#Human Rights
Martin Gleeson, secretary Oldham TUC, po box 392, Oldham, OL1 1wy
United Kingdom

On Thursday 27th January, Holocaust Memorial Day 2005, Mr Martin Gleeson, secretary of Oldham Trades Council and a prominent anti-racist campaigner in the town, was arrested following a complaint by Oldham BNP activist Anita Corbett.

Having turned up uninvited, the BNP complained that Mr Gleeson, in laying the Trades Council's wreath, had damaged a wreath that the BNP had themselves laid.

Mr Gleeson's supporters say that the presence of the BNP - and the police and the council's failure to exclude them - outraged those present, including several representatives of the Jewish community.

Displaying total contempt for the day's proceedings the BNP ignored the agreed protocol for the ceremony and interrupted a speech by black Christian minister the Rev Donnie Meyer to lay their wreath ahead of other organisations and individuals present.

Mr Gleeson was personally arrested by Chief Supt Keith Bentley, the most senior police officer in Oldham. He was held for 7 hours at Oldham police station and charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 s.1(1) and s.4 with criminal damage to the BNP wreath, valued at GBP 20.

He later said "I acted because I found the BNP wreath hypocritical and hurtful both to myself and to my friends present at the ceremony. I intended only to obscure it from public view."

We, the undersigned, wish to protest about the arrest and subsequent charging of Oldham TUC secretary Martin Gleeson at the Holocaust Memorial Day civic ceremony in Oldham on January 27th 2005.

Martin Gleeson responded to the placing of a wreath by the far-right British National Party (BNP) by placing one from the trade union and anti-racist movement on top of it. After the BNP representatives complained to police that he had squashed their flowers, Martin was arrested and charged with causing criminal damage.

We believe that this incident raises serious questions about the rights of far-right groups to cynically intrude upon Holocaust Memorial events, and the rights of ordinary people to make peaceful protests.

This prosecution is clearly not in the public interest, and we call upon Greater Manchester Police to unconditionally drop the charge.

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The Drop Charges Against Martin Gleeson petition to Martin Gleeson, secretary Oldham TUC, po box 392, Oldham, OL1 1wy was written by marcus keller and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.

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arrest martin Gleeson