Recently there has been a spate of stories about social centres and evictions. At 5.30am 25th August, around 40 police and 30 bailiffs smashed down the front door of the Ex-Grand Banks in north London. This high profile centre had proven to be one of the most successful squatted community projects for some time, despite occasional police harrassment of people attending meetings there (see video). On Saturday 4th there was a street party in protest against the eviction.
Use Your Loaf, an ex-bakery on Deptford High Street which had been occupied as a centre for social solidarity since summer 2002, has also now been evicted after managing to resist eviction a week before.
Meanwhile, in Birmingham, a disused nursey has just been occupied. In Arms Reach, a squat just off Oxford Street in central London, provided a one-off week-long series of workshops, films and gigs. Back in north London, the AUTONOMOUS LAB in Chalk Farm Road, having already resisted eviction at the beginning of August, have now expanded into a second vaccant shop front!
There are plenty of other successful projects nationally and internationally as well: read on for more details...
Campaign groups "Voices in the Wilderness" and "Iraq Occupation Focus" call for an emergency vigil at 10 Downing Street in Central London on Sunday, 15 th of August, Noon -2 pm to protest against the latest military attacks in Iraq. Densely-populated Iraqi cities are under fire from US-UK forces. On Thursday, more than 75 Iraqis were killed in the US bombardment of Kut. British troops have killed at least twenty in their assault on Amara.
The attack on Najaf, led by US warplanes, has been condemned by public opinion across Iraq. Sixteen members of Najaf's 30 member provincial council have resigned in protest at the assault.
In the last 48 hours, hundreds of civilians have been killed by occupying forces in the cities of Najaf, Kut, Sadr City, Sammara, Nasiriya, Amara, Basra, Ramadi and elsewhere.
This Sunday, Venezuelans will vote on whether to keep their controversial president, Hugo Chávez. Elected with a promise to redistribute Venezuela's enormous oil wealth (before Chávez it was the number one supplier to the US) this referendum will be a chance to find out if he still has the support of the people. Having failed to oust him with a traditional (US backed)coup in 2002, and a general "strike" (bosses lock-out) the following Christmas, the opposition's referendum might actually end up strengthening his legitimacy.
This week, groups in London held a week of solidarity with the Venezuelan people and their right to self-determination without US interference. Daily events (see programme) took place at the rampART creative centre in Whitechapel, starting on Monday 9th with the opening of a "Latinamerican Liberation" exhibition. The main event is a picket of the US Embassy on the day of the referendum, Sunday 15th, from 2pm; meet beforehand in Hyde Park near Speakers' Corner for a 'Bolivarian picnic'.
New topic created: See Venezuela 2004 for all related posts.Read more >>
Dalston junction in Hackney, was closed off on the afternoon of Friday 30 as a huge police operation took place to evict the popular and well-known occupied venue and social centre, the Poison club. At aproximatly 3:00pm the police axed down the door, roughly handling the occupants, immediatly evicting them from the building, whilst filming the operation. This raid was on the basis of a drug search, followed by a second 'explanation' that the building was structurally unsound due to a fire next door the night before.
The Poison Club was home to around nine residents and has been in existence for almost 2 years. Described as a non-commercial D.I.Y meeting point for friends of punk rock, hardcore and grindcore, the residents and users of the Poison Club also regularly facilitated its use as a venue for benefits such as Zapatista solidarity. The centre has also been a focal point for the queer punk community. The Poison Club is the latest eviction in a continued drive to harass and evict squats in the Hackney area. Full report
Meanwhile, an eviction is also looming at the Autonomüs Lab Resistance and Rebellion for Tuesday 3rd August. This occupied space in Camden Town was opened in early June for the "Greenwash or Us, Exibition of Resistance Against BP and Big Oil", and it has been open daily to the local community ever since. A series of events such as exhibitions, meetings, workshops, screening and music nights have been taking place at the centre on a weekly basis. See flyer of upcoming events.
The Autonomüs Lab is now engaged in "resistance and rebellion", and throwing some fun and games to go along starting on Sunday 1st August. A three day non stop bike protest running along a circuit around Camden Town has been called, as well as a series of local actions which include "carring out random ID checks on the local population in a solidarity action with the palestinian people". Also the "Camden Town Apartheid Wall" will be erected by the Zapatista Palestine Solidarity Group. The Auonomüs Lab is also calling for active resistance to the eviction starting on Monday night, and will be providing food, zapatista coffee and sleeping space for everyone that makes it down to the occupied space at 50 Chalk Farm Road NW1.
More reports to follow ...
An Indymedia screening night is being organised tonight Friday 30th at the Grand Banks Occupied Social Centre. The address is: 156-158 Fortess Road, Tufnell Park, NW5. Opposite Tufnell Park tube station.
