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SQUASH Picnic Attendees facing SOCPA Charges

24-04-2012 20:55

The following piece has been written by Ashleigh Marsh, one of five currently being prosecuted under SOCPA legislation for her role is taking part at a picnic and sleep-out on the 31st October 2011, in order to visually show the effect that the criminalisation of squatting would have on between 20-50,000 people in England and Wales, ie having to sleep rough. Ashleigh is active in her community, for example working to get a new skateboard park built for local people in Woolwich, one of most deprived areas in London. SQUASH fully support Ashleigh and all the defendants as they face disproportinate charges, from Monday 23rd April, under the draconian and anti-democratic SOCPA law. This is Ashleigh's story:

Squatting is an unpopular cause. I was evicted from my squat by Lewisham council 16 years ago, during their publicity campaign that accused squatters of 'taking homes from homeless families.' It wasn't difficult for Tory minister Crispin Blunt to slip in an amendment to the Legal Aid and Sentencing bill last year that will see squatters of residential property facing prison terms. This was prefaced by a seemingly stage managed series of high profile press articles about squatters moving into people's homes while they were on holiday. Typical? Hardly.
It was already hard enough to squat - though trespass as such is not illegal, there have been a series of measures over the last couple of decades that meant property owners could already go to court to get summary possession orders without having to inform the occupiers, who could then be arrested if they didn't vacate the premises within 28 days. Costs awarded against squatters who do go to court to challenge possession orders are a heavy deterrent. This happened to me - meaning I couldn't apply for rehousing and had to rent privately in a different borough to keep my new address secret to avoid bankruptcy. I tried to re-occupy my old house a couple of times, but with a teenage daughter who could then be liable to arrest too this proved impossible. My house is still empty, and becoming derelict again, despite the council's promises - on oath - that it would be properly looked after.

Why the rush to criminalise squatting? Well homelessness and mortgage repossessions are on the up. Public housing has been reduced to a parody, with 'affordable' rents set at 80% of the market rate, short term social lets imminent and parents threatened with losing their council homes if their children are convicted of 'anti-social' behaviour. Squatting is again starting to look like a fair alternative for homeless families, as well as single people who can't get on the housing 'ladder'. I have no doubt that the new law is a pre-emptive strike to try to make sure we don't take things into our own hands when things start to get really tough. I've been very lucky. My landlord is a decent man, happy for me to do my own repairs to keep the rent reasonable, and to sublet so I can still afford to live here since I lost my regular job and need to rely on housing benefit. Though I don't live in a squat any more I haven't forgotton what it's like, and want to tell some stories that show the positive side of squatting for a change. I don't want to make out squatters are all heros. There are some negative aspects of the culture around squatting. One is that it is some kind of crusading lifestyle outside the normal bounds of society. The right to rave doesn't appeal to me, if it stops me from getting enough sleep, and I don't like having to clear up after other people's parties or having their dogs given more respect than my child. The politics of squatting goes deeper than a fashion statement.

I left home aged 16, when staying with my mum became intolerable. I found a room living with some fellow musicians, who had been squatting a big house in Shepherd's Bush and converted it into a housing co-op rather than being evicted. That was in the days when housing co-ops were able to take over 'short-life' places that the council couldn't afford to renovate. After a couple of years I fell pregnant. I don't regret this - though it messed up my immediate plans for university, in those days you could get an education at any time of life without getting into debt, and the birth of my daughter is the very best thing that ever happened to me. Her dad is a fine man, but our relationship was strained by youth and poverty. My housing co-op room, though ok for a single person, was not really the ideal place for an expectant mum. Here I must mention that it is a myth that teenage mothers automatically get housed by the council. We were told we wouldn't be considered as a homeless family until our child was born unless we got married. My mum, though she wasn't living in our old flat in Greenwich at the time, said we couldn't stay there either while having an 'immoral' relationship. We got married. Then the council said they wouldn't rehouse us as we could stay at my mum's place. We broke up after two years, lived under the same roof for another year, and then things just got too strained. I stayed with friends, sleeping on floors in spare rooms, for about six months, and all the council would offer me was bed and breakfast miles away in Paddington. My ex-husband and I were determined to share parenting despite having split up so this was not any kind of an option.
Squatting my old house was one of the best things I ever did. For over a year we managed with no mains electricity. Calor gas, candles and batteries were enough, along with an open fire. I learned to be self-reliant - fixing the roof and windows, rewiring to professional standards, plumbing and plastering. And I had a lot of help from my friends. There were a few squatters and a lot of ex-squatters in the community. Quite a few had got council tenancies after living in 1930's council blocks and keeping them habitable. There were ways for people on the economic margins to work creatively within the system - pretty effective safety valves, keeping social unrest at bay in the 60's and 70's when working class radicalism was quite a threat to the status quo. People could still remember the squatting movement after the war - a practical as well as principled stand to stop the stagnation of empty government properties existing side by side with hundreds of thousands of homeless families.

