Verdict

I recently had the honour of reading this out at Netpol‘s 10th anniversary event. Netpol, the network for police monitoring, do incredible work protecting the right to protest and pushing back against oppressive policing. Netpol train and support grassroots activists and community groups, as well as linking them with leading lawyers and academics. Netpol urgently need £10k to continue this work into 2020, and they have a crowdfunder. Please donate anything you can.

For six-ish years, on and off, I’ve had the honour of helping on Netpol’s Steering Group, seeing up close the work they do, and a number of real cases fed into this poem. I’m fascinated by how successful activist campaigns and movements get absorbed into the historical narrative – with people forgetting that there ever was an opposition. Suffragettes and the Civil Rights campaigners were opposed – violently – at the time. LGSM have a feel-good movie now, and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign is finally getting a proper hearing but for both it took decades of fighting, while they were smeared by both politicians and the press. Doreen Lawrence is now a dame – but before that she had police spies infiltrating her grieving family’s campaign for justice.

Anyway, here is the poem:

Verdict

After fighting you every inch of the way
They will commend your bravery.
When mud has failed to stick
They will praise your dignity.
If, despite their best efforts, you are still standing
They will pay tribute to your determination.
Their crisp suits –
Their slick soundbites –
Their magnanimous smiles –
Do not betray for a moment
That they fought you.
That they lost.
History will record your heroics
In their words:
Brave
Dignified
Determined
And you are
But that is less than half
                                           the story.

Please donate to Netpol’s crowdfunder.

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