Monday, 27 June 2011

Democracy goes for a wander in Glasgow...

The sham of what passes for ‘politics’ and ‘democracy’ in Glasgow was once again exposed as the Labour party and Strathclyde police demonstrated their complete contempt for the people of this city. Supporters of the Glasgow Defence Campaign, Black Triangle disability rights group and the Save the Accord campaign, in trying to acquire some basic answers for the actions of their elected representatives were met with the kind of dirty tricks, thuggery and politicking in which the authorities in Glasgow are so well-trained.

On the morning of Thursday 23 June, supporters of the GDC and the Black Triangle attended a full meeting of the Strathclyde Police Authority. The role of a full meeting of the SPA is ‘to approve the Authority’s governance framework and administration of its finances; makes key strategic and major policy decisions; approve annual plans and monitor performance.’ Its current convenor is Labour party councillor Stephen Curran. As was anticipated, Strathclyde police and its political paymasters made every effort to ensure that even the most basic procedures of accountability were by-passed in order to avoid a challenge to their continued attacks on activists and communities in Glasgow.

The location of the meeting was secretly changed on 16 June from the City Chambers, where all full Authority meetings in Glasgow have been held for the past two years, to George Street Parish Church, in a clear attempt to avoid the GDC’s calls for a protest and to prevent any unwanted members of the public actually attending the public meeting. On entering, GDC and Black Triangle supporters were met by two uniformed police officers and the building’s Duty Manager, Gerry Macsorley, who radioed into other officers that people had arrived. Two activists were allowed to enter the meeting but were told that the agenda of the meeting had already been set, that there would be no opportunity to ask questions and were subsequently left to sit in silence as the minutes of the last SPA meeting (copies not provided) were discussed. Meanwhile, Inspector Jim Gillan, officers A112 and A503 along with Gerry Macsorley prevented two other GDC supporters from entering.

One of those present, Joey Simons, told the GDC: ‘Two cops, a police inspector and a security guard were drafted in to aggressively block our access to what is a public meeting of elected officials. The room was supposedly full with just five members of the public present. Democracy and accountability is a sham where Strathclyde police and the City Council are concerned. They are clearly uncomfortable at our continued scrutiny of their actions. As long as the police continue to attack our people, they should expect to feel a lot more uncomfortable in the future.’

Later that day, carers from the Save the Accord centre in Dalmarnock, who have been fighting a battle with the city council over the demolition of a day care centre for people with disabilities for a Commonwealth Games bus park, witnessed first hand the disgusting arrogance of the Labour party’s suited thugs and their contempt for basic democracy and decency. Carers attended a meeting of Glasgow City Council in an attempt to raise their serious concerns for the health of their loved ones. Instead, the Labour councillors shut down the debate. As an Accord Centre carer commented: ‘They overtalked, ignored the issue and refused extra time to discuss the last motion regarding the Accord Centre! Carers shouted from the Public Gallery to them all and made them all aware we will not be ignored for much longer.. WE WILL NOT GO AWAY.. WE WILL NOT STOP FIGHTING FOR OUR LOVED ONES!

The SNP’s David MacDonald stated: ‘Labour today showed a callous disregard for democracy by denying the Council an opportunity to debate an issue of great importance to those affected…This was a Labour abuse of power…’

The GDC is clear that the fact the powers that be are forced to resort to such dirty tricks to avoid the most basic accountability represents a vindication of the continuing campaigns against both the police and Labour council, who are now running scared. While those who dare to challenge them are treated like criminals, we are confident in the knowledge that it is the police and council who represent the biggest threats to law and order in Glasgow. The rotten corpse of these institutions must be challenged at every step as the movement against the cuts grows and the struggles of the working class intensify. We will not allow them to hide behind the shadow of the ‘Tory menace’. This is only the beginning. 

Glasgow Defence Campaign

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

GDC protests this week! Stand together against political policing!

