Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Solidarity with Asylum seekers in Glasgow!

Britain’s racist immigration system is not stopping for Christmas. This month has seen a family of five dawn raided and on-going court attempts to evict asylum seekers from their homes. 

However resistance to this has been made. As well as supporting asylum seekers through court cases anti-racist campaigners have also taken direct action. The GDC reproduces below the statement released on Monday 10 December by campaigners who blocked the gates of UKBA offices on Brand Street. Please send messages of solidarity to the address provided and contact the Unity Centre for more information. We will update the blog with details of the court cases to follow when we find these out.

Santa's Solidarity Grotto
c/o The UNITY Centre
30 Ibrox Street
G51 1AQ

0141 427 7992

Santa's been arrested! Monday 10 December

After an amazing nine hours blocking the entrance to the UKBA reporting centre in Glasgow, UKBA officials and police have this afternoon, detained an elderly gentleman from the North Pole. Rumours that they plan to deport him have not yet been confirmed.

UKBA officials and the police also refuse to comment on how Christmas arrangements will be affected.

Santa managed to stay on the tripod in front of the reporting centre for an amazing nine hours. He took the action today, International Human Rights Day, after the Border Agency detained a family of five last week.

He said: "I'm taking this action to stop any more children from being detained by the UKBA like little 4 year old son Shahmer who with his two teenage sisters and mum and dad was arrested in his home last week by the UKBA. I am shocked that children can be locked up in this way when the government pledged they would never do this again."

One of Santa's little helpers was also arrested for not walking fast enough out of the exclusion zone police imposed on the protest during the operation to take him down from the tripod...

Monday, 3 December 2012

Court protest against evictions of asylum seekers

The Glasgow Defence Campaign reproduces the following call out from the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and urges all supporters to attend the protests outside the Sheriff Court. We must stand against the racist attacks of the UKBA on asylum seekers and those who stand with them. End the evictions now!

Evictions Court Cases
Sheriff Court 1 Carlton Place, Glasgow G5 9DA
Tuesday 4 December 9.00am

The next hearing of eviction cases of refused refugees takes place on Tuesday at Glasgow Sheriff Court. The hearings begin at 10.00am and we are calling for as big a presence outside and inside the court as possible. Bring banners, placards etc. We will have a short meeting outside but need to be in the queue to go in by 9.45. This could be the next stage in a series of test cases going all the way to the High Court. Please try to be there, bring others if you can and make this a significant signal to the authorities of public feeling on this issue.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Victory in Glasgow! The struggle continues...

At Glasgow Sheriff Court on 27 November, in an important victory for the anti-cuts movement, Dominic O’Hara – a supporter of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! – was found not guilty of assaulting a police officer at an anti-cuts protest in Glasgow on 29 January 2011. He was however found guilty of the lesser charge of obstruction, a decision which is now subject to an appeal. He was fined £250.

Strathclyde police officers McIvor and Orr (‘V’ Division Support Unit) both conducted themselves in the age old police tradition; their versions of events unravelled, however, as both testimonies were not only often at odds with each other but at odds with their own earlier written statements made after the event itself. Despite these glaring contradictions Sheriff Finlay sitting alone in a juryless court found their testimonies to be ‘credible and reliable’ and sufficient to secure conviction on the lesser charge. The class nature of the Scottish ‘justice’ system was on full display throughout as the over-paid, over-fed judge dismissed the entire testimony of the defendant with the words ‘I don’t believe a word you say.’ A police officer inside the court intimidated our supporters throughout, ejecting two from the public gallery. ‘Hulking brutes of police, fat bourgeoisie…’ as Hugh MacDiarmid once wrote.

The not guilty verdict on the most serious charge is a vindication of the political and legal approach pursued by the Glasgow Defence Campaign. Throughout the past two and half years we have maintained that only by open democratic campaigning – outside and inside the courts – can any effective defence be mounted against the criminalisation of protest. We would like to place on record our thanks to our solicitor Patrick Campbell for his efforts in a case which brought into question the legality of the police tactic of kettling – a point dismissed by the judge earlier this year. We also like to place on record our sincere thanks to our family, friends and supporters who have attended court, sent messages of support and donations and materials to help us in our efforts, you know who you are, and we thank you. We would like to mention in particular our Irish Republican supporters based in Glasgow from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. We cannot at this stage make public the basis of our appeal; but we are able to make some points which we feel are necessary to be made.

