(Thank you for all your support. Unfortunately (or fortunately), my sentencing has been delayed to November 16th because the probation officer didn’t complete her report before going on holidays. The judge allowed me to travel to Hong Kong for a job, but otherwise I’ll be in London awaiting my sentencing. Wish me luck. I miss the U.S. so much!)
My lawyer just wrote to me: “Bring your bag with you as before”.
It simply means that just in case they take me straight to jail after the sentencing, I need to be prepared as I was on September 7th, when the trial finished.
No book, no movie, not even someone’s story can prepare you for the mental and physical exhaustion this kind of trial leaves you in.
I had just left my friend’s place in London, jumping on a public bike and getting to the Southward Crown Court with bag full of yarn.
My crocheted version of Martin Luther King’s “Injustice anywhere is a treat to justice everywhere” is more personal than one can imagine. I was found guilty on Section 20, which is unlawful wounding without intent. I was found guilty on my action to simply protect myself from being injured by a very drunk, big Russian man.
On October 6th 2011, I went for one glass of wine with a filmmaker from Australia who was filming my crocheted action for a charity event earlier that evening. A man approached me from behind by sexually touching me on my upper thigh. With what I know now, I should have reported him right away, but not wanting to get someone in trouble I told him to leave me alone. 40 minutes later I was arrested.
We were asked to leave the wine bar as it was closing. It was 11pm. I was chatting with a few people in the smoking area of the bar when the Russian male pointed at me and walked towards me. He was celebrating 10 years of working in London School of Economics and I guess I was included in his plans for the evening.
He was noticeably drunk, muttering and stumbling and standing very close to me. Initially I asked him to “go away” politely. This had no effect. I told the male to “fuck-off.” It had no effect as the Russian male ignored me and remained behaving in a creepy fashion. Therefore I asked him if he did not understand it in English and asked whether he would he like me to repeat it in Russian, and subsequently did so.
This appeared to annoy the male. And the situation unravelled as usual. Once the male knew he has no chance he started being offensive and aggressive. In Russian he called me a ‘prostitute’ and a ‘whore’ and said, “I would be lucky to get a male like him” as well as other similar things. In response to this I again said “fuck-off” and poured my glass of red wine over his head, which also went down his clothes.
The male became angry and appeared embarrassed. I wanted him to go away and leave me alone.
Suddenly and without warning I saw a hand in my face and the male wrenched my eyeglasses off of my face. It happened quickly and initially blurred my vision.
I complained and asked for the glasses back; he threw them over a shed-like building and out of the grounds of the bar. He said, “I will teach you a lesson.” At this I was scared. The male was visibly very drunk. He reached to his right either to put something down or pick something up. I was concerned by what he would do next and whether he was arming himself.
I had little time to think. It seemed like a few folks tried to stop him. With the situation escalating, I instinctively punched out with my right hand not thinking about the glass in my hand. I hit him, the glass broke. The intention was to defend myself.
Then it was a mess. The glass collectors removed me from the area. Later he said in his statement that I beat him up. During the trial he said I didn’t assault him at all. It was one of my charges. They were trying to prove that I was running away from the scene. The video footage shows a staff member asking me to step outside.
Shortly after the incident the police arrived. I was spoken to by 5-7 officers and in the police car, one of the officers kept asking me what happened and I explained as above and specifically stated that the Russian male had touched me and was bothering me. However their main focus was to obtain my place of residence and where I am from. No one wanted to listen to my story. No one wanted to find evidence of my reasoning. They were finding evidence of my guilt. They were not working towards supporting my story. The video footage shows the last few minutes of the incident. I asked for the longer version when it shows when the male sexually assaulted me. They waited for months, until the video was erased from the system.
At the police station the police went through my belongings and found my small scissors, which were subject to count 4 and 5. These two items are part of the tools of my trade, I explained. Again, I was arrested and the charges were piling up. I said I want to sue the guy for physical and verbal assault on me. Police officer said it is too late as I am being arrested not him.
Next thing I know I am a subject to a strip search and a joke for police officers.
I was in the small cell from Thursday night till Monday morning. Bright light. Cold. Not being able to take a shower or even brush my teeth. No able to make a phone call as I didn’t know any phone number by heart in UK.
On Monday after a brief hearing at the court I was move to a prison. Finally when the bail came thorough, I was out on an electronic monitoring bracelet for a month.
He got 5 stitches above his eyebrow; crown wanted me for 5 years in custody.
I got 5 charges, 5 serious charges.
Again, I am on a curfew now for almost a month waiting for my sentence.
What system sends to jail people who are trying to defend themselves?
In a way, I am glad it happened to me. I can make a bigger statement of this situation. I will make more, much more work and devote my life to fight for women’s rights, to anyone’s right to fight.
Being a successful artist helped me to hire the best lawyer London can offer. It was the first criminal trial the firm lost. I guess that happens when your client is not guilty.
The price tag is more than I expected. One could buy a small house for the money I am transferring to them. I am still short. I hope you feel like being part of this story and feel like acquiring part of my life by purchasing the piece I created that describes my situation.
There are more small details that I’ll keep for my book that I hope to write sometime soon.
They can take my freedom. But they will never take away my ability to make art and speak loudly about injustice in the modern world.