Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Defend the Glasgow Against ATOS 2! Defend Citizen Smart!

The Glasgow Defence Campaign issues its solidarity and support to Citizen Smart - the political songwriter and singer - who was arrested outside the Scottish Tory party conference in Stirling on Friday 7 June. His crime? Daring to 'sing-out' against the Tories wreaking war on working class communities across the country. The arrest of Citizen Smart follows the arrest of two members of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! on a peaceful Glasgow Against ATOS demonstration at the end of February. Their crime? Speaking out on a megaphone in Glasgow city centre.

These attempts to criminalise free speech - to ban those without access to TV, radio or advertising from even taking their message out to the people directly - must be opposed and defeated with the utmost urgency. 

On Wednesday 19 June, the Glasgow Defence Campaign is calling for a protest outside Glasgow Sheriff Court in solidarity with the Glasgow Against ATOS 2, demanding all charges against them are dropped, alongside all other framed up charges against activists - such as Citizen Smart - arrested for standing on the side of justice, and against the austerity being forced on us while the police act as the private army of the rich.

Defend the Glasgow Against ATOS 2! Defend free speech!
Court picket - Wednesday 19 June @ 9am
Glasgow Sheriff Court, 1 Calton Place

Citizen Smart: Statement on My Arrest In Stirling

Less than 5 minutes after this was filmed, around 12.45 on Friday 7th June, I was arrested, charged and banged up in a prison cell in Stirling Police HQ for near on 5 hours. Released 5.30 pm,  Scottish Tory Conference having ended at 5.00pm. But my guitar, amplifier, microphone, microphone stand, and even my Scottish flags were retained by the police as "evidence". Evidence of what? That they exist and work?, But of course won't be working on Saturday ,8th June when we demonstrate against the Bedroom Tax in Stirling where I was due - and still will -   play at the pre-march rally in King's Park. 

I will be making an official formal complaint to the Police Complaints Commission and raising this matter with my MSP and The European Court of Human Rights if necessary. 

At the stage of this filming the song "Go Home English Tories" was not finished. it only had a chorus and one verse - and my smart phone which was being used for the filming it ran out of battery, hence the abrupt end. Only the chorus is filmed.

The song was still "work in progress", 

But I finished it in the police cell - two more verses one referring to the arrest itself. Here are the completed lyrics

Go on home English Tories go on Home
Have no got a home of your own?
For three hundred years
We've fought you without fear
And we'll fight you for three hundred more

If you stay English Tories, if you stay
you will never, never, ever get your way
you've only one Scottish MP
And you'll have none when we are free
So go on home English Tories, go on home

Now according to the Stirling boys in blue
It's a crime to even sing what's surely true?
That Cameron and chums
Are as English as they come
They're from Eton, Harrow, Oxford, Cambridge too

If it were only Scottish Tories here today
They could meet, and they could drink, and they could play
And we'd just laugh at them as fools
Cause they'd never, ever rule
We'd lie back as they died off and fade away

So go on home English Tories, go on home
Have no got a home of your own?
For three hundred years
We've fought you without fear
And we'll fight you for three hundred more

As to the precise point at which I was arrested, this too was filmed, but on someone else i-phone - the iphone of the Chair of the Stirling Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign as it happens. The idea was to film it and post it as a video invite to encourage people to come to Stirling to the main demonstration on Saturday 

That phone was confiscated by the police and "retained as evidence" . Consequently no video invite ever went out.

Well that "evidence" had best not disappear Stirling Police. Because it is indeed evidence. Evidence against you. And it is also someone's personal property. So give it back now please.  

And why is it that the prospect of Tories being offended by me singing songs is more important than the prospect of people directly impoverished by the bedroom tax being offended by the Tories meeting in their city? 

And, I watched the Tories going in and out real closely, know a few of them personally. And few if any were offended, Some even came out to watch. I think they found the experience of being sung at rather than shouted at a slightly less uncomfortable one. Some even genuinely smiled, admired our innovation! I guess some even liked the Bob Dylan and Bob Marley songs I threw into the mix.

But the head heid yins in Stirling Police appear to have had a humor and cultural by-pass. Who are they accountable to? 

And where were the Scottish Police Force's arrests when 5,000 Orangemen marched around Perth two Saturday ago and when 10,000 marched round Glasgow last Saturday? Why were their instruments not confiscated? And where were the Scottish Police force's arrests when the SDL and EDL gathered in Edinburgh last week to directly intimidate Scotland's Muslim Community? Or is it just top Tories in conference that are not allowed to be offended? 

Or police chiefs embarrassed for their inept policing of Scottish Tory Party Conference? Because we, the protesters, were allowed to get much to close to the Tory conference entrance, Not because we forced our way in, but because the police sat back and let us almost stand on the front door. I never ever seen this allowed at a party conference or similar event. And the Prime Minster was in town! 

But then the singing started. It was all fine if different. But then, without any warning at all, and a having sung this exact same song at least four times over a period of over 2 hours without any rebuke, quiet word or anything, I was within seconds bundled into a police van, taken to Police HQ. There i was searched, robbed of all my possessions, my shoes, my trouser belt, fingerprinted , photographed and put in an isolation cell until the Tory Conference finished for the day. I was even told there was a very real prospect of me being detailed until the Stirling Courts next met on the afternoon of Monday 10th June. That would have been a near on 4 day detention. For singing a song, the song you see above and in the exact context you see above.

And prior to my release i was warned, specifically warned by the arresting officer that if I sang the song again in Stirling today I would immediately arrested again, 

Well I am singing it. Please do arrest me. The promotional value for my bedroom tax single itunes fund raiser would be immense. And the funds raised from this would be added to further when I donate the payout from my double wrongful arrest compensation money to the Anti-Bedroom Tax campaign

Indeed I reckon it will not just be me the Police in Stirling will need to arrest today. Unless they just do their job. Keep out the politics.

Stephen House - get a grip. And Kenny McAskill - wake up! This is happening on your watch.  

I am 53 and this is the first time In my life I have been arrested for anything. And I have now been charged and am awaiting a decision from the Procurator Fiscal. 

But I ain't waiting like some patsy, relived, grateful I ain't being prosecuted.

Citizens have rights and I intend to exercise them. If takes another arrest to do so , so be it, But I am demonstrating In Stirling - my home city - as planned. I am singing as planned.

And I am singing what I want to sing , and what the people at the rally want to hear, want to join in with. Not what some inept plod in Stirling tells us we can sing.

And I reckon near 90% of the the Scottish Tories in Stirling for their annual conference will back that right. Our right, their right.

Because we don't live in a police state. Not yet anyway.

Alan ( Citizen)  Smart , 7.10 am Saturday 8th June, 2013 

Link to Further Statement on my arrest, Sunday 9th June

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