- Created: Friday, 24 January 2014 11:08
- Written by Glasgow FRFI
On 22 February 2013 two supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! were arrested during a monthly protest against the benefit cutting multinational Atos. This brought to a head a six-month campaign of criminalisation waged by Strathclyde police (now Police Scotland) to demonise, isolate and ultimately divide and rule the militant and growing opposition to cuts to disability benefit in Glasgow.
The Glasgow Against Atos 2, Daniel McGarrell and Dominic O’Hara, were detained and charged with using a megaphone when instructed not to, resisting arrest and attempting to liberate a prisoner. In October a Sheriff Court judge found that the police had been acting unlawfully having no powers of arrest under the legislation s.54 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.Regardless of this abuse of police powers and the collapse of the case the Sheriff upheld the political charge against Mr O’Hara of ‘using a megaphone’. The trial continues on 28 January and has become a fight to defend protest rights in Glasgow city centre in the run up to the Commonwealth Games in July which are being sponsored by Atos. The Glasgow Defence Campaign (GDC) is mobilising supporters to picket the Sheriff Court on the morning of the trial and is also pursuing legal action against Police Scotland for illegally arresting and detaining these anti-cuts protestors.
The ongoing trial as well as wider changes to Scottish policing and the limiting of access to legal aid representation underline the importance of unifying opposition to ruling class cuts and subsequent criminalisation now. 1 April 2013 saw the introduction of the punitive Bedroom Tax. On the same day a major restructuring of Scotland’s police forces took place with eight regional units, previously autonomous from one another, unified into a single national force known as ‘Police Scotland’. Already major concerns over local accountability and ‘massaging’ of crime figures to meet targets have arisen. A new generation of foot soldiers for the British ruling class are being trained to control and put down effective opposition to welfare cuts in Britain and imperialist occupation and war abroad.
The GDC has been busy at work organising against this under the slogan ‘Don’t Panic – Organise!’. The GDC, established by supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in 2010, has been consistent in undertaking work in defence of progressive activists and organisations. We have consistently; updated our blogspot with reports of political policing (including our ‘police harassment log’); educated ourselves and others in matters of law by producing ‘know your rights’ bust cards and put this knowledge into action (our youtube video ‘how to deal with police harassment’ has had over half a million views); mobilised supporters and concerned members of the public for free speech rallies and pickets of Glasgow courts to support those facing political charges; wrote to national newspapers to highlight these issues and built support for our campaign on the streets and among well known individuals and sympathetic politicians. We invite all those opposed to the cuts, racism and wars of the British ruling class to stand together in joining the campaign to defend the protest rights we currently have. No Justice! No Peace!
Court Picket: Unite Against The Cuts! Defend Free Speech!
Tuesday 4 March, 10.15am
Outside Glasgow Sheriff Court, 1 Carlton Place
Trial in court 19 (open to the public)