Liverpool fans have racism charges dropped
Charges against two Liverpool fans labelled “racists” by police for using the word “Yank” have been thrown out of court.
The pair had joined hundreds of fellow supporters at Anfield chanting “Yanks Out”, in a protest against the Merseyside club’s unpopular American owners, on December 13.
But James McKenna, 22, was singled out during the peaceful protest and arrested by two police officers, who deemed his involvement in the protest “racist”.
Mr McKenna and one other fan were taken by police to nearby Wavertree police station, where they were kept for six hours, before being charged with public order offences.
But at a hearing at Liverpool’s Community Justice Court, the case against the two fans was thrown out by the Crown Prosecution Service after just a few minutes.
Speaking a week after the January hearing, Mr McKenna, a member of the Spirit of Shankly supporters club said: “I just shouted ‘Yanks Out!’
“The police were out on their horses and they grabbed me. When I asked what for they said: ‘For racism.’ We were just there to make our point to the owners as we heard they were attending.”
Malcolm Clarke, from the Football Supporters Federation, said: “It would be of grave concern if people who lead protests are particularly targeted by police or clubs.
“We live in a free society and people are entitled to put forward their opinions about their football club. This was clearly a protest against two particular people, not a general racist slur against Americans.”
James McKenna’s representative, Melanie Cooke, of Roland Fletcher Baker solicitors said: “Neither James McKenna nor the second male arrested on 13 December made any racist remarks during the peaceful demonstration outside Liverpool football ground.
“Nothing was said at the protest which was motivated by hostility towards the club’s owners’ origins. They were legitimately exercising their right to protest.
“No public order offence was committed either. Following the overzealous action by the police to arrest these two innocent men, the Crown Prosecution Service made a sensible decision to withdraw the charges.
“No doubt they consulted their guidance on prosecution which states that a case must be ‘in the public interest’ to prosecute when considering whether to proceed.”
A Merseyside Police spokesman said: “A 22-year-old man from Bootle was arrested for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress and was subsequently charged with a public order offence.
“A 30-year-old man from Dingle was also arrested and charged for a section five public order offence. Both men were bailed to appear at North Liverpool Community Justice Court where the charges were discontinued.”