Zippos Circus Protest – Charges Dropped!

Charges dropped against protesters arising from a demo at Zippos Circus on 22nd October 2009 in Cambridge.

Some facts about Zippos:

  • Zippos employed a man who defended infamous abuse at Chipperfield’s circus in court. After watching footage of the thrashing and kicking of a baby chimpanzee he was asked See anything which would constitute cruelty?. He replied unequivocally No. Asked if he would do the same he said Yes!
  • Zippos Circus have been exposed by Animal Defenders International, for keeping their horses in trailers without exercise for hours on end.
  • The way that young girl brandished the whip was obviously scary to the horses, When the man raised his hand the budgies flinched. Every time! – Audience Member, 2009 Performance.

This is a video of the protest that could not be shown at the time because the camera was being held by police.

This is a personal account of my arrest at Zippos Circus on October 22, 2009, for which all charges have now been dropped:

We arrived to the protest with the intention of handing out some leaflets and speaking on the megaphone, which we did. The entire cue was leafleted with almost everyone taking one!

After some time, two PCSOs came on to the scene. One of them told us to stop using the megaphone, which we told her we had every right to do. In the statement she later gave against us she said she felt ‘undermined’ as she didn’t know if this was ‘true or not’!

We then went to check up on the animals and were told to leave the area of the circus compound, we refused. A member of the circus staff then told one of the campaigners to ‘fuck off’ (in front of the PCSOs), again we declined his polite request! This is our common land as the people we will use it at will!

Then Sgt Jason Wragg arrived on the scene. Wragg has a pretty dodgy track record around here. He has unsuccessfully tried to prosecute a protester before for simply holding a sign, he said at a North Area Strategy meeting once that he went around asking ordinary people to account for their actions if they were out late claiming this resulted in them staying home on subsequent evenings and in 2007/08 was one of two officers from his area to receive nothing in the way of gifts from the public, so you get the picture!

Anyway in Wragg’s infinite wisdom he decided to imposed a Section 14 (quite inaudibly) despite the fact there was not any of the elements required in law to allow him such a power. He arrested 2 activists, myself and another for breach of Section 14 and when back-up arrived got them to arrest 1 female for Obstruction.

The female protester was violently pushed by police as she attempted to check on us while we were held on the floor. The other two protesters were also handcuffed despite posing no threat and I had my wrists twisted despite offering no resistance. When I objected to this, Sgt Wragg told me ‘I’ll fucking twist your wrists if I want to’.

Around 14 police arrived in vans sirens blaring as back-up to this peaceful protest. An elderly protester asked why this had happened and was told they were ‘responding to a violent incident’!

We were taken to March police station 45 miles away and held overnight. The young lad who was arrested with me was tricked into accepting a reprimand. Myself and the female campaigner were charged and signed bail conditions preventing us from further protest at the circus while it was in Cambridge and speaking to each other.

However we both now have letters from the CPS saying the charges are dropped. I have also got my camera and my megaphone back which was taken by police.

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