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Birmingham Feature Archive

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13-08-2006 16:31

The Cottage Occupied Social Centre

Boards off!

A community and youth centre in Sparkbrook, closed by Birmingham City Council last year, has been occupied by a group of activists, who, along with local people, aim to put the building back into community use. The Cottage of Content had been boarded up in May 2005 and scheduled for auction, allegedly for the old occupiers' failure to pay the rent and bills, 22 years after the Council stopped its funding.

Contrary to popular stereotypes about squatters and squats, the occupation was enthusiastically received by local people. A lot of 'neighbours', especially the youth, have been dropping in and attending meetings and workshops.

Whilst building up a campaign to compel the Council to re-instate the community's youth and community centre, the space is being used, as a social centre, for a wide range of activities, from DIY and educational workshops, screenings and socials, to a meeting place for various grassroots groups. Regular, open meetings are held every Monday at 7:30pm.

Read more: The Cottage of Content reclaimed | What lead to the closure of The Cottage | Disused buildings have no shortage of occupants | Social Centre occupation seeks to bring abandoned building back to community use | The Nursery Social Centre | Indymedia UK's Freespaces topic page

Full Story | 1 addition | 3 comments >>

18-06-2006 11:24

Celebrating Sanctuary?! What Sanctuary?!

Burst The Angel Group's bubble and expose the Asylum Profiteers

At a time when enforced deportations are at their highest rate ever and corporate-run detention centres are packed with thousands of people, whose only crime was to seek sanctuary in this country; when dawn raids and the weekly reporting are constant nightmares for many asylum seekers and the government is introducing increasingly more restrictive and racist immigration controls every day (asylum quotas, immigration point system etc.); comes Refugee Week (19-25 June) to "promote understanding and to celebrate the cultural contributions of refugees."

While the "nationwide festival" is, indeed, an opportunity for refugees and immigrants to make their voices heard, faced with all the "asylum madness" of mainstream media, there are many reasons to assume that the event is essentially a cheap public-relations exercise, both for the government and for some of the organisations and corporations involved. The events appear to be designed to deliberately overlook the real issues surrounding asylum and immigration. Serious political content is systematically suppressed. Besides the Home Office, some events -for example, Birmingham's Celebrating Sanctuary- are partly funded by such dodgy asylum profiteers as the Angel Group. Furthermore, the way in which things are organised mirrors much of Labour's discredited multi-cultural policies in terms of dividing refugees along ethnic lines.

Read more: Asylum Profiteers 'The Angel Group' sponsor Celebrating Sanctuary in Brum | Asylum profiteers 'The Angel Group' are being investigated for fraud | Birmingham NoBorders and The Angel Group at Celebrating Sanctuary

Full Story | 2 additions | 11 comments >>

27-05-2006 23:03

Asylum is not a Crime

some stickers to remeber us by

In what has become a regular, monthly event, Birmingham No Borders and the Birmingham Anti-Racist Campaign (ARC) jointly staged a demonstration on Friday, 26 May, 2006, outside the immigration reporting centre in Solihull. They were there to protest against the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers throughout the Border Regime. Although initially small in numbers, the protesters generated a lot of noise, using pots, pans and megaphones. In an attempt to stifle the protest, Sandford House's management contacted the police. The police, however, were duly satisfied that demonstrators were exercising their legal right to protest and left the protest without intervening. Many asylum seekers, who were there to 'sign on', also joined the protest.

Last month, a similar demonstration was held in solidarity with the unprecedented mass hunger strikes in detention centres across the UK. In November last year, Iraqi Kurds, in conjunction with ARC, staged a demonstration outside Sandford House to protest against the Home Office moves to deport Iraqis to their unsafe, occupied country. Next month's demo will take place on the last Friday of the month, June 30th.

Full Story | 1 addition >>

13-05-2006 20:27

Subvertising Ads-hell

Noborders poster installed behind glass screen

A group of activists in Birmingham have managed to open Adshel bus shelters, where they put commercial adverts, using Allen keys, and have been using the space to advertise grassroots actions, such as the No Borders demonstration at Harmondsworth detention centre on 8 April, 2006.

