UK Feature Archive
The Black Rose Centre is a new social centre project (PDF Flyer) at 268 Verdon Street, established by the Sheffield Social Centre Collective. This is the first time that the Social Centre Collective has had a permanent space, previously there have been weekend events held by the collective such as the Free Schools in 2011 and 2010 and there were two, short lived, squatted buildings in 2009.
On Wednesday 22nd of February at 7:30pm there will be a discussion on setting up a Sheffield Wide Class Struggle Anarchist Group following a screening of An Anarchist's Story. On Friday 24th February at 6pm there will be the opening of QUEER: an exhibition of local artists' work in response to "LGBT History Month", the deadline for submissions for the show is Wednesday 22nd February.
On 4th Feburary 2012 Sheffield Pizza Hut Workers Union, part of the IWW, held a protest outside Pizza Hut in Crookes, Sheffield over their ongoing dispute over workers terms and conditions. Solidarity potests were held in Brighton, Bradford, Glasgow, London, Birmingham, Bristol [1, 2], Hull, Liverpool, Calais, Portland, Vancouver and Berlin.
The dispute centers on several specifics aspect of the workers terms and conditions, pay for working on bank holidays, mileage rates and also recognition of the union. Whilst it has been standard practice to pay workers an enhanced rate for working bank holidays, Pizza Hut has decided that it will only pay the standard rate. Delivery drivers who use their own vehicles are given an allowance of 60p per delivery, a static rate which has remained unchanged for several years despite the soaring cost of fuel. Furthermore, "The Pizza Hut Workers Union also has concerns outside of this dispute, including delivery staffs safety gear, a decreasing pay packet that falls behind inflation and a demand for a real living wage for all Pizza Hut workers."
Newswire: Pizza Hut Workers Demand A Proper Slice | Solidarity Picket Glasgow With IWW Pizza Hut Workers Report | London Wobs' Solidarity Picket with IWW Pizza Hut | Pizza Hut Solidarity in Bradford | SchNEWS: Gimme A Slice OF The Action | Pizza Hut solidarity in Brighton | Solidarity Picket in Bristol with IWW Pizza Hut Workers | Birmingham IWW Solidarity Picket with IWW Pizza Hut Union
As the Taliban prepares to open a political office in Qatar, the US stalls on releasing Taliban prisoners and a leaked US military report alleges that "the Taliban's strength and morale are largely intact despite the Nato military surge, and that significant numbers of Afghan government soldiers are defecting to them", the UK is witnessing a small upswing in anti-war activism over the raging conflict.
Last month peace activist Maya Evans returned from a month-long delegation to the country with US activists from Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and she is now embarking on a speaking tour around the UK. Whilst in Afghanistan she helped deliver over £2,000 worth of aid, raised by NUJ members at the Financial Times and the readers of Peace News, to internally displaced Afghans in the capital. She is believed to be the first British peace activist to visit the country since 2001.
Meanwhile, photojournalist Guy Smallman - himself recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan - will be speaking alongside ex-soldier Ben Griffin at an event in London on 9 February, and activists are preparing to re-establish a peace camp outside RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire in anticipation of the UK starting to use the base to pilot its Reaper drones in Afghanistan later this year. In September last year, the RAF announced its 200th drone strike in Afghanistan. British drones are currently piloted by RAF pilots based in the US. In December, Catholic Workers occupied the entrance to Northwood Military HQ in protest at the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan.
Thoughtful observers have long pondered the question why, given the undoubted horrors of the war in Afghanistan as well as its deep unpopularity with the general public, there continues to be so little UK activism focused on the war. Indeed, for many years the only UK-based protests marking the anniversary of the 2001 invasion involved a tiny handful of people [ 1 | 2 | 3 ]. Similar actions took place on the tenth anniversary last October [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ], as well as a Stop the War rally but even the latter was a relatively small affair compared to earlier 'national' Stop the War demos.
Whether recent events herald a change on this front remains to be seen.
Activists protesting against the Welfare Reform Bill and cuts to disability benefits and services blockaded Oxford Street on 28th January 2012. Activists from UK Uncut and Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), The Black Triangle Campaign and other disability rights groups stopped traffic on Regents Street North after a number of wheelchair users chained themselves together at around midday. A while later they were joined by people who had responded to the callout issued earlier this week.
