Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Victory in Appeals Court

Invited to go to the Crown Court, I had the opportunity to observe an Appeals Case held before a Judge and two Magistrates. What made it particularly interesting was the fact that it called into question a terrorism law used by the police in Britain.

The Case:

A protestor, a 67 year old spunky lady with dred locks was accompanied by Dan ( a 27 year olf who decided to devote all of his time and talent to peace making) who basically was present to take pictures & be a witness just in case. The lady was seated on a chair in front of the entrance to Downing Street - # 10 beings the Prime Minister's Residence.

The main witness was the arresting police officer. He told how he approached Dan and asked him his name, asked him to move onto the sidewalk etc. for some time, and that Dan was unresponsive. Eventually Dan was arrested.

Apparently British law requires that an arrested person be given a written statement in a timely fashion of all charges. This did not happen until Dan was in a cell. The main point was whether Dan had been advised that he was being arrested for breaking the anti-terrorism statute and when.

The U.K. has what is called CCTV. It basically films what's going on in the streets all over the U.K.
1st Amendment rights would cry foul here.

We watched the tape - like watching grass grow! But alas, after about 12 minutes the officer appears. BUT, what you saw did not match what he said. He walked up to Dan and immediately they moved to the sidewalk.

At this point the chief judge intervened. He instructed the police witness to listen carefully to the questions and then "to have a think on it!" Sadly the officer did not heed the advice.

As testimony continued it became clewar something was off. Eventually the officer admitted that he had not advised Dan of the charge until after arresting him. He said it like, 'well so...' One of the Magistrates had great difficulty in not rolling his eyes.

The judge was terrific as a typical (stereotype) English gentleman. He was incredibly funny. The second day, the case was thrown out of court.

Turns out that the officer was simply lying. That's the sad part: fear and excess of authority run amuck.

Victorious, about 10 of us walked along the Thames to a pub near Tower Bridge to clebrate, Bit hey wait; it wasn't only 11:00 a.m.? Nah, that could not stop the celebrants. This included the young lady Barrister who was very interestng.

Having taught the American Court System in our land to high school students, it was great fun for me to witness this trial AND to see justice done. The sad thing was that again authority all too often gets ahead of itself.

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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.