UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
The fiery unrest which ignited in Tottenham a few days ago, and which has rapidly spread through London and to other towns and cities across the country, has been largely and predictably condemned by politicians and the mainstream media as mindless violence, arson, theft and thuggery. While there is no denying that a number of the attacks have badly affected local people in local communities, some of whom have lost their homes and possessions and in one case their lives, blanket condemnation of those involved in the unrest is inappropriate and conveniently draws attention away from the context in which these events are taking place.
Britain's cities, towns and rural areas alike now boast record numbers of young unemployed people, often denied benefits, with few prospects, with many of those living in urban areas facing constant harassment by the police, especially if they happen to be black, with public services being cut all around them, and quite possibly with a growing mass awareness - thanks to movements like UK UnCut - of government support for super-rich corporations at the expense of the already impoverished. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan and subsequent police lies might have been one trigger for the 'riots' in Haringey; another is almost certainly the decision of Haringey local authority to close the majority of the borough's youth clubs in a round of public spending cuts. In any event and whatever the triggers, the roots of the unrest are deeply embedded. No amount of repressive policing and overkill sentencing is going to solve this crisis, even if it succeeds in silencing dissent in the short term.
This feature draws together and links to eye-witness accounts and independent analysis, alternative voices offering a range of views and opinions. Read indymedia features from London, Nottingham and Bristol, opinion from SolFed, Fitwatch and individual commentators, and accounts from the streets as events have unfolded.
Features on the newswires: London - Unrest Spreading | London's Burning | Tottenham riots | Bristol - feature | Nottingham - feature
Reports and analysis on the newswires: Open Letter to Cameron's Parents | Solidarity from Greece | Eon Vehicle Torched in Bristol | On the Insurrection | Manchester and Salford | St Pauls - police state | Tottenham: community pulls together | Corporations and the London Riots | Going off in Birmingham | Birmingham's Militant Consumer Tour | Birmingham, West Brom, Salford | Gravesend | Oxford | Britain's Burning | Too far - a site to identify and incriminate | Riot as a sign of desperation | UK Riots and Capitalism's Decay | Woolwich trashed | Criminality and Rewards | Unrest spreading to Hackney, Lewisham, Peckham | Peckham building on fire | A costly mistake... but we are people too | Eyewitness account from Edmonton | Stokes Croft to Tottenham | Focus on Holloway | Brixton Road pics | Fire Sale in Brixton | Tottenham Burning
Reports and analysis elsewhere: Fitwatch 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | North London SolFed | Pennie Quinton | Dan Hind | Finian Cunningham | RiotWiki Collective Analysis | Christian Fuchs | Robert Stevens | Mick Hall | Amy Goodman on Democracy Now | Tariq Ali: Why here and now?
On 4 July 2011, some 90 families at Dale Farm, the UK's largest Traveller community, were hand-delivered a final notice of eviction giving families until midnight on 31 August to abandon their homes, or face their entire community being bulldozed. The central government and Basildon Council have set aside over £18m for the eviction battle that could last three weeks. It will be the biggest clearance of its kind, involving the ploughing up of 54 separate plots created on a former scrap-yard purchased by the Travellers ten years ago.
Urgent Call-out for Support: Supporters are urgently needed to help the community resist the eviction. Come to the camp for one of the activity weekends any Saturday between now and the end of August, and join Camp Constant from 27 August.
On the newswires: Solidarity Bulletin 4 August | Colchester Council Hates Gypsies | Solidarity Bulletin 27 July | Dale Farm Info Night, 2 Aug, Bristol | Resist Ethnic Cleansing | Eviction notice served | Previous feature
Elsewhere: Dale Farm Travellers | The University of Esssex Human Rights Clinic | Susan Craig-Green, Advocacy Project
Read full article for a round-up of J30 action: a day of protest against pension cuts and more
See also regional features (links below) and the J30 topic.
