UK Feature Archive
Actions against this year's 6th biennial DSEi Arms Fair at the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands kicked off last week in the run up to the event. This week's resistance began with a candlelit vigil on Monday night followed by a day of action of Tuesday, dawning to reveal a subvertised billboard as well as a huge 'Destroy DSEi' banner hung between cranes. A critical mass of cyclists was out and about all day with explosive sounds and various groups blockaded entrances to the arms fair and death dealing companies such as Aerospace Defence & Security Group. There were die-ins all over the place, including outside the BAe Systems building and at the National Gallery, where the official arms fair reception was held on Tuesday evening, guests being greeted with chants of "Scum!"
Actions in Westminster during the day included a CAAT 'supermarket shopping' event and a Christian demonstration against drones with street theatre. This later moved on to General Atomics, which makes the British Reaper drone. A priest from Bradford was allowed to reach the main DSEi entrance after announcing that he'd come to perform the official exorcism. Many other actions and visual events took place in and around Docklands. FIT were all over the place, some thinly disguised as ordinary cops, with FITwatchers keeping a close eye on them. Two arrests were reported during the day, one for spray painting anti- arms fair slogans and one for fence climbing. Several more arrests were reported outside the National Gallery in the evening. [More]
On Wednesday, around 15 people marched from central London to the Excel centre. Despite a blanket 30-day ban on marches still in place in the City of London and the borough of Tower Hamlets, there was no police harassment.
See full timeline here.
Other Reports and Videos:
Wednesday's march | Bubbles Not Bombs | Protestors ejected from National Gallery | YouTube: Critical Mass | YouTube: Drones protest | Towards an 'ethical' Arms Trade? | Cluster Bombs | Torture Equipment
As arms companies add the last touches to their macabre exhibits, and military representatives from repressive regimes begin entering the country, activists are preparing to launch a wave of disruptive actions against Europe's largest Arms fair. DSEi will hold its 6th Arms Fair at the Excel Centre in London's Docklands from September 13th to 16th.
Last Thursday, activists from CAAT picketed the RBS in Bishopsgate, which was the advertised location for a pre-DSEI event crassly entitled "Middle East: A vast market for defence and security companies". After the protest was advertised on Indymedia, twitter and Facebook, the organisers claimed the event had been cancelled and removed the advert from the web. However, the event did go ahead at another location.
On the same day, two banks in Bristol, Lloyds TSB and Halifax Broadmead announced that they would not open on Saturday because of an advertised protest by Bristol Against DSEi.
On Saturday activists in kayaks disrupted the journey of the naval Destroyer HMS Dauntless as it attempted to sail from Tilbury Docks to the Excel Centre. The size of the ship means that it can only navigate the river at high tide, and its progress was disrupted for about four hours after the kayakers' intervention. The ship is due to be used as a reception space and for demonstrations during the event.
A coalition of groups under the umbrella of Stop The Arms Fair have promised a wave of actions during the event, with a day of action called for the opening day on the 13th. Planned actions include a Critical Mass in the morning followed by a call to be at Custom House en masse at 10am, an action at the Clarion Defence and Security offices in Earls Court, Bubbles Not Bombs, Sparkles Not Shrapnel, disruption of DLR trains taking delegates to the event, a mass lobby, and a die-in outside BAE at 5pm.
The Arms Dealers Dinner will this year take place, on Thursday 15th, inside the Excel compound, and a Critical mass will leave Bank at 3.30pm to meet up with other protesters.
Disarm DSEi, one of the groups organising the protests said "Tell the arms dealers what you think of their deadly wares and show them that their journey to DSEi will not be an easy ride. It's time to stop the arms dealers in their tracks and make DSEi 2011 a year to remember"Past coverage: 2001 | 2003 | 2005 | 2007| 2009
Links: Stop The Arms Fair | Disarm DSEi | Space Hijackers | Smash EDO | CAAT | London CAAT
It was going to be the 'Big One', the EDL's grand day out in the capital city. They proudly proclaimed that they were going into the "Lion's Den" -- "Islamic hell-hole" -- and what they no doubt had in mind when this hare-brained scheme was first announced was something like an Orange march through London's biggest Muslim community, with drums beating and the chant of 'E.E.EDL' echoing off the walls of the East London Mosque as terrified Muslims fled. What actually happened was a half-arsed piss-up miles from Tower Hamlets. They predicted thousands would attend and only attracted hundreds. EDL Facebook posters have been reduced to claiming that Aldgate is by some spurious definition 'in Tower Hamlets' which is the equivalent of trying to pass off a Calais booze cruise as a seaborne invasion of the European mainland.
