- Created: Sunday, 07 August 2011 17:10
- Written by FRFI
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 222 August/September 2011
As the attack on the public sector begins to bite, FRFI is stepping up activities against the cuts, holding meetings, street events and direct actions, and participating in local campaigns. In London we have held a series of theatrical Speak Out Against the Cuts street actions, where we occupied the Angel Islington Branch of RBS, recipient of a £45 billion bailout; we turned the branch into an emergency NHS surgery, a hide out for Robin Hood and his merry men and at the latest Speak Out the theme was ‘Banks and Robbers’.
On 28 May Manchester FRFI supporters managed to shut down Barclays on Market Street in opposition to the £2.7bn in bonuses that the bank is paying its executives and, on the same day, supported UK Uncut’s demonstration against NHS cutbacks. Protesters went to Santander, the Spanish bank which awarded its CEO £3.44m in 2009. While a comrade spoke outside about the link between Santander’s obscene wealth and Spain’s mass youth unemployment, activists occupied the branch and formed a blockade outside it, forcing it to close for the day. The protesters inside the bank were arrested for aggravated trespass – some were even re-arrested in their cells, but all were later released without charge.
On 22 June in Glasgow, Black Triangle disability activists group called a direct action at the Inland Revenue office. Supported by FRFI, carers from the Save the Accord campaign and other activists, they managed to close the building down before police arrived.
In Newcastle on 25 June we held an ‘Anti-Cuts Gathering’, attended by people from a range of local campaigns. FRFI has also been working with council tenants in Newcastle to oppose attempts to transfer council housing stock in the Byker Wall estate to a private trust.
Around the country on 30 June FRFI supported strike actions in defence of public sector pensions, joining picket lines and marches.
Fight political policing!
The Glasgow Defence Campaign (GDC) continues to fight police aggression and harassment. On 23 June, GDC and the Black Triangle held protests at the Strathclyde Police Authority meeting. Supporters were met with a heavy police presence and were denied entry, although it transpired that, running scared, the Police Authority had secretly changed the venue of its ‘public’ meeting at the last minute. On 25 June people from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee united in Glasgow city centre to rally against the arrests and harassment of anti-cuts organisations. FRFI members are set to appear at Glasgow District Court once again in August – see http://glasgowdefencecampaign. blogspot.com for updates.
On 9 July in Newcastle the HSBC3 Defence Campaign rallied against political policing outside HSBC at Grey’s Monument. As soon as it began HSBC locked the main doors to the bank, and kept them locked throughout. On 12 July we held a meeting where Paul Mallon from the GDC detailed the history of Britain’s political policing in its colonial activities in Ireland and Africa, explaining how such tactics are ready to be used to combat resistance in mainland Britain. Visit http://defencecampaign.wordpress.com.
In London FRFI supported the demonstration called by the Defend the Right to Protest Campaign, outside the court hearings for the 144 anti-cuts protestors arrested at Fortnum & Mason during the TUC march of 26 March 2011. Of the 144, 114 have had all the charges against them dropped. It is indicative of the vindictive and political nature of the policing of protests that the 30 against whom cases are continuing have been identified by police as having taken part in previous demonstrations.
Fight state racism!
Tyneside Community Action against Racism has been working with members who suffer racism, particularly at the hands of the police and social services. Mariama Bayo has been battling with social services over the care of her children who were taken away from her over a year ago. Mariama has been denied translation services, had contact sessions with her children cancelled, and has been penalised for speaking in her own language to her children. She has also been arrested without explanation.
Freedom for Palestine! Imperialism out of Libya!
FRFI continues its solidarity work in Newcastle, as part of the Palestine Action Group. On 11 June in Manchester, comrades supported a demonstration organised by Muslim activists outside the BBC to oppose its censorship of the word ‘Palestine’ in its reports. In July, we held a rolling picket of shops that support Israel, which Zionists and EDL racists attempted to disrupt – but they were outnumbered. The protesters then supported a demonstration against Islamophobia organised by MPAC.
Our weekly picket for Palestine continues every Thursday evening in London, outside the flagship store of Britain’s biggest corporate sponsor of Israel, Marks & Spencer (see Events), and on 25 June we held a special picket of M&S against the bombing of Libya by NATO. We also held two meetings at the Royal Holloway College and the London School of Economics, where Trevor Rayne from the editorial board of FRFI spoke about Britain’s deceitful justification for its bombing of Libya, and highlighted how critical the Middle East and North Africa are to the survival of imperialism.
On 12 July London FRFI supporters attended a Stop the War (STW) demonstration outside Parliament against the bombing of Libya. Politically stymied from the outset, by its reactionary attempt to both oppose NATO and support the ‘rebel forces’ who called for imperialist intervention, STW has been unable to organise any significant opposition to this latest onslaught. This demonstration was attended by not more than 40 people and those who did attend were subject to heavy political censorship: Libyans attending were told to put away placards of Gaddafi; only ‘agreed’ slogans were permitted and, when – in a lull in the chanting – an FRFI comrade made a speech about the real motives of the imperialists in attacking north Africa, a leading STW member refused to pass him the megaphone and announced that it had also been ‘agreed’ that no speeches were allowed.
Solidarity with socialist Cuba!
Rock around the Blockade North East has held monthly film and discussion evenings. We showed Cocalero and Red Oil in June and July. On 23 July we held a street celebration of the anniversary of the 26 July Movement.
In London on 26 June, we launched our new pamphlet, 50 Years of the Cuban Revolution. Over the coming months, we will be holding in-depth political educationals based around reading from Helen Yaffe’s book, Che Guevara: the Economics of Revolution. We continue to hold our monthly Anti-Imperialist Film Club (see Events).
On 30 June RATB supporters attended a meeting about Che Guevara and the Cuban revolution at the Socialist Workers Party’s annual Marxism conference, where Dave Sewell repeated the SWP’s usual denials of Cuba’s socialist character. It is shameful to think that such meetings are all that a lot of SWP members ever hear about Cuba, a country that is concretely building socialism. Thankfully four of our comrades intervened from the floor – we attend the Marxism conference every year precisely to counter the distortions of the SWP on Cuba, and we distribute our leaflet, ‘The Poor and Oppressed of the World Support Socialist Cuba – why doesn’t the SWP?’