One campaigner vividly described the effects of the state and corporate media propaganda campaign about benefit claiments in an interview:
I’m here because I want to protest against the cruel cuts that are hitting the disabled horrendously in this country, that and the horrible horrible propaganda that’s been coming out from our government trying to villainise genuinely disabled people as being scroungers as being parasites, and a 75% rise in hate crimes that’s come along with that, that I experience daily. Just going out shopping people come up to me and they ask me “Do you really need to be in that wheelchair? or are you, you know, just doing it for the benefits?” Like no, no, I don’t know why anybody would want to in this day and age, even the pavements aren’t accessible half of the time in the UK.
Recent reports have shown that as a result of the bill 500,000 families stand to lose their homes while others will become ‘imprisoned in them’. Nearly half a million people would lose their Disability Living Allowance, including disabled children. People with terminal illnesses would be forced into work, and 3.2 million will be put through demanding tests that have already pushed some to take their own lives. According to their own research, the government’s flagship reform will push 100,000 children into poverty.
Earlier this month, disability rights campaigners released the Spartacus Report, which found that the government's consultation on DLA reforms was flawed and failed to meet the state's own code of practice for consultations. furthermore, 74% of respondents in the consultation were opposed to the plans.
On arrival, the police seemed at a loss for what to do, and formed lines in front of their vans whilst busses were backed up along Regent Street. Generally those present described the coalition between anti-cuts campaigners and disability rights activists as welcome and encouraging, and calls were issued for more such actions to take place across the country. After two hours the activists decided to leave together, describing the action as an 'amazing success'
From the newswires: stop the welfare reforms - civil disobedience | 'Spartacus' Report | callout for action | Protest Outside the Disabled Rights UK Conference | ATOS macht Frei | National Day of Action against ATOS: Oxford | Nottingham
In the days leading up to 11 January 2012, the tenth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo Bay detention centre, Guantánamo prisoners held a three day hunger strike and protest. Beyond the prison walls, the event has been marked with many days of action in the US, Britain and elsewhere around the world. Protesters call for the closure of Guantánamo and the release of the 171 people still incarcerated there without trial.
50 people held a ten day fast, took part in actions in and around Washington DC during this time and supported defendants in a court case which, bizarrely, had been brought by the State using the (misspelt) name of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident detained at Guantánamo: Shakir Ami vs the US. The anniversary demo in DC on 11 January was the largest ever, involving 171 participants in orange jumpsuits and many hundreds of others, so large it split into groups and marched to the Supreme Court, Congress and the Department of Justice. The following day, 37 people in orange jumpsuits and with a full size cage were arrested in front of the White House while protesting against Obama's support for the National Defence Authorization Act, which effectively cancels Obama's promise to shut Guantánamo.
British solidarity actions demanded the release of Shaker Aamer, the closure of Guantánamo and bore witness to torture and other human rights abuses perpetrated there. Events included a rally in Trafalgar Square, a press conference at the Frontline Club, panel discussion at Conway Hall with numerous speakers including former detainees, a screening of the film 'Death in Camp Delta' about a detainee who died in Guantánamo, petition presented to the US Embassy calling for Obama to keep his promise to shut down Guantánamo and a vigil in Haringey during the morning rush hour. In Ireland, protesters held a vigil outside the US Embassy at Ballsbridge and handed a letter to the Ambassador Dan Rooney.
On Tuesday 14th February 2012, the last remaining British resident in Guantanamo, Shaker Aamer will have been in Guantanamo for ten years. The appalling conditions under which he continues to be held were eloquently described by his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith at the Remembrance meeting on Wednesday. Campaigners intend to mark the anniversary by staging a Guantanamo Chain Gang outside the US Embassy calling for him to be returned home to his family. Cage Prisoners believe that his testimony is vital in any investigation of British complicity in torture, and he is surely entitled to return to his home and the family he hasn't seen for ten years as he has been cleared of any wrong doing.