The Home Secretary intervened early in proceedings and banned marches for thirty days in the six surrounding boroughs. This is old hat to the EDL, who until recently always had their marches banned and have resorted to 'static demonstrations' in car parks around the country. These static demos basically revolve around drunken EDLers trying with varying degrees of success to break out of their police cordon and go on the rampage.
The ban seemed to come as bit of a surprise to the Unite against Fascism lot though -- who had planned a march from Weaver's Field around Tower Hamlets. To their credit, despite calls from the authorities for anti-fascists to stay at home now that a ban had been implemented, they re-located their protest to within 200 yards of the East London Mosque (the EDLs stated target),meaning that there was at least a strong presence on Whitechapel High St.
From the newswires:The day the EDL didn’t come to Tower Hamlets | EDL in london - pics and report |EDL's Tommy Robinson threatens the entire Muslim community of Britain | Video of EDL getting spanked in Mile End | TeaMp0isoN expose the EDL leadership! | EDL kept away from anti-racists activists |RMT against the EDL | Nottingham EDL organiser poses with a gun |
AS SCHNEWS ASKS WHY IS LONDON BURNING?
Across the entire media spectrum the opinions are now flying thicker and faster than the half-bricks were just two nights ago. So here’s SchNEWS’ half-assed crack at explaining the recent turmoil on the streets of the U.K.
The recent riots are far too complex for a simple explanation (Maybe it’s just something about Tory governments and Royal Weddings). The facts aren’t all in yet by any means. The riots certainly weren’t ‘pure criminality’ but neither were they anything like a politicised insurrection.
Riots in different parts of the country and even different parts of the capital each had their own flavour. If they had one thing in common it was the fact that they didn’t happen in the estates – the fight was taken to the High St. Hatred of the cops and the possibility of free stuff on a long summer’s evening proved to be an intoxicating mixture. As an aside – both the footage and the roll-call of those in court right now show – this was a long way from race riot - black and white can unite – if only to loot Foot Locker. [Read more]
The fiery unrest which ignited in Tottenham a few days ago, and which has rapidly spread through London and to other towns and cities across the country, has been largely and predictably condemned by politicians and the mainstream media as mindless violence, arson, theft and thuggery. While there is no denying that a number of the attacks have badly affected local people in local communities, some of whom have lost their homes and possessions and in one case their lives, blanket condemnation of those involved in the unrest is inappropriate and conveniently draws attention away from the context in which these events are taking place.
Britain's cities, towns and rural areas alike now boast record numbers of young unemployed people, often denied benefits, with few prospects, with many of those living in urban areas facing constant harassment by the police, especially if they happen to be black, with public services being cut all around them, and quite possibly with a growing mass awareness - thanks to movements like UK UnCut - of government support for super-rich corporations at the expense of the already impoverished. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan and subsequent police lies might have been one trigger for the 'riots' in Haringey; another is almost certainly the decision of Haringey local authority to close the majority of the borough's youth clubs in a round of public spending cuts. In any event and whatever the triggers, the roots of the unrest are deeply embedded. No amount of repressive policing and overkill sentencing is going to solve this crisis, even if it succeeds in silencing dissent in the short term.
This feature draws together and links to eye-witness accounts and independent analysis, alternative voices offering a range of views and opinions. Read indymedia features from London, Nottingham and Bristol, opinion from SolFed, Fitwatch and individual commentators, and accounts from the streets as events have unfolded.
