Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Protest outside Glasgow District Court on Thursday 7 April

On Thursday 7 April, a young supporter of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! will be facing trial on serious charges relating to his arrest during student protests in Glasgow on 9 December 2010. 

The Glasgow Defence Campaign is calling on all those interested in defending the democratic right to organise against the cuts to attend the protest outside Glasgow District Court on 21 St. Andrew's Street (off Saltmarket). Friends and supporters will be gathering from 9.30am on Thursday 7 April but people should make their way down throughout the day to show solidarity.

The arrest and charges against this particular activist were clearly a case of political policing. Another FRFI supporter was arrested on 9 December, and this followed months of harassment by Strathclyde police officers of FRFI stalls in Govanhill, which led to political material being seized from the streets and charges being issued (and then dropped) relating to the selling of the newspaper of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! The supporter in question was again arrested following protests in Glasgow on 29 January. See the police harassment log for a full incident list.

As the Glasgow Defence Campaign has consistently pointed out, state harassment of protest and dissent is only set to increase. Three people are currently awaiting trial after being arrested in their houses and charged in relation to Strathclyde police's eviction of the Free Hetherington occupation at Glasgow University on Tuesday 22 March. Another activist from Glasgow is currently in jail after being arrested outside Topshop during protests in London on 26 March.

We are confident that such harassment and criminalisation can be successfully defeated. We are determined that the actions of Strathclyde police on behalf of their political masters can be exposed and opposed. Once again, we call for maximum unity and action in defence of democratic rights. "Don't panic, organise!"

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Strathclyde police carry out another eviction in Glasgow

 Less than 48 hours after a widely-condemned operation involving 100 officers violently evicting students occupying a building in Glasgow University in opposition to education cuts, Strathclyde police this morning deployed 'dozens' of police officers to evict Margaret Jaconelli from her flat in Dalmarnock in Glasgow's East End. As Jack Jaconelli told reporters today: “What’s this operation costing? There must be about a hundred and fifty police here. Terror tactics…they took the demonstrators away so that nobody could see them. An operation this size is a joke.”

Once again, the commitment of Strathclyde police and Glasgow City Council to defending the political and economic interests of the rich and the powerful at the expense of basic democratic rights and dignity has been exposed in this shameful episode. 

See BBC news video here.

Below we reproduce a statement from the Glasgow Games Monitor 2014 on this morning's eviction.

Jaconelli family evited: some 'legacy'
After kicking up a huge fuss and reavealing the hypocrisy behind Glasgow City Council’s ‘Legacy’ claims for the Commonwealth Games 2014, the Jaconelli family were finally evicted today at around 7.20 am after Sheriff officers and ‘dozens’ of police arrived at 5.00 am.

The Jaconelli’s have been barricaded in their home now for nearly a week after a last-minute offer of ‘mediation’ by the Scottish Government was rejected by the City Council unless the Jaconelli’s left their home. The City Council have repeatedly said that the gap between their offer and the Jaconelli’s demands was ‘unbridgeable’, yet as we’ve repeatedly pointed out, enormous compensation fees for speculators like Charles Price have been quite happily ’bridged’ by the City Council. The double-standards are there for everyone to see.

There is much more to be said about this case (and we will say it all in time) but for now we want to congratulate the Jaconelli’s and their family, friends and supporters for fighting back against a City Council who would happily have walked all over them.

We’ve said all along that mega-events like the Commonwealth Games are more about land-grabs, than helping the local community; more about property speculation than social housing; more about the image of the city than its reality. Close observers of the Jaconelli struggle have now seen the truth of those observations. The City Council will now try to bury this story, but we have a feeling its going to run on and on…

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

URGENT: Police arrest more students following Glasgow University eviction

The GDC has received word that this morning, Strathclyde police officers arrested a young protester at his home in connection with the eviction carried out by police and security at the Free Hetherington at Glasgow University yesterday morning. It is likely that the police will be targeting more people throughout the day. 

As they say - "Don't panic, organise!" It is crucial that the actions of the police are publicised and exposed. Phone Stewart Street police station to demand the release and ensure the safety of Aiden Turner. He was arrested at his home between 7.30 and 8am this morning and is facing serious charges. The FRFI supporters arrested on student demonstrations in December and January are facing near identical charges. Clearly a pattern is emerging. We cannot allow Strathclyde police's outrageous and politically-motivated actions to go unchallenged.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Police and university management violently evict occupation at Glasgow University - students respond with more occupations!

Today, Glasgow University management and security called in Strathclyde police to forcefully evict occupiers at the Free Hetherington (Hetherington Research Club). No warning was given to those who have held the building for 7 weeks in opposition to attacks on education and the wider public spending cuts in general. Around 100 police, dog teams, 18 police vehicles and a helicopter were deployed to evict 15 students inside the building. Hundreds of students, academic staff and supporters rallied to the occupation in support. 

