No police harassment!
Grey's Monument has a long history of being a place for political groups to hold demonstrations and rallies. However, over the last year these groups have been coming under increasing harassment by the police, which is undermining the democratic right to protest. The event on 7th May which the charges refer to was collecting petitions and informing the public about the imminent deportation of a Kurdish woman and her 3 children to Turkey, where she faced imprisonment and torture. After an extensive campaign the family's deportation was stopped. This is the kind of activity which the actions of the police and council threaten to shut down in future. This is not the only incidence of police harassment, but it is the occasion with least witnesses, since the police waited until the stall had been packed up before accusing activists of breaking the law. Other activists have also been affected by this harassment at Grey's Monument.
The police demand that activists apply to the council for a permit in order to collect money. Council regulations state that collections at street meetings are exempt from the need for a licence. Even though this is the case, some protestors have been issued with formal warnings and others have been arrested and had money confiscated by the police. Now Newcastle City Council has joined in the attack with the issue of summonses to court.
The police say groups need a permit to collect money, but the council has confirmed that permits will only be given to non-political organisations. Without collections, political groups will be unable to continue in their work because independent groups need to raise money to print newspapers and leaflets, book rooms for meetings, travel to demonstrations, and meet other campaign expenses. The state is effectively trying to censor grassroots democracy by making it impossible for independent groups to campaign on the streets. The police are using the same laws they used against the miners to try and prevent us from collecting money.
Democratic rights have been fought for by working people all over the world over centuries. Don't let the British State take away our democratic rights! This is only the tip of the iceberg of the attacks being made under the Labour government to criminalise all resistance. Join the resistance against state repression. We will not be silenced or forced into submission. We will fight these attacks in the courts and through our continued activity on the streets. If you value the work of any of the groups at Monument then please support our right to protest.
Whose streets? Our streets!
There will be a Defend Democratic Rights organising meeting on Wednesday 14th November at 7pm. This is open to anyone who wants to support the democratic rights in Newcastle, whether you are an activist yourself or if you support the rights of existing and future activists to hold political street meetings and stalls at the Monument. Please contact email@example.com for the venue.