The LGC also maintains that the British government should seek the return to the UK of former British resident Ahmed Belbacha, an Algerian national who lived in Bournemouth from 1999 to 2001. He was cleared for release by the US military in 2007. Mr Belbacha fears for his life if forcibly returned to Algeria (an injunction currently prevents this), and remains at Guantánamo awaiting the offer of a safe home.
On the newswire: London Remembers Guantánamo: 10 years | We demand the truth about British involvement in torture | Anniversary demo in DC | 37 arrested at White House | Guantánamo Remembered event at Conway Hall | Campaigners demand Guantánamo closure | From Haringey to Washington DC: Close Guantánamo | Guantánamo prisoners' protest and hunger strike | former guard Brandon Neely on Gitmo | Schedule of anniversary events | Shut Gitmo: End 10 years of Shame - Call-out | Report
Audio reports: Guantánamo Remembered Event at Conway Hall - Introduction | former detainee Moazzam Begg | Attorney Michael Ratner | Vanessa Redgrave reads former detainee Murat Kurnaz | Human Rights lawyer Gareth Peirce | Former detainee Sami Al-Hajj | Human Rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith | Former detainee Omar Deghayes | Chair of Islamic Human Rights Commission Massoud Sadjareh | Three poems brought out of Guantánamo | Audio from DC rally
External links: Reprieve on Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha | Cage Prisoners | Witness Against Torture | Amnesty Report - Guantánamo: A Decade of Damage to Human Rights | Human Rights Watch - Guantánamo Ten Years On
As UK occupations squat more buildings the police, many of whom have criminal records, are flouting the law to harass protesters, the Lords are debating making squatting residential buildings illegal, the government plans to make hundreds of thousands homeless and Occupy LSX is threatened with eviction.
On 8th January 2012 40-50 police officers raided the Railton Hotel, next to the train station in Lancaster, which had been squatted by Occupy Lancaster the day before. At approximately 8.15 pm, the police used a battering ram to break through the front door. Once they had gained entry, the police arrested the four occupants who were inside at the time. The Occupiers secured the building legally, and displayed notices of Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 on the exterior of the building, but the police paid no heed to the law and Occupy Lancaster are now seeking legal advice.
Also on 8th January undercover police arrested 3 occupiers at Occupy Liverpool on suspicion of possession; none were found to be in possession of "controlled substances". Twenty or so police then surrounded the occupied building stating that it was a crime scene and laid siege to it for 3 hours. Like Occupy Lancaster a Section 6 notice was displayed but the police acted as as if squatting was already illegal.
Newswire: Eviction - Press Release: 9/1/12 from Occupy Lancaster! | Legal help required | Police Harass Occupy Liverpool at Legal Squat | Police raid on Occupy Lancaster | Occupy Sheffield Statement on the occupation of the Citadel Of Hope | Salvation Army Citadel Occupied and renamed Citadel Of Hope
Over the New Year period, a number of actions took place outside prisons and immigration detention centres (migrant prisons) around the world, following a global call-out. The actions were in solidarity with prisoners, and against the Prison-Industrial Complex
UK actions included a noise demo at Holloway women's prison and young offenders' unit, a flashmob at Gatwick detention centres, solidarity demos at Brixton Prison and Bristol's Horfield Prison, and a banner drop and noise demo outside Cardiff Prison. The protests were generally well received by the prisoners, and not welcomed by police
International actions included a noise demo outside the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney Australia, firework displays outside a Nantes youth prison and Montpelier Prison in France, Hamburg Prison in Germany and an Athens prison in Greece. At least two prisons were graffiti'd in Brussels, Belgium.
Wednesday's N30 strikes saw 2 million public sector workers striking and hundreds of thousands marching in Britain's streets all over the country, marking the biggest strike in a generation.