The screening is a benefit event in support of the Indymedia Italy Legal Support Team, that is currently working around the clock archiving about 1600 hours of photographic and video material. This evidence will then be used by the defense teams of the ongoing court cases against demonstrators brutalised during the anti-G8 protests of Genoa 2001.
The films being shown are all Indymedia Italy's edits, and include: Update 01, Nothing to Drop and Genoa: Denied Rights. Update 01 was the first video ever edited on the Genoa events, realesed the 10th of August 2001. Nothing to Drop (realesed in 2003) focusses on Carlo Giuliani's murder by a Carabinieri coscript, and Genoa: Denied Rights (released in 2004) is a general update on the different trials still open against demontrators as well as the police forces.
More info about Indymedia Italy Legal Support Team in their multilingual page.Read more >>
A week long Exhibition of Resistance to BP and Big Oil, and the corporate hijacking of the arts is now under way on in London. A space has been squatted specially for the event [Photos]. The address is 50 Chalk Farm Road, Camden.
Update Tuesday 22nd: Another protest was called on Monday night during the BP sponsored awards ceremony at the Portrait Gallery. As protestors were gathering at around 7pm, four London Rising Tide activists chained themselves across the front door effectively shutting down the National Portrait Gallery. It was also announced that the alternative exhibition has been extended for a week, and it is now likely to be open until Saturday 26th June in the squatted gallery.
On Wednesday 16th climate change activists and artists held a 'Greenwash or US' Street Party outside BP HQ, many carrying artworks revealing a true portrait of an oil company. The street party then marched to the private view of the BP sponsored National Portrait Gallery Awards. When protesters tried to move towards the entrance of the National Gallery, police rapidly moved in and pushed people back. In the resulting scuffles one person got arrested for "not moving" [video of the arrest] The party then continued for several hours without any more incidents, and later in the evening it was followed by the opening of the art exhibition at the squatted venue [Report | Photos of street party].
Over the weekend, there will be daily workshops and events in the exhibition space as well as on the streets. These will include speakers from West Papua and Colombia, a Jam Night, film night, and lots of other fun stuff such as painting, subvertising, guerilla cinema, radio, food and discussion. See Programme of Events.
London Rising Tide | Burning Planet
Following months of speculation over the location of the 2005 G8 Summit in the UK, and reports that all police leave in Edinburgh and Scotland will be cancelled next summer, the Gleneagles hotel [official website] in Perthshire, Scotland has finaly been confirmed as the venue (G8 dates: 6th-8th July 2005).
The last time the G8 met in the UK was in Birmingham in May 1998. Then up to 70,000 people encircled the centre of Birmingham, forming a human chain and demanding an end to third world debt [pics]. On the same day up to 7,000 people took control of the centre of Birmingham for the second Global Reclaim the Streets Party [pics 1 | 2 | 3][video] - with actions and protests happening against the G8 in around 40 cities across the world, with over 400 social movements taking co-ordinated action under the banner of Peoples' Global Action (PGA).
Six years and many huge mobilisations later, people in the UK have been organising around the G8 for several months. A growing new network of local groups has been created called the Dissent! Network, with nodes across the country. Dissent! is planning a series of awareness raising events through the year and has been calling for both local and international participation. Many people and groups are now focussing on planning protests and direct action campaigns against the G8.
Recently many NGO organisations are also co-ordinating on a level unseen since the Jubliee 2000 drop the debt campaigns, and are set to try and take advantage of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's aim to pitch the UK presidency of the G8 as a positive step towards reducing third world debt and around issues of development and trade [see guardian article] - 2005 is also the 20th anniversary of the Live Aid concert. Several groups are expected to use the European Social Forum in London in October later this year as a platform from which to launch campaigns. Recently several Trade Union leaders, politicians and Globalise Resistance have also issued their first call for protests.
Recent UK Savannah G8 Solidarity Actions
The People's Golfing Association (PGA) [statement][pics]
"Anarchist Group's Gleneagles Website Exclusive!"*
Corporate Media Coverage of Gleneagles G8
For more on G8 - see the Indymedia G8 Reports Section
The government has introduced draft legislation for potentially compulsory biometric identity cards and a central database of all citizens. A trial of related biometric technology has already been launched. The card system will cost at least £3 billion and is likely to become an essential part of life for everyone residing in the UK. Read more.
Home Secretary David Blunkett thinks that the "ID Card Scheme is the key to the UK's future" whilst affirming that they will be a crucial tool in the "prevention of terrorism" and against "illegal immigration". Citizens organisations such as Privacy International, Stand, Liberty, Statewatch and FIPR strongly refute these views. On Wednesday 19 May in London they held a public meeting under the title "Mistaken Identity".
