Thursday, 21 March 2013

Successful Free Speech rally held - all out for Glasgow Sheriff Court tomorrow!

Glasgow Against ATOS, along with the Glasgow Defence Campaign, this afternoon held another successful rally in defence of free speech on the eve of the first court appearances of the Glasgow Against ATOS 2. The protest came amidst a week of police harassment, violence and surveillance in Glasgow, and another attack on the working class in yesterday’s budget. For over one and half hours, with a newly purchased megaphone, the rally – attended by around 40 people - heard of the importance of a united defence by all progressive forces in defence of our class and democratic rights. An individual with the bruises still apparent following Saturday's police attack on the Green Brigade was also present in a show of defiance and solidarity: this is the working class spirit of resistance of the new movement which is being built. The message was clear - Police Hands off Protest!

Strathclyde police deployed both uniformed and undercover officers – along with a ‘mobile police station’- in an open attempt to intimidate our supporters and passers-by. Their presence served to ignite fury among ordinary people of Glasgow previously unaware of the police attacks on demonstrators who rightly questioned why such a deployment of force was necessary. In the face of this indignation, the police presence retreated from the streets. When one reactionary local businessman - who is known to the GDC - whinged to the police over the use of the megaphone, the police this time chose to take a hands off approach. The balance of forces on Gordon Street today was for free speech and against criminalisation.

There was once again a notable absence of the self-styled left in Glasgow. ‘Coalition this’, ‘Unite that’ uniformly maintained their conscious boycott of events organised in defence of criminalised members of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!. The International Socialist Group, who are behind the ‘Coalition of Resistance’, and the Socialist Workers Party, who have their own ‘Unite the Resistance’, have no excuses for this contemptible sectarianism which has no part to play in the new emerging movement. This boycott comes in the face of the fact that open invites have been sent out via social media detailing the protest. Indeed one Glasgow Against ATOS speaker spoke from the platform of the founding conference of ‘Unite the Resistance’ in Glasgow on 9 March, and called on people to support our comrades. Her point was reinforced from the floor by a speaker from the Glasgow Defence Campaign who stated that the most important victory of the anti-cuts movement will be its first one - the right to free speech and against criminalisation; this fight is the most critical facing the new movement. 

The absence of these political tendencies and the presence of growing supporters of Glasgow Against ATOS among the working class serves as a clear demarcation between the forces of the past and the forces of the future. Those who choose to philosophise from the side-lines, whatever titles they give themselves, will play no progressive role within the movement. We do not judge these organisations by their words but by their deeds.

We look forward now to tomorrow’s protest outside Glasgow Sheriff Court between 11am and 12pm. We once again call up on our supporters to stand up in defence of those being criminalised for speaking out for the defenceless. We are going to win!

Defend the right to protest!
Defend those arrested!
End criminalisation!

Friday 22 March, meet 11am
Court protest: Drop the charges against the Glasgow ATOS 2!
Sheriff Court, Calton Place. Protest at trial of two arrested members of FRFI.

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