Demonstrations and pickets were held in nearly every major town across the UK, with the largest gatherings seeing 30,000 in London, 20,000 in Manchester, 15,000 in Birmingham and 10,000 in Edinburgh and Glasgow. More than 6 out of 10 schools were closed for the day and some activists from Occupy London stormed the offices of the UK's highest paid CEO, Mick Davis, head of Xstrata mining corporation. Reports are of 75 arrests in total, most of them around the occupation of the Xstrata office and in Hackney, after some demonstrators were kettled for four hours, then taken into custody on 'suspicion of breach of the peace'. [More]
From the Newswires: Link to Video | Birmingham: Video | Brum Strike and Protest | Photos 1 | Photos 2 | Stirchley and Cotteridge report | Nottingham: Feature | NUJ discuss BBC cuts | The march | The speeches | Ready to march | Prof Samir Amin at N30 | N30 critical mass | More on Critical Mass | | County Hall picket | N30 march | London: Cop punches protester in face | Report and audio from pickets and march | Undercover cop spotted | banners at #N30 | Dalston 37 re-arrested | Hackney arrests update | N30 Photos | Occupy lsx march | Occupy lsx N30 report | My Day Out on Strike | Fuck total policing | Photos | N30 in Brixton | Shut the City | Banner drop | London feature | Riot cops at Peckham social centre | Panton House occupation | Storming of Panton House | Panton House arrests | Occupy lsx on Panton House action | Video link | Aberdeen: N30 Big Breakfast | Wrexham: N30 in Wrexham | Report and photos | Sheffield: N30 strike action | Occupation solidarity statement | Photos from the Strike Rally | Picket line anthems | Occupation | Oldham:: Morning of N30 | March and rally | St. Andrews: N30 action | Anarchist bloc | Bristol: Huge turnout | Santa arrested | More on the santa attack | Swindon: 1000 march | Oxford: My march | What a brilliant day! | West Yorkshire: Solfed report | Newcastle: March | Brighton: 6,000 march | Cambridge: Thousands take to streets | Milton Keynes: Photo | Photos and video | Herefordshire: Report
Strike analysis and announcements: But how could we win? | Major success | Anarchist Federation Analysis | Message for the Chancellor | N30 Strike Bristol | N30 Strike Notts | Gabber Solidarity Sounds | N30 in the North-west | Jeremy Clarkson's comments | Responses to Clarkson
Students have once again begun a round of occupations on university campuses, this time in solidarity with the N30 day of action, and in opposition to the White Paper on Higher Education which will give the private sector almost complete control over higher education and knowledge production.
Update: Friday 25/11: The occupation of the north gate ended last night after Birmingham University gained an immediate interim possession order. There is another occupation planned today where protestors will be doing a 'run for their money'.
At Birmingham University, students have squatted an abandoned gate house on campus. Earlier this month they also occupied the University's Corporate Convention Centre. With scenes reminiscent of the 2009 occupation in solidarity with Gaza, the University attempted to deny occupiers essential supplies of food and water. In the early hours of the morning a crowd formed in solidarity with the occupiers and they managed to get past security and deliver some vital food supplies. Since then the occupiers have had a rough night and have been subjected to violence and harrasement from the University's security. At a former occupation of the University's 'Physics Bridge' a similar assault occurred. The occupiers have responded with a statement condemning the repression and victimisation. They have pointed out that the University's plans to 'prettify' the campus and it's intention to cut courses, jobs, access schemes and bursaries are completely at odds with defending universal access to education.
University occupations have also started In Edinburgh, Warwick, York, London and Cambridge. In the USA UC Davis students have been subjected to repression as they struggle against increased tuition fees and police brutality on campus. [More]
From the newswires:
'No platform for filth' | Analysis of the white paper | Rough night for Birmingham occupiers | David Willetts Silenced | St. Andrews in Third Occupation | New site occupied in Bloomsbury
The occupy movements around the world are reaching crunch time this week as it kicks off in New York and London is served with an eviction notice from The City of London Corporation.
