UK Repression Feature Archive
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.
On Wednesday 15th students from around the country joined students from Birmingham to protest the injunction the university has obtained banning all forms of occupational protest for 12 months. The university has been heavily criticised by human rights groups including Amnesty, Liberty and the Index on Censorship calling the actions aggressive and censorious. Sabina Frediani, campaigns co-ordinator for Liberty has been quoted as saying “Universities should be places where ideas and opinions can be explored and they should be engaging with the students in their care – not criminalising them. How exactly will taking out court orders against protest encourage future applications from aspiring undergraduates?”
The march started at the guild of students and several attempts were made during the march to gain access to various buildings on campus but were stopped by the overly aggressive security who had the backup of police, on standby around the campus. The route of the A to B march was quickly abandoned in favour of something a bit more impromptu and resulted in a demo outside the building where the disciplinary hearing was taking place for Simon Furse, the only student in the country to be disciplined by a university for taking part in an occupation. The disciplinary had already been disrupted once earlier in the day as a group of students stormed the room and read out statements.
The march continued on in an impromptu fashion after this until a door with no security was found, at which point the march became an occupation, breaking the injunction. The building in question just happened to be the University’s Corporate Conference Centre in Staff House which was occupied in November, the first in this latest round of occupations.
On the Newswire: Calling all students, take back your campus | Occupation - Defending the Right to Protest | University of Birmingham Corporate Conference Centre occupied - over 100 students | Take back your campus
Related Features: Your Education is Being Sold: Occupy the Academy! | Student’s squat gatehouse at University of Birmingham | Birmingham University Students Occupy Corporate Conference Centre | Council House & universities occupied: students reject cuts and fees hike |
Students and construction workers got their first taste of the 'Total Policing' advocated by new Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe at the demonstrations held on November 9th in London.
The MET used intimidatory tactics on Student demonstrators, in the run-up to the day, with threatening letters being sent out to those arrested at previous demos, along with threats of rubber bullets broadcast via the corporate media.
The MET tactics appeared to have some success with numbers on the demo much lower than expected. Those that did join found that the whole march took place in an enormous kettle, which they were unable to leave, with all side roads blocked off, and police in riot gear at junctions. In addition to the thousands of uniformed cops controlling the route, plain clothes cops infiltrated the crowd, making an aggressive arrest.
The corporate media continued to mainly ignore the demos organised by the 'Sparks' and UNITE, for construction workers who are under threat from massive pay cuts as their employers ditch pay agreements. Sparks who wished to show solidarity with the Students, were prevented from doing so and found themselves kettled later in the afternoon.
Elsewhere in London, RMT affiliated cabbies brought Trafalgar Square and the Strand to a standstill, and UK Uncut disrupted the speech of the Permanent Secretary for Tax of HM Customs and Revenue at a Corporate Tax Conference
Previous Feature: Sparks Will Fly on November 9th!
On the Newswire: Authorities panicking over November 9 protest! | Police harass activists traveling by coach to nov9 protests | a few pics and words on november 9 student protest | Nov9 The final kettle, arrests and dispersal | Cabbies Protest
Video: Nov9 Sparks push through police lines | #Nov9 Arrest of protester by undercover police | Violent arrest of a protester during #Nov9 by a large group of undercover cops
Plainclothes Cops: N9: Pics of moment undercover cops arrest protester | N9 arrest figures from Met police | Undercover Cop Faces at N9 | N9 new police tactics: Undercover cops active and aggressive
Analysis: After Nov 9: Where do we go from here? | N9: The Bigger Picture
Cases against people who refused to complete the 2011 census in England and Wales are starting to come before the courts. Judith Sambrook, who declined to fill in her form in protest at the government's contract with WMD manufacturer Lockheed Martin to process census data, had a preliminary hearing at Wrexham Magistrates Court on Remembrance Day 11/11/11 with her case now adjourned to 8 December (tbc). Over 20 supporters attended the court in solidarity with Judith to demonstrate against Lockheed Martin and the wars it fuels, holding a vigil at the war memorial afterwards. Other known cases are in Liverpool on 8 December, Reading on 13 December and Birmingham on 5 January. There are bound to be more in the coming weeks and months.