After nine and a half years I was starting to hope I would be able to stay there forever. My house was the last remaining of a Georgian terrace, left standing through the Deptford 'slum clearance' to be the caretakers house for a Victorian school building. My grandma's brothers went to this school I later discovered - I still have a book inherited from my mum that was her uncle's fourth form prize. I was working at a local school and a music project - the famous Lewisham Academy of Music that itself had evolved from the occupation of the nearby empty Coroner's Court and mortuary. The Academy eventually folded under financial pressure after signing an expensive coucil lease to get Lottery funding for building development. This would not have happened without intervention from careerists who thought it politic to jump through the funding hoops rather than stick with a peppercorn rent and a mere license. The housing co-op movement decayed under similar pressures. This is one of the reasons why I feel unable to trust well-meaning liberals, who follow the path into state co-option rather than stick to independent methods of organising.

I had read the legal documents surrounding the disbanding of the Inner London Education Authority - though my building was an unregistered property it had been managed by the ILEA, and I was reassured that it looked clear that such premises would devolve to the London Residuary Body, a transitional arrangement for ex GLC and ILEA assets, and remain in limbo rather than go to Lewisham Council. Lewisham were already getting heavily against squatting, despite the local history of the family squatting movement, and sadly a lot of ex-squatters, now with comfortable tenancies, didn't seem to mind. (A fair few of them took advantage of the 'right to buy' - my contempt for these people is almost palpable. If anyone is stealing from the public treasury it is not squatters, it is the promoters and profiteers of this dishonest scheme.) Then there was a 'statutory instrument' - written by officials without parliamentary scrutiny - that changed the terms of the ILEA property handover and I found myself at the mercy of Lewisham after all. There were no short-life co-ops willing or able to take my house on. It took the council's lawyers years to do the digging to establish title, evict me through the courts and have their ownership recognised by the Land Registry. I had two choices - try and share a council flat with an ex-partner or move away. By this time it was not a good proposition to squat again with a child to think of, and fortunately I had the resources to rent somewhere, though I had to move a few miles away from the commuter belt.

My next experience of squatting was at 'Use Your Loaf' - the old Hurst's bakery at the North end of Deptford High Street. This was a grade II listed building owned by a speculator waiting for it to become a dangerous structure so he could knock it down and develop the site along with three neighbouring shops. I wasn't one of the people who opened it up, but soon got involved with running it as a social centre with a cafe, radical resource base and educational classes and workshops. It survived like this for two and a half years, and got much good feeling from the community as well as local press coverage. Two and a half years is a pretty good run these days. And now it's being done up properly rather than demolished or left to rot.

So when Crispin Blunt's amendment was being rushed through I didn't hesitate to raise my voice, not only against the criminalisation of squatting, but also against the press angle to present us as nasty intruders preying on nice families and stealing their homes. I was happy to demonstrate outside the Evening Standard's building in Kensington and we got our point across. They published a piece on squatting that was much more balanced a few days later. Then I was pretty knackered after traipsing to Crispin Blunt's address in Fulham only to find he had moved away after separating from his wife and family. I sat down on my way home to talk about the good old days with old friends and new. I happened to sit down on the only piece of grass near my bus stop on Westminster Bridge that is not fenced off from the public - Tot Hill mound by the statue opposite the House of Lords. I had some good conversation, some food and drink and a cigarette, and wondered what the future would hold for us. Then, without warning, I was grabbed from behind by two officers of the Territorial Support Group, and bundled off to the nick.”