The meeting gave a resounding vote of no-confidence over the national Identity Card. Leading politicians, lawyers, regulators, security experts and civil libertarians were unanimous in condemning the proposals. The president of the Law Society, representing 116,000 solicitors throughout the UK, also warned in his statement (pdf) that the government's draft legislation contained dangerous provisions. For corporate media coverage, see the articles from Silicon.com, BBC, and the Guardian.
A similar meeting was held on May 20th in Glasgow.
On Tuesday 11 May, a greenwash business conference took place in north London under the name of 'What's the Point of Corporate Responsibility', organised by Ethical Corporation magazine. Seminars at this conference, which was attended by the likes of Shell, BP, Gap, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss and Marks & Spencer, included discussion-topics such as "Why should Chief Executives take Corporate Responsibility seriously?", "Is Corporate Responsibility simply another management fad?" and "How smart companies are using CR for commercial objectives."
In the late afternoon around sixty demonstrators congregated outside the Marriott Hotel in Swiss Cottage, where the conference was taking place, and engaged in a festive protest whilst refusing to accept the absurd proposition that corporations actually want to be held accountable. The picket was called under the name of "Corporate Responsibility? You're Having A Laugh!". The protestors included a samba band, activists of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign and London Rising Tide, and comedian Mark Thomas, who managed to avoid the £295 registration fee and blagg his way into one of the conference's seminars where he pressed the panel with questions from the floor. Report and PhotosRead more >>
As part of the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign, a picket of the Marks and Spencer store in Oxford Street has been taking place in London every Thursday since October 2000. This is in fact, the longest running protest in the UK against the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip The campaigners state that M&S is the biggest British corporate sponsor of the state Israel, arguing that: "The history of Britain's biggest clothing retailer Marks and Spencer demonstrates how consumer habits in Britain are tied to the oppression of other peoples. Marks and Spencer has championed the state of Israel and thus connived in the dispossession and suppression of the Palestinians. Our comforts and pleasures, which Marks and Spencer so eagerly service, have been bought at an unacceptable price."Read more >>
Brian Haw, the Parliament Square peace protestor, who has spent almost 3 years in a continuous anti-war protest vigil opposite the Houses of Parliament (1), has been arrested and his possessions / extensive protest display removed, in a sudden midnight police operation.
Reports 1 and 2
Update Sat 15 - Support Brian Haw at Bow St. Magistrates Court. Meet on Tuesday 18th May, at 10.00am outside the court.Read more >>
Anarchism on wheels? Or just a bunch of cyclists getting together on a Friday evening? Sit back, close your eyes and imagine a thousand people cycling along a central London street... filling the street... there aren't any cars... the noise of the traffic is drowned out by music, whistles, bike bells and people having conversations while cycling together…
On the last Friday of April 1994 London’s first Critical Mass took place with about 50 cyclists, and this month's ride on Friday 30th April will be a celebration of 10 years of reclaiming London’s tarmac.Read more >>
Between 26-28 April representatives from 300 companies - including Shell, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and US arms manufacturer Raytheon – will be attending a business conference in London entitled Iraq Procurement 2004: Meet the Buyers. They will be meeting members of the US occupation authority, the US-installed Iraqi “government”, and wealthy Iraqi business-people to discuss "the wide range of opportunities available" to make a profit out of the increasingly blood-soaked occupation of Iraq. The conference takes place in the context of a series of new laws passed by the US last September, that "effectively put [Iraq] up for sale" to foreign investors (Guardian, 22 Sept. 2003)
A growing body of evidence that the way in which the Bush administration has been "treating [reconstruction] contracts as prizes to be handed to their friends" has been "delaying Iraq's recovery, with potentially catastrophic consequences" (economist Paul Krugman, New York Times, 30thSept. 2003) On the other hand, US attempts to ‘restructure’ (rather than cancel) Iraq’s odious debts, attempts likely to "rob Iraq of [its] economic freedom by requiring that it adhere to an IMF structural adjustment program" (Jubilee Iraq). All of this as a backdrop for the killing of over 600 people in the US siege of Fallujah, "the vast majority of [whom] were women, children and the elderly" according to the director of the town’s general hospital (Guardian, 12 April)
A protest to coincide with the gala dinner for the business conference 'Iraq Procurement 2004' was called for Tuesday 27th April. See Photos: 1 | 2 | Protest website.
Read more on the Iraq Procurement conference [here.
Voices in the Wilderness UK has been campaigning on Iraq for the last six years. To visit the Iraqi procurement website and see the blatant carve up of Iraq see The Iraqi Procurement Conference where you can check out their agenda for the event.Read more >>
Press hysteria and propaganda around this years Mayday has been mounting over in Ireland, where the latest headline to hit the streets revealing that troops will be drafted in to "Put Down" EU protests!
