A 21 year-old woman from Barnet has been convicted for racially aggravated threatening and abusive behaviour after she was arrested amongst a breakaway group at a pro-Palestine protest with a placard reading “FREE PALESTINE!! ISRA*L BURN IN HELL”.
Laura Davis appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 30 November where she pleaded guilty to racially aggravated threatening and abusive behaviour, intended to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
She was fined £100 and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £40 and costs of £85.
Davis was stopped by officers in Regent Street on the evening of Saturday, 28 October, in a group that had broken away from the earlier mass demo in central London to protest against Israeli actions against Hamas in Gaza.
She was charged in relation to an incident in the vicinity of Piccadilly Circus where her placard was on display.
Davis fled her home in Saudi Arabia in December 2021 because she was not accepted as a transgender person.
She was granted asylum in the summer.
Nicholas Tarry, chairman of the magistrates’ bench, told Davis the message on the placard “is not an appropriate thing to be waving; it’s violent language about another country and it is not allowed”.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Valentine, who will be leading the policing operation ahead of this weekend’s protests, said: “We have been clear that while the right to protest lawfully must be respected, that does not extend to actions or statements that cross the line from political speech into criminality.
“While the majority of those attending protests have done so lawfully, it is regrettable that we have seen a number of people who have turned up carrying signs or chanting in a way that they should know will cause alarm or distress to others and in particular those in our Jewish communities.
“If you are coming out to protest, please think carefully about how slogans and statements might impact others. We will not tolerate hate speech or abuse.
“Anyone who continues to engage in that sort of behaviour, despite the clear warnings we have provided, will face police action and could end up before the courts.”
At least 11 people were taken into custody at the October 28 rally, which was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The march set off from Victoria Embankment at midday and finished at Parliament Square.
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