The demo itself was excellent. Despite many asylum seekers being too frightened to turn up, in case UK Border Agency officials attended the demo and tried to seize them, around 400 asylum seekers and their supporters marched through Glasgow demanding an end to the raids, detentions and deportations. We had also gained information that the North West Infidels, a bunch of knuckle dragging English racists, had threatened the demo. While the speeches following the demo continued, Strathclyde police moved in, instructing people to move off the Square threatening to use the Public Order Act to move people if they refused to leave. With vulnerable asylum seekers and a number of children in the area, there was little choice but to comply, and people moved on, concluding the rally early. An elderly man, who didn’t move fast enough for the police’s liking was arrested for breach of the peace as he stood in the middle of Glasgow’s main public square. And why were they so keen to clear the square? So that it could be given over to racists and fascists.
Within minutes of moving off refugees and their supporters from the square, police marched in a group of 25-30 white men holding up banners, which in and of themselves constituted incitement to racial hatred, to shout their racist hate. A few police dotted around the group, while the majority of police encircled the square, insisting that people must not enter. A young Asian woman who attempted to enter the square was shouted at and manhandled by police who threatened her with arrest, before moving a group of Asian youth, not just off the square, not just off the pavement surrounding the square, but down into side roads well away from the centre of Glasgow, while the supporters of refugees were held in a tight kettle in a corner on the edge of the square.
|Fascists protected at Queens St station|
Meanwhile, the racists had regrouped in Buchanan Street between the Palestine Human Rights Campaign Stall, which they had previously attacked in November last year, and the Communist Party stall which they had attacked in January. Knowing that the Palestine stall had been a prior target, a small number of anti-fascists who had managed to avoid the kettle had made their way there to protect it, as others finally managing to escape from the repressive policing also made their way down.
A lone policeman on a bike had been stationed there, despite the prior violent attacks from the group that had just been let loose to roam the streets causing mayhem. As tensions became heated between the racists and the anti-fascists, the police appeared en masse and re-kettled the racists in a side street, eventually parading them down Buchanan Street. Allowing them to spew their bile all the way down one of Glasgow’s main shopping streets, all the while telling people that countering them was “making their job harder” and “was not helpful“. Two more refugee supporters were arrested just after the racists were moved off, under a Breach of the Peace charge, for shouting at the scum.
Serious questions must be asked in the light of the events of yesterday. Political policing in Glasgow is totally out of control. We are seeing continual arrests under broad ranging legislation for nothing more serious than shouting, refusing to move from a public square when ordered to do so, and attempting to walk down a public street. On a number of occasions people were told that they were being moved on, or prevented from walking where they wished “for their own safety“. If the streets and public squares of Glasgow are unsafe for people to enter, then it is the job of the police to make those streets safe, not to prevent people entering them on threat of arrest.
Political activists in Glasgow are seeing increasing harassment at the hands of Strathclyde police. Arrests made on dubious grounds; police turning up at people’s doors to instruct them where they may and may not go; stop and searches being conducted as a means of intimidation and harassment of peaceful protesters. The Glasgow Defence Campaign has been logging just some of these incidents.