Home | Friday 20th August 2010 | Issue 735
RATTLING THE COPPERS
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) activist Tony Greenstein has been cleared of illegally collecting money on the streets of Brighton for PSC, something which the campaign has done unmolested for a decade.
During last week’s hearing at Brighton Magistrates Court, it came out that Greenstein had in fact been caught up in a bungled undercover sting. The real target were the Smash EDO activists manning an adjacent stall. After hatching their devious plan, coppers arrived in Churchill Square on a January afternoon when both campaigns had set up stalls within metres of each other. Believing both stalls to belong to Smash EDO, they ordered all the activists to stop the collections, quoting vaguely from a fuzzily recalled law. Eventually, the campaigners agreed to put the tins out of sight to get rid of the pesky rozzers.
After the police had left, the tins came back out. Unbeknown to the campaigners, a concealed copper was watching. He immediately radioed in for backup. The police squad swooped and promptly nicked the Smash EDO and PSC tins. The PSC tin contained £10.22. The EDO tin contained a moth.
Greenstein was cleared as council regulations state that to be an “unauthorised collector”, each person must have their own collection box where as in this case there, was just one box on the stall itself.
Animal rights campaigners have grown used to this kind of petty harassment, but this widening of the tactic has serious implications for all campaigns that fund themselves through voluntary street donations. Fortunately, this time round it was Brighton plod who looked a few pence short of the full shilling.