- Ashleigh Marsh, charged with unauthorised demonstration under the Serious and Organised Crime and Policing Act 2004, now repealed.

For Press enquiries, please email to info [a] squashcampaign [dot] org

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Jury at Alfie Meadows trail fail to reach verdict

24-04-2012 20:55

Alfie Meadows, who was beaten up by the police and forced to have emergency brain surgery at the student demonstrations in December 2010, is now forced to have a retrial after the jury failed to reach a unaminous conclusion.  Three other defendants in the case had their charges dropped. This could go to a retrial in November or December leaving Alfie with another year of stress, a decision will be made by the Crown Procecution Service by 27th April.

Initially after the attack the IPPC was forced to investigate, but this was put on hold when Alfie Meadows filled a complaint against the police. The police then retaliated by filling 'causing disruption' charges against Alfie, it is this trail that has now collapsed.

Further reporting from the 'Defend the Right to Protest' website: (see link below)

Jurors this week failed to reach a verdict in the case of Alfie Meadows, who was charged with violent disorder after the student demonstration on 9 Dec 2010. Alfie suffered a extradural brain haemorrhage and skull fracture after he was struck on the head with a police baton. While Alfie may now face a retrial in the autumn, three of his co-defendants were cleared of violent disorder. These acquittals are not only a victory for those directly concerned but for all those campaigning against the criminalisation of protest at a time of unprecedented cuts to education and the public sector.

None of the protester defendants, Alfie included, would have been in the dock were it not for government’s education cuts policy which means a generation of young people are now deprived of access to education.

The outcome of the trial means that Alfie’s struggle for justice is not over. But the trial itself has lifted the lid on the use of violent police tactics on protests, and the criminalisation of protesters, which need to be challenged.

Footage shown at the trial revealed police indiscriminately attacking protesters throughout the day. Demonstrators were charged by mounted police on the pretext that there was “sustained and ferocious violence” when the police log recorded an officer noting only that the cordon was under “slight pressure”. Demonstrators were later crushed so tightly into a police kettle on Westminster Bridge that they cried out to police “someone is going to get killed”. A doctor described helping to set up a field hospital in Parliament Square to treat protesters injured by police batons.

Yet not a single police officer has been disciplined or prosecuted following these demonstrations.

Indeed Silver commander Mick Johnson, who was in charge of the police operation on 9 December, was unable to specify any action taken relating to a police log which stated that an injured protester was “likely to die”. He further claimed not to have heard of Jody McIntyre, who was pulled out of his wheelchair using force described by the IPCC as “excessive”. When questioned about the policing of protest more generally, Johnson claimed that nothing “necessarily” went “wrong” on the G20 protests – despite the death of bystander who was hit with a baton while trapped in a police kettle. Johnson is now in charge of policing the Olympics.

The lack of police accountability relating to these events stands in stark contrast to the punitive treatment of protesters.

In this context we:

  • Continue to support Alfie Meadows in his fight for justice.
  • Support all those other protesters who have been arrested, bailed, charged or imprisoned and are fighting to clear their names.
  • Call for an end to kettling and use of all other crowd control tactics that intimidate and threaten the right to protest.
  • Stand in solidarity with protesters and others who have been victims of police violence and are campaigning for justice.

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Day five at Occupy Brookes

24-04-2012 19:22

A summary of the fifth day of the Occupy Brookes Movement

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SQUASH Picnic Attendees facing SOCPA Charges

24-04-2012 17:00

Out of the Squats and onto the Streets (to sleep rough)
The following piece has been written by Ashleigh Marsh, one of five currently being prosecuted under SOCPA legislation for her role is taking part at a picnic and sleep-out on the 31st October 2011, in order to visually show the effect that the criminalisation of squatting would have on between 20-50,000 people in England and Wales, ie having to sleep rough. Ashleigh is active in her community, for example working to get a new skateboard park built for local people in Woolwich, one of most deprived areas in London. SQUASH fully support Ashleigh and all the defendants as they face disproportinate charges, from Monday 23rd April, under the draconian and anti-democratic SOCPA law. This is Ashleigh's story:

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Media Scoundrels Promote War on Syria

24-04-2012 15:37

Syria's a battle zone. Western generated violence is to blame, not Assad. America's media scoundrels claim otherwise. They want him ousted by any means, including war. An April 9 Wall Street Journal commentary said "Syrian government forces (keep) bombing and killing...." Assad "reneged on (his) promises to end the bloodshed." Washington "and its allies (are) doing little or nothing to depose (his) regime. (The) illusion of diplomatic progress serves as cover for the Assads of the world to do more killing. Your move, President Obama." Like all scoundrel media commentators, Journal contributors blame victims, not villains. Their readers are betrayed, not informed. Wall Street Journal contributor Fouad Ajami long ago sold out to imperial interests for whatever he gets in return. He showed it in an op-ed headlined, "A Kosovo Model for Syria," saying: "In the Obama world, the tendency to wait has become official policy: It is either boots on the ground or head in the sand." ......

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Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka “Tommy Robinson”: EDL leader praises Anders Breivik

24-04-2012 10:49

English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) has recently given an interview to the Norwegian media, in which he made the following self-incriminating statements:

1) Yaxley-Lennon praised the terrorist Anders Breivik;
2) Yaxley-Lennon promoted Breivik’s manifesto;
3) Most revealingly, Yaxley-Lennon claimed that Breivik’s mass-murdering terrorist attack would have been “easier to justify” if the targets had been Muslims.

This article is published in conjunction with Loonwatch ( and EDL News (

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Activists disrupt Barnardo's fundraiser at Royal Albert Hall over child detention

23-04-2012 23:18

No Borders activists took to the stage this evening at a prestigious fundraising concert organised by Barnardo’s in protest at the charity’s collaboration with the UK Border Agency in detaining children.

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Bradley Manning: Solidarity in Cardiff 16-24 April

23-04-2012 22:46

Here are some photos of what we've been doing in Cardiff over the past week in connection with Bradley Manning. Solidarity events continue tomorrow in Cardiff on the first day of Bradley's next court hearing:

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ProtectTheWilderness Updates, Gathering, Information!

23-04-2012 21:55

The good, the bad, and the ugly!
Peasants not allowed into their own Court Appeal!

We're all taking a few days to rest and reorganise right now, so I'll quickly outline the events, what happened and where it's going from here.

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Protesters take to the stage at RSC over BP sponsorship

23-04-2012 21:02

Chief Player (photo by Zoe Broughton)
Members of the “Reclaim Shakespeare Company” jump on stage and perform an anti-BP “guerilla Shakespeare” skit in front of theatre audience.

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Prominent far right presence on St George's Day

23-04-2012 20:55

The City Council promoted St George's Day march attracted hundreds of people to the streets of Nottingham today. For most, the parade was nothing more than a chance to get their England shirt on and have a beer in the sun. However, the local EDL were very prominent, near the front of the rally and marching under the largest banner on the march. Some of the local BNP branch also marched.

The Nottingham and Newark organisers of the EDL were there along with several others. They had brought along the massive Nottingham division banner, although they were obviously too embarassed to admit exactly who they were and had removed the text that said EDL. When the march arrived at Market Square, rather than stay for a celebration of traditional English culture they headed straight to Weatherspoons.
The BNP did hang around a bit longer, enjoying the opportunity to take romantic pictures of themselves with their St George's flag.
It is worrying that both groups were confident enough to publicly march through Nottingham today although we should take some comfort from the fact that they had to hide who they were. Nationalists have a history of using patriotic occasions to further their own agendas, to pick up supporters and build their movements. Despite both the BNP and EDL being in disarray nationally, it seems that their local supporters are ready and willing to get out on the streets.

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Calais: summary of the situation and urgent call out

23-04-2012 20:52

noise demo at the deportation centre
The situation is very difficult, with most of the squats closed, when people open new squats the police close them immediately.