On November 4th, representatives from the Occupy LSX camp met with their opposite numbers from The City of London Corporation, at the corporation's request (See SchNEWS 795). During this meeting it was proposed that as long as the camp was able to clear some space for Fire Brigade access they would be allowed to remain without legal persecution until after Christmas. The next day, as this proposal was going through consensus at the camp, the corporation added no less than 12 added extras, ranging from demanding that the camp recognised itself as unlawful, that it was trespassing and preventing freedom of movement for the public, and that the corporation had the right to sue for possession of the area -- to name but a few. These extras were not announced to the press and kept as quiet as possible. Occupy LSX rejected the terms, and responded with a few demands of their own. Demands that any other Local Authority in the country would be legally obliged to fulfil, but which The City of London Corporation remain scarily exempt from. Simply, the camp asked that the corporation: 1) Publish full, year-by-year breakdowns of the City Cash account, future and historic; 2) Make the entirety of its activities subject to the Freedom of Information Act; and 3) Detail all advocacy undertaken on behalf of the banking and finance industries, since the 2008 financial crash. The Corporation doesn't have to do any of this because it is in fact a medieval hangover (officially entitled The M*ay*or and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London)which has gone unreformed for centuries -- it's a local authority whose electorate is composed almost entirely of businesses- as such it is a powerful advocate for the financial capital. [More + list of local Occupy camps]
Latest from the Newswires:
Occupy Notts Camp | Bank Buildings occupied in London | Bristol: Occupy starts hitting its stride? | Occupy Movement: where next? | Occupy Manchester Returns | Occupy The Library | Occupy Everywhere Topic
Students and construction workers got their first taste of the 'Total Policing' advocated by new Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe at the demonstrations held on November 9th in London.
The MET used intimidatory tactics on Student demonstrators, in the run-up to the day, with threatening letters being sent out to those arrested at previous demos, along with threats of rubber bullets broadcast via the corporate media.
The MET tactics appeared to have some success with numbers on the demo much lower than expected. Those that did join found that the whole march took place in an enormous kettle, which they were unable to leave, with all side roads blocked off, and police in riot gear at junctions. In addition to the thousands of uniformed cops controlling the route, plain clothes cops infiltrated the crowd, making an aggressive arrest.
The corporate media continued to mainly ignore the demos organised by the 'Sparks' and UNITE, for construction workers who are under threat from massive pay cuts as their employers ditch pay agreements. Sparks who wished to show solidarity with the Students, were prevented from doing so and found themselves kettled later in the afternoon.
Elsewhere in London, RMT affiliated cabbies brought Trafalgar Square and the Strand to a standstill, and UK Uncut disrupted the speech of the Permanent Secretary for Tax of HM Customs and Revenue at a Corporate Tax Conference
Previous Feature: Sparks Will Fly on November 9th!
On the Newswire: Authorities panicking over November 9 protest! | Police harass activists traveling by coach to nov9 protests | a few pics and words on november 9 student protest | Nov9 The final kettle, arrests and dispersal | Cabbies Protest
Video: Nov9 Sparks push through police lines | #Nov9 Arrest of protester by undercover police | Violent arrest of a protester during #Nov9 by a large group of undercover cops
Plainclothes Cops: N9: Pics of moment undercover cops arrest protester | N9 arrest figures from Met police | Undercover Cop Faces at N9 | N9 new police tactics: Undercover cops active and aggressive
Analysis: After Nov 9: Where do we go from here? | N9: The Bigger Picture
Cases against people who refused to complete the 2011 census in England and Wales are starting to come before the courts. Judith Sambrook, who declined to fill in her form in protest at the government's contract with WMD manufacturer Lockheed Martin to process census data, had a preliminary hearing at Wrexham Magistrates Court on Remembrance Day 11/11/11 with her case now adjourned to 8 December (tbc). Over 20 supporters attended the court in solidarity with Judith to demonstrate against Lockheed Martin and the wars it fuels, holding a vigil at the war memorial afterwards. Other known cases are in Liverpool on 8 December, Reading on 13 December and Birmingham on 5 January. There are bound to be more in the coming weeks and months.
