Occupy Glasgow! Eye Witness Report - 19 Oct 2011

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On Saturday 15 October at 11am the occupy movement spread to Glasgow as tents were erected, anti-cuts banners hung and progressive messages chalked on the red surface of George Square, in Glasgow’s City Centre. Opposite the occupation sits Glasgow City Council’s (GCC) chambers of corruption which are controlled by the Labour party. Below is an eye witness report and observations of a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) supporter who has attended the occupation in solidarity on Tuesday 18 and 19 October;

 

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Glasgow FRFI supporters stand up to political courts and cops – October 2011

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On 13 October 2011, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporter Dominic O´Hara appeared once again in front of a judge at Glasgow District Court, the latest in a long line of court appearances for FRFI activists over the past year of political harassment, arrests and trials. 15 supporters held a protest outside the court, standing with the banner of the Glasgow Defence Campaign (Don´t panic – organize!) and distributing leaflets to the many working class people coming and going through the revolving doors of sham Scottish justice.

 

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Strathclyde Police - Back Off! - 02 Oct 2011

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! condemns the open political policing that was employed on Saturday's Scottish Trades Union Council march from Glasgow Green to Kelvingrove Park. Throughout the march people were harassed and stalked by lines of officers intent on provoking a response from the peaceful protestors. Coalition of Resistance supporters were taken aside by officers and warned to behave, IRSP Alba and John Brady Society followers were questioned for flying a Starry Plough flag and a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Glasgow Defence Campaign (GDC) supporter, who has been targeted on previous protests, was detained by officers for condemning political policing as the march passed Cranstonhill Police Station, 945 Argyle St.

The following video captures the scenes as the arrest took place only for him to be de-arrested due to the popular will of the protestors.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! sends its solidarity to the people who left the march and successfully secured our supporters release. As the targeted comrade said after re-joining the march 'a victory for one is a victory for all!' FRFI will continue our role in the Glasgow Defence Campaign to make sure the actions of Strathclyde Police are recorded, publicised and organised against.

 

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Fighting the cuts in Glasgow

In Glasgow, campaigns against the cuts have been successful in getting increased support from working class people. However, in a significant development, these campaigns have encountered undisguised hostility from those whose support they might have taken for granted – the trade unions and the main organisations on the Scottish left.

On 22 June Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters in Glasgow joined a successful occupation of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices on Cochrane Street in the city centre. The direct action had been organised by the Black Triangle disability rights group and the Citizens United campaign, with the support of carers from the Save the Accord Centre campaign. The action had been called to highlight and oppose corporate tax evasion which is estimated to be worth £120 billion a year.

 

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Glasgow - Fighting political policing

The fight against the cuts in Glasgow has also become a fight against police repression. FRFI supporters have been harassed, arrested and face court trials for their role in protests last December against tax-evading monopolies and student fees. To oppose this political policing, they have set up the Glasgow Defence Campaign (GDC, http://glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.com), now supported by John Pilger and Ken Loach.

The Save the Accord Centre campaign has now become the most significant struggle against council cuts in Glasgow. The Labour council is demolishing the learning disabilities day centre to build a bus park for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Carers, parents and service users from the working class community of Dalmarnock have been fighting for a like-for-like replacement. The council is refusing to build one, citing the ‘economic climate’ while handing over millions to private developers and land speculators. At a protest outside the City Council Chambers on 31 March, 20 police faced 15 demonstrators. As the protest ended, two FRFI supporters were seized by the police and dumped in the back of a police van. One was questioned by a police officer who was due to appear as a witness in a court case against him. The second was threatened with a charge of ‘breach of the peace’.