See photos | video

Full Story | 5 comments >>

09-04-2006 23:23

NoBorders Demo at Harmondsworth Detention Centre

asylum is not a crime

Around 300 people from London, Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Leeds, Reading and Cardiff demonstrated at the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres near Heathrow on 8 April, 2006, to ensure that "those inside will hear our voices and know that they are not alone." The call out for the demonstration was made by London NoBorders, the Campaign to Close Heathrow Detention Centres, London Against Detention, and The Square Occupied Social Centre in solidarity with the Noborder actions in Australia.

There was a large police presence and they prevented detainees and demonstrators from establishing a line of sight: the demo was not allowed to take place in the field where detainees could see it from their windows. Security guards also prevented detainees from accessing the centre's exercise yard and didn't even allow them to approach the windows. Some detainees were reportedly beaten up when they protested against these restrictions. In response, some 150 detainees have gone on hunger strike.

Many phone calls from detainees were passed on to the demonstrators via a small sound system. Former detainees also gave live testimonies of their own experiences in detention.

Pictures: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Audio reports
Videos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Read also: the Indymedia UK feature | timeline of the demo | last year's day of action.

Full Story | 4 additions | 1 comment >>

20-11-2005 16:47

Site update to display of comments


You may notice we have changed the way comments to articles are displayed. If you want to know why and how, please read the full article.

Full Story | 35 comments >>

19-11-2005 15:49

The So-Called Lozells Riots

Peace & Unity Initiative

Over the weekend of 22-23 October 2005, the Lozells district of Birmingham witnessed unprecedented violence between Asian and Afro-Caribbean youths. And while some, on both sides, were quick to exploit the events for their own agendas, ordinary people from both communities were equally let down by the police, the mainstream media and self-styled 'community leaders'.

Needless to say, the problem is very sensitive and controversial; it involves a wide range of issues, from racial relationships to socioeconomic structures. It was often difficult to get balanced accounts of the events from local people without falling into exaggerations, arbitrary accusations and prejudgments. Nonetheless, here is an attempt to understand what happened, how and why.

Reports and comments: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Full Story | 1 addition | 4 comments >>

15-08-2005 13:05

Animal Cruelty Day of Action Hits the Streets of Birmingham

Weekly Sunday afternoon protest outside the farm Breaking news: Newchurch Guinea Pig Farm closure announced

On Saturday 6th August, Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs (SNGP) organised demos against the BBC regarding their blatantly biased programmes (screened over recent months) about this Midlands anti-vivisection campaign. Simultaneous protests took place in London, Manchester & Birmingham, outside BBC offices & studios.

The Birmingham demo brought together nearly 30 campaigners from across the West Midlands and was a great success, but protesters didn`t stop there! The day turned into a fantastic day of action against animal abuse with further demos at Thomas Cook due to their involvement in the trade in primates for vivisection, and McDonalds because of their murder of billions of animals every year and the devastating destruction to the planet caused by factory farming those animals.

BBC bias on vivisection | Brum day of action against animal cruelty | Victory for Newchurch Guinea Pigs Campaign | Newchurch National Demo to go ahead as planned | Home Office bans activist from entering UK

Full Story | 2 comments >>

06-08-2005 19:55

Tornado whips up storm of local criticism

local people waiting for news and access to their homes

Thursday 28th July 2005 a tornado ripped through South Birmingham at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour injuring at least 19 people. The tornado peeled off roofs, rolled over cars, tore through walls and ripped up trees [ pics 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ].

Mainstream media reports initially focused on the damage to Kings Heath's shopping area. An Indymedia report written by local residents shortly after the tornado reveals that some of its worst damage in Balsall Heath was initially overlooked by mainstream media. Birmingham City Council's response to the disaster has been widely criticised and there are concerns that very high levels of people in poorer areas of the city affected by the disaster aren't covered by insurance [ report and videos ].

