Saturday, July 11, 2009

Police ‘No sleeping’ sign in the place we sleep, Salters

As I said in yesterday’s blog “Salters’ Company threatens us with ‘the authorities’”, the night before last we arrived to our sleeping pitch – a porch of the Salters’ Hall located on a derelict highwalk (see blog of 5 June “Salters back in the spotlight” for two Google map photos of the pitch) – to find three notices on official headed paper stating that the Salters' Company would report to “the authorities” anyone found sleeping in the porch. Last night there were two additional notices, this time on official notepaper from the City of London Police, stating as follows:


Please do not sleep in this area or leave your personal belongings.

In the previous blog I mentioned that The Salters’ Company, one of the Twelve Great City Livery Companies, describes itself as a company very largely devoted to charity; it also plays an important part in the system of local government in the City of London, reflecting its historical roots. I also explain that under the Human Rights Act 1998 people have the right to sleep in the streets and that Salters need a court order to move us on. (I also publish a picture of Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the Master of the Salters’ Company, and a former law lord.)

Nonetheless, I am actually prepared to break any court order that would put me back on street level: within two weeks of sleeping in the street somebody sat on the right hand side of my face (see here); I was grabbed by the ankles while I was asleep and dragged out of the two-step porch and down the pavement two or three metres, then a few hours later I was kicked in the back (see here); a guy repeatedly kicked me in the chest and shoulders as his mates stood by (see here); and I was urinated on (see here). I would actually feel safer in a cell!

In Thursday’s blog “Still no resolution!”, I wrote that there wouldn’t be any need for a cell if the homeless organisation Broadway got a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) acknowledging an error in respect to the payment of our benefits and committing to the payment of a deposit on a flat, a small fraction of what we are entitled to in accumulated arrears - we came to England in 2003 and for two years attempted to get NAC up and running; we went on benefits in July 2005; the DWP terminated our benefits on 27 September 2006 because Declan did not “sign on” two days before he was due to do so on 29 September. Broadway, of course, never seem happy about the task, I assume because we never succeeded in getting this from the High Court (see here), Court of Appeal (see here) or the European Court of Human Rights (see here).

What would motivate the DWP to deny us benefits to which we are entitled? Well, there can be no explanation other than to run us back to Ireland, where an organisation like NAC wouldn’t stand a chance of seeing the light of day. In fact, Ireland is currently shuffling through a law creating penalties for blasphemy, an offence that has never properly existed in the Irish state. The proposed law states that a person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000. Irish writer Michael Nugent comments in the Index on Censorship that the law “treats religious beliefs as more valuable than secular beliefs and scientific thinking”.

I uploaded this video featuring Nugent, titled “Blasphemy Is Not A Crime Part 1” (parts 2 to 9 can be accesses here), to a Guardian article “Who asked for Ireland's blasphemy law?”, which I posted to the NAC website yesterday .