Saturday, 17 November 2012

Police harassment of Green Brigade intensifies

As regular readers of this blog will know, over the course of the last two years police harassment of political activists has steadily increased. Alongside this, state attacks on democratic rights have been broadened to include wider sections of the population and in Glasgow, most notably, fans of Celtic Football Club. The Green Brigade, a collection of progressive Celtic fans who support their team in the Ultra style, have bore the brunt of these attacks and continue to do so. Below we reproduce the latest statement from the Green Brigade and encourage our followers to take the time to read it.
On this issue, the Glasgow Defence Campaign would like to re-affirm our position that political attacks must be fought with a political defence. We ask all of our readers to arm themselves with the necessary legal information needed to defend themselves but say from experience that the battle in defence of our rights is one that must take place both inside the courts but most importantly on the streets, or in this case, the stadiums. Ultimately this is where the battle will be decided.
The GDC once again calls for a broad and unified campaign to defeat Strathclyde police's vicious attacks on both political activists and football supporters.
We send our solidarity to the fans of Celtic F.C and give our support to the two match boycott that has been organised by the Green Brigade to further highlight the attacks which have taken place.
In the courts,on the streets, in the stadiums - an injury to one is an injury to all.
Green Brigade Statement

Two weeks ago, we put out the above statement about the continued harassment of the Green Brigade. The response and support we received was excellent from the rest of the Celtic support, and obviously this is something we are very grateful for.
The reason for this statement was because we felt it was time that the extent of this harassment was made public. We also hoped that Strathclyde Police would see sense and end the criminalisation of our group. Sadly, if anything, they have increased the pressure since this was released. A newspaper report last year claimed that one of their senior officers had promised to 'smash the Green Brigade' and it certainly looks like their plan is in motion.

Last Wednesday was a special night at Celtic Park. The display before the match was beyond our wildest expectations, the atmosphere was electric from start to finish and more importantly, Celtic beat arguably the best team in world football. It is a night that will live long in the memory of everyone connected to the club.
However, while the rest of the support were still on Cloud 9, our group was brought back down to Earth with a bump as it transpired that Strathclyde Police had visited yet another two members' home with a view to charging them. To put this into perspective, this means that just under 50% of the Green Brigade have either faced, or are facing a police charge/ban from football.
Last week, the first home league match since we released the initial statement, a young fan from within 111 was arrested and taken away for the 'crime' of having a water bottle inside a football stadium. When questioned about their actions, one of the senior officers within the stadium, Alex Kelly, smugly replied that "if you don't play ball, we won't play ball." In other words, this young fan was being used as a pawn in their game.
On top of that, news broke that they had also visited a fan in Liverpool having (wrongly) assumed that he was involved in the Green Brigade. Why they visited him remains unclear just now but it is something which we're looking into, and obviously concerned about.

We've also heard worrying developments involving a member of the Govan Emerald CSC, which will be revealed over the weekend in a statement from their own members. It wouldn't be right for us to comment on this any further until they have released this publically.

It has come to the stage where we have to act and fight back. We can't continue to let the Police have free reign to arrest and charge whoever they please. It is having an astronomical effect on people's livelihoods. Those members who are left without a charge can't even enjoy the football anymore in case it leads to a chap at the door that could change their lives forever. The grim reality is that if we don't act now, there may not be a group left come the end of the season.

As a result, we have no choice but to highlight this further in the form of a two-match boycott from Celtic Park. This will begin immediately and means that during the forthcoming league match V Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Scottish Cup match V Arbroath, the Green Brigade will not be present whatsoever. This is clearly not a decision that has been taken lightly. Our members live for going to watch and support the team we love, just like every other fan out there. Sadly, we aren't being treated like every other fan and in fact face victimisation and harassment on a scale that is unimaginable.
We hope that this boycott will raise awareness of our situation and the end result will be that Strathclyde Police will relent. We'd also once again ask Celtic PLC to defend the fans by using their considerable influence to bring an end to these oppresive police tactics.
We would ask that everyone in Section 111 joins us in this protest and that the area is left empty during both matches. We have been very lucky in that other season-book holders within our section have supported us all the way and we hope that this will continue. Fans in this section who want to join us in protest may have to cancel their payment for the Arbroath match if they are on the home cup ticket scheme.
We'd like to stress again that this is not something that will be taken lightly. Many of our members haven't missed a Celtic match in years so it's clearly not been easy to come to this decision. However, it is simply a last resort as this cannot be allowed to continue. The continued support of those in 111, and indeed the rest of the Celtic community is greatly appreciated and we can't thank you enough. Without this, the group wouldn't have survived.

We'd also like to make it clear to those who wish to see the end of the Green Brigade, that we will be sticking by the motto created when we were formed in 2006 and will not go down without a fight.

Until The Last Rebel

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