Police and state oppression news.
The Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp, attended by 100-150 people, ran from 28th August to the 2nd September 2015 and was hosted by a local anti-fracking site. Workshops explored the links between land struggles, prison abolition and other issues including gender, animal liberation and freedom of movement.
People held evening noise demos at three prisons in the region in solidarity with those inside, leafletted the local town, and picketed several companies involved in the mega-prison. Finally a blockade of the construction site held up lorries for over 4 hours without any arrests.
As anyone with experience of them knows, prisons are abusive places used to control and threaten people, particularly those of us who are working class, people of colour, or disobedient. We need justice processes based on strong, vibrant communities, not more prisons and cops harming our communities.
The new prison would be the biggest in the UK, and the second biggest in Europe. It aims to open in 2017 and would give the State enough cages to lock up an extra 2100 people.
Meanwhile, Robert King of the Angola 3 will give a talk on struggle and revolution in the US prison system, on Wed 16 Sep in Dundee.
On Monday 2nd of March 2015, there were demonstrations in over 30 towns and cities around the UK (plus Toronto) against Maximus, the US based health insurance corporation that has taken over the contract from the French IT Company Atos to administer the Work Capability Assessment on behalf of the Department Of Work And Pensions. Atos announced its exit from the contract in early 2014 following an intense period of direct action against the company by groups such as Disabled People Against the Cuts.
The day of action was timed to coincide with the first working day of the new contract, with the spotlight turned on Maximus as well as the continued use of Work Capability Assessments and the life-threatening consequences of the ongoing government attacks on the sick and disabled.
In central London, to the chorus of "David Cameron is a W*****" (YouTube) activists from DPAC hit the streets, taking direct action to block traffic and at one stage bringing traffic to a standstill on Victoria Street in the shadow of Big Ben.
The demonstrations across the UK on the streets were complemented with an online Twitter campaign using the hashtags #Maximarse and #ScrapWCA, the latter trending for a number of hours. This gave the opportunity for those unable (including through sickness and disability) to make it to demonstrations to vent their anger and frustation around the Work Capability Assessment and at a government hell-bent on targeting the sick and disabled.
Bristol Indymedia has been hosted on a Bytemark Debian virtual server since the last server seizure in 2005 [ 1 | 2 ], during the run up to the G8. From then up until November 2013 the site was running Oscailt, in March 2014 it was re-launched as a WordPress site "using the software modremoveip". On 14th August 2014 Bristol Indymedia switched off open publishing on the site for a summer break with the intention in September to "review whether we have the time and inclination to turn publishing back on".
On 27th August 2014 Bristol Indymedia reported that, "the police had a court order to access the Bristol Indymedia server. We don’t know for sure, but assume that our web hosts have complied with the order and given the police this access". Bristol Indymedia disabled open publishing on the server and said "it is unlikely that open publishing of news items will ever be re-enabled as it would require complete re-installation of the server".
Since then the only source of further information has been from an article in The Times which reported that the PACE special procedure production order obtained by Avon and Somerset Police and served on Bytemark on 15th August 2014 "demands access to the details of administrators and bill-payers, login credentials, information on those who posted articles and the IP addresses of everyone who visited the site over an unspecified period". The court order served on Bytemark hasn't been published. The Times has reported that the Police have said that, "No arrests have been made in connection with this incident".
Corporate Coverage: [ The Times: Activist website Indymedia shuts down after police raid (repost) | The Bristol Post: Anarchist website Bristol Indymedia to close following police raid (repost) | Bristol24-7: Bristol Indymedia offline for good after police raid ]
Activist Coverage: [ Urban75: Indymedia Bristol raided by plod, servers accessed! | LibCom: Sources and the police raid on Bristol Indymedia ]
Bristol Indymedia reported on 27th August 2014 that:
The Police have physically accessed the Bristol Indymedia server.
Last week we heard from our web hosts that the police had a court order to access the Bristol Indymedia server. We don’t know for sure, but assume that our web hosts have complied with the order and given the police this access.
We consider this server to be compromised, users should assume that from this point on the Police have access to the IP address of anyone accessing this site.
In light of this it is unlikely that open publishing of news items will ever be re-enabled as it would require complete re-installation of the server.
We are going to leave the calendar on for now, but note that it is likely that IP addresses are now being recorded and accessed by the Police.
***STOP PRESS 13th March: The Metropolitan Police has withdrawn its application to strike out women's case as the legal battle continues. Solidarity picket on Tuesday 18th March will go ahead as planned.***
Five of the eight women taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police, due to undercover police officers deceiving them into long term intimate relationships, will be opposing Scotland Yard's attempt to have their cases struck out on Tuesday 18th March. The women and their Police Spies Out of Lives support group have called for a solidarity picket outside the Royal Court of Justice, The Strand, at 9am on Tuesday 18th, as part of a week of action (17th - 21st March).
On the Newswire: Outrage as High Court permits secrecy over undercover policing | Abuse of women by undercover police must stop now! | Three undercover political Police unmasked | Undercover and over-the-top: The collapse of the Ratcliffe trial | Mark 'Stone/Kennedy' exposed as undercover police officer
Join the ongoing resistance at Balcombe
Attempts by Cuadrilla Resources to begin exploratory drilling for gas at Balcombe, West Sussex on a temporary licence that expires in September have met with strong resistance by locals and environmental activists from around the country who have come together for The Great Gas Gala. The start of drilling, for which Caudrilla has a very small window, has been significantly delayed by the action in spite of excessive and repressive policing, a camp has sprung up, support by locals for direct action is reported to be over 80% and the resistance continues. Planned events at the camp include a 'meet the locals' tea party on Sun 4 August, a day of artistic resistance on Sat 10 August and a 'Gas Gala' on Sun 18 August.
