Friday 8 May 2009

A great start! ...Now on to the demo!

All roads lead to 23rd May…

Stop Police Violence! Launch meeting report

We had a fantastic official start to our campaign this week. Around 150 people gathered for the launch meeting of United Campaign Against Police Violence in London on Tuesday. The rally heard from Green Party member of the London Assembly, Jenny Jones, Anna Fairclough from Liberty, Sam Rigg-David from Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign, Deborah Coles of Inquest, Andrew Burgin from Stop the War, Martin Smith from the SWP and Andy from Legal Defence & Monitoring Group. We were also privileged to hear from family members of both Roger Sylvester and Habib 'Paps' Ullah - both of whom died in the custody of police. A video of the meeting will be forthcoming on the website.

It was announced at the meeting that our forthcoming demonstration on Saturday 23 May will march from Trafalgar Square to New Scotland Yard, via Downing Street. We aim to "kettle" New Scotland Yard - let's give the police a taste of their own medicine!

The campaign is now well and truly on the road, so now we need to go all out to build the demonstration. You can download a poster for the event here. Click here to print off fliers.

We also decided that Thursdays would be devoted to building the demonstration - leafleting local tube stations and railway stations at rush hour. There is a huge amount of anger in society at the moment - over the death of innocent bystander Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests, the huge number of people hurt and arrested following the Gaza demonstrations earlier in the year, the continual attacks on civil liberties and the attacks on the right to protest. We need to tap this anger and unite together in protest!

Gaza demonstration arrests

The Metropolitan Police today sent out a press release saying that six more people have been arrested over the Gaza protests in December/January. This takes the total number of arrests to 93. The press release states that this relates to "a series of demonstrations in central London descended into violence, with attacks on police officers and a number of shop windows being smashed".

What the police "forget" to mention is the sheer scale of repression on those wanting to take to the streets peacefully over the attacks on Gaza by Israel. For example, those marching to the Israeli Embassy were "kettled" (in effect, detained without trial) in the Hyde Park underpass, having been directed there by police. There followed a series of baton-charges and panic which, amazingly, did not lead to any serious injuries or deaths. Other reports indicate general levels of verbal and physical abuse by police officers, the penning in of groups of protestors for prolonged periods, and intimidation of press photographers. If the police wanted a violent confrontation they certainly went out of their way to ensure it.

The United Campaign Against Police Violence wants all those who experienced these actions by the police to join us in demonstrating for the right to peaceful protest on 23 May - and we would also like to hear from anyone who has been arrested for daring to take to the streets for something they believe in.

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