Councillor Gordon Matheson and Strathclyde Police Chief Constable Stephen House The Glasgow Defence Campaign is calling on all its supporters and progressive forces in Glasgow to join us on the streets in the coming days. It is crucial that pressure is sustained on Strathclyde police and their political paymasters, that their anti-democratic activities will not be tolerated in this city. The ongoing criminalisation of young people for opposing the cuts is in no way in the public interest. We are determined to send a clear message that the authorities will be held accountable – both individually and collectively – and this requires concerted action on the streets. This is the only way forward for defending our democratic rights against the forces of the state in the coming period of struggle.

GDC supporters, members of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and student activists are all facing criminal convictions in Glasgow in the coming months. As John Pilger has stated: ‘Who will be next? If the police are allowed to succeed, other legitimate campaigns will be targeted. It’s imperative the Glasgow Defence Campaign has the support of all of us.’

Picket the Strathclyde Police Authority!
Join supporters of the GDC, FRFI, Black Triangle and others in a protest outside the Strathclyde Police Authority, the strategic meeting of Chief Constables and Councillors on policing in Glasgow.
Thursday 23 June, from 10am @ 
Glasgow City Chambers, George Square

Speak out against the cuts! No to political policing!
Join anti-cuts activists targeted by police in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee in an open-megaphone street rally to voice your anger against the cuts. Stand together in the streets – an injury to one, is an injury to all!
Saturday 25 June, 1-3pm @
Donald Dewar statue, top of Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Monday, 13 June 2011

Police turn up at Glasgow anti-cuts meeting

On Thursday 9 June PC A644 and PC A989 were sent from Partick police station to the launch meeting of the Coalition of Resistance (COR) in Glasgow. The officers approached people leafleting outside the STUC building asking whether a demonstration would take place, what the meeting was about, how many people were expected to attend and how long it would last. 

To their credit a small group of people immediately challenged the officers by questioning their reason for being there forcing them to leave the area. A supporter of the Glasgow Defence Campaign caught footage of the incident. The GDC asks that people treat all police interference with political protests and meetings (no matter how small) with the upmost seriousness and record the badge numbers, names (if possible), police station and footage of the officers involved. Not to do so would be to give Strathclyde police the green light to continue their campaign of harassment, arrest and intimidation against people interested and involved in progressive politics.

Fight The Cuts!
Oppose Political Policing!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Strathclyde police step up repression and target anti-rape event organisers

The Glasgow Defence Campaign has received the following report from a Scottish Socialist Youth supporter.

Police evidence gathering team in George Sq on Saturday

Organisers of an anti sexual violence demonstration in Glasgow city centre on Saturday 4 June are facing possible charges after Strathclyde Police reported two individuals to the Procurator Fiscal for what they claim was an 'unauthorised' march. This follows a huge police operation which was mounted on the day of the 'Slutwalk', which saw around 200 mostly young people taking part in a completely peaceful march against rape and victim blaming, in light of recent comments by various Tory politicians on the matter. 

Ahead of the demonstration, the organisers had sought co-operation from both Glasgow City Council and Strathclyde Police, even going as far as shortening and altering the route of the march, and changing its end location. Despite this, two organisers have now been reported to the PF.

The huge police operation mounted on the day of the march saw several police vehicles, up to six mounted officers, CCTV vans, an evidence gathering team with a handheld camera, a helicopter and a number of plain-clothes officers in attendance. This was a huge overreaction to a demo that had never been billed as anything other than a peaceful march, which consisted mostly of young women on their first demonstration.

However, the police clearly saw it as an excuse for an exercise in intimidation and intelligence gathering. A large police presence remained in Glasgow Green well after the rally had finished, with plain-clothes officers visibly scrutinising the attendance at the demonstration, attempting to pick out known activists within the crowd. It is understood that officers inside police vehicles had 'spotter cards', containing photographs of such activists. As people began to drift away, a young student activist was accosted by two plain-clothes officers as he visited a newsagent, and his details were demanded under Section 13 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act, as a potential witness to a crime, the nature of which they did not specify despite a legal requirement to do so.

Similar tactics were used to gain the details of an individual at the picket of Stewart Street police station on Thursday, following police violence and two arrests at a Strathclyde University anti-cuts protest. Again, the protester was picked off by plain-clothes officers as he visited a shop, away from the mass of the demonstration.

