Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ian Tomlinson: One Year Anniversary




Ian died in tragic circumstances - an innocent passer by, trying to get home, who died after a police assault at the G20 protests on April 1st 2009.

G20 police officer Delroy Smellie cleared of assault

Police officer Deloy Smellie, who attacked Nicola Fisher at the G20 protests, has been cleared of common assault for striking Fisher with a metal truncheon.

Smellie apparently thought that the object in Fisher's hands - a carton of orange juice - was a weapon. The magistrates believed him.

Here is that footage again. Does Smellie really look under threat? Or does it look like he is attacking an innocent protester?

To make sure other police officers aren't let off the hook for their contempt for peaceful protest, join tomorrow morning's vigil to remember Ian Tomlinson, who died after being struck by police as he was trying to get home.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Greater Manchester Police line up with English Defence League racists

Thousands of supporters of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) went to Bolton on Saturday to challenge the racists of the English Defence League (EDL).

The multiracial mix of anti-fascists outnumbered the EDL several times over. But it didn’t take long for the Greater Manchester Police force to show their true colours and lay into the anti-fascist majority.

The police had spent weeks dissuading locals from attending the protest against the EDL, but, having largely failed, they brought out the riot police, the dogs, the horses... and the media spin machine.

Hundreds of young, local Asians were prevented from joining the protests, and the demo was already divided by police erecting barriers to prevent a united assembly. The previously agreed designated demonstration area was quickly shown to be nothing of the sort, with riot police storming in early on to attack anti-fascists and arrest leading organisers of UAF, including Weyman Bennett, who was arrested for “conspiracy to commit violent disorder”.

Police then proceeded to attack protestors with batons and dogs. The fact that they were plastered in riot gear from the start shows that they were not there for peaceful reasons. Officers went around the protest with child protection officers, warning parents that if they did not leave they would report them, threatening photographers, and swooping on leading organisers, knocking bystanders to the floor as they did so.

Meanwhile, the EDL side of the protest was left virtually un-policed, despite a barrage of bottles, coins and lighters being lobbed at UAF protesters and racist chants flowing over the separation barrier.

In total, 64 UAF protestors were arrested, with 60 released without charge. When the secretary of Manchester UAF was arrested police took the keys to her house from her whilst she was in her cell and went into her home to snatch her computer and files, using anti-terrorism laws to justify this.

Police meanwhile laughed and joked with the EDL racists, with Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who led the police operation, saying, “I would also like to praise the efforts of the EDL stewards who worked with us in the face of some very ugly confrontations.”

The police told the media that two officers were injured in the protests, one receiving a broken finger and one after being bitten by a dog. They forgot to mention that it was a police dog (and who can blame the dog?).

From Cable Street to Welling and now Bolton, the police have a long history of standing up for the “right” of fascists to divide communities and terrorise ethnic minorities.

For the rest of us this is another serious attack on the right to protest, and one that can’t be ignored.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Ex-undercover police officer exposes how force infiltrates campaign groups

A fascinating look into the methods used by the police to infiltrate campaigns in Britain in this weekend's Guardian:

Undercover policeman reveals how he infiltrated UK's violent activists

For four years, Officer A lived a secret life among anti-racist activists as they fought brutal battles with the police and the BNP. Here he tells of the terrifying life he led, the psychological burden it placed on him and his growing fears that the work of his unit could threaten legitimate protest... (read more on the Guardian website).

Campaign in support of protestors facing jail for demonstrating against Israel's attack on Gaza

Campaign in support of protesters facing jail for demonstrating against Israel's attack on Gaza

In January 2009 police attacked hundreds of mainly peaceful protesters on a Stop the War Coalition march against Israel's invasion of Gaza. Protesters later spoke of being harassed, kettled and injured by the police in scenes similar to those we saw several months later on the G20 protests in the City of London.

But British "justice" has a strange way of turning these events onto their heads.

Here are further details of the campaign, from the Stop the War Coalition website:

Meeting in Parliament Tuesday 2 March: Report by Nahella Ashraf

Young people who took part in the mass demonstrations against Israel’s attack on Gaza in January 2009 are being handed down jail sentences for minor offences. Israel's barbarism -- which devastated Gaza and left 1400 dead -- brought tens of thousands on to London's streets, including the demonstration of over 100,000 on 10 January 2009.

Numerous complaints were made about police aggressive behaviour on the Gaza demonstrations. Thousands of protestors were 'kettled' -- illegally held for hours and only released after the police had obtained their names and addresses.

In the months that followed the demonstrations, over 90 protestors were arrested -- most of them Muslims, many of them teenagers -- often in intimidating dawn raids. Many of the young people had been under surveillance by the police for months and during some of the arrests family members were handcuffed and put in a separate room. Others were questioned at police stations without a lawyer present, after being told by officers that they would face long delays if they waited for a solicitor to arrive.

On Tuesday 3 March, over 70 people, including families of those arrested and some of the defendants, attended a meeting held in Parliament, at which the overriding message coming from all the speakers was that the arrests and disproportionate sentencing was politically motivated.

Joanna Gilmore, a research from Manchester University, told the meeting that these are the highest number of mass arrests in relation to a political demonstration since the Poll Tax riots of 1990.

Mohammed Kozbar, of the British Muslim Initiative, added that it was clear the latest sentencing was designed to deter the Muslim community from exercising its democratic right to protest.

It was clear to everyone that the treatment of these young demonstrators is a direct result of this government’s war on terror and the increase in Islamophobia.

The next steps agreed by the meeting was for a petition to be drawn up demanding all the charges of those still waiting to face trial be dropped and circulated as widely as possible. This will then be presented to the Director of Public Prosecution and the Justice Secretary Jack Straw. It was also agreed that a meeting be called for the families and various legal teams. The campaigning lawyer Imran Khan has agreed to take on all the appeals.

The meeting agreed the following aims:

  • Release all those already in prison
  • Drop all charges
  • Hold an independent enquiry into the policing of the demonstrators.
  • Hold an independent review of all complaints raised against the police from the demonstrations.
  • End the criminalisation of the Muslim community.
  • Defend the right to peacefully demonstrate.

Send message of support

For background see:

See also: Stop the War dossiers on police violence
03 March 2009 demonstration
10 March 2009 demonstration