On June 30th over 800,000 public sector workers will be on strike against attacks on their pensions. This is a key fight for everyone who wants to defend public services and oppose cuts to pensions, benefits services and our communities. Strikers and anti-cuts campaigners from across South Yorkshire will be marching through Sheffield, please join them.
Thu 30 Jun 2011, 12 noon assemble at Peace Gardens; 1pm rally Barkers Pool, organised by Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance, supported by Sheffield Trades Council.
Other protests listed on j30strike.org are, a student march around the pickets, meet on Howard Street (Sheffield Hallam Uni main entrance) at 9am and Sheffield Uncut action, meet at tram stop outside the Cathedral at 10am.
No Borders and refugee solidarity activists blockaded the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration prisons, near Heathrow airport on 21 June to stop a mass deportation flight to Baghdad. About 70 Iraqi refugees, mostly Kurds, were due to be forcibly flown on a specially chartered flight from an undisclosed airport at 11pm. A last-minute court injunction forced the Home Office to call it off, so the blockaders decided to end their protest at 9pm, after making sure that the migration prisoners were safely off the buses. The action was an important step in escalating resistance to the deportation machine, in solidarity with the hunger strikers in Campsfield, the rioters in Brook House, the Yarlswood four, and all migration prisoners in their everyday struggle.
As Tories threaten hallowed ancient squatting rights.
As expected: Following the opportunistic yelps of a jumped-up tory media-whore (see SchNEWS 764), against the background of a right-wing ideological crusade, the criminalisation of squatting is now on parliament’s agenda. This week the government announced a brief consultation period was under-way on the issue of occupation without authorisation. The sights of the Tory legislative blunderbuss are slowly being zeroed in, battle lines are being drawn and arguments rehearsed. As every day goes by, the corporate press prejudice people further against one of the few remaining laws that empowers the many against the few.
The squatting community and it’s supporters have to fight their corner without the benefit of funds, media presence or political influence - they must work from the ground up and rely on the ability of people (and in this case, worryingly, politicians) to judge fairly between logical arguments. Some squatters have already risen to the challenge - Squattastic is an irregular though frequent series of open meetings, held in a chain of different squatted properties, mainly in the London area to discuss ways in which this crack down can be combated.
In a more mainstream stylee - The SQUASH Campaign is a dedicated group of activists and researchers who have already given a briefing to Parliament attacking the proposed change to the law - this was presented on May the 18th and was attended and supported by several well-known groups involved with homelessness issues, including Crisis and Shelter.
From the newswires:
A short and incomplete history of squatting in Brighton | Resist the Dutch ban on squatting | Whatever they say, squatting will stay - update ... | The criminalisation of squatting | Squatting is to change from being a civil offence ... | Squatting Europe Kollective
In Schnews: SchNEWS 776
UK Uncut issued a call out for an Emergency Operation in banks across the country on Saturday 28 May: "Whilst the NHS is being dismantled, the banks that caused this crisis in the first place have been left untouched. Reckless gambling, obscene bonuses and a global financial crisis are symptoms of a disease that requires a drastic intervention. The banks are due a check-up. Join UK Uncut’s Emergency Operation and transform your local high street bank into a hospital. Tell the government to leave our NHS alone; it’s the banks that are sick."
Dozens of banks were hit, many transformed into makeshift wards and operating theatres filled with bleeding patients, surgeons, doctors and nurses.
As mass protests in Madrid raise the bar for European anti-austerity actions. We've got the Arab Spring – what about a European summer? It's a week since thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators pitched up in central Madrid (see SchNEWS 772) - and revolution fever is spreading across Europe like nits in a playground. With the Spanish sit-in still going strong – and intending to remain until at least the 29th - street demonstrations have also hit Greece, Georgia, and, er, Bristol. Protests are spreading to Italy, France, Portugal, Austria even Germany - could it be that last year's initial protests against austerity measures are maturing, one year on, into a broader demand for political reform?