On the newswires: Whose streets? Cuadrilla's streets! | No Names, No Frack Drill | Frack Free Somerset in Solidarity with Balcombe blockaders | Ongoing blockade of Fracking Site | Resistance Call-Out for Balcombe | Meanwhile, in Scotland
Shared National Day of Asylum Seekers Taking Action
This Saturday 29th June will see protests across the country by asylum seekers and supporters calling for 'Dignity not Destitution'.
In June 2012, 250 asylum seekers and supporters marched through Bristol to tell people our problems and to demand Dignity For Asylum Seekers [ Report | Press Release ]. This gave us more confidence to speak out. After last year's march we campaigned to get Bristol City Council to support us. We are pleased to say that in January they voted overwhelmingly to support us and condemn the government’s policy on forced destitution. Now, we are joining together with groups around the country to take action on the same day to say that forced destitution is wrong. Read the full article for details of events around the country.
The trial in the Court Martial of Welsh-American WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning is finally scheduled to begin on Monday 3 June 2013 at Fort Meade, Maryland, US after an unprecedented three years of pre-trial detention. The mistreatment of Bradley Manning in prison including almost a year of torture by the US authorities that was condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has to be seen in the context of the vast, 'secret' Grand Jury conspiracy and espionage investigation into WikiLeaks and the pressure that must have been exerted on Brad in a sustained but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to persuade him to testify against Julian Assange, who the US authorities very badly want to get their hands on.
Read or listen to Bradley Manning's statement to the court (extracts below) and his chat logs to see why he felt that the information he found himself in possession of should be shared with the world and what he hoped might happen as a result of risking his life and liberty to do this.
There are 22 charges against Brad including 'Aiding the Enemy' that potentially carries the death penalty although the prosecution has said it will not seek this sentence. Brad has already pled guilty to 10 lesser charges that could themselves result in a 20 year jail term and the government has accepted his lesser plea on just one count but not on any of the other lesser charges, for which it will still bring evidence. During the final pre-trial hearing on 21 May, Judge Lind announced that portions of the trial dealing with 24 witnesses, including US Ambassadors, will be held in closed session, with redacted transcripts provided afterwards.
The US, aided and abetted by Britain, is pursuing a permanent 'War on Terror' and continues its project of creating and escalating conflict around the globe at terrible cost to human life. The significance of the anti-war actions of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange can be judged by reference to the zeal with which both are being persecuted by the US authorities and the extent to which they have been variously misrepresented, vilified, smeared, ridiculed or ignored in the mainstream media. As anti-war activists or war resisters, they deserve our support and solidarity.
Join existing or create your own solidarity actions on Saturday 1 June and throughout Brad's trial, expected to last into August unless there's an early plea deal. 1 June solidarity is currently planned for London and Cardiff.
Previous features: December 2012 (Torture hearing) | April 2011 (Call-out for solidarity)
On the newswires (recent): Thanking Bradley Manning in Kabul | Bradley Manning's in jail for us, We're on the streets for him | 1 June call-out for Cardiff | Vivienne Westwood supports Brad | London solidarity in run-up to trial | Solidarity at Chester May Day | Downloadable flyers for 1 June | London solidarity/Report from Fort Meade | Brad nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (again) | Wrexham solidarity on 1000th day of detention
Accused WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning, the young American military intelligence analyst with Welsh and Irish roots, gave evidence in person for the first time at Fort Meade, Maryland in a hearing on the Defence's Article 13 unlawful pretrial punishment motion. The court sat for eleven days between 27 November and 11 December to hear the case that Brad was subject to unlawful pretrial punishment at Quantico brig where he was held for nine months before being transferred to less punitive conditions at Fort Leavenworth in April 2011. Brad's mistreatment at Quantico has already been condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez. On the strength of evidence of mistreatment, the Defence is calling for all 22 charges Bradley Manning faces in connection with the biggest anti-war whistleblowing act in history to be dropped or, failing that, for any sentence imposed if he is convicted to be substantially reduced. Judgment has been reserved and the ruling of military judge Denise Lind is unlikely before January.
12 Jan: This feature (below) now finalised
12 Jan: Verdict from this hearing Judge declines to dismiss all charges; finds some unlawful pretrial punishment but ignores most; only 112 days sentencing credit awarded.
On the newswire - Notes from the courtroom: Verdict | 11 Dec | 10 Dec | 7 Dec | 6 Dec | 5 Dec | 1-2 Dec | 30 Nov | 29 Nov | 27-29 Nov | London vigil: 27 Nov Report | Call-out | Previous feature: April 2011
This feature has been compiled from the sources listed in the posts above. Read the full article for a summary of the hearing and links to articles by independent journalists and supporters of Bradley Manning.
While the London 2012 Olympic open ceremony was underway on Friday 27th July, there was a massive police and military operation underway, which included the use of CS gas, to contain and eventually arrest 182 London critical mass cyclists. The cyclists were held in a police kettle for two hours, handcuffed in buses for three hours and held in a police cell from six hours to two days. Out of 182 cyclists, only 3 have been charged with any offence. However, all have bail conditions imposed on them until September 18th 2012 restricting their freedom to move, assemble, associate and live their lives. Some groups have issued advice that the bail conditions may breach Articles 10 & 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They point out that "breaching bail conditions is not a criminal offence."
A petition for justice for the 182 has been launched with the following demands:
- All bail conditions should be discharged
- All data including DNA, fingerprint, addresses etc taken from those cyclists should be removed from all paper and comupter records of police & other agencies.
- An independent review of the police behaviour on Friday 27th July should be conducted as a matter of urgency.