The struggle for the defence of democratic rights – the right to free speech, the right to protest and assembly – is now the primary task for all progressive forces. Without it, no serious or effective working class movement can take root or develop. As the crisis of imperialism intensifies the struggle for democracy becomes more and more acute, as imperialism seeks to achieve ultimate rule and act with free reign to ruthlessly stamp out and crush any serious opposition as it feels necessary.

It is in this context those who pose as the ‘left’ in Scotland and in Glasgow in particular have been found wanting. Their absence from our court protests and sittings has only been matched in consistency by the police harassment our comrades have received. Two years ago we were prepared to give these individuals and groups the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they did not know, or were somehow unaware of the police attacks on Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism and the Glasgow Defence Campaign. Two years ago we speculated as to whether their boycott of our events was a conscious one; it is now beyond any reasonable doubt that the attempt to isolate us is a deliberate act. It can no longer be claimed or explained away as an omission or oversight. This despicable sectarian behaviour has actively colluded with the attempts by the state to isolate our comrades; it has no role to play in the movement which will be built. It is necessary to name names: principally the self-styled ‘International Socialist Group’, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party of Scotland (former Militant Tendency) amongst an array of others. It is noteworthy that only the most advanced sections of the Irish Republican community in Glasgow have stood by us.  

Had any of the middle class left bothered to attend any of the dozens of court appearances and court protests we have publicly organised over the last two and half years they may have learned something about the nature of justice in this country. They would have learnt what the Irish people have come to know and understand of British justice, what the families of victims of police brutality have come to understand, what Muslim and Asian people understand – that our rights are being trampled on and that solidarity and opposition must be built.

The Glasgow Defence Campaign reserves the right to challenge and hold to account all those who claim to be socialist or liberal who hold to the dangerous notion that if they leave the communists to their fate – and they themselves ‘keep their heads down’, be seen to behave sensibly or ‘keep their noses clean’ – that they will be spared and somehow escape the blows or persecution themselves. We say that the toleration of these attacks, the effective isolation and exclusion of progressives from democratic activity, serves to jeopardise the rights and even the very existence of other progressive groups. 

Experience has demonstrated that the reaction – the attacks on democratic rights – can be stopped. But they can only be defeated by the joint efforts of all democratic forces working in unity in a principled manner. We need to build a campaign to defend democratic rights as part of the struggle for real social justice.

PRO: Glasgow Defence Campaign, 19:00, 28 November 2012 

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

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Hands off the peoples in Europe! Hands off George Square!

On a day of mass protest across Europe in opposition to domestic and international ruling class austerity the Glasgow Defence Campaign joined forces with Coalition of Resistance on a march they had organised to show solidarity with the general strikes taking place and opposition to Glasgow City Council plans to sell George Square off to private companies.

A Glasgow Defence Campaign supporter spoke at the demonstration contrasting the vibrancy of the movement in Europe, to Britain where the trade union movement maintains its links to the Labour party, giving them platforms to peddle the illusion that somehow under Labour matters would be different. This is a political standpoint which seeks to deny the true state of affairs and the task which is before us. The crisis is a fundamental crisis of the capitalist system – where there can be no capitalist solutions.

A movement can and must be built in Britain within the communities led by those most affected by the cuts; that movement if it is to be effective must make central to it the need to defend the right to protest and defend all those who face criminalisation for political activities. It is these principles the GDC have been fighting for.

The GDC supporter stated;

Lets be very clear in our own minds this city council...are in cahoots with the police and a state determined to crush and restrict our rights in any effective protest; it starts off with the privatisation of George Square and it ends up with the criminalisation of effective protest...we say that unity is strength and that the resistance must stand firm on the principle of defending democratic rights.

Solidarity with the peoples of Europe!
Hands off George Square!
Defend the right to Protest!

A video from the demonstration to follow...

