Saturday, 30 April 2011

MPs, activists and trade unionists condemn new attacks

Release from Defend the Right to Protest:

A series of raids and “pre-emptive arrests” in the days leading up to the royal wedding represent a dangerous clampdown on our hard-won right to protest.

Squats have been raided by large teams of police officers. Activists have been arrested on the bizarre charge of “conspiracy to cause public nuisance and breach of the peace” for trying to organize street theatre on the day of the royal wedding. Students arrested after the tuition fees protests have had their bail hearings moved forward and been charged and banned from the City of Westminster.

These include Alfie Meadows, who nearly died of a brain haemorrhage after being hit with a baton on December 9 and has now been charged with violent disorder. This follows the kettling and police violence against student protests and the mass arrest of 148 protestors who peacefully occupied Fortnum & Mason on March 26.

Politicians condemn regimes in the Middle East that do not allow their citizens to speak out against their rulers (some of whom, including the royal families of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, are attending the royal wedding today). Yet the political policing that has preceded the royal wedding threatens to do the same in Britain, making it a crime to be a protestor on high profile state occasions.

If this can happen for the royal wedding, how can we be confident that we will be allowed to protest at the opening of Parliament, the Tory Party conference or Chancellor Osborne’s budget announcement?

Now more than ever, as the government cuts threaten the jobs, services, pensions and benefits that millions rely upon, we need to assert our right to protest without fear of arrest and intimidation. We will be protesting outside the first hearing of Fortnum & Mason occupiers on Monday 9 May, 9am, at City of Westminster Magistrates Court and invite everyone who believes in defending our democratic rights to join us there.

Initiated by Defend the Right to Protest

Signatories include:

  • Stop Kettling Our Kids
  • UK Uncut
  • Justice for Alfie Meadows
  • United Campaign Against Police Violence
  • Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
  • Matt Foot – Campaigning Lawyer
  • Aamer Anwar – Campaigning Lawyer
  • Billy Bragg
  • John McDonnell MP
  • Katy Clark MP
  • Liam Burns – President NUS Scotland
  • Mark Serwotka – General Secretary PCS
  • Billy Hayes – General Secretary CWU
  • Roz Kaveney – Queer Resistance
  • Laurie Penny – journalist
  • Nina Power – Senior Lecturer Philosophy, Roehampton University
  • Michael Chessum – Co-founder National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
  • Mark Bergfeld – NUS NEC, Education Activist Network
  • Ashok Kumar LSE SU Education Officer
  • Kanja Sessay NUS NEC, Black Students Committee

Friday, 29 April 2011

This is what democracy looks like

Footage of street theater organisers Chris Knight and Camila Power arrested the day before the wedding.

Their "crime" was to organise street theater featuring a replica (but obviously harmless) guillotine.

So there you have it. You can be arrested for using your free speech... before you've even used it.

Chris, a anthropology professor, and Camilla have both been heavily involved in UCAPV. Good luck to them both.

Defend the Right to Protest

The right to protest has been dealt serious blows in recent weeks. Dozens have been raided and arrested simply for planning to protest on the day of the royal wedding. Meanwhile, police raided squats with the excuse that they might also somehow spoil the royals’ big day.

The group Defend the Right to Protest has called several events to organise opposition to these attacks on our civil liberties.

On Thursday the group has called an emergency open meeting in London on how to respond to the attacks. Speakers include Alfie Meadows, who was given brain damage after being beaten by police on the student protests last year, and was later arrested; John McDonnell MP, a Fortnum and Masons occupier, and others.

This from the Defend the Right to Protest Facebook group:



Preemptive raids on protesters before the Royal Wedding.....Alfie Meadows who underwent surgery after been hit by a police baton charged with violent disorder......Fortnum and Masons protesters charged with aggravated trespass. This must stop! Please come along and help organise a response to these attacks on our right to protest

"These raids and arrests are outrageously disproportionate and demonstrate the decline that has taken place in the protection of civil liberties in this country. Those arrested must be defended and supported by us all". JOHN McDONNELL MP

"This appears to be a worrying extension of police using powers preemptively to stop people protesting. They claim to be independent and facilitate peaceful protest its difficult to see how they can justify those statements in light of what they are doing" MATT FOOT CAMPAIGNING LAWYER

This will be followed on Monday 9 May with a protest at City Westminster Court, where Fortnum and Mason occupiers have their hearing. 140 were arrested and detained following the occupation on 26 March.



Protest outside the hearing of Fortnum & Mason occupiers.

On 26 March, around 140 people were arrested and detained for taking part in the occupation of Fortnum & Mason to highlight tax avoidance. Their protest was peaceful, as documented by eyewitness reports and video footage. They were told by police that they were free to leave – but as soon as the protestors left the building they were arrested. The occupiers now face charges of aggravated trespass and the possibility of a prison sentence.

The Fortnum and Mason arrests are part of a much wider project that threatens the right to protest. The student demonstrations of November and December were regularly kettled and charged by mounted officers or uniformed thugs wielding batons and shields. Tahmeena Bax and Alfie Meadows were peaceful protestors hospitalised by police. Alfie now faces charges of violent disorder – unlike the officers responsible for the brain haemorrhage that nearly killed him.

Faced with unprecedented cuts that threaten to decimate the welfare state, now more than ever we must defend and assert our right to protest. On Monday 9 May join us outside the first of the Fortnum & Mason hearing to defend the protestors facing charges and to remind the government and the police that we can and will exercise our protest without fear of arrest or intimidation.

Stay up to date with our campaign:

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Smiley Culture March for Human Rights

Saturday 16 April, Assemble 12 noon

Southbank Club, 124-130 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2DL.

The Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture has called a demonstration to New Scotland Yard on Saturday, 16 April. It has received massive support from communities around the country, and has the potential to be very big.

The families and supporters of many of those who have died in police custody will be marching. We should also bring along others who have suffered brutality at the hands of police, whether through racist stop and search or being beaten up on a student demonstration. United we can bring change.

Over the next week we can spread the word through our campaign and community groups. Let's make this a march that the police can't ignore.

Join the Facebook group for the Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Birmingham public Meeting with families of Smiley Culture and Kingsley Brown

Details from

There have been 400 deaths in custody over the last 10 years. The families of Kingsley Brown and Smiley Culture are the latest to suffer tragic losses.

On Friday 8th April at the The African Caribbean Millenium Centre in Birmingham, both families united by their grief and sadness will demonstrate their determination to pursue justice. Both families will be speaking at this important public meeting alongside others.

Full line-up of speakers will include:

more to be announced…

The meeting will also discuss attendance at the national march for truth and justice for all victims of death in custody to be held on Saturday 16th April 2011 Wandsworth Road, London. This issue affects us all regardless of race, class colour or creed. Please help promote this meeting and remember no justice no peace.

For more information and to print posters visit: or join the Campaign for Justice 4 Smiley Culture on Facebook. “One Love One Aim One Destiny”

Event Details:

Friday 8th April at 6.30pm
The African Caribbean Millenium Centre, 339 Dudley Road, Winson Green, Birmingham.B18 4HB
Tel: 0121 455 6382 / Fax: 0121 454 5953

We issue a call for all communities to unite and mobilize for the demonstration for Truth and Justice to take place on the 16th April in London.

For enquiries contact:
Lee Jasper via | |