The Glasgow Defence Campaign is clear that the statements of Strathclyde police and University management that there were 'no major incidents' and the eviction resulted in 'no injuries' is a categorical lie and pure propaganda. Students were assaulted, female protesters were hospitalised, five protesters were arrested but then released, and one student was assaulted by police, taken to the Western Infirmary hospital and then held in police cells at Stewart Street police station before finally being released with a charge of obstruction.

In response, over one hundred students occupied the university's senate and forced senior management into a mass meeting with students in the occupied space. Once again, Strathclyde police have shown their commitment to violence, political policing and attacks on democratic rights. This will be fought.

For updates see the blog of the Free Hetherington at http://freehetherington.wordpress.com/ and the Glasgow University Occupied facebook here http://www.facebook.com/FreeHetherington

See video footage here

Watch this space for further news.

Solidarity to the occupiers!
Defend the right to education!

Peter Mullan and David Rovics lend support to the GDC

The Glasgow Defence Campaign has in the past fortnight gained two new supporters in the form of leading left-wing film-maker and actor Peter Mullan (director of NEDS) and US anti-war folk singer and musician David Rovics, whom we spoke to before he performed for students occupying Glasgow University's senate. Onwards!

English Defence League given a free hand to attack anti-cuts activists in Newcastle

The GDC has learned of an instance of political policing of a different kind that took place in Newcastle at the weekend. Fascist thugs from the English Defence League turned up at the Monument in Newcastle city centre to disrupt stalls organised by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, Tyneside Campaign against Racism!, and the Socialist Party. Anti- cuts campaigners fighting for services and jobs heard the unemployed abused as scroungers by the EDL and asylum seekers and Muslims were also racially abused and intimidated. The response of the police was to fold their arms and let all this take place without warnings or intervention. A very different approach to the way protesters against the system have been treated, in Glasgow, Newcastle  and London. This GDC site has ample evidence of this.

We know the cops are organised and paid to protect the powerful and wealthy and to disrupt, assault, intimidate and criminalise opposition. Where they can't do this, their fascist mates- the bootboys for British bankers and British imperialism- are allowed to get on with the dirty jobs while a blind eye is turned.

A new pamphlet from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Looks at some of the lessons so far from the beginning of the battle against the cuts. Called “No cuts- Full stop! Capitalist crisis and the public sector debt”  available at www.revolutionarycommunist.org,  it contains a section on the specific lessons of political policing drawn from our recent experiences. Govanhill, Glasgow was the working class community where last summer comrades went out to campaign against the cuts and straight away came up against the police who were determined to limit and crush democratic rights if necessary.

The fascist EDL are no different. They want the streets free of opposition to the attack on welfare and jobs and  free of working class organisation so that their millionaire masters' budget can be pushed through. The Glasgow Defence Campaign calls for unity to defend the right to organise and protest against police and fascist threats.


Sunday, 20 March 2011

GDC protest outside Glasgow District court

On Friday 18 March, the Glasgow Defence Campaign held a protest outside Glasgow's Justice of the Peace Court (District Court) on St. Andrews Street. Over a dozen supporters gathered in solidarity with a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! activist appearing in court in relation to his arrest on student protests on 9 December. Eight police witnesses were present at court for the trial. However, the prosecution once again failed to produce crucial CCTV evidence, which could prove the defendant innocent. The Crown has now failed to produce this evidence on three occasions, and the trial was once again adjourned until 6 June. 

The Glasgow Defence Campaign is committed to supporting all those facing arrest and trial by Strathclyde police for fighting against the attacks on communities and public services by the Tory government and Labour council. The GDC will be expanding organisation and protest against political policing and in solidarity with all those facing trial in Glasgow in the coming months. Already, one prosecution case has collapsed against an anti-cuts activist for selling a political newspaper. We are confident that those facing trial in the coming months for political activity will also emerge victorious.

Police harassment at UNISON protest, Scottish Labour party conference, 19 March

On 19 March, UNISON held a picket of the Scottish Labour party conference outside Glasgow’s Science Centre to defend “the jobs of 34 Asylum Support Workers threatened with privatisation, wage cuts, worsening conditions and no pension guarantee. This means a worsening support service for asylum seekers with poorer qualified and paid staff, working under more stressful conditions.” Two FRFI supporters who joined the protest in solidarity were once again targeted by Strathclyde police officers.
One young activist was surrounded by officers as he stood at the side of the crowd: police questioned him as to why he had attended the protest, told that him that he should be grateful for being "allowed" to hand out leaflets and sell a political newspaper and was noted down as a "potential troublemaker" for refusing to give his details and defending his right to practice these perfectly legal activities. Up to 8 officers stood watching the two FRFI supporters as the crowd gathered round for a closing speech.
One of the FRFI supporters addressed the protesting council workers and pledged his support for their struggle against redundancies. He highlighted the importance of any action that exposes the role the Labour party is playing in implementing the cuts through councils – like Glasgow – under its control, receiving a round of applause for his intervention.
The FRFI supporters asked the union spokesman to keep an eye on any attempts by police to apprehend them as the protest dispersed. The Glasgow Defence Campaign has no doubt that had it not been for this canny intervention the police would not have hesitated to surround the supporters as they left. In the end, they were followed by two officers as they crossed a nearby bridge and finally were “allowed” to walk away without police hovering over their shoulder.
Once again, Strathclyde police have shown their commitment to harassing peaceful political activity. The GDC calls on all those interested in defending democratic rights and combating the cuts to unite in organising against Strathclyde police and Glasgow’s rotten Labour council.