 

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Scottish Parliament elections: Labour crashes to defeat

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The defining moment of the Scottish election, supporters of the Save the Accord Centre campaign confronting Labour Leader, Ian Gray. Glasgow 7 April 2011

On 5 May the Labour Party suffered a major defeat in the elections to the devolved Scottish parliament in Edinburgh, as the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) swept to the first overall majority in the Parliament since its inception in 1999. The election saw the SNP make significant gains in the traditional Labour heartlands in Lanarkshire and Glasgow. The dismal results for the left outside the Labour Party confirmed the political standpoint of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! – the need for socialists to make an explicit anti-Labour position central to the rebuilding of the socialist movement.

 

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Glasgow: no to political policing! - 16 April 2011

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The Glasgow Defence Campaign and the Free Hetherington Occupation held a joint protest between 12 and 2pm on Saturday 16 April on Gordon Street against Strathclyde police’s campaign of intimidation and harassment against anti-cuts activists. If the cops thought their hands-off approach on the day of the protest would undermine our defiance and quieten things down they must have spluttered over their station tea as the issue got front page coverage in the widely read Glasgow Evening Times. Now tens of thousands of people know about Strathclyde's police’s recent behaviour.

 

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Strathclyde police attacks FRFI supporters and anti-cuts protestors in Glasgow

no_to_political_policingWe condemn the attempts by Strathclyde police to intimidate and undermine Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!(FRFI) in Glasgow. So far this week, three of our supporters, including a 14-year-old have been arrested. A further two anti-cuts activists, both aged 17, have also been arrested this week in relation to the anti-cuts protests in Glasgow which took place on 9 December 2010. All have been charged with breach of the peace for entering a Vodafone store. They have been released with police bail conditions which prohibit their attendance at ‘at any assembly of two or more persons’ and which exclude them from parts of Glasgow city centre. This is a breach of their human rights; it shows the extent to which the police will go to attack effective opposition to the cuts.

The arrests follow the conviction on Monday 11 April of FRFI supporter Dominic O’Hara on trumped-up charges of police assault. This week’s events are yet further examples of the constant police harassment that Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters and other activists are experiencing for their involvement in successful anti-cuts actions in the city centre. This includes attempts to charge supporters with selling our newspaper on the streets. We have set up Glasgow Defence Campaign in response to oppose political policing and defend democratic rights. (see glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.com)

 

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Struggle against education cuts escalates in Glasgow

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On Tuesday 24 March, security guards at Glasgow University, with the authorisation of senior management, called in Strathclyde police to assist them in evicting the seven-week long occupation of the former Hetherington Research Club building on campus, which had been taken over by students and re-opened as an anti-cuts space. The operation grew to include nearly 100 police officers, dog teams, eighteen police vehicles blocking off roads and a police helicopter. Over the course of the morning, hundreds of students responded to the call to defend the occupied space, gathering inside and outside the building. Police responded with overwhelming numbers, violently removing and dragging out peaceful protesters. Four students suffered injuries, including two left with dislocated shoulders. One young woman, Kate Connelly, suffered concussion after security smashed her head off a wall. She was transferred to the Western Infirmary in an ambulance with concussion before police officers charged her with obstruction and threw her in Stewart Street police cells for several hours. Four others were detained then de-arrested on site, possibly to avoid inciting a riot.

 

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Glasgow 2: A Political Trial

On 19 December 1980 the Glasgow 2 -Mike Duffield and Kirstin Crosbie, arrested on 9 August whilst selling Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! outside Celtic Football ground –were found guilty of 'conducting themselves in a disorderly manner' by shouting 'inflammatory slogans likely to occa­sion a breach of the peace'. Mike and Kirstin were fined £150 and £125 res­pectively.

 

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Fighting the Poll Tax in Glasgow

There are over 40 anti-Poll Tax groups in Glasgow in most of the working class areas, including Drumchapel, Castlemilk, Maryhill, Govan, Govanhill and Pollok. The Pollok group in particular is big. Hundreds at­tend the meetings and it has mass support in the community. All these groups are outside the Labour Party's 'Stop It' cam­paign which has done nothing apart from produce a leaflet, make a record and get publicity on TV.