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Disarm the National Gallery: Launch Action 2012

23-04-2012 18:55

On 31st March 2012, Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) & Stop the Arms Fair (STAF) launched a campaign to ‘Disarm the National Gallery' in Trafalgar Square, London. A video of this action including never seen before footage of protests & discussions inside the National Gallery and an interview with BBC correspondent & Channel 4 reporter Paraic O'Brien at Stop the Arms Fair 2011 can be viewed here.

Our National Gallery houses the national collection of Western European paintings allowing visitors free entry. Unbeknown to many, it also functions as a venue for arm dealer soirees in exchange for token funds. Our National Gallery regularly prostitutes its premises to arms companies who use our gallery to wine & dine arms traders with a view to securing business deals. Undoubtedly, these premises have been specially procured by arms traders as an attempt to legitimise and give the arms trade a veneer of respectability.

Finmeccanica, the world's 8th largest arms company pays our National Gallery £30,000 pa to use the ‘Gallery's rooms for its 'corporate entertaining', namely, to impress its clients and lobby decision-makers. ‘By entering into this arrangement the Gallery is giving both practical support and a veneer of legitimacy to an industry based on death and destruction.' Finmeccanica is an Italian company. In 2010, its arms production totalled US$14.4 billion. This provides some indication of the fiscal value of the arms trade.

Finmeccanica is being investigated for corruption relating to the ‘alleged inflation of contracts, with the proceeds moved into slush funds that prosecutors allege were used to bribe politicians and others.'

Set up of our National Gallery

Our gallery is a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and has charitable status but is exempt from the need to register with the Charity Commission. The Gallery's Director, Nicholas Penny is also the ‘Accounting Officer appointed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.'

Ian Pocock from STAF confirmed that ‘Government money for the Gallery (the grant in aid budget) is being cut by 15% in real terms by 2014-15 taking it to approximately £26m in 2013/14. That is taxpayer's money and it makes up the vast majority of its income.'

Disarm the National Gallery Launch

Flamboyant artists took seat outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square equipped with easels and pallets of vibrant coloured paint. Whilst artists dedicated time to perfecting their masterpieces, crowds of onlookers walked curiously by engrossed at the spectacle before them. The stage created: Artists sporting powder blue overalls, berets and moustaches, in the backdrop of the commanding grandeur of our National Gallery.

Other human right campaigners spoke to interested members of the public informing them of our National Gallery's complicity in the arms trade and inviting them to sign a petition or write a message on a postcard which is to be delivered to Nicholas Penny.

A Canadian visitor on learning that our National Gallery is hosting Arms Dealers was shocked and shared, art is "not a way to feed into the dark places of society.. the two should not be one with each other... I can't speak about to you about this; this is upsetting."

On the day, many questioned why the Gallery chose to close their immodest main entrance which is usually open on a busy Saturday. Could this decision reflect the Gallery's conceded shame of their underhand affairs clearly being brought to light by the protest before them? Instead, Gallery staff ushered visitors into a single file queue towards a discreet side entrance door which in contrast was humiliating.

Whilst the artists were outside painting, the National Gallery felt compelled to tweet: ‘The National Gallery is not hosting an event for any company during the week of the Farnborough Air Show.' Ian Pocock confirmed that ‘someone else tweeted in response, what about before or after that week?

A human rights campaigner said, "so when you are watching TV and you see people in Syria for example lying bleeding on the pavement, then just remember that it's probably the arms that have killed them have been bought in this country and its these arms dealers who the National Gallery are hosting who are actually selling these arms to them."

CAAT have confirmed that ‘The Gallery's current deal with arms company Finmeccanica runs until October 2013, but negotiations for renewal will start much earlier.' CAAT have highlighted the need for pressure to be exerted now and are calling upon the National Gallery ‘not to host further receptions for arms companies and to end its sponsorship arrangements with arms companies'. They are asking the public to please email Nicholas Penny, who can be emailed here.

What is DSEi?

DSEi is a four day arms bazaar organised by Clarion Event, taking place every two years at London's Excel Centre.