Recent articles on the newswires: Birmingham court hearing 5 January | Reading court hearing 13 December | Liverpool court hearing 8 December | Judith Sambrook next court hearing tbc | Photos and reports from Wrexham 11/11/11 court hearing [ 1 | 2 ] | Local group in solidarity with census refuser | Occupy London in solidarity | Flyer for download | Support Conscientious Census Objector | Solidarity from Canada | Demo and Vigil at Census Court Case
Previous articles on the newswires: Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib Interrogation Firms and the Census | Supplementary Census Questions | Don't Co-operate (Scotland) | Boycott Census (Ireland) | For the non-religious | Discussion on Census Data Security | Census e-action day | Count Me Out: info | Count Me Out: Disarm the Census | London Demo Report | Dodgy Census Stats | Why I will be breaking the law | Lockheed Martin and the Census | UK Census 2011 | CACI Torturers in Scots Census Rehearsal
Elsewhere: Count Me Out | No Census Taking Part | Ethical Census (Scotland) | SACC on the Scottish Census | CACI gets immunity from US law | Canadian Resistance to Lockheed Martin's involvement in Census | The Register: Lockheed Martin suffers network 'intrusion' | How to complete your census without Lockheed Martin profiting | Guardian: Boycott Census | No2ID on the Census | London Guantanamo Campaign on the Census | Red Pepper: Why to Refuse the Census | CorpWatch on Lockheed Martin Interrogators | Guardian on torture link | Ekklesia on the Census | Book review: Prophets of War (on Lockheed Martin) | Lockheed Martin announces census contract | CACI announces Scottish census contract
Fat Cat bosses from the eight largest construction businesses are seekingto further expand profit margins through moves that would see industry workers lose up to a third of their take home pay. The employers seek to withdraw from various agreements including the Joint Industrial Board (J.I.B.) agreement, and to impose new contracts which would downgrade safety and skill levels. Earlier this month, Balfour Beatty issued 1700 termination notices to workers, and began sacking those who took part in protests and refused to cross picket lines.
Rank and file electricians, calling themselves 'The Sparks' have challenged both their employers and the UNITE union by launching their own wildcat actions whilst remaining in the union. London actions to date include two blockades of Blackfriars station construction site, a picket outside Stratford's new Westfield Shopping Centre and most recently an attempt to blockade 110 Cannon Street, a site run by Gratte Brothers. On arrival the Sparks found that management had already closed the site, and headed for Cannon Street Tube where they held a short rally before marching to the #OccupyLSX camp outside St. Pauls. Outside of London actions have taken place at Sellafield, Grangemouth and Ratcliffe power stations, and Lindsey oil refinery.
Next Wednesday the Sparks will be joined by plumbers, and heating and ventilation engineers from across the country. They plan to assemble at the Shard near London Bridge at 11.30am before marching to the Blackfriars Station site and then on to parliament.
Also taking place on the day, will be the national demonstration against fees, cuts and privatisation which will bring together university, further education and school students from across the country to stage the biggest education protest in the capital since last December. Also planned is a mass walkout of schools, FE colleges and universities by students in support of the demo. The “March on the City” will see thousands descending on the streets of London, starting at the University of London Union, Malet Street through Trafalgar Square and up the Strand, before passing #OccupyLSX camp outside St. Pauls and ending at London Metropolitan University Moorgate campus next to the City of London, the heart of the financial capital. The day of protest is aimed at the government’s education reform bill which is a crude attempt to corporatise the education sector.
On the newswire: Sparks blockade Blackfriars station site | Siteworkers and OccupyLSX blockade Blackfriars | Latest London sparks protest | Electricians/Sparks Protest in Newcastle | Proposed Electricians Pay Cut Sparks Resistance | Manchester support the Sparks! | National Construction Industry action Nov 9th
On November 2nd there was a call-out for students and staff at the University of Birmingham to protest against tuition fees, cuts and privatisation. At 2pm they gathered under the University Clock tower to listen to speeches from several students about the effects the rise in tuition fees will have and the negative impacts of privatisation within education. There was concern that the Higher Education White Paper will force Universities to act more like private companies. The government argues that the introduction of competition into the sector will increase choice and quality of education for students. However many of the campaigners felt that this will create a US style model of a few elite, inaccessible universities and a large pool of underfunded poor institutions. There was also anger over the private sector-style pay rises received by the managers at the University. Last year, the Vice-Chancellor David Eastwood received an 11% pay rise increasing his pay to £392,0004. The money the University 'saved' by closing the entire Sociology Department was blown in one year on management pay rises.