 

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Banned: Republican march in Edinburgh

Republican march in Edinburgh

On 3 May the Labour controlled Lothian Regional Council banned a march planned for the following Saturday to commemorate Edinburgh-born Irish revolutionary leader, James Connolly. The Labour Council had given way to loyalist threats and anti-Republican hysteria whipped up by the Scottish media, especially Robert Maxwell's Daily Record. On 3 May this 'newspaper' had a front page article con­demning the march as 'an IRA victory parade for the killings in Holland'.

Labour not only banned the march but also banned Edinburgh MP Ron Brown, due to speak at the commemoration, from commenting on their decision. The march was organised by the Rising Phoenix flute band. Johnny, a band member, talked to FRFI about the banning and the fight for democratic rights in Scotland.

 

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Miners’ Rally – Edinburgh

The leadership of the NUM launched a nationwide tour of key areas on 6 Nov­ember in Edinburgh. Against a back­drop of stepped-up hostility from the Labour and TU leadership, the first in the series of rallies was marked by jeers from the 2000+ miners present. These were hurled when NUM leader and Com­munist Party leader, Mick McGahey began reading out Labour apologies for non-attendance. The shout 'Kinnock's a Tory' made McGahey move quickly to say that Tories didn't send apologies to NUM rallies. This was one of the first of many outbursts from the audience which McGahey sought to smooth away. After Labour MP Gavin Strang had spo­ken, miners in the hall challenged 'Where's Kinnock?'.

 

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Heroin: The unseen imperialist tool

The following article was written for FRFI by a youth from one of Scotland's council estates. Heroin is circulating freely in all of the urban working class areas of Scotland and England. At £5 a 'shot' it is cheaper than alcohol or can­nabis in the length of its effects - and much cheaper than a cinema trip for two. Heroin deadens the young unemployed to their plight, turning them to anti-social crime against their own families, friends and neighbours, and even­tually bringing prison, illness or death.

The article speaks for itself of the effect of heroin on the working class youth of Britain; however the title chosen by Vini is truer than he knew. As well as being a weapon to kill the spirit of fightback in the ghettoes of Britain, heroin is a major weapon against the oppressed peoples.

 

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Solidarity with Grenada

Following the US invasion of Grenada FRFI supporters all over the country have mobilised for a series of solidarity actions.

Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Latin America Solidarity Campaign called three pickets outside the US consulate on 26 – 28 October demanding an end to the US invasion of Grenada. The pickets, which were 20 strong, were supported by Edinburgh FRFI, YCL, Women for Peace and individuals. On each day the police attempted to move the picket across the road away from the immediate vicinity of the consulate but we refused to move. The police were heaviest on the first and third days when they threw around threats of arrest and charges of breach of the peace and obstruction. We pointed out that we were not causing an obstruction and in our opinion the only breach of the peace being committed was by the US invading Grenada. Hen the police saw that we were determined not to move they soon slunk off and we successfully defended our democratic right to protest.

 

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Edinburgh ISC

The Edinburgh Irish Solidarity Committee held a public meeting on 26 September which was attended by around 30 people, most of whom were the Edinburgh youth. The meeting was chaired by an 18-year-old EISC member and one of the two speakers was also 18 years old.

The first speaker began the meeting by bringing up the 'great escape of the 38' which gave the meeting a great atmosphere of solidarity with the Irish POWs. This was furthered by a motion to send a message of congratula­tions to the Republican Movement for the successful escape. The same speaker introduced the su­pergrass trials explaining their function and overall aim.

 

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Scotland: Land of prisons

The Sunday Standard (24/7/83) recently ran an article on the conditions in a Scottish prison: Saughton Prison in Edinburgh.

In Saughton the cells, only 10 feet by 7 Vi are generally shared by at least 2 pri­soners. The reason why more and more prisoners are being crammed into Scot­tish gaols is obvious - growing poverty and unemployment is forcing people to turn to 'crime' in order to put food on the table. Most prisoners are poor, unemp­loyed, black, Irish, so-called 'immi­grants'- those who are on the ruling class hit-list.

