A pro-Palestine protestor has been convicted and fined for carrying a placard with the words: “FREE PALESTINE!! ISRA*L BURN IN HELL.”
Laura Davis, 21, from London, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last Thursday where she pleaded guilty to racially aggravated threatening and abusive behaviour, intended to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
She was fined £100 and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £40 and costs of £85.
Davis was stopped by officers in Regent Street on the evening of Saturday, October 28.
She was part of a breakaway protest group and had been seen on CCTV to be carrying a placard which read: “FREE PALESTINE!! ISRA*L BURN IN HELL.”
Magistrate Nicholas Tarry told Davis the message on the placard “is not an appropriate thing to be waving; it’s violent language about another country and it is not allowed.”
The court heard Davis fled her home in Saudi Arabia in December 2021 because she was not accepted as a transgender person. She was granted asylum in the summer.
Speaking in mitigation, defence lawyer Nicola White said Davis attended the rally “with good intentions” but, in “an impulsive action,” carried the sign away after finding it at the bus stop.
Davis did not mean to offend anyone, Ms White said, adding that she has shown remorse and made an early guilty plea..
Ms White said: “She has expressed deep remorse and regret in that moment in picking up that sign that she did not seek clarification from another Arabic-speaking member of the protest (about its meaning).”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Valentine, said: “We have been clear that while the right to protest lawfully must be respected, that does not extend to actions or statements that cross the line from political speech into criminality.
“While the majority of those attending protests have done so lawfully, it is regrettable that we have seen a number of people who have turned up carrying signs or chanting in a way that they should know will cause alarm or distress to others and in particular those in our Jewish communities.
“If you are coming out to protest, please think carefully about how slogans and statements might impact others. We will not tolerate hate speech or abuse.
“Anyone who continues to engage in that sort of behaviour, despite the clear warnings we have provided, will face police action and could end up before the courts.”