US veteran refuses to pay fine over pro-Hamas sign

2 weeks ago 22

Michael RabbImage source, Lucy North/PA

Image caption,

Rabb was convicted at City of London Magistrates' Court on Tuesday

A US military veteran has refused to pay a fine for carrying a pro-Hamas sign at a protest in South Yorkshire.

Michael Rabb, 73, of Boulder, Colorado, was arrested at the demonstration at Sheffield City Hall on 21 October.

A trial at City of London Magistrates' Court found him guilty of displaying the sign in such a way as to arouse reasonable suspicion he was a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.

But on Tuesday, he told the judge he was "not going to pay" the £1,000 fine.

The ex-US Navy fighter pilot also refused to pay £930 costs and a £400 surcharge.

'Legitimate act'

The court had earlier heard that Rabb was spotted at the protest outside Sheffield City Hall carrying a homemade sign which read "Stand With Hamas, End Israel, Free Palestine".

Hamas is proscribed as a terrorist group by the UK government.

Rabb's sign had caused "distress" among organisers, potentially inflamed tensions and the police were asked to step in to talk to him, prosecutor Sebastian Walker told the court.

He said Rabb left the protest after being spoken to about the sign, but later returned and was arrested.

Mr Walker said Rabb had shown no remorse or regret for his actions.

Rabb told the court his behaviour was a "legitimate act of civil disobedience" which was not disproportionate.

'Designed to hurt'

He said his arrest was an attempt to shut down dissent and described the use of the Terrorism Act to bring him to court as "arbitrary".

By any standards of "decency" he should be found not guilty, Rabb said.

Following the guilty verdict, District Judge Annabel Pilling told Rabb that the fine was "designed to hurt".

However, Rabb responded by saying: "No judge, I'm not going to pay. I refuse to pay."

Judge Pilling warned Rabb that he had "extremely strongly held views" and said he may find himself in contempt of court should he not pay.

She gave him seven days to make the payment in full.

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