 

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Edinburgh man dies after being in police custody

29-year-old Roderick McCuaig had to be taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and had to undergo major brain surgery but doctors failed to save his life and he died the next day. This was hours after being in police custody.

Roderick was lifted by Edinburgh police and taken to Gayfield Square police station some time during Tuesday 2 August. Later that evening the police phoned his family and told them that he was at Gayfield Square police station and that someone should come and fetch him. A most unus­ual practice, don't you think?

 

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Edinburgh Irish Solidarity Weekend

Tremendous success

The work of two and a half months publicity, planning and organising by EISC members and supporters came to fruition on Saturday and Sunday 18 and 19 June,

RALLY AT THE MOUND

The beginning of our weekend of support for the Irish struggle against British imperialism was an open-air rally at the Mound on Edinburgh's Princes Street. At 11am we formed up and the rally got off to a good start. The police allowed a crowd of 200 loyalists to surround and try to disrupt our rally which had grown to 70. After an hour of exciting speeches in support of 'Victory to the Irish People!' 'Troops Out Now!', the POWs in English jails, Nicky Kelly and the world-wide fight against imperialism, the rally was attacked by the drunken loyalist thugs. They charged through our banners; women and children were pushed and kicked. Two people were bitten by these animals. A seven year old was trampled on. Only then did the police put on a show for the tourists, for an hour before we withstood provocation, assaults and missiles.

 

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Dundee Trades Council Backs Censorship

Dundee Trades Council are proud of the bronze bust of James Connolly in military uniform which adorns their drinking lounge (not that he would have approved being an abstainer himself).

Dundee Labour Party supports the PLO and the city has twinned with Nablus in Israel-occupied Palestine. The PLO flag flies above the City Chambers and the Mayor of Nablus, whose legs were blown off by a zionist bomb, was recently in Dundee as a civic guest.

A public plaque was to be commis­sioned by the Council, in honour of James Connolly and a museum reading room named after him. All of this may seem to paint a picture of a courageous radical Labour movement, strongly anti-imperialist and militant leading the local working class to glorious freedom.

 

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Edinburgh 24 Hour Picket

Edinburgh's FRFI supporters initiated a very successful 24 hour picket against apartheid in South Africa on 21 and 22 October at the East End of Princes Street. The picket kicked off on the Friday at 8pm with a rally of 40-50 people, some FRFI supporters, EISC members, the Edinburgh Anti-Apartheid group and some CND members who came along for a few hours before going to the march in London. The picket was sponsored by Edinburgh and Dundee FRFI, Edinburgh and Dundee AAM and the Edinburgh University AAM.

 

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Glasgow – on the streets again!

On Saturday 7 November the Glasgow Hunger Strike Action Committee organ­ised and successfully held a march calling for 'Victory to the Irish People!'.

The march was the first in Glasgow after four months of bans under the Public Order Act. Although small in numbers, the marchers' enthusiasm made it militant and noisy. The march went from Blackhill through Royston and back to Blackhill, winding its way through some of the poorest areas of Glasgow. Solidarity with Ireland's freedom fighters was once again raised in the city streets and the march was well received by local people with many joining in along the pavements.

 

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Racist Sheriff

Over 8,000 people in Glasgow have signed a petition calling for the sacking of Sheriff Middleton after his racist insults in a recent sex case. Sheriff Middleton was presiding in a case where a 27 year old white male was charged with having unlawful sex with a Vietnamese girl aged 13. Middleton described this as merely an:

'indiscretion' because 'girls mature much earlier in the East' where 'in the form of marriage that takes place there, intercourse occurs before the marriage'.

Sheriff Middleton admitted that under normal circumstances (if the girt, had been white) he would have sent the man to jail but in this case he imposed a fine instead.

This blatant racist judgment, which has left all black and Asian women open to sexual attack, has exposed the whole racist legal system.