Insensitive policing | Asbestos litters streets | City Council's damage limitation PR exercise | Council meetings with residents after the tornado

Full Story >>

10-07-2005 17:05

YMCA withdraws from Ayslum Slavery Scheme

This weeks protests against the G8 involved the make borders history walking tour of the border regime and it's asylum profiteers in Glasgow. [ pics 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ][ video ].

One of the sites of interest to the border tour-ists in Glasgow was the YMCA because of it's partnership with the IOM (International Organisation of Migration) and its proposed involvement in the Home Office's forced labour scheme for some asylum seekers.

Back in May in a two pronged approach, voluntary sector workers, trade unionists, council workers, refugees and human rights protesters directly protested in Liverpool and Birmingham at Government plans to pilot a forced slave labour scheme for asylum seekers with the help of the voluntary sector's YMCA. As a result the YMCA has since withdrawn from the scheme, but other voluntary sector organisations have expressed an interest in running the scheme and the struggle against immigration slave labour continues.

No One is Illegal letter | Birmingham protests | Liverpool protests | Make Borders History

Full Story >>

04-07-2005 18:34

Caterkiller Week of Action

Model of Demolished Palestinian House outside Anglican Conference, Nottingham The recent week of action against CATerpillar which took place in Nottingham, Derbyshire and Solihull ended with a procession through the streets of Brighton on Saturday 25th June in protest against High Street Stores selling CAT footwear and clothing.

Full Story | 6 comments >>

21-05-2005 16:14

We are all Indymedia

Birmingham Indymedia finally went live as part of the UK Indymedias United Kollektives on May 1st 2005. Birmingham DiY Indymedia aims to empower people within Birmingham and beyond to realise their voices through community news.

You can upload your news in the form of written reports, photos, audio and video. Just go to the 'publish your news' in the top right hand corner of the site to upload your news or click the 'make a quick comment' at the end of an article.

DiY News Workshops | Brum Indymedia's TWiki Workspace | Indymedia UK

Full Story >>

09-05-2005 13:33

G8 Alternative Media Convergence and Summit Appeal

dsei 2003 indymedia centre

Indymedia, together with other grass roots and alternative media groups are preparing for the G8 2005 Summit in Scotland in July. Several physical IMC centres are being planned to facilitate DIY reporting of the events around the G8.

Want to get involved? Have equipment you can lend or donate? Get in touch and find out more on the info page for the G8 Independent Media Convergence event. The convergence was held at the Institute for Autonomy social centre in London 14-15th May.

Money is also needed to help secure venues, vehicles for mobile media facilities and equipment - please consider donating money to Indymedia.

[ Convergence Call and Registration | Convergence Video Invite ]

Full Story >>

01-05-2005 00:05

Mayday 2005 - Euromayday and More

This years Mayday Events saw Euromayday protests and actions happening in 20 cities around Europe, all based around the theme of 'precarity'[Photos] The Euromayday events have been happening over the last years in Europe, and getting bigger every year, with parades of causalised workers, temps, part-timers, immigrants and unemployed marching through Europe's capitals to demand new social rights for the most marginalised [see audio background interviews 1, 2 from]


Precarity Action The location of the euroMAYDAY/Flexmob action were texted to people's mobile phones at the last minute. Several hundred turned up at the Hackney Tesco, including Sambistas and a banner "All we have to loose is our chainstores". They stayed for some time before a huge police presence moved them out. Reports of several violent arrests [Arrest appeal]. The day finished with everyone continuing on to London Fields
[ Timeline | IMC London Feature | Precarity Assembly Report | Personal Account ] [ Reports and Pictures: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 ] [Videos 1 | 2 | 3 | 4]

At the same time, the TUC Trade Union March formed at 12pm [More] At 2pm, the Spacehijackers cricket match was played in Parliament Square [report]

London Critical Mass celebrated their 11th year of monthly bike rides with a huge event on Friday 29th April [Pics 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6], as well as a G8 bike ride benefit in the evening of May 1st. Other Critical Mass rides took place around the country for Mayday weekend.


