St. Anne’s student locked up for littering

first_imgA first year student at St Anne’s College was arrested on Sunday after attemtpting to throw a bottle of water to a protestor.Jonathan Leighton had tried to give a bottle of water to tree protestor Gabriel Chamberlain, who occupied a sycamore in Bonn Square for 12 days to protest against Oxford City Council chopping down the trees to redevelop the area.Leighton said,  “I shouted up to Gabriel that I was going to throw water to him, but it was a bit of a rubbish throw and it didn’t make it.” The throw fell short of the heights of the sycamore tree, landing on the grass nearby. A policeman handcuffed Jonathan, arresting him on the grounds of dropping litter.Leighton claimed to be surprised by the arrest. He said, “The next thing I knew, these police officers had run over to me and said they were arresting me. I said to them, ‘What for?’ and they said it was for littering. I couldn’t really believe what was happening. I just remember shouting over to my friend: ‘I’m being arrested!’”Leighton was handcuffed and taken to St Aldate’s police station, where he was held for three hours while he had his fingerprints, DNA and photograph taken, and was eventually released without charge at 5.15am. Leighton said that he felt the officers  carrying out the arrest “abused their power” and is seeking legal advice. He said, “The police need to be held accountable for their actions. I feel they were completely over the top and unnecessary. There was absolutely no need to arrest me. Even if I don’t pursue legal action, I will still be reporting the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. I think the whole thing has been ridiculous.”Police would not comment on Leighton’s complaints but Chief Supt Brendan O’Dowda confirmed a man was arrested for littering in Bonn Square and was released without charge. He said, “I can’t go into the whys and wherefores of the arrest itself.”A ‘ring of steel’ was erected around Gabriel on Friday as police and council officials waited for him to surrender. The 34-year-old was cut off from food and water supplies from his supporters after the authorities surrounded the tree with metal fences.Jonathan Leighton said, “I wanted to give Gabriel some water because I felt that instead of listening to the message of his protest, security stopped him from gaining access to food and water which I thought was wrong.” He is fully in support of Gabriel’s protest. “I don’t think the plans for the site are very good. I’m up for improving Bonn Square, but I don’t see the need to cut down trees that are more than 100 years old.’’Chamberlain was met by council officials and police upon descending from the tree-house, and was subsequently arrested. Both Chamberlain and his campaigning partner, Brian Melling, were fined £276 by Judge Morton Jack.Melling had attempted to stop the felling by climbing into a council-owned chipping truck.  Ill health was cited as the reason why the protestors gave up their campaign, however, during the hearing the protestors handed over a petition signed by 3500 supporters for their causeby Omotola Akerelelast_img read more