Upcoming Protest: N9 Anarchist Bloc on the Student/Education demo
On 15th October 2011 the Occupy Wall Street protests went global with over 1,000 protests around the planet. In the UK a number of towns and cities saw occupy actions which are ongoing. Birmingham protestors met at Victoria Square, [ 1 | 2 ] and started their on-going occupation. A small protest took place in Sheffield and Cardiff. Several thousand attended a rally in London, where despite a show of force by the Met, a General Assembly was held and tents pitched in front of St. Paul's Cathedral. In Scotland, tents were pitched in Glasgow's George Square and Edinburgh's St. Andrew's Square. Ongoing occupations also started in, Norwich, Nottingham, Newcastle and Bristol [ 1 | 2 ]. These occupations joined Manchester which had already been in Occupation since October 3rd, when a camp was started in Albert Square, which later moved to the Peace Gardens after negotiations with the council and police. Future occupations are being discussed in many other places.
On the newswires: Birmingham 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Sheffield | Cardiff | London feature | Glasgow 1 | 2 | Edinburgh | Newcastle | Bristol 1 | 2 | Manchester | Nottingham feature | Norwich | Rome | Vienna | Analysis: Shift Magazine | 'Towards the end of the state'
Ongoing Occupations: UK: [ occupybritain.co.uk | Wiki | Facebook | Twitter ] | Birmingham: [ Occupy Birmingham | Facebook | Twitter ] | London: [ occupylsx.org | occupylondon.org.uk | Facebook | Twitter | Live Stream ] Nottingham: [ Twitter | Facebook ] | Edinburgh: [ occupyedinburgh.org | Live Stream | Twitter: occed | OccupyEdinburgh | Facebook ] Glasgow: [ occupyglasgow.org | Twitter | Facebook ] Manchester: [ Facebook | Twitter ] Bristol: [ occupybristol.noblogs.org | Twitter | Facebook ] Newcastle: [ occupynewcastle.org | Twitter | Facebook | Norwich: [Facebook ]
The last few weeks has seen a number of cases of political policing and repression of peaceful protest in Birmingham. The first case was in the lead up to the Lib Dem conference which was held in Birmingham from Saturday 17th September. The day before the conference started on Friday 16th three Activists from the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) were arrested for a banner drop, which read “Traitors Not Welcome, Hate Clegg, Love NCAFC”. They would be held in prison on minor road traffic charges until after the national Demo against the coalition cuts was over.
The second case of political policing was at the Right to Work Demonstration against the coalition’s cuts on the opening day of the conference. As with last years Conservative party conference the police presence seemed overblown with armed police and the route of the demonstration not being allowed to go past the ICC the venue of the conference.
Finally one of the three NCAFC activists arrested for the banner drop was denied bail and held in prison for 10 days on the basis the he was facing charges for the occupation of the Fortnum & Mason store on the March 26th protests.
On the newswire: NCAFC activists drop banner for day 1 of Lib Dem conference | Birmingham For The Alternative, TUC, Right to Work Demo, 18th September | Lib Dem conference protester remanded in custody after banner drop | Solidarity Protest for banner drop activist remanded in custody | Solidarity Demonstration for Banner Drop Anti-Cuts Activist | Ed Bauer bailed after 10 days in prison
Related Features: Occupy! Manchester - 2nd October Tory Party Conference
More than 300 people, mostly from the south-west but with representation from across the country and as far afield as Belgium and Germany, successfully sealed off the main entrance to Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset on the morning of Monday 3 October in opposition to EDF Energy's plans to build two new mega-reactors on the site. Over 200 of those taking part also spent the weekend at a temporary protest camp set at nearby Nether Stowey.
Blockaders were joined at the EDF gates by a theatrical troupe who enacted a nuclear disaster scenario, while Seize the Day provided a musical backdrop to the event. 206 helium balloons were released to represent the number of days since the Fukushima meltdown. The balloons will be tracked, to show which areas of the West Country would be worst affected by a nuclear disaster at Hinkley (and hopefully to prevent wildlife from suffering the harm which can be caused by deflated balloons).
The blockade remained in place for a total of nine hours, with participants reporting a 'great festival feel... Dancing, singing and chanting.'. There was one arrest, of a protester found in possession of a craft knife while walking along a footpath. He was later released without charge.