Recent articles on the newswires: Birmingham court hearing 5 January | Reading court hearing 13 December | Liverpool court hearing 8 December | Judith Sambrook next court hearing tbc | Photos and reports from Wrexham 11/11/11 court hearing [ 1 | 2 ] | Local group in solidarity with census refuser | Occupy London in solidarity | Flyer for download | Support Conscientious Census Objector | Solidarity from Canada | Demo and Vigil at Census Court Case
Previous articles on the newswires: Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib Interrogation Firms and the Census | Supplementary Census Questions | Don't Co-operate (Scotland) | Boycott Census (Ireland) | For the non-religious | Discussion on Census Data Security | Census e-action day | Count Me Out: info | Count Me Out: Disarm the Census | London Demo Report | Dodgy Census Stats | Why I will be breaking the law | Lockheed Martin and the Census | UK Census 2011 | CACI Torturers in Scots Census Rehearsal
Elsewhere: Count Me Out | No Census Taking Part | Ethical Census (Scotland) | SACC on the Scottish Census | CACI gets immunity from US law | Canadian Resistance to Lockheed Martin's involvement in Census | The Register: Lockheed Martin suffers network 'intrusion' | How to complete your census without Lockheed Martin profiting | Guardian: Boycott Census | No2ID on the Census | London Guantanamo Campaign on the Census | Red Pepper: Why to Refuse the Census | CorpWatch on Lockheed Martin Interrogators | Guardian on torture link | Ekklesia on the Census | Book review: Prophets of War (on Lockheed Martin) | Lockheed Martin announces census contract | CACI announces Scottish census contract
Several empty buildings in Oxford have recently been opened as squatted social centres. In August an empty industrial workshop on Randolph Street was squatted. After several "Free Uni" events (sharing skills and ideas), community meals, film and info-nights the court process provided only a short delay and then eviction. The building now remains unused.
Undeterred, the social centre, known as "Plebs' College" due to the focus on free education, has re-opened on Union Street, with a multitude of weekly events. Again they are under threat of eviction from a landlord keen to demolish the place and build student flats. This space where people can gather, meet, organise and learn, as equals, free of the usual commercial or bureaucratic pressures, may be a glimpse of another society.
For hints of a more brutal future, we can look at the recent eviction of Dale Farm: an entire community made homeless, while those who resist are kicked, tasered, batoned, pressured-pointed, or beaten, and the media continue their lies.
Which path we take could depend on the actions we all take in the next few years.
The last few weeks has seen a number of cases of political policing and repression of peaceful protest in Birmingham. The first case was in the lead up to the Lib Dem conference which was held in Birmingham from Saturday 17th September. The day before the conference started on Friday 16th three Activists from the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) were arrested for a banner drop, which read “Traitors Not Welcome, Hate Clegg, Love NCAFC”. They would be held in prison on minor road traffic charges until after the national Demo against the coalition cuts was over.
The second case of political policing was at the Right to Work Demonstration against the coalition’s cuts on the opening day of the conference. As with last years Conservative party conference the police presence seemed overblown with armed police and the route of the demonstration not being allowed to go past the ICC the venue of the conference.
Finally one of the three NCAFC activists arrested for the banner drop was denied bail and held in prison for 10 days on the basis the he was facing charges for the occupation of the Fortnum & Mason store on the March 26th protests.
On the newswire: NCAFC activists drop banner for day 1 of Lib Dem conference | Birmingham For The Alternative, TUC, Right to Work Demo, 18th September | Lib Dem conference protester remanded in custody after banner drop | Solidarity Protest for banner drop activist remanded in custody | Solidarity Demonstration for Banner Drop Anti-Cuts Activist | Ed Bauer bailed after 10 days in prison
Related Features: Occupy! Manchester - 2nd October Tory Party Conference
LATEST: Monday 3 October: Basildon Council concedes that full clearance of Dale Farm as originally proposed would be illegal. Council ordered to pay one third of Dale Farm's legal costs. Awaiting outcome of applications for judicial reviews, due Tuesday. More in full article.
The legality of the eviction notices served by Basildon Council on Dale Farm residents was challenged by the Travellers in the High Court on Friday. Once the arguments had been heard, including an application by Basildon Council for the scaffolding at the entrance to the site to be removed, the Judge Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart said that there would not be a ruling before Monday 26 September (now extended to Tuesday 4 October). Late in the day it was reported that the injunction to restrain bailiffs from starting any clearance or eviction of the site would stand in its current form until at least 4pm Monday. A later report indicated that the judge may further extend the injunction into the middle of next week or beyond if necessary. In the meantime, applications are being prepared for judicial review of the eviction, which could lead to further delay of a final decision. Basildon Council has already set aside £18 million to evict the Dale Farm residents. However, with the current stalemate reported to be costing the council over £1 million per day, the total cost is likely to have increased by some £8 million by Monday and will continue to rise during any further delay. With a bit of luck they'll run out of money before the eviction is allowed to go ahead.
Recent newswire articles: Injunction extended to Monday | NET climbers at Dale Farm | Experiences of a legal observer | Travellers and Supporters open up Dale Farm | High Court 23 September | Re Dispatches: The Fight for Dale Farm | Keep stinging them in the pocket | Dale Farm wins reprieve | Last minute injunction | BBC censorship shame | Call out to activists | Bailiff's dirty tricks | Photos from Dale Farm march and demo 1 | 2 | Eviction Update
On the third day of rioting in London riots were being reported as spreading all over the capital with police resources being stretched to breaking point meaning they were unable to respond to all the incidents. It wasn’t until riots were reported in Birmingham however that it became clear that this was now a country wide issue and not just confined to London and, that the underlying issues causing the riots had gone beyond anger over the murder of Mark Duggan by armed police on Thursday.