A Reclaim The Streets Party started off at 1pm [Timeline and Reports], the Camcorder Guerillas screened their new G8 film "Why Close the G8" at 4pm, while the usual STUC Mayday Rally takes place at George Square at 11am. On Friday there was also a Critical Mass bike ride.

See Indymedia Scotland for further round-up of the days events.

Other actions

In Birmingham there was a march through The Bullring™ in support of workers' rights in response to the asset stripping and demise of Rover which clashed with a pro-capitalist bloc extolling the virtues of unfettered capitalism, ending with a picnic in Pigeon park by the cathedral [Report].

In Bradford the first Critical Mass Critial Mass for some time went ahead successfully this Mayday. [Report].

In Lancaster Mayday Picnic on the Priory field at 1pm, as part of the reclaiming International Workers' Day festival.

In Sedgefield (Blair's constituancy) there's a pre-election Mayday WMD Festival running May 1st-2nd with music, comedy and a peace camp set up.

Liverpool saw a critical mass on the Friday followed by a Trade Union march and then gig on the first. [Announcement]

Manchester held a party on Plattlands Park with a critical mass leading off to it. [Announcement] [Audio report]. There was also a Trade Union march, and before the Radical Bookfair.

Oxford Oxford International Workers' Day: Pensions not War [Photos] and Oxford samba Mayday madness [Report and Pics]

In Ireland, the scene of last years major Against Fortress Europe Mayday demonstrations, Dublin will have an Anti-G8 Reclaim The Streets Party on Monday 2nd, as well as a Euromayday Precarity Block on the usual Trade Unions march on Saturday 30th April.

See Also:

London: 30th April Anti-authoritarian Film Festival
Oxford: May 2nd Protest against war on Iraq and pensions
Worthing: Friday Anti-G8 Critical Mass
Euromayday Net Parade | CopyRiot euroLANparty005

Full Story | 4 comments >>

27-04-2005 12:40

Indymedia UK 5th Birthday

Mayday 05 marks the 5th anniversary of Indymedia UK. The first IMC to take off outside the US, it launched amidst the media hysteria around the Mayday 2000 protests. Indymedia UK developed into the United Kollectives with the launch of the current mir code
based website in 2003, and continues to grow with the launch of Birmingham IMC this Mayday and Nottingham IMC due to launch soon (see also birthday party in london, 15th May).

A big thanks to everyone involved in contributing towards Indymedia! Without reports from the streets, and the voluntary effort of people contributing online and offline to the project, Indymedia would be nothing.
Don't hate the media - BE the media!

Full Story >>

03-04-2005 21:51

UK Noborder Demos Join Europeans for Free Movement and Right to Stay

UK, 2 April 2005. For the first time, a wide coalition of groups participated in a UK-wide, decentralised, but synchronised action day for a radical and uncompromising "no" to immigration controls, following a call for a European day of action for free movement and the right to stay.

People in Birmingham [pic], London, Manchester [call|pics|report], Glasgow, Nottingham [call|occupation|pics 1|2], Oxford and Canterbury were out in the streets simultaneously and made clear that they don't think what the Tories think.

For the first time, people with very different political cultures had mobilised together for free movement: the National Coalition of Anti-deportation Campaigns and the campaigns against detention centers along with committees to defend asylum seekers, migrant and refugee support and community groups, black and asian groups, direct action groups, trade unions, noborder activists and people from social centres.

In Europe, demos and actions were announced in 41 cities and 11 countries. They included the occupation of a detention centre in Barcelona and the occupation of the IOM-offices in Paris [more links]. In Ireland, a demo welcomed back Olunkunle Eluhanle from Nigeria.

The day of action, first agreed at the European Social Forum in London last year, is seen as a contribution to the European landscape of rebellion against migration management. Activists regard it as closely connected to the Euromayday initiatives, thereby linking issues of migration and work.

Check the audio reports for background interviews, the no one is illegal manifesto for a radical position against immigration controls from the UK; and for updates from Europe.

Full Story | 7 comments >>

09-03-2005 00:51

Birmingham Social Centre Reclaimed for Community

Community Direct Action Santas deliver the goods! After 6 months of occupation, the squatted Nursery Social Centre in Birmingham is to be voluntarily vacated by the occupying Collective, after they convinced the council to hand over the building to a community project [see report].

