Occupy London protesters will be appearing in court today (Weds) for their participation in a protest last year inside the Xstrata head quarters at Panton House, Haymarket, close to Trafalgar Square.
The charges faced by protesters today relate to a demonstration held on November 30, 2011, in which dozens of people stormed the headquarters of the Anglo-Swiss mining company and dropped a banner from the roof.
Police entered the building behind the protesters arresting those inside and on the roof. Further arrests took place as participants tried to prevent their friends from being taken away on a coach hired by the Metropolitan Police. At least 20 people were arrested both during and after the incident.
The protest on November 30 followed a national day of action against public sector cuts, including a mass march in London, speeches from union representatives on Victoria Embankment, as well as the action later at Panton House. Including those arrested at the Xstrata building there were 52 arrests throughout the day.
Following the incident late last year and the resulting legal action, culminating today at Westminster Magistrate's Court, the police behaviour on the day has been questioned as photographs have emerged purportedly showing excessive police force during the arrests. It is thought that the protesters facing charges will use these allegations as well as the democratic right to peaceful protest in their defence.
This trial comes as the latest in a string of ongoing cases of alleged police brutality and excess force, and suspected infringement of protest rights. Other cases include that of Alfie Meadows who sustained head injuries so severe he needed emergency brain surgery during the 2010 student protests, and that of the PC Simon Harwood, accused of the manslaughter of innocent passer-by Ian Tomlinson during the G20 summit protest in 2009.