Recent newswire articles on Hinkley: Solidarity banner drop | Blockaders begin mass protest | Radio interview with Ornella Saibene | Anti-nuclear march through Bridgwater | Hinkley Pre-blockade press release | Announcement by Stop New Nuclear |
On Friday 30th September, several towns and cities saw actions as part of the National Day of Action Against ATOS. ATOS is the private company which conducts assessments of sick and disabled people via the Work Capability Assessment. The assessment is controversial and is said to have caused major distress to those forced to undergo it. The General Medical Council and other professional bodies are dealing with numerous complaints about staff who carry out the assessments. For those deemed "fit to work" by ATOS, appeal success rates are high, with 40 percent success for claimants without legal support, and rising to seventy percent for those who are supported by advisors.
Some of the reported actions took place in Glasgow, Oxford, Birmingham, Brighton and Nottingham, where two people were arrested after the protest entered the ATOS offices. Police were unable to find adapted transport for the wheelchair user they arrested, and had to process him on the street.
In London activists targetted the BMJ Trade fair where ATOS were seeking to recruit staff at the Islington Design Centre.
LATEST: Monday 3 October: Basildon Council concedes that full clearance of Dale Farm as originally proposed would be illegal. Council ordered to pay one third of Dale Farm's legal costs. Awaiting outcome of applications for judicial reviews, due Tuesday. More in full article.
The legality of the eviction notices served by Basildon Council on Dale Farm residents was challenged by the Travellers in the High Court on Friday. Once the arguments had been heard, including an application by Basildon Council for the scaffolding at the entrance to the site to be removed, the Judge Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart said that there would not be a ruling before Monday 26 September (now extended to Tuesday 4 October). Late in the day it was reported that the injunction to restrain bailiffs from starting any clearance or eviction of the site would stand in its current form until at least 4pm Monday. A later report indicated that the judge may further extend the injunction into the middle of next week or beyond if necessary. In the meantime, applications are being prepared for judicial review of the eviction, which could lead to further delay of a final decision. Basildon Council has already set aside £18 million to evict the Dale Farm residents. However, with the current stalemate reported to be costing the council over £1 million per day, the total cost is likely to have increased by some £8 million by Monday and will continue to rise during any further delay. With a bit of luck they'll run out of money before the eviction is allowed to go ahead.
Recent newswire articles: Injunction extended to Monday | NET climbers at Dale Farm | Experiences of a legal observer | Travellers and Supporters open up Dale Farm | High Court 23 September | Re Dispatches: The Fight for Dale Farm | Keep stinging them in the pocket | Dale Farm wins reprieve | Last minute injunction | BBC censorship shame | Call out to activists | Bailiff's dirty tricks | Photos from Dale Farm march and demo 1 | 2 | Eviction Update
After the ‘March for the Alternative’ in London on March 26th, thousands of people joined the TUC ‘Birmingham for the Alternative’ march on the Lib Dem conference on Sunday September 18th. There was a wide range of trade union participation, especially from public sector unions who recently announced a new wave of national strikes for November 30th. Student activists were also present, with a banner drop by the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts reminding conference delegates of Nick Clegg’s broken promises of opposing rises in tuition fees.
Plans for a third TUC demonstration, the Manchester ‘March for the Alternative’, are underway for the first day of the Conservative Party conference on October 2nd. Tens of thousands are expected to march past the conference centre and the ‘ring of steel’ around it, protesting against an agenda of cuts and austerity for the benefit of the rich. A coalition of anarchists, socialists, trade union activists, student unions and democracy campaigners, dubbed Occupy! Manchester, are also calling for an occupation of Albert Square, outside Manchester Town Hall, to create an assembly of protest on the doorstep of the Tory’s conference, and a place for real debate and discussion about the alternatives.
Plans for occupations and assemblies in Britain have been inspired by the large and vibrant student protests that took place last winter and by the popular demonstrations elsewhere. In New York, people’s assemblies were held on Wall Street on September 17th, the occupation there is on-going with a 24 hour camp in Liberty Plaza. a ‘March to Brussels’ has so far reached Paris. In London, another national student demonstration has been called for November 9th.