The DSEi website informs, ‘With over 1,300 exhibitors', DSEi ‘provides a unique platform to view the latest equipment and systems from the world's defence and security industry, such as BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Finmeccanica. DSEi provides an opportunity for visitors to develop international relationships and generate new business opportunities. DSEi gives you the chance to:

• View the full capability of the international defence and security industry at a single exhibition
• Witness the latest developments in products and services - learn, take home new ideas that will improve performance - touch and see the future of the defence industry
• Make new contacts - It's the major meeting point for the global defence & security industry at this time of year
• Network with every element of the defence supply chain
• Participate in information sharing through our EXPANDED seminar and demonstration programme'

For further information about DSEi please visit.

Paraic O'Brien on DSEi 2011

On 13th September 2011, as arms traders covertly in collaboration with our police force and National Gallery Management, entered the National Gallery for their ‘drinks reception', a gentleman was approached who at first it was suspected may be an arms dealer. It transpired that he was actually Paraic O'Brien, BBC correspondent and now channel 4 reporter. Paraic confirmed that he had visited the arms fair earlier that day as a BBC reporter and kindly gave me some inside news of what he witnessed there.

"Can you tell me what was happening inside & what did you see?"

"I saw various different armaments for sale, although they weren't actually selling them there. I was kinda on the lookout for some you know, properly shifty sun glass wearing cigar chomping arms dealer types and to be honest they all just look like a load of middle aged accountants to me. So I was a tad disappointed to be honest"

"It's not what they look like it's what they are there doing."

"I mean the people that were there, you know, they weren't actually buying and selling over the counter it wasn't like a retail fair but it was interesting, you know it was quite an eye opener to see."

"What did you find interesting and what was eye opening for you?"

"Well just the amount of sort of hardware that was for sale there. It was odd so see that amount of stuff.."

"When you say hardware what are you talking about?"

"Missiles, tanks, machine guns, there was one interesting stall which was selling bullets for snipers and the tag line was, the name of the bullet and then dot dot dot the snipers choice which I found...slightly unsettling."

"Were there any seminars going on?"

"Yes there were briefing sessions. Michael Fox, the Secretary of Defence was speaking and talking about what the defence industry contributes to the economy."

"And what was that. What did he tell you?"

"I can't remember the figure but he was talking about the sort of size of the contribution that the defence industry makes to this countries capita"

"So basically he is saying that by making weapons and by selling weapons it's contributing to the economy which is why we should be doing it; he was promoting?"

"Yeah..(nod of the head)"

"And how did that make you feel?"

"Well to be honest because I am a reporter I am not going to tell you my own personal opinions and thoughts about the issue, you know, that wouldn't really be appropriate because I was there a professional as a BBC reporter."

"Are you going to the reception that being held at the National Gallery now, is that what you are here for?"

"No, I am on my way home and saw you guys out here, so this is part of my continuing reporting of what happened today."

Stop The Arms Fair

STAF is a coalition of groups and individuals campaigning ‘to end government support for ‘DSEi 2011 and all future arms fairs and to put a stop to them.' In September 2011, STAF organised large scale anti- arms protests with numerous actions taking place. A video of an ‘anti-drones' action outside the offices of ‘General Atomics' makers of the ‘Predator & Reaper Drones', in London & featuring an interview with Amy Hailwood, member of STAF at the Fellowship of Reconciliation discussing the use of drones can be viewed here.

The next DSEI arms fair is scheduled for 10-13th September 2013. Planning for anti-arms fair action starts early and is creative. For more information or how you can get involved please visit the STAF website.

STAF are seeking to build a ‘large coalition of groups and individuals in support and invite all who ‘would like to join the coalition as a group or individual' to come along to a planning meeting or contact them directly. You can contact STAF here.

National Gallery's Ethical Policy - Please Email Nicholas Penny

CAAT investigations reveal that our National Gallery has an "ethical fundraising policy". CAAT confirm ‘this provides that "As an institution that exists for the public and receives public funding the Gallery has...a desire to show that it's sensitive to the general concerns of the public regarding ethical issues of fundraising and the investment of funds." In addition, it says that sponsorship should not be accepted if it would harm the Gallery and that harm was "disproportionate to the benefit derived" from the sponsorship. Harm includes the Gallery incurring "a level of criticism from the press, public or any other relevant community of professionals disproportionate to the benefit derived" and serious damage to the Gallery's reputation.'