In charge of police operations at both Saturday and Thursday's demonstrations was Superintendent Nelson Telfer. Following Thursday's demo, he appeared in media coverage claiming that the protest was "hijacked", and promising further arrests. As the past few months have shown, when it comes to arrests and subsequent bail conditions, the police are picking their targets first and then later coming up with whatever charges they can fit. Officers made it clear in April, whilst making a round of arrests over student demos in December, that they had a 'list' of targets for arrest.

Their aim of derailing and intimidating the emerging anti-cuts movement in the city, by targeting prominent activists in whatever way they can, could not be clearer. Even where good relations have been sought - such as in the organising of the Slutwalk on Saturday - the police have responded by looking to press charges against individuals involved, and in an obvious bid to set an example to organisers of other demonstrations. Everyone involved with the anti-cuts movement in Glasgow must remain vigilant in the face of these attacks.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

GDC statement on arrests of students at Strathclyde University protest

The Glasgow Defence Campaign condemns the police aggression and arrests of two people at a demonstration at Strathclyde University on Thursday 2 June. Students held a mass march around the campus in opposition to the scrapping of geography, sociology and community education courses. This is part of £12 million worth of cuts at the university, involving 100 job losses and other departments threatened. Students demanded that education should not be based on ‘income generating potential’ and business-led research. The entire campus was on lock-down as the authorities feared a potential occupation of one of the buildings. Glasgow writer James Kelman addressed the crowd and urged them to oppose all cuts.

During the demonstration, police moved to arrest a student ISG activist for the apparent crime of speaking on a megaphone on the steps of the McCance building. Another student was assaulted by officers, thrown to the ground and subsequently arrested. A young woman was punched in the face as she moved to help her partner. The GDC welcomes the initiative shown by protesters, who moved to defend those attacked and arrested, blocking the police vans from moving for over two hours, filming and photographing the actions of the police. Around 25 police and a helicopter were eventually deployed.

Over 50 people then held a militant, spontaneous march from the campus to Stewart Street police station. A GDC supporter present reported that chants of ‘Strathclyde police – hands off protest!’ and ‘Defend, defend, defend the right to protest!’ rang out across the busy traffic and protesters defied police attempts to force them off the roads. A protest was held outside the station as people demanded the release of the two students in detention. They were due to be released at 6.30pm, although we have yet to confirm this or the charges brought.

It is vital that Strathclyde police, individually and collectively, be held publicly responsible for their behaviour. The GDC believes it has identified Superintendent Nelson Telfer and PC Prentice as the two police responsible for directing the aggression against students at the campus. The former appeared on Scottish television to public defend the widely condemned eviction of the Hetherington occupation; the latter involved in securing the wrongful conviction of an FRFI activist on 10 April. We have also identified PC David Markey (A413), the officer in black helping to forcefully restrain a student on the ground (see video 1.15). This officer was involved in the police harassment of a GDC supporter witnessed here.

Check the GDC's police harassment log to reference the numbers of any Stewart Street officers previously involved in political policing. Police officers from Stewart Street can be identified here. We urge people to follow up with civil actions and complaints, and to record any injuries sustained with a doctor as soon as possible.

There is a movement growing across the country against police attacks on democratic rights, as increasing numbers are brought face to face with the reality of the British justice system: that the interests and property of the banks and the multinationals will be defended from effective opposition at all costs. The police will continue to act with violence and impunity against protest unless we can effectively organise to defend ourselves and others. The GDC has led the way in campaigning against political policing in Glasgow over the past twelve months and the response of the students today shows that this is broadening every day. Every anti-democratic action on the part of Strathclyde police only serves to expose their profound weakness and radicalise ever more people.

In response to the latest arrests in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the GDC is calling on people to turn Monday’s planned picket of Glasgow District Court at the trial of an anti-cuts activist into a mass show of solidarity with all those criminalised for peaceful protest. An injury to one is an injury to all! End the arrests – drop the charges!