Features on the newswires: London - Unrest Spreading | London's Burning | Tottenham riots | Bristol - feature | Nottingham - feature
Reports and analysis on the newswires: Open Letter to Cameron's Parents | Solidarity from Greece | Eon Vehicle Torched in Bristol | On the Insurrection | Manchester and Salford | St Pauls - police state | Tottenham: community pulls together | Corporations and the London Riots | Going off in Birmingham | Birmingham's Militant Consumer Tour | Birmingham, West Brom, Salford | Gravesend | Oxford | Britain's Burning | Too far - a site to identify and incriminate | Riot as a sign of desperation | UK Riots and Capitalism's Decay | Woolwich trashed | Criminality and Rewards | Unrest spreading to Hackney, Lewisham, Peckham | Peckham building on fire | A costly mistake... but we are people too | Eyewitness account from Edmonton | Stokes Croft to Tottenham | Focus on Holloway | Brixton Road pics | Fire Sale in Brixton | Tottenham Burning
Reports and analysis elsewhere: Fitwatch 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | North London SolFed | Pennie Quinton | Dan Hind | Finian Cunningham | RiotWiki Collective Analysis | Christian Fuchs | Robert Stevens | Mick Hall | Amy Goodman on Democracy Now | Tariq Ali: Why here and now?
The protest camp at Huntington Lane near Wellington in Shropshire, which has been protecting woodland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) against the ravages of UK Coal since March 2010 and preventing the building of a road which would give access to a second area for opencast mining, has been on eviction alert since court papers were served on 15 July and has issued a call-out and invitation for new people to get involved in defending the site. More people are urgently needed to stay on site ready to resist any eviction attempt, as well as people to visit for a few hours or days to show support and carry out solidarity actions.
On the newswires: Don't Quarry - Be Happy! | Peace News Camp Visit to Huntington Lane | Huntington Lane Facing Eviction - An Invitation | Court Papers Served - Eviction Imminent | Activists stop work at Huntington Lane
Elsewhere: Protest Camp Website | Directions and Maps
On 4 July 2011, some 90 families at Dale Farm, the UK's largest Traveller community, were hand-delivered a final notice of eviction giving families until midnight on 31 August to abandon their homes, or face their entire community being bulldozed. The central government and Basildon Council have set aside over £18m for the eviction battle that could last three weeks. It will be the biggest clearance of its kind, involving the ploughing up of 54 separate plots created on a former scrap-yard purchased by the Travellers ten years ago.
Urgent Call-out for Support: Supporters are urgently needed to help the community resist the eviction. Come to the camp for one of the activity weekends any Saturday between now and the end of August, and join Camp Constant from 27 August.
On the newswires: Solidarity Bulletin 4 August | Colchester Council Hates Gypsies | Solidarity Bulletin 27 July | Dale Farm Info Night, 2 Aug, Bristol | Resist Ethnic Cleansing | Eviction notice served | Previous feature
Elsewhere: Dale Farm Travellers | The University of Esssex Human Rights Clinic | Susan Craig-Green, Advocacy Project
The incident that led to police raids across the country and 23 arrests occurred on 28th March 2009 when a number of antifascist activists travelled to Welling in south-east London to protest against a neo-Nazi "Blood and Honour" skinhead gig at the Duchess of Edinburgh Pub. No fascists have been arrested or charged or have even appeared as witnesses in the court case and in the absence of any evidence forthcoming from the fascists the Police and Crown Prosecution Service spent a vast amount of time and resources to press charges which are tantamount to a thought crime and if widely applied would in effect make it illegal to organise protests against fascist events. The use of "conspiracy" charges against large groups of activists — charging them for things that might have thought about rather than charging them for anything they have actually done is clearly being done to suit a political agenda which involves the draconian repression of progressive activists, no doubt intended as a "deterrent" to others. While at the same time real corporate criminal conspiracies are covered up and swept under the carpet, contrast the treatment of the activists with the kid-glove treatment by the state of the Murdoch media crime family, as the collusion between powerful media, corrupt police and the political establishment is further exposed.