Please email Nicholas Penny and ask him not to host any further receptions for arms companies and to end all its sponsorship arrangements with arms companies. Nicholas Penny can be emailed here.

In recent times, the most oppressive regime is America and its allies which include the U.K. They inhibit the freedoms & lives of millions of people around the world and attempt by implementation and policing of their laws and use of their media to prevent public awareness and feelings that reasonably arise against their criminal behaviour.

Assalamu alaikum, peace be upon you

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National Gallery Complicit in Arms Trade - Disarm the National Gallery

23-04-2012 16:19

Our National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London
On 31st March 2012, Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) & Stop the Arms Fair (STAF) launched a campaign to ‘Disarm the National Gallery’ in Trafalgar Square, London. A video of this action including never seen before footage of protests & discussions inside the National Gallery and an interview with BBC correspondent & Channel 4 reporter Paraic O’Brien at Stop the Arms Fair 2011 can be viewed here -

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Public meeting about stop and search

23-04-2012 14:55

On Friday evening, the PCS union's regional Black Members Network organised a meeting about the use of police stop and search powers in Nottingham's Irish Centre. Around 50 people attended with contributions from as far afield as London and Birmingham.

The first speakers was a criminal solicitor from Thompsons (who do a lot of work for trade unions). He gave a talk about the law on stop and search, ostensibly so that people knew what their rights were. However, he only discussed section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), which is just one of the search powers available to police officers. He also clearly had little or no practical experience of how stop and search powers are used on the street. At one point he even suggested that if police did not follow the correct procedure and give you a reason for the search you had the option of simply walking away.

Anybody wanting to understand their rights and learn how to deal with the police during searches would have found the guidance given the following day by Green and Black Cross at the legal observer training at the Sumac far more useful.

The second speaker was more practical. A woman from London she talked about the use of section 60 "stop and account" laws against her local community. Unlike the powers set out in PACE, section 60 of the Public Order Act 1986 doesn't require that the police have "reasonable suspicion" that they person they are searching has committed or is about to commit an offence. Originally intended for use against football hooligans it can be used against anybody within a defined area.

She encouraged people not to simply walk past when they saw somebody being hassled by the police. It is important that people know they have support and that the police know they are being watched.

At this point the floor was opened for speakers. One member of the audience said that they were hoping to run for Police and Crime Commissioner in November and wondered how people thought this role could be used to hold the police to account. The response of the audience made it clear that people had little interest in working with the police, something they no longer believe is of any value. The anger of many contributors was palatable.

A third speaker had come from the Birmingham Racial Attack Monitoring Unit (BRAMU) and talked about the myth of a post-racist society. Pointing to research which shows that there have been 96 racially motivated murders since the death of Stephen Lawrence. He stressed the importance of stop and search which precipitated the execution of Mark Duggan and last summer's riots. He suggested that the issue was so serious that a "state of emergency" be declared.

The final speakers were the parents of a Nottingham family who had been harassed by Notts Police, culminating in two of their sons being stopped and searched outside their home. Surrounded by armed police, police dogs and assorted other officers, the two were forced to strip to their underwear, while neighbours who came out to see what was going on were told to go back inside by the police. One neighbour had managed to capture the event on a mobile phone and although it was difficult to make out what was going on, the sheer scale of the police operation was clear.

There was an extended discussion about what needs to be done with people keen that the event not simply become a "talking shop." Lots of ideas were suggested, but despite assurances this would be the first of many meetings, the only concrete action was the collection of people's email addresses to set-up a network. This seems a small thing, but I realise that it is difficult to move straight from a meeting to an organisation and there did seem to be a commitment to ensure this was a beginning rather than the end.

Whatever the outcome, I think it was important to bring people together about this important issue and reassure the victims that they are not alone. I was particularly impressed to see that this was organised by the PCS, demonstrating that unions are capable of organising around issues beyond the immediate workplace concerns. Hopefully this can be built on within (and beyond) other unions.

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Counter-protest to SPUC demo in Edinburgh Sat. 28th Apr. 11am

23-04-2012 13:50

On the 44th anniversary of the Abortion Act, SPUC will be holding "kerbside vigils" against reproductive rights in towns and cities across the UK. One of these vigils will be held in Edinburgh, so we're going along to counter their lies and propaganda.

