“Any oppressive laws can be rendered unworkable through protest, non-co-operation and defiance”- Conference leaflet
Last Sunday’s Freedom to Protest conference brought together a wide range of grassroots groups concerned about the continuing threat to freedom in the UK. Amongst others present were Gate Gourmet strikers, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, SMASH EDO, Stop Political Terror, Campaign against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) and of course SchNEWS. Over two hundred gathered, representing eighty groups, to share opinions and experiences. As the state tries to clampdown on all dissent, those it targets are beginning to pull together and realise their common cause.
One gap to be bridged is the one between activist groups, who encounter the anti-terror laws when they are labelled as protestors, and community groups who have no choice about being targeted. They bear the brunt of stop and search policies that are equal to the notorious ‘sus’ laws which caused widespread inner-city rioting in the 1980s. Large numbers of arrests have been made under the anti-terror laws, few of which ever result in charges, seeming to mirror the British State’s use of the strategy of ‘disruption’ conducted against the Irish community in the 1970s. Meanwhile, new 21st century methods are used as well, with activists being hit with injunctions and ASBOs.
Groups, be they ethnic or ideological, that the powers that be perceive as a threat are being squeezed with a combination of laws aimed at restricting free speech and free assembly. Recent developments such as a policy which allows the use of ‘torture’ evidence in British courts, while forcibly deporting suspects to countries which use torture, and government proposals to introduce three-month internment mean that a collective movement in defence of basic rights and freedoms is needed now as never before.
Brighton anti-arms trade activists are in the High Court again next week. The three day hearing starting on 1st November will decide whether EDO MBM, Brighton’s very own bomb builders can be held responsible for war crimes committed with their merchandise. The trial is a result of EDO MBM trying to get an injunction to ban protest outside their factory (see SchNEWS 492). The defendants are reversing the trial by arguing that they were acting to ‘prevent or detect crime’. The court will be forced to consider graphic evidence of the aftermath of airstrikes in Iraq and Palestine and of EDOs direct links to arming the airforces of the UK, US and Israeli governments. The Attorney General’s office has generously offered to participate in the trial and have punted up a barrister, no doubt to ensure a full and fair hearing on the legality of the Iraq war
*Supporters Rally, outside the High Court, the Strand 1ST November 9.30am
*OCTOBER 31ST Halloween Demo outside the Factory of Death, Home Farm Rd Brighton. Meet at 4pm at Moulsecoomb station. www.smashedo.org.uk 07891 405923
TEA’S UP: TROUBLE BREWING IN WORTHING
It seems that Sussex police took the planned ‘vigil for the death of democracy’, demo (called by Titnore Emergency Action (TEA) in Worthing) a little too literally-by trying to ban it. Irony proof plod Superintendent Lance Gray was scaremongering in local rag The Argus under the headline “Police fears over vigil to halt new homes” and claiming that “police have not been officially notified and fear the protest could become unruly”. He also claimed that you have to inform the police of any protests by law – not yet true, despite Neo Labour’s best efforts.
The demo is about the plan to build an 875 home housing development and road-widening at which will ruin the local Titnore Woods, Durrington. The alarmist Argus report read “Notice of the demonstration has spread by word of mouth and community websites in Worthing” (Are you scared yet?) and referred to a ‘secret’ protest (not secret, just badly advertised) in its editorial comment. According to them “The Sussex Force has a good record of working with lawful protests”. The reality of the police approach is, of course, rather different. Sussex residents in the past have discovered that the boys in blue want to tell them where and when they can protest, put limits on numbers, insist on stewards being provided and even demand that organisers take out public liability insurance.
The protest will go ahead without state authority this Saturday (29th) at the Titnore Lane roundabout, junction with the A259 next to Northbrook College, close to Goring by Sea station.(Any outside agitators from Brighton who want to go, meet at Brighton station 1.15 pm).
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For being organised!
Milan Rai and Maya Evans face up to one year in jail under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act for organising an unauthorised demonstration, of, er…two. The pair had been protesting opposite Downing Street at the deaths of over 100,000 civilians in Iraq.
* An Iraq remembrance demo will be held in London on Saturday 29 October at the Edith Cavell Statue, St Martin’s Place (just off Trafalgar Sq) from 1-2pm.
“US” AND “THEM”
“The risk of torture is not confined to national security deportees but to asylum seekers generally. Freedom from torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment is an absolute right under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, deportations of asylum seekers in contravention of these fundamental rights has become more commonplace due to the ‘War on Terror’.” Liz Fekete, author of The Deportation Machine - Europe, Asylum and Human Rights
Refugee rights are under attack as never before. Migrant, particularly Muslim, communities, now increasingly live in fear and intimidation as social tensions escalate following recent tragic events in London. A raft of tough new anti-terrorism legislation is set to be presented before Parliament as an uncritical cross-party political consensus emerges in the wake of the suicide bombings. The rhetoric of the “war on terrorism” links asylum seekers to terrorism with dangerous consequences. Internationally, the Geneva Convention is being dismantled while, here in the UK, the rights of asylum seekers are under threat. Human rights abuses are becoming more widespread as the government sets targets for removal.