Articles: Leeds ABC Rebel Night! A benefit for imprisoned antifascists | UK Antifascist Prisoners In Need Of Support | Freedom: Comrades Jailed | Inside SchNEWS | Support Our Six Proud Antifascists | UK Antifascist Prisoners | Antifascist Prisoners In Need Of Support | Antifascist Prisoners In Need Of Support
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took his appeal against extradition to Sweden for alleged sexual offences to the High Court in London on 12 and 13 July. Assange has been electronically tagged and required to sign on daily at a police station for over six months since being released from Wandsworth prison in December 2010 prior to the extradition hearing which took place in February this year. The manner in which the allegations against him have been pursued has led many to conclude that the extradition is being sought neither for the benefit of the two women involved nor in the interests of protecting other women, but rather to secure Assange's extradition to Sweden with a view to onward extradition to the US where he would face the full wrath of the Empire, an Empire comprehensively exposed by WikiLeaks revelations. Assange has received many death threats from the US; there have been calls for him to face the Death Penalty over the WikiLeaks disclosures, as well as calls from prominent politicians and media personalities for him to be 'hunted down' and assassinated.
In the two weeks leading up to this appeal hearing, solidarity actions and events took place in London. Anti-war supporters of Assange and others maintained a presence outside the Royal Courts of Justice from 9am on Tuesday 12 July and throughout the two day appeal hearing. At the end of the hearing, judgment was reserved and is expected within the next few weeks.
On the newswires (re. current hearing): Report from the court Wed 13 July | Tues 12 July | Call-out for support at extradition appeal | Call-out for solidarity protest in Dublin | Assange Subterranean Homesick Blues |
Friends and family will gather in Brighton on Thursday 7th July to celebrate the life of Brightonian activist, Simon Levin. who passed away on Friday 24th June, aged 36.
Simon was an enthusiastic supporter of the Palestinian struggle for justice, and travelled to Palestine where he spent some months in the Balata refugee camp outside Nablus. He returned several times with the Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity Group and in 2008 he was involved in the building of a new school at Fasayil
Back in Britain Simon was involved in Direct Action Campaigns against Caterpillar, Agrexco and the SmashEDO camapign. He was a defendant in the Decomissioners trial where activists were acquitted for their part in smashing the EDO arms components factory during Israel's onsaught on Gaza
Friends of Simon have suggested that those who want to remember Simon go to their local arms factory, importer of Israeli goods or oppressor of workers and "do a vigil, noise demo or action. Have a beer. He would have liked that". On Monday Rossport Solidarity Camapigners dedicated their Blockade of Shell offices to Simon.
Read full article for a round-up of J30 action: a day of protest against pension cuts and more
See also regional features (links below) and the J30 topic.
No Borders and refugee solidarity activists blockaded the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration prisons, near Heathrow airport on 21 June to stop a mass deportation flight to Baghdad. About 70 Iraqi refugees, mostly Kurds, were due to be forcibly flown on a specially chartered flight from an undisclosed airport at 11pm. A last-minute court injunction forced the Home Office to call it off, so the blockaders decided to end their protest at 9pm, after making sure that the migration prisoners were safely off the buses. The action was an important step in escalating resistance to the deportation machine, in solidarity with the hunger strikers in Campsfield, the rioters in Brook House, the Yarlswood four, and all migration prisoners in their everyday struggle.
As Tories threaten hallowed ancient squatting rights.
As expected: Following the opportunistic yelps of a jumped-up tory media-whore (see SchNEWS 764), against the background of a right-wing ideological crusade, the criminalisation of squatting is now on parliament’s agenda. This week the government announced a brief consultation period was under-way on the issue of occupation without authorisation. The sights of the Tory legislative blunderbuss are slowly being zeroed in, battle lines are being drawn and arguments rehearsed. As every day goes by, the corporate press prejudice people further against one of the few remaining laws that empowers the many against the few.
The squatting community and it’s supporters have to fight their corner without the benefit of funds, media presence or political influence - they must work from the ground up and rely on the ability of people (and in this case, worryingly, politicians) to judge fairly between logical arguments. Some squatters have already risen to the challenge - Squattastic is an irregular though frequent series of open meetings, held in a chain of different squatted properties, mainly in the London area to discuss ways in which this crack down can be combated.