All out for Glasgow District court!
Monday 6 June, from 10am onwards

21 St. Andrews Street
, off Saltmarket, Glasgow

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Arrests of anti-cuts activists in Edinburgh

The Glasgow Defence Campaign sends its solidarity to those activists arrested for their actions against the multinational tax-dodgers in Edinburgh on Saturday 30 June. The statement from Bright Green Scotland details the actions of the cops. Strathclyde police carried out similar actions against activists involved in peaceful direct action against Vodafone last year, arresting and charging people with breach of the peace four months after the alleged incident. The GDC, alongside the Free Hetherington occupation and others, was instrumental in openly publicising, condemning and organising protests against these blatant political arrests. In the end, the charges against five young people were dropped.

Based on concrete experience gained over the past year, we have learned that attack is the best form of defence. We hope all progressive forces in Edinburgh and beyond unite in condemnation of Lothian and Borders police and organise in support of those arrested. Breach of the peace charges, house arrests and politicised bail conditions...clearly a pattern is emerging. The response everywhere must be the same: we will not be intimidated! No business as usual for the banks!

Indymedia report of Edinburgh Uncut action here.

GDC calls for major protests outside District Court on Monday!

The GDC is calling for mass protests outside Glasgow District Court on Monday 6 June in solidarity with an anti-cuts activist on trial after being arrested on protests in Glasgow late last year.

Hundreds of young people took over the streets of Glasgow city centre on 9 December, inspired by the mass student demonstrations which shook London. Banks and multinationals were targeted as people vented their anger at the destruction of free education and those set to profit. Two activists from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) were targeted and arrested on the protests, having previously organised against political policing in Govanhill.

The first entry on the Glasgow Defence Campaign’s log of police harassment dates from almost exactly one year ago. Since then, the fight against the cuts has continued to escalate and so too the fight to defend democratic rights as Strathclyde police proved its determination to disrupt and destroy any emerging movement. There has been attempts to ban the newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, arrests and frame-ups of activists on peaceful protests, police violence on demonstrations, house raids and frequent house visits, the arrests and illegal questioning of minors, the massive operation to evict the Free Hetherington occupation and Margaret Jaconelli, the issuing of draconian and politicised bail conditions, strip searches and much else.

All this represents a massive defeat for the authorities in Glasgow. They have exposed themselves as profoundly weak and succeeded only in radicalising new layers of people who now have no illusions whatsoever in the true role of the police in the coming struggles. We have seen the police brutality against the comrades in Barcelona and know what will happen if we don’t organise.

Throughout the last 12 months the GDC has consistently campaigned on the streets to expose and defeat the political harassment conducted by the courts and the cops. We have named and shamed the police officers involved and will continue to do so. From John Pilger and Tommy McKearney to Len McCluskey and the STUC, support is growing. Important successes have been won and unity built in solidarity with all those criminalised for their activity against the cuts. 

Stand together on the streets - stand together in the courts! Join the protest! We will not be intimidated!

Monday 6 June, from 10am

Glasgow District Court, 

21 St. Andews Street (off Saltmarket)

Thursday 2 June 00:00

A public warning to Strathclyde police

The Glasgow Defence Campaign would like to place on public record once again our opposition to Strathclyde Police’s campaign of harassment and intimidation against our supporters. As we report today on our harassment log, on 24 May, Strathclyde Police Inspector Mike King attended the home of Dominic O’Hara in relation to the civil action the Glasgow Defence Campaign are pursuing against his officers. 

The GDC is calling upon Strathclyde Police to desist with immediate effect this practice of door stepping which is intended to intimidate. We believe it to be another tool of harassment intended to disrupt private and family life and the lives of our neighbours. If the police are seriously wishing to engage with our supporters then they can contact us via letter or through our legal representatives.

Speaking today for the Glasgow Defence Campaign, Miriam Kelly, stated, ‘We are simply refusing to tolerate this ongoing harassment quietly. We have nothing to say to Inspector Mike King, or any of his officers, all of our supporters are now operating under instruction not to engage with the police in any way. This means that communications will not take place without a solicitor present. This has become necessary given the record of Strathclyde Police of falsifying evidence and committing perjury in order to secure convictions against our supporters.’

A report of last Tuesday’s incident has been lodged with our legal advisors.