An open forum by the Refugee Project has been set up to discuss the resistance to these measures. They say “Much is being done by existing organisations, but trade unionists, human rights campaigners, refugee and community organisations, and concerned individuals can do more by working together”.
Speakers include Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer; Nick Hildyard, Refugee Project; Doug Holton, Stop Deporting Children; Dashty Jamal, International Federation of Iraqi Refugees; and asylum seekers from Iraq and Zimbabwee
* 2nd November Committee Room 12, House of Commons, Westminster, SW1 7pm (SchNEWS asked why they met in the belly of the beast and were told that it was the only free room in London!) 020 7250 1315 firstname.lastname@example.org
* Also 29th October: Demonstration at Campsfield Detention Centre 12noon - 2pm Demonstration to give support to the detainees inside Campsfield. Bring musical instruments or saucepans to make a cheerful noise. www.closecampsfield.org.uk
20 police vans and around 50 uniformed goons kindly showed up at a Rolls Royce factory in Derby this Monday, despite the pouring rain, to ‘look after’ 40 anti-nuclear protestors. They thoughtfully penned-in the protestors on arrival “for their own safety”. The non-violent protestors had held successful meetings over the weekend raising awareness about Rolls Royce’s production of nuclear reactors for the UK’s own nuclear submarine system, Trident at their Raynesway factory. Some police cars were even generous enough to accompany the protestors from the church where they stayed overnight - in order to stop and search them. Given the weather it seemed very charitable that ten of the protestors were then whisked off to a drier location downtown for a cup of tea and a little chat. Not that they really needed a reason, the officers also arrested a couple of elderly women for dangerously holding a banner and not moving when asked. Three more people were detained for 9 hours because the car owner failed to remove a hacksaw bought from a car boot sale a few days earlier from the boot. Not exactly the spirit of ecstasy, but the 40 strong group still managed to get plenty of media exposure and stick two fingers up at ‘appropriate policing’.
The in-yer-face shit stirring newssheet, “The Bristolian”, has won a £1000 runners-up prize in the first annual Paul Foot awards for being “spiky, angry, iconoclastic, rude, abrasive.” The self proclaimed “smiter of the high and mighty” beat the likes of George Monbiot to get on the shortlist but was pipped at the post by John Sweeney, a journo from the establishment-rattling Daily Mail (shurley shome mishtake?) for his four year investigation into shaken baby syndrome. Last year the Bristolian uncovered a scandal regarding vote-rigging at local council elections. It was their dirt-digging which led to convictions and resignations. SchNEWS applauds the Bristolian and urges you to topple your local councillor, MP or Prime Minister by getting involved with a local newssheet, demo or direct action.
*’How to set up your own local newsletter’ www.eco-action.org/porkbolter
CRASH FASH BASH
Two dates for your anti fascist diary: BNP’s Nasty Nick Griffin is in Leeds Crown Court Weds Nov 2nd, charged with incitement to racial hatred. Assemble there 9 am. Rally 12 noon at the Art Gallery, organised by Yorkshire and Humberside TUC and Unite Against Fascism. UNITE and Love Music Hate Racism are planning to disrupt a BNP and Keighley Mums Against Paedophiles demo. 12 noon Keighley, West Yorkshire, assembly point to be confirmed.
The BNP have their sights set on gaining power in Yorkshire, and are gathering the support of otherwise seemingly decent people. Their lies and activities need to be seen for what they are, so wide support is needed here folks.
Transport info – coaches are going from all over the country - UNITE 020 78334916 www.uaf.org.uk www.lmhr.org.uk
Hundreds of cyclists in Halloween costumes might not look like serious criminals, but today they will defy police threats of arrest under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, in what is expected to be one of the biggest London Critical Mass rides of the year.
At the last monthly ride, police circulated a letter labelling Critical Mass (CM) a “demonstration” and threatening that “participation in this event could render you liable to prosecution” (SchNEWS 515). The ride falls within the half-mile protest exclusion zone around Parliament (SchNEWS 507) in which demonstrating without police permission is an arrestable offence. Whether CM can be classed as a demonstration remains to be seen. New Scotland Yard’s Superintendent Gomm doesn’t seem too sure about it himself – when Cycling Weekly reminded him that CM participants frequently insist that they are not demonstrating he replied: “That’s a matter of opinion,” before adding “I see it as a protest about cycling conditions. They’ve done a great deal of good for cycling in London over the years.” So we suppose the Clown Army are protesting about conditions for clowns, then, and demanding more circus rings? Head to London and get on yer bike - we might even be there to film you…
* Brighton has a critical mass on the last Friday of each month - starts from the Level at 6pm. www.tinyurl.com/dfkc2
We’re all going to die...
