The placards depicted Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman as coconuts (Picture: CAGE International)

The police have arrested Palestine protesters for holding satirical placards targeting Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman, former Tory home secretary. The police arrested Marieha Hussain last November for holding a placard depicting Sunak and Braverman as coconuts.

And at a 100-strong demonstration in solidarity with Hussain at the Westminister Magistrates’ Court in central London on Wednesday, the police arrested five people for holding the same placards. Police also confiscated coconuts that people brought to the protest—absurdly describing the coconuts themselves as racist.

Coconut is a term used for political critique, as it’s brown on the outside and white inside, which suggests that a black or brown person has betrayed their heritage.

Protesters tried to stop the arrests but were overpowered by the police.

Activists then gathered outside Hammersmith police station in west London, supporting the people who held the satirical placards that aimed to critique Sunak and Braverman’s complicity in Israel’s genocide.

Wednesday was the first day of Hussain’s trial, who the police are charing with a racially aggravated public order offence. Cage, an independent advocacy organisation, described Hussain’s arrest as an “attempt by the government and the police to intimidate and silence protesters fighting for a free Palestine”.

Hussain told news outlet Al Jazeera, “I had no idea that our word, ‘coconut’, would be hijacked by a demographic that doesn’t use these words and then used against me to criminalise me.

“Being a woman of colour and a Muslim, coupled with my deep criticism of our government aiding and abetting a genocide against the Palestinian people—these factors have made me the perfect scapegoat,” Hussain added.

She argued, “Each culture has their own language used to hold to account people of ethnic origins who use their positions of power to push white supremacy ideals, narratives and policies.”

One protester told Socialist Worker, “This is a tactic of the police and the courts to distract from the demands of the Palestine movement. Everyone here is not prepared to sit silently as this genocide goes on.”

Another protester said, “We are here to protect each other and show our support for Marieha and all others targeted for political critique and satire.”

She argued that the treatment of Hussain should be “understood as a criminalisation” of pro-Palestine protesting.

Monday, who lives in Tower Hamlets, east London, described the trial as “absolutely ridiculous” and the police’s targeting of Hussain, who is a pregnant mother of two, as “a disgrace”.

“This is a demonstration of just how racist the Met police force is,” she said.


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