More than 100 protesters fighting for the restoration of free travel for the elderly in South Yorkshire gathered outside Sheffield Magistrates Court to celebrate the charges against two OAPs being dropped.
Groups including the Unite union, Barnsley Retirees Action Group and Sheffield Disabled People Against the Cuts waved placards and chanted through the city centre.
The event was organised in honour of George Arthur and Tony Nuttall, the pensioners who were arrested on June 23 on the platform of Sheffield Station.
They had been part of a ‘Freedom Ride’ protest to make their voices heard on travel concessions for the elderly being withdrawn.
Opinion: A fair Cop at last
But the protest turned ugly with clashes between British Transport Police and security staff and the protesting group.
A video of Tony Nuttall being arrested by multiple officers, with his head bent double, went viral on social media, with many criticising the treatment of the protesters by transport police.
Watch the original video here: The original arrest video
Mr Arthur, aged 64, and Mr Nuttall, 65, were charged with fare evasion and obstructing police, but the charges were dropped just days before their trial was due to start.
Speaking outside the court on the day the trial was due to start, Mr Nuttall said: “I don’t know whether I should bend over double, you probably don’t recognise my if I stand up and look you in the face.
“We’re all in it together, we’re all working class people against austerity and the robbery of anything that is of value to working class people. That’s the fight that we’re in. And the Freedom Ride fight doesn’t end here. Our fight goes on.”
The group of protesters chanted its way to Sheffield Station, where Mr Arthur and Mr Nuttall knocked on the door of the British Transport Police’s office, but got no response.
Mr Arthur added: “On June 23rd, we came with peaceful intentions. They didn’t hang around, they came shooting out from every bolthole to attack us on June 23rd. We come here peacefully today - not quietly - but making a noise, and trying to make ourselves known to them, and they are not showing up. I think that says a lot.”
Tony Nuttall added: “I think it has been really fantastic. We have had a really good turnout and it has been a boost for the campaign.
“It’s not so important necessarily that the charges have been dropped; what’s important is the campaign to bring back free train travel.
“I think we’ll go on from here and win back the full concessions.”
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