...LAUGHING! Is it a bird or is it a plague?A new global pandemic threatens to overwhelm the last vestiges of civilisation. Having so far survived CJD and Mad Cows, SARS, Nanotechnology, Avian Bird Flu and many other red-alert health stories, there is a new and even more terrifying threat to be afraid of. Avoid Reality Syndrome (ARS), nicknamed ‘Ostrich disease’, is believed to have originated in America but is spreading and now everyone is at risk. Experts are assuming the mindvirus slipped into the country whilst TV was parroting the corporate agenda. The ragin’ contagion has now infected all UK media, spreading rapidly as people catch it from exposure to daytime property shows and celebrity gossip magazines. Early symptoms include knowing anything whatsoever about Kate Moss, but full blown ARS can lead to people actually worrying about a dead parrot in Folkestone (or was it just sleeping?). A spokesman for a particularly vulnerable group ‘Tabloid Hacks’, who was rummaging through Jordan’s binbags at the time, told SchNEWS, “I went into this game to seek truth and confront power and now look at me, Oh God please end the pain now.”
Some journalists are having to wear special corsets designed to stop them involuntarily sticking their heads under the ground to avoid noticing all the signs of climate change, terrorism laws, introduction of a police state etc etc. Some hacks had been smashing their own faces in trying to bury them in concrete to avoid any reality, and were sent to hospital still chanting, “No, I can’t see all the disasters, melting ice caps, pollution, nor the clampdowns, restrictions or need for revolution”. Doctors reported seeing the worst self-inflicted injuries since Anti New Labour protesters were admitted after banging their heads against brick walls.
As the pandemic spreads, millions are at risk from being lost in a limbo world where what Bob Geldof thinks is important. The only cure is to face up to the state we’re in with regular inoculations of preventative medicine in the shape of yer truth dealin’ SchNEWS (which is why the cover price is going up 400% next week). “We are taking this threat seriously,” said a government spokesman, ‘and may have to shut down democracy until all the danger has passed.” See full coverage pages 2,5,6,7,13,15,16 and next week’s 8-page pull out “How would a totalitarian state affect house prices?”
SchNEWS in brief
There’s an annual Remembrance Procession for those who have died in police custody this Saturday organised by United Families and Friends. Please wear black. No placards Gather at Trafalgar Square 1pm 07770432439 www.uffc.org
A new campaign against the widening of the M1 has begun. The Department of Transport wants to expand the motorway to 4 lanes from Leicester to Leeds. See www.nowideningm1.org.uk or call 07896 264 519
Campaign Against the Arms Trade has surveyed UK universities and found that nearly half are significant investors in the arms trade. The ten biggest university arms investors collectively hold over 32 million shares in six UK arms companies. www.caat.org.uk
Check out a collection of sixteen essays on civil rights, democracy and terrorism specially written for the recent launch of the European Civil Liberties Network www.ecln.org
Sign the pledge of opposition to airport expansion www.airportpledge.org.uk
ABC public meeting to discuss the F.I.E.S. isolation units in Spanish prisons. It’s two years since anarchists detained in Barcelona (the Barcelona 6) have struggled against this high security prison regime. Includes speakers from Spain calling for solidarity 7pm, Tuesday 1st November, at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton.
Last Saturday’s successful 22nd annual scuffle with the Met was sadly marred by the outbreak of a Bookfair. This year’s events were attended by thousands, who while they waited for the scuffles to kick off became impatient and began swapping information, making links and selling each other t-shirts and books.
Hundreds of refugees from the bookish jamboree crammed into Wetherspoons in Holloway Road for the 24th annual London Anarchist Scuffle. A misguided attempt to play pisspoor techno on some duff portable speakers gave the staff the excuse to stop serving (well they never did like music in Wetherspoons) - leading to the only grievance which really motivates anarchists these days: turning off the beer. As trustafarians hid under the tables the atmosphere was ripe for a full and frank airing of ideological differences. Quotes from Kropotkin’s “Turn that shit off!” were batted aside with references to John Jordan’s seminal “It’s my party and I’ll dance down the fires of capital if I want to”.
Luckily entertainment soon arrived in the form of the macho idiocy of the Met. Swaggering into the pub, three coppers nicked someone for saying “Shut up”. This rapidly lead to a scuffle, which “bordered on a fracas at times” according to one eyewitness sat on the pavement eating chips.
The Bill were then chased out onto a busy Holloway road by dozens of well read anarchists. As more and more arrived, the traffic blocked street was a mass of panicky coppers swinging truncheons at anyone who came too close as the growing crowd chanted and engaged in the traditional light scuffling with the boys in blue.
Police in riot gear ended up shoving local Waitrose customers down the road (leaving a trail of marinated tofu and sun dried tomatoes spilled in the gutter) Waitrose customers don’t expect this sort of treatment - it’s only at Lidl or Kwik-Save where it’s par for the course.
Ultimately seven were nicked for violent disorder. An eye-linered skate punk there for the first time described the Annual Scuffle as ‘very informative about the state of anarchist politics today’.
SchNEWS warns all readers... you can’t take our freedom but we can’t take our beer!
background round up