After resisting three eviction attempts [video] [pics] the Collective have agreed to move on to pastures new on the condition that the building be returned to social use by the council. The Collective felt, along with local people, that the building should not be left empty again. Birmingham City Council has finally arranged for the RITE Project (which works with young people excluded from the education system) to use the building until 2006. The building is then due to be demolished, pending a public enquiry, as part of the controversial Bristol Road expansion. The Collective are keen to point out that the social use of the building would not be on the council agenda if they had not taken Direct Action, highlighting the misuse of public buildings by local authorities.

Meanwhile the fight in London to return St. George's Theatre in Tuffnel Park to community use contines [see Latest Updates].

See also Indymedia Free Spaces Section

Full Story | 1 addition >>

25-01-2005 12:06

DIY Culture in Birmingham

A week that started with British soldiers exposed as torturers and the US president proclaiming his "calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom" ended much more sanely at Birmingham's DIY Culture weekend.  Hosted by The Nursery Social Centre collective [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ], the weekend featured three days of workshops.  Participants got their hands dirty converting a Ford Escort van to run on used vegetable oil, set up solar power systems, erected wind turbines, learned to shoot and edit video, set up lowtech computing resources using GNU/Linux, and did a sometimes-vertical Situationist-style tour of the city.  The explosive film Injustice, about the community response to deaths in police custody, was featured on Saturday night, and was followed by a talk with the film's director. 

Sunday included workshops on permaculture,subvertising and practical experience in low impact dwellings over at the Nursery secret garden, plus real progress was made on setting up a Birmingham Indymedia website - contact Indy Brum to find out how to get involved.

Full schedule of events
Reports: [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ Photos ]
Videos: [ DIY Chip-fat Vehicle Conversion ] [ Urban Explorations ]
Links: [ The Nursery ] [ ] [ ] [ United Families & Friends Campaign ]

Full Story | 4 comments >>

17-05-2004 11:30

Breakfast with Caterkillar - Homewrecker of the Year


On Wednesday, May 12th 2004 at 8.30am, Caterpillar Out of Palestine arrived at Caterpillar offices near Solihull to present them with their well-deserved Homewrecker of the Year Award, and to ask the employees to take up the issue of arms sales to Israel with the company. Unfortunately, the employees were too shy to leave the building. So the following morning the protesters decided join them for breakfast in the car park as they arrived for work.

UNWRA recently reported that 131 civilian homes had been destroyed in Gaza in the first ten days of May alone. CAT financial corp report that company profits had risen by 41% to $457 million this quarter. While CAT’s profits rocket, CAT machinery is instrumental in the occupation.

Caterkillar refuses Housewrecker of the Year award | Breakfast with Caterkillar

Full Story | 1 comment >>

16-03-2004 23:50

Caterpillar Plant Shut Down

We're here! Around a dozen people walked calmly into the Caterpillar defence plant in Shrewsbury at around midday on Tuesday, occupied various areas within the complex and shut it down for the entire afternoon. Several protester locked themselves onto factory fixtures using bicycle locks. The action took place exactly one year after US peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death under a Caterpiller bulldozer in Palestine. Protesters tried to talk to workers about Caterpillars role in killing people but management closed the plant and ordered the staff to leave after triggering the fire alarm. All the protesters were later arrested and released at around 11pm, bailed to return to face charges of attempted burglary. Police also confiscated mobile phones and video footage taken during the action.

Action coverage Film: 'Caterkiller Shutdown' | Photos | Audio Interview | articles 1 | 2
Background and history Caterpillar | Rachel Corrie
External links Caterkiller | Stop Caterpillar
Other related posts 'The dialogue of bombs & the underreported nonviolent resistance'
ISM Action Alert: Activist Arrested By Army
Why Seeking Justice for the Palestinians Is the Jewish Cause
Palestinian Olive Oil Project in the UK
Physicians for Human Rights: Another day in the Occupied Territories
Price of an orange

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