Who are Parents for Real Justice?
Parents For Real Justice was set up by Jennifer Hilliard who has never been an activist or campaigner nor been involved in or attended a demonstration. However as she has watched a family member go through the process of being arrested and charged she also became aware and incensed by what the legal process is doing to our youth.
We are a small but growing group of parents, family and friends of people who got caught up in the student demonstrations of 2010 and 2011. We are deeply concerned by what is happening to our children and other students/people who attended a demonstration to exercise their right to demonstrate and their need to be heard.
We saw the students speaking out for what they believed in and wanting to be heard and we feel that we now, as parents, family and friends have to stand firmly behind them and make sure that the events of those demonstrations cannot be used to put students behind bars and to intimidate future demonstrators.
Many of us have witnessed first-hand events and actions by the police, CPS and the legal system that have left us not only disappointed but also shocked and appalled.
Many of those arrested are facing disproportionate charges of Violent Disorder when only a few years ago they would have been charged with Affray. The escalation of charges within the Public Order Act of 1986 and the way it is being applied is alarming in the extreme. These young people who, in the main, have never been in trouble before are now facing lengthy prison sentences in category 2 prisons amongst hardened criminals.
We are campaigning to publicise what is happening to these students. To raise awareness of the political motivations behind the charges they are facing – often charges that are excessively punitive, which as we have seen, are resulting in lengthy custodial sentences for relatively minor offences. We are campaigning to change public and political opinion that has been swayed by the distorted representation of events in the media and by police accounts.
As we have seen from the sentences handed out to those who have pleaded guilty the establishment has no intention of showing leniency and we do not feel we should sit back and let this happen to our youth who are the future of this country.
In the coming months there will be many more trials and potentially many more students receiving custodial sentences so we need to act now to raise the public profile and make this about what is wrong with the system (and was wrong with the policing) not what the students did or did not do wrong.