 

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Glasgow: Arrests at CND rally

The big CND Glasgow Rally on 7 June became the scene of a showdown with Glasgow's loyalist police over their suppression of Hunger-strike activists. Members of the Glasgow Hunger-strike Action Committee and FRFI sellers were there leafletting and selling to the 6-7000 assembled. Suddenly 4 policemen descended on a woman activist who was sitting on the ground talking to people. They lifted her bodily, seized her leaflets and collecting tin and dragged her off.

 

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Letters: John Maclean

John Maclean (1879-1923) was one of the greatest Communist working class leaders in Britain. An implacable enemy of British imperialism he believed that:

'Since the British Empire is the greatest obstacle to Communism it is the business of every Communist to break it up at the earliest moment.'

As a Communist he was a resolute supporter of the Irish national liberation movement. In 1916 he was one of the very few working class leaders who supported the Easter Rising, in the Anglo-Irish war of 1919 he supported the Irish and subsequ­ently opposed the British partition of Ireland.

 

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Glasgow 2

The Glasgow Appeal Court of April 29 took approximately 3 minutes to consider the Glasgow 2 appeal and to reject it. The highest judicial authority in Scotland has now confirmed that it is a crime to criticise British rule in Ireland and to support revolutionary forces opposing that rule. Mike Duffield and Kirstin Crosbie were arres­ted while selling Fight Racism! Fight Imperial­ism! at Parkhead Glasgow in August last year. They were originally charged under the PTA and remanded in prison for a week. During this week a vigorous FRFI campaign forced the dropping of the PTA charges.  A charge of breach of the peace was substituted.

 

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Commons expels Ron Brown

On 7 April, Ron Brown MP was expelled from Parliament for 5 days. A consistent defender of the Glasgow 2, he had raised the matter in the Commons on 11 February. The Solicitor General for Scotland replying to his question lied and stated that the Glasgow 2 had not been charged under the PTA. Ron Brown decided to pursue the matter.

 

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Glasgow March Banned

A 3-months ban on marches beginning 3 April has been introduced in the Strathclyde Region. The Ban, under the Public Order Act, is one of the longest in the present round and is clearly designed to silence the growing Glasgow campaign in support of Irish political prisoners on hunger strike for political status. The Ban was aimed specifically at the demonstration on 4 April called by the Glasgow Hunger Strike Action Committee (GHSAC). The demonstration would have been the third in as many months and 3,000 were expected. The Police used Loyalist threats as an excuse to have the Ban implemented, but in reality the prospects, as the 'Daily Record' predicted, of a 'huge' march and further evidence of growing and militant anti-imperialism of Glasgow workers horrified the Police and their local paymasters, the Labour-controlled Strathclyde Region.

 

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Edinburgh 8

On 3 April the trial of the Edinburgh 8 ended in a victory with six verdicts of 'not proven' and one of 'not guilty' – already halfway through the trial one of the 8 had been totally acquitted and another's charge dropped. The three-day trial was the result of the police arrests at a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! open street meeting on Saturday 29 November at the mound in Princes Street. The meeting was held in support of the hunger strikers and so enraged Edinburgh police that they made little attempt to dress up their censorship, openly declaring that they wanted the meeting 'broken up'. Although the charges were designed to look non-political, e.g. obstruction and breach of the peace, the trial itself was obviously political. Under able cross-examination, Police Inspector Campbell was forced to admit that he was ordered by his superiors to ensure that the street meeting did not take place. He obligingly emphasised that he would stop the meeting tak­ing place at any cost.

 

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Letter from anti-imperialists

Supporters of the Irish Republican cause in Dundee made a break with the past and a promising new beginning at a public meeting at which the video film 'Ireland's Hunger Strike' was shown. The meeting attracted nearly 50 people. It is the tradition of public meetings in Dundee to attract only a handful of people allied to the British left groups, so this was indeed a break with the left record of treachery and scabbing on the Republican cause and movement.

 

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