Liverpool: Free the Lovebank 4

Bank

 On Thursday 17 September, five Loveactivist protesters were gaoled for ten weeks for occupying the empty Bank of England building in central Liverpool in support of homeless people. Although all had pleaded guilty, there was no expectation that they would receive a custodial sentence. However, given the spate of occupations across the country highlighting homelessness, it was evident that there had been a decision to make an example of the five. Although one of the gaoled activists, Chelsea Stafford, was given a suspended sentence and released on appeal, the other four will have to serve their time. FRFI readers are urged to send cards and letters to them.

The political momentum to occupy the Bank of England was provided by a militant solidarity campaign with the Palestinian people in Liverpool during the summer of 2014 which repeatedly occupied shops and banks either selling Israeli goods or investing in the Israeli economy, and in which FRFI supporters played a leading role. The spark was provided by cuts in Liverpool council services to the homeless. On 18 April 2015, activists seized the building and held it until the last five were forcibly evicted on 12 May. The occupation provided a safe space for dozens of rough sleepers and homeless people every night until the police sealed off any access on 29 April; over 1,000 people passed through the building bringing donations of food or expressing solidarity with its anti-austerity message, while polls showed that there was majority public support for the action. Despite subsequent denials, the local Whitechapel homeless charity referred homeless people to the occupation as it had no beds in the city.

Once the building’s owners were able to secure a court order for its repossession, the police went on the attack. They erected a fence to stop the public from providing food and water to the occupiers and started to use dispersal powers against supporters under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. These had first been used in October 2014 against pro-Palestine protesters. Around 20 people were arrested. One case has been heard: the defendant pleaded guilty and had to pay over £1,000 in court costs and fines. Remaining cases will be heard in November 2015.

With no legal defence for defying the court order, and with the pressure of significantly greater costs if they tried to mount a challenge, the five activists pleaded guilty to the charge of aggravated trespass. Court costs totalled £2,500. This is class justice, intended as a lesson to all who want to undertake a real struggle against austerity and the consequent human suffering.

Robert Claridge

For further information go to

lovebank5.noflag.org.uk/

Send donations via www.gofundme.com/d94jfvf3, and letters and cards to

John Hall A8155DN, HMP Liverpool, 68 Hornby Road, Merseyside L9 3DF

John Rice A8157DN, also at HMP Liverpool

James Allanson A8147DN, HMP Altcourse, Brookfield Dr, Liverpool L9 7LH

James C Jones (Jay) A8149DN, also at Altcourse.

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Letter received from two of the LoveBank4. They are due for release on 21 October. Readers are asked to send them cards, letters or other forms of greetings.

Dear Friends - fellow humans,

Well you said to expects lots of mail, we did not quite know what you meant, we certainly know now!!! We need you to pass this part of the letter on to as many groups as possible!

We (John Hall and John Rice) would like to thank everybody for your support and solidarity, you are making our sentences really easy to serve.

We would like to encourage people to help us to help some of the guys in here, who have nobody on the outside, by writing to them. We will be speaking to the Chaplain of Walton Prison (HMP Liverpool) and the guys to find some people and will pass on their names and numbers to you. We would suggest anyone willing to help by writing to them, gives as little personal details as possible, so maybe at first you should send the letters to us and we can blank out your address details, as we develop the idea we can work out a better system.

We would also like to thank you all for the money you are sending us and to let you know that we are only allowed £10 a week, plus any wages we earn. So far we have received over £90 each which means we have enough money to last our full sentence, so we give you the choice, you can keep sending us money and when we are released, any monies left we will be able to donate to different groups, who are feeding the homeless people or if you have any other ideas, we can work out the sharing of the remaining monies, just let us know!

We believe in using any situation to our advantage, so if anyone has any ideas of how to use our time in here to help others, please let us know and together we can use the time to share our way of life of love, peace, learning and sharing!

We would like to maybe start some sort of help for people who need support and assistance with their cases, or for support for when they first get out of the prison system. We would like to say we are proud to do time for our efforts to help others, such as the homeless and that we believe the only reason we 4 are in prison is because we upset people like Mayor Joe Anderson and his likes who made the Judge put us in here.

We are political prisoners, which we find ironic, when we are not interested in politics at all. Everything we do, we do as humans, who want to help other humans. We would also like to say on the record that we are peaceful men and anybody who says any different, in particular the media are lying.

We thank you will all our hearts for making the time in here easy to face, through your support, solidarity and love, together we are making a difference!

Solidarity, Love and Peace – John Hall & John Rice xxx

North West Events coming up..

Every Saturday unless otherwise specified - Information/campaign stalls, Manchester City Centre and environs

For details call 07519 427 093 or e-mail: frfi.manchester@gmail.com

 

Regular actions in Liverpool, for details contact FRFI.Liverpool@gmail.com

Contact North West FRFI

075 1942 7093
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FRFI Statement on Justice for Grainger protest

Who shot and killed Anthony Grainger?