Trans activist Sarah Jane Baker has been found not guilty of inciting violence after telling the crowd to “punch a TERF” at London Trans+ Pride.
Baker, 54, was filmed addressing a crowd at the Pride event on 8 July, shouting into a microphone: “If you see a TERF, punch them in the f**king face.”
She was found not guilty of inciting violence at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (31 August), after claiming the speech was solely meant as a publicity stunt, the Evening Standard reported.
Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram echoed Baker’s own description of herself as an “idiot”, explaining that he had doubt about her intentions, but believed she made the speech for publicity.
“I have a doubt … I think it’s also possible you are just an idiot – in fact you said it yourself – who was trying to get attention to your cause, that you didn’t intend for people to do it,” he said.
“But you said it because you wanted the publicity for your cause.”
Baker explained while giving evidence that she had told the crowd to “punch TERFs” to draw attention to the cause of trans rights, reportedly breaking down in tears when describing the violence currently facing the LGBTQ+ community.
“I didn’t mean it, I didn’t want no one to be beaten up because of some rubbish that comes out of my mouth,” she said.
“I just wanted to get attention for some of the causes I believe in.”
Prosecutor Kabir Sondhi noted several supporters cheering on Baker during her speech, explaining that the activist could be capable of influencing violence.
“She exhorted her audience to punch people in the face, and she intended to encourage the commission of such offences,” he said.
“The words used were clearly capable of encouraging members of the assembled crowd, some of whom can be seen in the footage offering enthusiastic support, to go out and commit the offence of battery against people Ms Baker referred to as TERFs by punching or assaulting them.”
Baker was seen on camera at Trans+ Pride in July saying: “I was gonna come here and be really fluffy and be really nice and say yeah be really lovely and queer and gay … Nah, if you see a TERF, punch them in the f**king face.”
After her arrest in July, she apologised for the speech, describing it as “not my finest moment”.
London Trans+ Pride explained in a statement that while it condemns calls for violence, “hatred and culture wars” had stoked frustration within the trans community.
“Not being heard, listened to, or [being] actively undermined, is not only deeply frustrating, disheartening and fear inducing, it is also why people like Sarah and many others in our community hold a lot of rage and anger,” the organisation explained.
“We do not condone violence. We do not back a call to arms for violence of any kind. We do condone righteous anger. We have and will continue to march in peace.”
A protester holds up a sign reading ‘Freedom for Sarah Jane Baker’. (PinkNews)
During her trial, Sarah Jane Baker explained that she doesn’t “hate TERFs”, but spoke about the difficulties facing the trans community.
“A lot of us are poor, we live in squalor, a lot of us have absolutely nothing but the clothing we have and benefits that the system deems we are allowed to have to survive,” she said.
“The trans community is one of the most marginalised communities on the planet.”
The activist was previously in prison and released on parole in 2019 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for kidnapping and torturing her stepmother’s brother in the late 1980s, and the later attempted murder of a child rapist while she was in prison.
Due to the nature of her parole, Baker was recalled after the incident at Trans+ Pride to serve the remainder of a life sentence pending the result of her trial.
She has solely been held in a male prison, and told the court she has not showered for two months, is housed on a wing with male sex offenders, and has been the victim of groping and “inappropriate” comments.
Campaigners supporting Sarah Jane Baker have previously protested the activist being held in a male prison.
Anita Downs, Baker’s partner of three years and leader of the ‘Free Sarah Jane Baker’ campaign, told PinkNews that Baker is finding the experience of being in a male prison “really difficult”.
She added: “This has happened because of the UK’s political issues and that the government is raging a culture war against trans people who are some of the most oppressed people in society today.”
It is understood that Baker will not be released after being found not guilty on Thursday, but will wait for a parole hearing, which is reportedly due in March of next year.