Report of Hands Off George Square! Meeting

On Tuesday night Glasgow Defence Campaign supporters met to discuss ways to take our work in defence of George Square forward. So far we have produced articles highlighting council plans to commercialise the Square, held street stalls, postered public areas, organised a banner drop, contacted politicians and public figures and led organising meetings to generate larger opposition.

The meeting was well attended and produced concrete plans for more action in the near future. These include sending letters to the Herald newspaper on Thursday 15 November, the day that the design competition is legally meant to conclude, and an information street stall on Saturday 24 November, 1-3pm, outside Sports Direct on Argyle Street. On and around these dates supporters will be working to publicise our RIP George Square Protest, Saturday 1 December, 1pm assembly, Donald Dewar statue, Buchanan Street, City Centre.

If you wish to help out contact us at glasgowdefence@yahoo.co.uk, mobile no. 07734348065 or attend our next organising meeting.

Hands Off George Square! Organising Meeting
Tuesday 27 November, 7.30pm
Downstairs in Bar Bacchus,
80 Glassford Street 
Glasgow G1 1UR

Trial of GDC Supporter Begins

Supporters of the Glasgow Defence Campaign gathered yesterday in the Sheriff Court to defend Dominic O’Hara standing trial on trumped up police assault and obstruction charges dating back to an anti-cuts protest in Glasgow on 29 January 2011. This was our post at the time of his arrest http://glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/breaking-news-another-frfi-activist.html

Now almost two years on the case has finally begun after a long delay owing to questions of whether the police kettle of the protest that day was a breach of European Convention of Human Rights legislation. The first police witness has given his evidence which due to the ongoing case the GDC is not at liberty to report all the details of.

Miriam Kelly of the Glasgow Defence Campaign commented;

‘We maintain that the criminal actions committed on the protest of 29 Januray 2011 belong to Strathclyde Police officers. The kettle of peaceful protestors and the vigilante style in which Dominic was arrested illustrates who the real danger to public safety was that day.  Our comrade has been the target of trumped up charges twice before and this case is likewise an attempt to criminalise him for his involvement in The Glasgow Defence Campaign and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! We will continue our work undeterred!’

The trail is to recommence on the Tuesday 27 November, 11am, Sheriff Court 19. We ask all those who believe in the right to protest free from police violence, harassment, arrest and trumped up charges to attend in support.

Onwards as ever!

Monday, 12 November 2012

George Square: And the winner is...?

Today the winner will be decided! One thing is sure – it won’t be the people of Glasgow!

Monday 12 November marks the day when the ‘winning’ design for the redevelopment of George Square is decided. Not by the citizens of Glasgow but by a select panel of private profiteers and self interested politicians, amongst others:

      - Head of Glasgow City Council, Labour’s Gordon Matheson, a determined supporter of service cuts and wage freezes, the demolition of the Accord day care centre and personal enrichment

 - Geoff Ellis, promoter of T in the Park, presumably brought on board for his astute knowledge of how to milk as much profit as possible from large crowds of people

      - Neil Baxter (in observer capacity), the architect and advisor to notorious Glasgow businessman Stefan King in ill-fated attempts to turn the Botanic Gardens into a nightclub

Are these the people we want deciding how to ‘redevelop’ George Square? We can only guess at how much time they will spend discussing the need for green space, free public use, ending the prostituting of the square for commercial use, its importance as a space for political protest…

As usual, the judging of the design competition seems to be taking place in secret, and the GDC was unable to uncover the location where the judging is to happen. Nonetheless, supporters of the GDC where up early this morning to drop banners at Charing Cross and let as many people as possible know what is happening to our city.

Now’s the time to get involved!

On Tuesday, the campaign will hold its next organising meeting, with a plan of action, protest and much else being discussed. There will also be protests outside the Sherriff Court in support of a Glasgow Defence Campaign supporter facing trial for taking part in anti-cuts protest in January 2011. Hands off George Square! Defend the right to protest!

Tuesday 13 November, from 9.30am
‘Defend the right to protest! Drop the charges now!’
Demonstration outside Glasgow Sherriff Court, in support of GDC supporter Dominic O'Hara facing trial for protesting. Trial starts 10am.

Tuesday 13 November, 7.30pm
Hands off George Square: organising meeting
Downstairs at Bar Bacchus, Glassford Street,
Glasgow city centre
All welcome