Special Action Report: Newcastle - September

Special Action Report: Newcastle - September

Police Harassment and Rally for Democratic Rights in Newcastle

On Saturday 1st September Newcastle activists gathered at Grey's Monument for a Rally for Democratic Rights. In recent months there has been increasing police harassment of political activity on the streets of Newcastle, under cover of council regulations on collecting money. Despite clear exemptions under sections two and seventeen of the regulations, for collections taken at a street meeting, police have regularly demanded names, addresses and dates of birth of activists under threat of arrest, have issued formal warnings to two members of Tyneside Stop the War, and on two occasions have arrested supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group and seized money and collecting tins, which have still not been returned. Whilst the police demand that political groups should obtain permits from the council, the council has stated in writing that permits will not be granted to collections for political purposes. There is a long tradition of political activity at Grey's Monument, but this is now under threat. One side of the monument has been privatised and fenced off in the last year as a seating area for a cafe, and now the police are trying to restrict political activity in the remaining area. Attempting to cut off funds necessary for effective campaign work is censorship by the back door, an attempt to drive political activity off the streets of Newcastle.



The rally was a positive show of unity against these attacks on our basic democratic rights, and was supported by large numbers of the public, including many working class people who know from their own experience the role of the police in keeping people down. Stalls were held by members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group and its newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, Tyneside Stop the War, Tyneside East Timor Solidarity Campaign, Tyneside Community Action for Refugees and other activists, all collecting money openly. Support was also expressed by local members of the CPGB-ML and Socialist Party. The police stayed well away from the event, not even sending a van to monitor the square as they do on many Saturdays.

On Monday 3rd September an FRFI comrade attended bail following his arrest on 28th July for 'obstructing a police officer', as he attempted to explain the legal advice he had received, that it was unlawful for the police to seize donations. He was released from bail without charge, and told that he would receive a summons in the post. Since the first arrest for collecting money in January no summons has ever been issued. Clearly the police know as well as we do that they would get nowhere in court, but are using the regulations on collecting as an excuse to harass and intimidate activists on a regular basis.

Our defence of democratic rights in Newcastle will not stop.

Defend the Democratic Right to Collect!
Stop Police Harassment!

Saturday 19 January - TCAR Northern March Against Racism

Saturday 19 January - TCAR Northern March Against Racism

Approximately 150 people took part in a militant anti-racist demonstration organised by Tyneside Community Action for Refugees (TCAR) from the West End of Newcastle to the City Centre on 19 January, demanding Freedom to Work, Freedom to Stay, and an end to the criminalisation of immigrants, the end of the NASS system and decent housing for all.



TCAR campaigns in support of asylum seekers' rights and against policies which divide the working class by inciting British people to blame immigrants for cuts in services and lack of access to housing instead of blaming the Labour government which is making the cuts and which attacks all the poor in this country, immigrant and native.

Marchers included asylum seekers from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi, Kurdistan and elsewhere. Several people who, with the help of TCAR, have successfully fought the government's attempts to deport them came to show their support for those still confronting the racist British government's asylum and immigration policies, including Joy Bowman, whose campaign against her deportation to Jamaica received national publicity, and Kurdish asylum seeker Guler Akdogan, who learned in December that her long fight against the deportation of her family to Turkey had been successful.

The demo stopped outside the Government Offices North East where speakers from TCAR and the UDPS opposition party from DRC spoke about the mistreatment of asylum seekers and immigrants in Britain. People whose only 'crime' is to flee oppression or poverty are criminalised, detained and deported. Those who are waiting the outcome of decisions on their cases are banned from working, which means they are further criminalised if they then do work illegally, while ironically becoming the butt of media abuse for not working and 'scrounging off the state'.

Speakers at the end rally at Grey's Monument included TCAR, Newcastle Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!/Revolutionary Communist Group, North West Asylum Seekers' Defence Group, South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, Support the Harmondsworth 4 Campaign, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Tyneside Stop the War, the University and College Lecturers' Union, Tyneside Socialist Forum and International Federation of Iraqi Refugees. MC Drop Dead Fred performed some political raps for fellow protesters. Many more people spoke and there was always a long queue of people waiting to use the open mic.



The demo was also attended by contingents from Durham, Carlisle, Doncaster, Sheffield, Manchester, Middlesborough, Glasgow and Leeds and by members and supporters of No Borders, Antifa, Amnesty International and the Socialist Workers Party. At a time when political campaigners across the country are facing police harassment and restrictions on their right to protest, it was great to see the Monument covered in banners and surrounded by protesters.

The police originally tried to impose restrictions on the date and route of the march but they backed down. In the end the police imposed conditions that were identical to the agreed route. This meant the march had to stick to agreed times for setting off and dispersing, so although it was a victory for TCAR, the right to protest was still restricted. In addition, two arrests were made on the demonstration. The two activists arrested had previously been dragged out of the march on the route. The police liasion intervened and other demonstrators refused to 'just move on' as ordered by the police. Later the two activists were approached again and asked for their details. The officer referred to chants they had been singing. They refused their details. Witnesses heard the arresting officer say that she didn't intend to report the activists, she just wanted their names 'for intelligence purposes'. When they continued to refuse to give their details the activists were arrested. The police liaison organised a phone-in of the police station. The activists were released later in the day.

Get involved in TCAR! For anyone that wants to get involved in TCAR, the email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The next General Meeting is on Saturday 26th January at St Thomas' Church, Newcastle. The meeting starts at 1pm. TCAR particularly needs people to get involved in its press group and newsletter group.



to find this report on indymedia, click here 

Sunday 27 April - RCG FUND RAISER!

Sunday 27 April - RCG FUND RAISER!

Comrades and supporters of the Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! newspaper took part in a sponsored walk on 27 April to raise money for the RCG’s continuing work in building an anti-imperialist and working class movement in Britain. 13 people from Manchester walked the famous Kinder Scout route in the Peak District, the scene of a historic mass trespass in 1932, involving many communists, which led to the land becoming a public right of way. During the 12 mile walk, which lasted nearly seven hours, the comrades carried flags from the USSR, Palestine, Cuba and Bolivia in a gesture of solidarity with the socialist and progressive struggles taking place across the world. The walk marked the beginning of FRFI’s national £10,000 fund-drive. Get in touch if you want to make a donation or take part in a fundraising event.





 

North East Events coming up..

We have street actions and political educational meetings in Newcastle every week – for details call 07858346276 or email frfinortheast@gmail.com

For more information on events in the North East you can also join the FRFI North East e-mail list and the mailing lists of campaigns we are involved in on the following pages:

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/frfinortheast

Tyneside Community Action Against Racism:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/tcar

Palestine Action Group:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/palestineactiongroup

Viva Cuba! Rock Around The Blockade:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/ratbnortheast

or add us on Facebook.com/FRFInortheast

Contact North East FRFI

078 5834 6276
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