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Recent direct action / insurrectional news (Global)

23-04-2012 13:13

responsibility claim by "the kids play" for 22/03/12 incendiary attack on Hummer SUV in Athens (Greece) // County Meath fox hunt vehicles sabotaged, 24/03/12 (Ireland) // claim of eco-sabotage by "ELF Moscow" in Butovo forest, 3/04, (Russia) // claim of arson of comm mast in Bristol by "Some rising flames, ELF Empowering inferno" 11/04, (UK) // Update from No TAV struggle (Italy) // 13/04 claim of arson of state security agency vehicle by "Cell for the Violent and Immoderate Attack against Power / Informal Anarchist Federation", Mexico City (Mexico) // 16/04 solidarity banner outside Evening Post media building in Bristol in "happy birthday" celebration for fugitive comrade Badger (UK) // report of 16/04 arrest of Ivan Silva and Carla Verdugo, anarchist comrades accused of being in the process of carrying out bomb attack, Santiago (Chile) // Zippo Circus vehicles sabotaged in London by "ALF" // JobCentre vehicle set on fire by "Fire Cell / Informal Anarchist Federation" in Cambridge, 17/04 (UK) // Banco de Chile branch in Santiago bombed by "Subversive Proletarian Faction for Freedom" // claim of arson of vehicles of National Telecommunications Organisation,19/04 Athens (Greece) // 4 anarchist comrades in Malang, East Java, arrested on 20/04 for vandalism (Indonesia) // Danish justice minister approves terror charges against 5 comrades // insiders report of clash during 20/04 demonstration against Plan Nord development project, Montreal (Canada) // solidarity demonstration in Peckham, London, with Greek anarchist prisoners on hunger strike, 21/04 (UK) // responsibility claim by "Informal Anarchist Federation / Fires on the Horizon" for 21/04 sabotage of tram lines in the south suburbs of Athens (Greece) //

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St.andrews Mayday Extravaganza!

23-04-2012 12:49

Mayday St.andrews extravaganza!
St.andrews, long known as a bastion of conservatism, privilege and wealth, will be hosting a gathering in church square on Mayday of all those facing dire threats to their wellbeing, inflicted by the government, bosses and corporate fat-cats! Towards a combative anti-cuts movement!

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Deportation charter to Afghanistan, 6 May

23-04-2012 12:45

There is a new charter flight to Afghanistan planned for the 6 May. The previous charter was cancelled at the last moment for security reasons, after the Taliban launched some major co-ordinated attacks on Kabul and other cities, that left more than 50 dead.

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Wilderness Centre Evicted & Protect The Wilderness Not Allowed Into Their Own Court Hearing

23-04-2012 10:55

Protect the Wilderness refused entry into their own court hearing to appeal the decision to evict them from the Wilderness Centre
featured image

At 5am on 19th April bailiffs and police numbering over 60 evicted the residents of the Wilderness Centre. The barricades were up but no one had been up the tree houses for the night. The residents were given time to remove what possessions were left and the whole thing was over by 9am. The eviction was characterised by the huge police presence out numbering the occupiers by about 5 to 1, the police having prevented a breach of the peace continued to assist the bailiffs by carrying wood, boards and enjoying the beautifully spring morning laughing joking while the evil squatters retreated to their tents in the forest. The site now has 24 hours security with attack dogs.

Protect the wilderness will continue to campaign against the massive corruption and land grabs in the forest of dean and further afield. The achievements of the group will not be forgotten, the beauty and peace contained in the experiences of all who have been there will live on, in the past, now and in the future. The fight continues, resistance is fertile.

Following the The appeal of the Peasants (see )...We simple peasants not allowed into our own appeal hearing, in Bristol Court Court....No right no appeal, even though they took our £100 pound -for an appeal. Even the "named individuals" who the police said were allowed in, were left outside as none of them had their ID.

Youtube clip | Demotix news report

Help us get this news out there, lets highlight what went on, show Bristol Court, and Gloucestershire County Council to be the "diverse evill Councellors, Judges" that they are.

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