Solidarity against criminalisation

Defence campaigns have been set up in Scotland and Newcastle for FRFI supporters arrested on protests against the cuts. Both the Glasgow Defence Campaign (http://glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.com) and the HSBC 3 Defence Campaign (www.defencecampaign.wordpress.com) stand in solidarity with all those being criminalised for taking part in actions against the cuts and against police harassment.

On 9 December 2010, two FRFI supporters were arrested by Strathclyde police during student protests in Glasgow. One was strip-searched, and both were detained overnight. The charges against them range from breach of the peace and obstruction to assaulting and obstructing police officers and attempting to assist the escape of a person in custody. After pleading not guilty, both were released on bail, one with a city centre restriction order – a condition subsequently dropped in the face of publicity and pressure from the defence campaign. One of them is due back at Glasgow District Court on 18 March, where he faces a possible prison sentence if convicted; the other is waiting for a court date.

If you witnessed what happened or have any video footage or photographs relating to the arrest on Sauchiehall Street and incidents at RBS on Gordon Street and Vodafone shops on Argyle Street and Buchanan Street, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The defence campaign is organising a solidarity demonstration outside the court at 10am on 18 March.

Another FRFI supporter, who has been selling FRFI in Glasgow for 13 years, now faces prosecution for doing simply that, in a clear case of political harassment. He will appear at Glasgow Justice of the Peace Court at 2pm on 14 March.

As FRFI went to press, one of the two comrades was again arrested at an anti-cuts demonstration in Glasgow on 29 January and held in a police station over the weekend.

These arrests follow FRFI’s campaign over the summer against police harassment in Govanhill (see ‘Policing politics in Glasgow’, FRFI 217). Support is growing for the defence campaign, including from Ken Loach, George Galloway, the Scottish PSC and Scottish Support for Political Prisoners.

During a Newcastle demonstration by Students Against Cuts as part of a UKUncut national day of action on 18 December, two FRFI supporters were also violently arrested and held for nine hours before being charged with police obstruction and breaching conditions imposed under the Public Order Act. Both were subjected to bail conditions preventing them from entering the city centre except for work. However, after a vigorous campaign by supporters, the bail conditions were dropped. A trial has been set for 28 and 29 March. A third activist was arrested on an FRFI stall three days later allegedly ‘on suspicion of assaulting a police officer’ during the protest the previous Saturday.

There have already been solidarity demonstrations, with more planned, and a public meeting on the role of the police is being organised. The defence campaign is supported by local branches of Counterfire and the Coalition of Resistance, Students Against Cuts, FRFI/RCG, Palestine Action Group and many others.

The fight against the criminalisation of protest is central to building a new movement to fight back against attacks on the working class and oppressed in Britain. We offer unconditional solidarity to all those facing the sharp end of British justice for organising against cuts, racism, capitalism and imperialism, and call for maximum unity in the face of such attacks.

FRFI 219 February / March 2011

 

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