- Created: Wednesday, 04 May 2011 16:45
- Written by FRFI
How to deal with police harassment - Glasgow Defence Campaign
How to deal with police harassment - Glasgow Defence Campaign
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.
We 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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?'.
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.
Following the US invasion of Grenada FRFI supporters all over the country have mobilised for a series of solidarity actions.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The one month ban on marches in the Strathclyde area was recommended by the police and rubber-stamped by the loyal Labour-controlled Strathclyde Regional Council.
Selective and aimed specifically at Irish demonstrations, the terms of the ban are thoroughly repressive. The ban ensures that loyalists and orangemen can parade their support for imperialism on pseudo-religious marches which are exempted but in reality are hate-filled, anti-catholic and political in the extreme. On the other hand supporters of the hunger strikers cannot march to oppose British imperialism in Ireland. The terms of the ban show a cynical consideration for all eventualities: banned are 'public processions…which are concerned or connected, directly or indirectly, with Northern Irish affairs or any aspect thereof or which are organised by, or with the assistance of any person or body known or reputed to be so concerned or connected.'
Readers of FRFI will remember the arrest of a Glasgow Hunger Strike Action Committee (GHSAC) supporter at a CND rally in Glasgow last year (FRF1 11). Hundreds of CND supporters gathered to protest at this unjust arrest. The police then arrested a young CND supporter.
As a result of a successful public campaign, the GHSAC supporter had the charges against her dropped. However the Glasgow loyalist police took their revenge and pursued a charge of Breach of the Peace against the CND supporter.
In Scotland and Northern England the official Labour movement, Loyalist thugs, the police and assorted middle class socialists have all united to disrupt the Hunger Strike campaign.
On Saturday 2 May a march organised by the Merseyside Hunger Strike Committee took place through the centre of Liverpool, calling for Victory to the Hunger Strikers! Political Status Now! The police and Loyalist thugs united to attack this demonstration. The police forced the organisers to change the demonstration's assembly point from Granby Street in the centre of Liverpool 8 to a point on the edge of the area. They knew that the fascists and loyalists, some of whom had travelled from Scotland, would not have dared to enter the Granby Street area. The black youth – and many white youth – would not have tolerated either fascists or police invading their area.
On Wednesday 3 August Edinburgh FRFI Group organised a picket outside the US Consulate in Edinburgh to express our opposition to US plans to invade Nicaragua. The picket was attended by over 70 people, most of whom represented political organisations in Edinburgh. In addition to FRFI supporters, present were the Edinburgh ISC, Latin American Solidarity Campaign, Young Communist League and Rosyth Women's Peace Camp. There were also Chileans and El Salvadoreans. Representatives from each of these organisations spoke about why they were there and why they opposed British and US imperialism. The loud and enthusiastic chanting lasted for an hour and a half: chants of 'Nicaragua! Vietnam! You Won't Win, Uncle Sam!', 'Reagan, Shultz, CIA! How Many Kids Have You Killed Today!', 'Hands Off Nicaragua! Hands Off Cuba! Free El Salvador!' and ‘Hands Off Nicaragua! Stop the Blockade Now!’
On Friday 17 September Ken Livingstone leader of the GLC came to speak at a public meeting called by the Labour Committee on Ireland. Two days before the local press carried a prominent announcement stating the time and place of the meeting thus laying it open to loyalist attack. The EISC twice offered to assist with stewarding but both offers were declined. On the night, 30 loyalists blocked the entrance and the door was locked against them. The LCI stewards were nowhere to be seen and the police bowed to the loyalist demands that everyone should be cleared from the door and form a queue behind them. When the stewards appeared from behind the door they handed over the responsibility of letting in ticket holders only to the police. The EISC managed to get 7 members into the meeting-the rest were abused and assaulted outside after the police and loyalists successfully kept them and others outside.
At the recent trial of six Pakistani men in Dundee, the focal colonial sheriff praised the Asian community in Dundee for their 'peacefulness' but went on J to find four of the accused guilty of assault charges.
The well-tried racist manoeuvre of arrest and fitting-up of Asian and black people for defending themselves from racist attack, in this case 100 white youths shouting NF slogans and throwing stones and bottles, was used. Mohammed Zulfquar Khan and Mohammed Aslam junior were acquitted because of the ludicrously exaggerated police 'evidence' against them. The police had obviously forgotten to tell their more enthusiastic officers that to claim to have been repeatedly assaulted by a metal bar, as Constable Pallister did, would require evidence of serious medical injury.