Political policing steps-up in Dundee

During the week beginning 14 March, activists from the Defend Dundee Services anti- cuts group received unannounced visits from police detectives. They sought information on proposed protests justifying this on the grounds of avoiding wasting police resources in monitoring them. DC Greg Petrie was keen to ascertain in a later phone call to an activist whether there were views which regarded recent policing numbers as excessive. The detective also asked about the political organisations involved in anti- cuts protests. He left a mobile number for contact. These are concerning developments which the Glasgow Defence Campaign condemns. Such police contacts are designed to intimidate and worry activists and to suggest that there is criminal intent in open and legal political activity. We publicly reject this further extension of political policing and call for the greatest unity in organising to defend our democratic rights. We urge all those approached by the police to say nothing without a solicitor present.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Police harassment log update - 17 March 2011

Glasgow Defence Campaign police harassment log updated as of 17 March 2011. Low scale harassment of FRFI on Palestine stall on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.


Urgent: GDC protest at District Court, Glasgow, tomorrow!

On Friday 18 March, a supporter of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! will be appearing at court number 6 at Glasgow's District Court on St Andrews Street. He is facing a series of charges relating to his arrest on student protests in Glasgow city centre on 9 December 2010.

The Glasgow Defence Campaign is calling on people to mobilise outside the court at 10.30am to demand the charges be dropped and in defence of the right to protest. This is a crucial struggle for all those determined to battle the vicious cuts being imposed on communities by the government and local councils alike.

See articles here and here covering the events around the initial arrest and demonstration, on which another FRFI supporter was arrested.

Fight the cuts!
Defend democratic rights!
Drop the charges!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Victory for the Glasgow Defence Campaign!

Police attempt to ban Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! collapses

On 11 March, we learned that the case against a supporter of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! had been dropped as it was about to go to trial. The Glasgow Defence Campaign today welcomes this as a significant victory for all those concerned with free speech and the right to political protest. The case demonstrated the need for open campaigning in order to assert our democratic rights in the face of state harassment. The activist is now pursuing a complaint against Strathclyde police and the officers concerned.

The case was due to go to trial on 14 March, following a notification of criminal proceedings being issued on 30 December 2010. The activist was charged with illegal street trading under the Civic Government Scotland Act 1982 for selling the newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Govanhill, Glasgow on 7 August 2010. He became the third FRFI seller to be targeted and charged as the police sought to impose a ban on the newspaper amidst a summer-long period of harassment from Strathclyde police officers operating out of New Gorbals police station. The cases against the other two  activists were dropped within weeks by state prosecutors.

Miriam Kelly, a spokesperson for the Glasgow Defence Campaign stated, ‘We welcome this as a victory, for us and for everyone in Glasgow and elsewhere who faces criminalisation for legitimate political activity. We have openly defied the police ban on Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! by continuing to sell the newspaper on the streets in full view of the police. We have stated throughout that it is not criminal to oppose the cuts and attacks on living standards, it is not a crime to oppose British imperialism’s activities at home or abroad. It is the police who have acted unlawfully and in an openly political manner.’

Dropping the case prior to the trial stage has prevented the police having to perjure themselves in court. Officers O’Donnell and Weir in the summary of written evidence made a number of accusations they know to be untrue in a bid to further implicate our supporters and bring this prosecution. The Glasgow Defence Campaign would like to take this opportunity to state that we will not stand idle in the face of attacks by the police, reactionary elements or state prosecutors. We pledge to fight on and defend all those who face criminalisation for political activity. We would also like to thank our supporters and legal advisers for their support, encouragement and work.

All power to the people!

Glasgow Defence Campaign PRO
11 March 2011
Glasgow, Scotland

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Edinburgh pig watch

Supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! have passed on the above picture of a photographer who we believe to be working for Lothian and Borders police. This is an appeal for information as to his identity and any further activities he has carried out.

He was pictured leaving the scene after he was rumbled carrying out surveillance on demonstrators who had gathered at the Mound in Edinburgh on Saturday 5 March 2011 in support of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. It was a peaceful static assembly with a low uniformed police presence. The pig was taking head shots of individuals on the protest. Activists from FRFI report that a number of covert officers were in attendance attempting to mingle and take part in the protest. Please pass on any further information against this officer to the email address on this site.