From the newswires:
Crackdown begins. | Nottingham Solidarity | Spanish Revolution at London | #Spanishrevolution Has Reached Bristol | This revolution is sponsored by you! | Protests continue outside Spanish embassy | A shout from Spain | Message from Barcelona | Edinburgh Solidarity March
In SchNEWS: SchNEWS 773
For 10 years there has been a struggle against the Corrib gas project in Western Ireland. For the last five years many campaigners have made the journey to show their support with the local people as they show the international oil company that they cannot have their own way. This year a critical stage is being reached and Rossport Solidarity Camp is gearing up to play its role in the continuing resistance. Read on for a history of the campaign and for information if you are planning to come across.
Important! Read this legal information if you're planning to come to Rossport.
All are welcome, open to complete beginners - no experience necessary! Accommodation & food provided, donations welcome. Call or text 08511 41170 for more details.
Shell started construction work on its highly controversial Corrib on-shore gas pipeline on 29 March, with a judicial review of the pipeline still outstanding and choosing the day that local Rossport activist Maura Harrington was due in court. The work was immediately resisted by people standing in front of and sitting on top of trucks, a lock-on by the compound gates and another blockade, all of which were dealt with violently by the gardai, causing some injuries. A security vehicle belonging to security firm IRM-S became another blockade when someone locked on underneath it all night, preventing work starting the following morning. (The murky world of IRM-S is exposed in the film The Pipe).
The following week's actions included removal of whole sections of Shell's 'bogmat' roadway and an 11 hour lock-on at the compound gate, preventing any vehicles from entering or leaving. As the lock-on was removed, more people moved in, extending the blockade. A further blockade the following day saw a Shell to Sea campaigner punched in the stomach by a garda (MY259). Meanwhile, the gardai have helpfully provided incriminating evidence about their activities and attitudes on an activist's video camera which they seized and left running before returning to its owner. The recording included gardai joking about threatening to rape activists, as well as arguing about whether or not they should bother to follow safety procedures when removing activists sitting on top of vehicles.
Read full article for background, current situation and links to reports on the newswire.
The first day of the Liberal Conference in Sheffield was met by protests [ 1 | 2 | 3 ] outside the Town Hall starting at around 4pm. At around 4:45pm the protest moved up to Barkers Pool and proceeded to chant at the conference delegates outside the City Hall. The protest then moved to the top of Barkers Pool, at the bottom of Division Street and got noisier. A critical mass later in the evening brought Ecclesall Road to a complete standstill. The Star reported that there were 800 protestors and has posted a video and a timeline of the protest.
A far bigger protest is expected tomorrow, assembling at 11am on Devonshire Green, however a warning that it might be kettled there has led to a call to meet outside the Town Hall instead. See the Massive Protests Expected at the Liberal Democrats Spring Conference in Sheffield feature article for more details
Conference tweets are using #ldconf, so use this hashtag in titles of newswire reports to get the delegates attention, you can also follow the Sheffield Indymedia newswire via Twitter or indy.im and also ConDem Sheffield on indy.im
Newswire: Convergence Centre Open in Sheffield | so this is what 2 million quid of policing looks like - day 1 | Photos from the protest, 11th March, Sheffield city centre | Protests at the First Day of the Liberal Democrat Conference | Liberal Democrat Conference: Police State Sheffield
Actions took place across Britain in opposition to government spending cuts on Saturday 19th February.
In Bristol an estimated 3000 people joined a march through the city which had been called by the Bristol and District Anti Cuts Alliance before gathering on College Green for speeches. The march took place in the week after the Government had abandoned plans to sell off Britain's forests in the face of mounting public anger, and days before Bristol City Council is due to announce its slashed budget. Arrests were reported during the march and at solidarity demos afterwards.
In Nottingham over 1000 joined a 'Keep the Post Public' demonstration called by the Communication Workers Union (CWU)
About 1000 people marched from the Shirehall in Shrewsbury to a rally in the Square. Earlier this week, Shropshire Council approved plans to cut almost £40m from the capital spending budget over the next four years.
