HS2 activist known as Satchel is being held on remand at HMP Dovegate, Staffordshire. His supporters demand he is released with no new bail conditions so that he can await his court date in June on bail. They wish to highlight the racism underpinning our policing and criminal justice systems and the fact that protestors of colour experience wider discrimination and harsher penalties for protesting.
Satchel was arrested for breach of bail and is now being held on remand. Satchel is a protestor of colour and has been subject to restrictive bail conditions since he was arrested in October 2020 during the eviction of Jones Hill Woods anti-HS2 protest camp. This eviction has since been proved to be illegal and all other defendants have had these charges and bail conditions dropped. However, Satchel is now facing the possibility of 4 months on remand, meaning he’ll be kept in jail until his trial rather than being given bail.
Satchel was arrested at 12pm Friday 11th March whilst he was peacefully protesting outside the gate of a new HS2 compound on the public highway. He was targeted by HS2 staff at a site near Swynnerton in Staffordshire. He was denied the opportunity to speak to his solicitor until 9am on Saturday before his court hearing, despite being held in custody since 12pm on Friday. This was both stressful and meant he and his solicitor had very little time to prepare his defence. He has now been denied bail by the Magistrate until Monday 14th in Aylesbury Crown Court, where his case will be heard by a judge. The prosecution are seeking to have him remanded until his court date in June.
Drew Robson, HS2 protester, said: “Racism is inherent in our criminal justice system. Satchel is now in a situation where he could be held on remand for 4 months for charges which have been dropped for his white co-defendants. This is absolutely outrageous. His bail conditions have been set for almost two years after his court case has been repeatedly pushed back. This has prevented his right to safely protest, assemble and stand up for what he believes in. He’s got to be extra careful on protests because he knows he gets racially profiled, and is always aware of the extra discrimination he faces attending protest events.”
Satchel is a committed POC (person of colour) activist who has been involved in campaigns against HS2 and the new Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill. Satchel has been subjected to racism from police and the criminal justice system. In October 2020, The Guardian reported on an incident where he was thrown to the ground and had is back and neck knelt on during a peaceful protest. He was arrested and the charges later dropped. He is the only protestor still on bail for charges from the Jones Hill eviction, and was the only protestor of colour.
There have been 100s of unlawful arrests made throughout the duration of the HS2 campaign, of which only 10 actual convictions have been made. Protestors have been subjected to violence and highly disproportionate policing. In a attempt to cover their tracks, prosecution are now desperately trying to get convictions. It is deeply worrying that protestors can already be held in custody in this way – but made all the more disturbing in the context of the new Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, which seeks to further criminalise protestors and will lead to further cases such as these, with people of colour suffering most.
You can help online by sharing the below poster on social media and making your own images and posts in support of Satchel. You can also support by coming to Aylesbury Crown Court on Monday to show your support.
Keep up to date on our Bluebell Woods Protection Camp page for more information on Satchel here.