘apply’ for them to be my MF. I had noticed the night before when looking at the witness statements that there was actually no evidence that I had even violated their ridiculous rules. Their rules state that Without written permission form the railway authorities, it is against the byelaw to sing or use an amplifier to the annoyance of anyone.’ Nowhere in the statements of the police officer or network Rail employee did it say I had annoyed anyone. So I was tossing up whether to go the route of getting them to prove the law applied to me or to simply ask for the case to be dismissed due to lack of evidence.

And now to the most important part of the experience in my view - meditation. For me the meditation is about letting go and seeing what comes up when I quieten the mind. It’s also about sending compassion to the actors in court. Despite the fact that I think they are committing ‘crimes’ against the people, I think that most of them have no idea that they’re doing anything wrong. If I hold resentments towards them, it will firstly poison my system and secondly it will probably seep out when I am in there. As a result of the meditation, I decided to go for case dismissal first and then other tactics if that didn’t work.

I asked to speak to the prosecutor. She hadn’t arrived yet but when she did, she looked like she was about to go onto a Hollywood film set. A young attractive woman of Afro Caribbean appearance emerged wearing a tight fitting black outfit and made up to the hilt and I thought to myself – if I am going to be screwed by the system, at least it will be in style!

I told her that I was going to ask for the case to be dismissed due to lack of evidence. I said that nowhere in their evidence did it say that I had annoyed anyone. I added that in fact the officers evidence indicated that everyone was enjoying it and getting behind what I was doing. Of course she hadn’t even seen the file yet. They never do. They just rely on what the Police send them. Which of course is another part of the corruption. She told me that she wasn’t ready yet and that I could do what I liked.

I noticed he go out of the court and get on her phone and got a friend to follow her out and listen in. She was trying to figure out what to do and eventually came back in and told me that she was withdrawing the case which was rather good news.

We sat and witnessed two cases which were frankly pathetic. The friends who had come to watch couldn’t believe what they were seeing. The ‘defendants’ were being put into a locked glass cage (dock) before even pleading. The first guy was a young man form Somalia with no previous. He had gotten drunk and not paid his train ticket and tried to get through the barrier. The ticket inspector had taken out his phone to take a picture of this terrible criminal and the guy lunged at him and broke his mobile phone case! FIFTEEN POUNDS worth (I doubt it really was as much as that.) He allegedly spat at the guy but missed. For these things he was convicted and charged a large fine he could ill afford (on benefits) It was ridiculous.

Then the prosecutor said she was withdrawing the case due to ‘losing the files’ which is her way of covering up lack of evidence. I tried to get costs but the Magistrates said only if I had got legal advice from a ‘proper’ law society firm. That sounds a bit like a monopoly to me. I gave up at that stage as I thought I was rather lucky to have had the case withdrawn. The Magistrate smiled and made a joke about my singing and I offered to sing for them in court. They laughed and politely declined.