In a more mainstream stylee - The SQUASH Campaign is a dedicated group of activists and researchers who have already given a briefing to Parliament attacking the proposed change to the law - this was presented on May the 18th and was attended and supported by several well-known groups involved with homelessness issues, including Crisis and Shelter.
From the newswires:
A short and incomplete history of squatting in Brighton | Resist the Dutch ban on squatting | Whatever they say, squatting will stay - update ... | The criminalisation of squatting | Squatting is to change from being a civil offence ... | Squatting Europe Kollective
In Schnews: SchNEWS 776
Early on Saturday morning 18 June 2011, veteran peace protester Brian Haw, 62, passed away just after the camp he established right opposite the Houses of Parliament had celebrated its tenth anniversary of highly visible opposition to the wars being waged on ordinary people. Brian had been suffering from lung cancer, diagnosed less than a year ago.
Two of the key tools that Indymedia activists use for communication and collaboration are email lists and wiki pages. UK Indymedia activists have made extensive use of lists hosted by the global Indymedia list server and of the global Indymedia wiki over the last decade. But at the end of May 2011 key lists were shutdown without agreement and wiki accounts deleted.
In response to this situation, new email lists have been set up for people who wish to contact the site admins or to be involved in discussions about features and moderation. There is also a new wiki site for UK Indymedia related documents. In addition there is now a new Users list for users of this site to raise matters which are not covered by the Moderation, Features or Tech lists.
UK Uncut issued a call out for an Emergency Operation in banks across the country on Saturday 28 May: "Whilst the NHS is being dismantled, the banks that caused this crisis in the first place have been left untouched. Reckless gambling, obscene bonuses and a global financial crisis are symptoms of a disease that requires a drastic intervention. The banks are due a check-up. Join UK Uncut’s Emergency Operation and transform your local high street bank into a hospital. Tell the government to leave our NHS alone; it’s the banks that are sick."
Dozens of banks were hit, many transformed into makeshift wards and operating theatres filled with bleeding patients, surgeons, doctors and nurses.
As mass protests in Madrid raise the bar for European anti-austerity actions. We've got the Arab Spring – what about a European summer? It's a week since thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators pitched up in central Madrid (see SchNEWS 772) - and revolution fever is spreading across Europe like nits in a playground. With the Spanish sit-in still going strong – and intending to remain until at least the 29th - street demonstrations have also hit Greece, Georgia, and, er, Bristol. Protests are spreading to Italy, France, Portugal, Austria even Germany - could it be that last year's initial protests against austerity measures are maturing, one year on, into a broader demand for political reform?
From the newswires:
Crackdown begins. | Nottingham Solidarity | Spanish Revolution at London | #Spanishrevolution Has Reached Bristol | This revolution is sponsored by you! | Protests continue outside Spanish embassy | A shout from Spain | Message from Barcelona | Edinburgh Solidarity March
In SchNEWS: SchNEWS 773
Saturday May 21st saw the return of the Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair, now in its second year. This year it attracted over 250 people and throughout the day it had a good crowd of people attending meetings, watching films, hanging out in the cafe space and checking out a good range of groups and stalls. The venue was certainly an improvement on last year (we had day light and windows for a start!) and was decorated with loads of different banners, flags and posters brought by various groups on the day.
Photos | Audio: Elephants, Dogmas and Taboos: a Friendly Critique of Anarchism | Anarchism 101 | Anarchist Studies Network Book Launch | Sheffield Social Centre: Why? What? Where? | Luddites Organising Forum
"The time to act is now. We only have this summer to build a massive public backlash against the new nuclear programme. By the Autumn, the government will have given the green light to at least ten new reactors and it will be a lot harder to fight the momentum." Kick Nuclear campaigns against the UK's addiction to nuclear energy.
Mass Blockade at Hinkley
Join the mass blockade outside Hinkley Power Station, near Bridgwater, Somerset on Monday 3 October.
For 10 years there has been a struggle against the Corrib gas project in Western Ireland. For the last five years many campaigners have made the journey to show their support with the local people as they show the international oil company that they cannot have their own way. This year a critical stage is being reached and Rossport Solidarity Camp is gearing up to play its role in the continuing resistance. Read on for a history of the campaign and for information if you are planning to come across.