Several actions took place across London including; Lewisham's Carnival Against the Cuts attracted about 1000 people, as they marched from the town hall, whilst Hackney's March Against the Cuts saw 500 take to the streets. In Wood Green the local bank was also occupied, in Brixton the local branch was closed down by 40 people.
Many branches of Barclays Bank were targeted in response to a call-out from UK uncut after it was revealed that the Bank had paid only 1% tax on its £1.3Bn profits in 2009, and that Chief Executive Bob Diamond is likely to get a £9m bonus this month. [see Full Article for more.]
UK UnCut callout for RBS actions on Saturday 26/02/11.
Egyptian dissidents (along with the masses) celebrated on Friday as Hosni Mubarak finally threw in the towel after the mass protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and across the country, refused to abate (and presumably the Americans finally ordered him to load up the plane with gold and go in an attempt to ensure the power structures – and thus their influence – didn't collapse completely). But the Egyptian revolution is not yet won as the military have stepped in, repressed protest and threatened to declare martial law.
Welcome to the latest round up of grassroots news from Oxford. It's proven to be another busy month for activists and campaigners in Oxford. Local, national, and international attention has focused on our little city somewhere between London and the Midlands.
They are the most politically marginalized people in this country and across Europe; marginalized in the UK in every other way too, having no legal place to live, unable to send children to school because of police move-ons, and even refused service in pubs and restuarants.
But Travellers today are standing up for themselves and nowhere more so than at Dale Farm, in Essex. Here a hundred families have been under siege for ten years, refused planning consent to live on their own land; though it's only an old scrap-yard converted into a mobile-home park.
Dale Farm Travellers are making a final stand against what they see as an act of ethnic-cleansing equal in its brutality to the clearances of Roma camps in Italy and France. They are asking for your help.
Last week (see SchNEWS 753) we covered the protests against the sell-off of the Forest of Dean. But the implications of the Public Bodies Bill for the Forestry Commission go a lot further than that. Essentially the Tory’s are planning (in time-honoured fashion) to flog off the family silver and privatise forests up and down the country. The sale is intended to raise £2bn - less than half of one years tax avoidance by Vodafone.
In SchNEWS:SchNEWS 753
The campaign to keep publicly funded leisure inside the ring road in East Oxford is starting its second year; we need support from anyone who cares about the health and wellbeing of the citizens of Oxford and how the City Council is ignoring the will of its citizens for its own ends.
Over the last year, the Labour-controlled city council in Oxford has been pushing through plans to close two leisure centres and replace them with an extension onto Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre.
31-12-2010 18:36It's been a busy year for activists and grassroots campaigners in Oxford. Peace campaigners have kept up the pressure on the war-mongers, including those at AWE Aldermaston and BAe systems. Campsfield Detention Centre has remained a target for people opposed to the inhumane treatment of migrants. And, of course, the anti-cuts movement has grown from strength to strength closing down shops, occupying buildings, and bringing angry people out on the streets.
The websites of financial and technological companies that cut off services to whistleblowing website WikiLeaks have come under attack by supporters of transparency and openness across the world, in a coordinated campaign codenamed 'Operation Payback'. The companies, which include Amazon, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and PostFinance, seem to have taken the arguably unlawful measures under pressure from the US government. The loose group of hactivists behind the attacks, known as Anonymous, had vowed to continue their 'digital sit-in' demanding total freedom of the Internet.
The state-corporate war on WikiLeaks follows legal and illegal attempts to take its website down, which were countered by supporters setting up numerous mirrors of the site; cyber attacks by what appears to be US government-sponsored hackers; and the politically motivated arrest of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, in London over alleged sex charges he faces in Sweden.
Article last updated on 15 December.
Another student Day of Action was called for Thursday 9 December, the day that MPs voted on changes to higher education including an increase in tuition fees to up to £9,000 a year. Actions took place around Parliament, at schools, colleges and universities, including the many currently under occupation, and in town and city centres across the country. The protests in London were marred by police violence and featured an appearance by Charles and Camilla, who popped by on their way to the Royal Variety Show.