All of the media reporting so far about Mayday in Dublin has concentrated almost exclusively on "violent" protesters, while no evidence has been presented of a real risk of violence, and barely a mention has been made of the reasons that people will be protesting.
Indymedia Ireland comments:
"The corporate media is creating the climate for repression. They are trying to drive people away from protests and creating the climate where the police can smash the protests with force."
See Indymedia Features, Analysis, and Reports:
Irish Independent Piles On The Mayday Hysteria Mar 27
Demonstrators Challenge Anonymous Smear Campaign Mar 26
What to do about 'Anarchist Menace' Corporate Journalists? Mar 23
Pre-EU Mayday Press Propaganda! Oh YES! - Associated Newspapers in Ireland
Requiring Army Deployment? Was her Editor Drunk Too?
The media madness will be familiar to those who have followed the sad excuse for journalism rolled out every year, for the last four years, ahead of Mayday protests in London, which has been riddled with factual mistakes, bare faced lies, so called intelligence from so called "intgelligence sources", and quite ridiculous claims.
So far this years coverage from this side of the Irish Sea has focussed on the "Mayday Cancelled" statement from some members of the Mayday Collective, which says that the usual large autonomous protest in London is not being planned this year by the Mayday Collective, and explains some of the reasons for that, citing increasing levels of police repression, and calls for a more open dicsussion of politics and goals. Thus far coverage from the BBC and the Evening Standard has failed to mention the Mayday EU events in Dublin (see reports 1, 2).
Events in Dublin framed as "Say no to Fortress Europe - A Mayday No Borders weekend", include a week of cultural events, exhibitions, screenings, workshops, and much street theatre and visual actions focussing on asylum seekers and refugees, housing, recycling, anti-war and public/private space. There's also a Critical Mass Bicycle protest, a Noise protest at the EU Ministers Dinner, a No Borders Camp, and a Reclaim The Streets Party (see Audio/Video).
The usual Dublin Mayday march by Trade Unions has been cancelled, making way for the official EU enlargement celebrations, however the Another Europe is Possible Coalition will still be demonstrating on May 1st with a carnival parade in central Dublin. Meanwhile the BBC/RTE 10,000+ "Beautiful Night" concert has been cancelled after the Irish Cabinet decided the closure of O'Connell Street and adjoining areas for five days before the event would be unacceptable.
Indymedia Ireland will be reporting the protests, as well as holding a series of events entitled "Another View of Europe" (April 23rd - May 3rd), including screenings, exhibitions and workshops from the European Independent Media network, with a major theme being Independent media from the countries joining the EU, as well as events at the Sustainable Living Convergence Festival.
In London plans for the traditional TUC backed Trade Union march are going ahead, assembling at Clerkenwell Green at 12 noon and marching to Trafalgar Square where there will be speakers from the Stop the War Coalition, Globalise Resistance and Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London. There has also been a Disarm DSEi Mayday Action call in London for April 30th [Flyer]. There are also plans for Mayday events in other towns and cities across the UK, including Lancaster.
See: Mayday No Borders weekend in Dublin (main site)
Indymedia Ireland EU / Mayday Section | Indymedia UK Mayday 2004 Section
Wombles Mayday Section | TUC March in London
Following a meeting held in mid-January the London Mayday Collective decided not to proceed with plans for an anti-capitalist event this year. This will be the first time in 5 years that there has not been an event of its kind in London [See IMC-UK coverage of Mayday 2000 and Mayday 2003].
Some participants in this year's collective have produced a statement which is now online and also available to download as a pdf. The text intends to explain the reasoning behind the decision, and perhaps begin some discussion into the prospects for planning future Mayday events, keeping in mind what has gone before. It starts stating:
"The decision to postpone London Mayday 2004 was taken only after several disappointing and poorly attended meetings that had produced little in the way of either a concrete proposal for gathering around or a strong unifying theme that could lead to ideas worth developing .../... In these circumstances we feel not calling an event this year is the right thing to do. Whatever the feeling for Mayday activities, we now have the opportunity of at least a year’s breathing space to review where we are as a movement, to discuss some of the problems associated with the event in its current form and to look to what opportunities lie ahead" . Read full statement
In place of this year’s event the collective have invited anti-capitalists to join them for a MAYDAY PICNIC on Saturday 1st May from 3pm in St James’s Park). They stress that the event is genuinely a picnic and nothing else. Meanwhile, and similarly to the past few years , corporate media have started their own campaign of (mis)information and Mayday scaremongering with articles such as the London's Evening Standard "Police wear down May Day anarchists" and the BBC's "Apathy kills off May Day protest ".Read more >>
Public sector cuts