Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Police Hands Off The Green Brigade!

The Glasgow Defence Campaign would like to send our solidarity to the Celtic supporters group, The Green Brigade, who continue to be the target of Strathclyde police intimidation, harassment, arrest and court charges.

Attempts to silence the group through the criminalisation of progressive politics in football are not isolated from the events taking place outside stadiums.

As people’s lives are destroyed, through the clawing back of basic welfare, the right to speak out is increasingly being attacked. On Friday 22 February two supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! were arrested and charged on the monthly Glasgow Against Atos rolling picket. This related to the use of a megaphone in Glasgow City Centre. The targeting of groups like the Green Brigade and Glasgow Against Atos are a sign of things to come.

It’s essential that all progressive forces stand together.  Public unity, exposure and action is a means of defence. Solidarity court protests for those facing charges, the organisation of fundraisers to pay off fines, support for the families of people targeted, and effective public exposure of cases are all vital. 

We must make clear to the police and the ‘elites’ who they serve that if they attack us they will be met with a united, public, organised and political response.  

The group statement released by the Green Brigade can be read on the following link  



Friday, 22 February 2013

Two arrests on peaceful Glasgow against ATOS protest


22 Feb, Glasgow – Two supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (Glasgow) were today violently arrested, Friday 22 February, shortly after 2pm outside the Royal Bank of Scotland on Gordon Street, Glasgow city centre. They were taking part in a peaceful rolling picket organised by Glasgow Against ATOS, a campaign committed to opposing the French multinational ATOS and the government’s attack on welfare.

Both those arrested were taken to Stewart Street police station and were released at approximately 18:30. They are facing charges of liberating a prisoner from custody, resisting arrest and using a megaphone. Court date is set for Friday 22 March, for which solidarity protests are being organised. In an outrageous attack on democratic rights, their bail conditions include a ban on attending demonstrations in Glasgow city centre. This is the real reason behind these arrests: to disrupt and destroy political activity.

Up to 50 Strathclyde police officers on foot, bike, police cars and vans, together with Community Safety CCTV vehicles, were mobilised in a planned operation against a demonstration of 20 people, under the direction of Inspector Muir at Stewart Street police station (A-division). The two supporters were arrested after aggressive provocation by police officers throughout the day. The immediate excuse for arrest was use of a megaphone. Hundreds of members of the public were left shocked as they witnessed officers violently attack peaceful protesters.

As one witness told the GDC: ‘There was a peaceful protest outside the bank when the cops just waded in and started attacking people. I saw someone knocked to the ground and others shoved against walls. It was totally disproportionate.’

Despite the police violence, Glasgow Against ATOS demonstrators continued the protest to the headquarters of the Commonwealth Games, followed by up to ten officers with another police van already in position at the offices on Albion Street.

Today’s arrests were clearly planned. As Glasgow Against ATOS has grown in strength and influence over the past six months – building solidarity with the poor, the sick and disabled – police presence on the protests has also grown. The multinational companies, the banks, and their political allies, cannot allow the possibility of resistance developing to the government’s wholesale attack on welfare. With Glasgow due to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and ATOS as lead sponsor, any disruption to the corporate PR machine cannot be tolerated.

Over the past three years, members of FRFI Glasgow have been repeatedly targeted by the police and Procurator Fiscal for their commitment to organising in defence of the working class and poor. These latest arrests will again be met head on with a successful political defence. Both FRFI Glasgow and Glasgow Against ATOS refuse to be criminalised for standing up for he rights of the poorest in society.

***Any witnesses to the arrests, or the events leading up to them,
contact: glasgowdefence@yahoo.co.uk***

PRO – Miriam Kelly, Glasgow Defence Campaign. 19:06

  • Join Glasgow Against ATOS campaign – Facebook; Glasgow Against ATOS
  • Support Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! – www.frfi.co.uk
  • Organise against police harassment – glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Gareth Peirce on police terror tactics and state impunity

Gareth Peirce speaking in London on 4 February 2013


As Alfie Meadows prepares for his third trial for violent disorder at the 2010 student protests despite being nearly killed by a police baton strike, campaigning solicitor Gareth Peirce has criticised police over its history of cover-ups and immunity from prosecution after acting unlawfully during protests.

Peirce, who has acted in some of the country’s highest profile cases including the Birmingham Six, Jean Charles De Menzes, Moazzam Begg and Julian Assange, highlighted a recent UN report that described the way the British government has dealt with the right to protest as ‘shocking’.

The report described having to ask permission to demonstrate outside parliament as ‘wrong’, called for a judge-led inquiry into the embedding of undercover police officers into non-violent protest groups and warned of another Hillsborough like tragedy if the current police tactics, including kettling, continue.

Peirce said the state used demonstrations as an opportunity to assert its power and to experiment in ways to assert that power while committing crimes itself.

Instead of protesters focusing on their campaigns, they now have to fight an ongoing battle against the state to enjoy that right, she said.

At a recent meeting to commemorate Bloody Sunday speakers highlighted ‘cover-ups’ and ‘acting with impunity’ as a repetitive feature of state intervention at demonstrations, she said.

She said: “If the state comes in to assert its power, to crush the protest, it can’t do it lawfully, it does it unlawfully, and it goes to extreme ends to assert its power yet it enjoys absolute immunity from the consequences.”

After hearing from a friend of Blair Peach, a miner at Orgreave, a football fan at Hillsborough, Alfie Meadows and Carole Duggan’s aunt at a meeting, organised by Defend The Right To Protest called Justice Denied, Peirce tied the cases together with the thread of state violence, cover-up and impunity.

The solicitor said in Southall, when protesters marched against fascists in 1979 the police formed themselves into an army and cavalry and rode into crowds smashing people on the head.

Blair Peach was killed by a baton strike to the head.

The police then went onto a commune and again hit everyone over the head before arresting and prosecuting them with false charges sapping the energy and resources of the community, she said.

The tactics the police learnt from Southall, she said, were put into effect at Orgreave five years later in 1984. By then the police had formed themselves into standing armies with chief constables of each county giving themselves ‘absolute exceptional powers’ over tactics.

Peirce said: “At Orgreave they lured the miners in. As one miner said ‘we were like the Belgrano waiting to be sunk’. [Then] the [police] ranks opened and in charged police horses followed by [police with] short shields. It was like a medieval army with shields and cavalry smashing the miners over the heads and then arresting them. But not being an army they have to justify [the arrests].

“It was certainly intended to smash the miners strike and in many ways it did. It sapped the strength of the union. It had to. After one day at Orgreave they had 95 of their members facing potential life imprisonment. It was intended to destroy them.

“Come the trial these officers had no idea who they had arrested. So they sat in a classroom and were told what happened that day and they wrote it all down. So when the trial came, two-by-two, officers said who they had arrested. But because on that sunny day the nation’s photographers were there every police officer was in shot. So 48 days into the trial the prosecution gives up, they don’t even get to the defence. It was a pack of lies, but what happened; immunity.

A few years later at Hillsborough, she said, the same chief constables ‘behaving like dictators’ sat down the same officers in a classroom and dictated a ‘pack of lies’ as they did at Orgreave, and that is what the Hillsborough families have exposed after so many years.

“But like Bloody Sunday shows, Southall shows, Orgreave shows and Hillsborough shows it’s state criminality for a purpose. To assert power and to use any means necessary.”