Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Political policing challenged in Dundee

video 

Supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Socialist Workers Party members united to challenge the unnanounced presence of uniformed cops at a public meeting in Dundee. On the evening of Wednesday 16 February people had gathered at a well known venue for public meetings. They were there to hear first hand accounts of events in Egypt from some of the youth who had participated in the struggle there.  

As the meeting was about to begin, two uniformed cops came into the back of the room and stood looking out over the crowd. Offering no reason for this intimidatory presence, people began to demand an explanation. They ludicrously claimed that as the event was public they were entitled to be there! The audience took a very different view and began loudly insisting that they leave. Voicing the opinion that those who objected were behaving "unreasonably" the pair slunk off. 

FRFI was able to make the very real and vivid point at the meeting that our rulers here were increasingly directing the police to monitor and interfere with political organisation and activity and that vigilance and unity were necessary to defend democratic rights.

No to political policing!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Urgent appeal

We understand that our supporters are beginning to feel the pinch as living standards are attacked. That’s why we have been taking part in the protests, that’s why our comrades have been targeted, harassed and arrested. The next few weeks more protests will follow, and so to will more court appearances. We refuse to be silent.

We urgently need your help in anyway possible! Please donate what you can to help our campaign via the paypal button on the right of this page. Please pass on details of this blogspot to your friends, as we attempt to increase awareness of political policing in Glasgow. If you would like us to send you a bundle of our campaign leaflet for you to distribute, please drop us an email, or mention it as you donate via paypal.

As we have reported elsewhere, one supporter of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! has been denied legal aid by the Scottish legal aid board. We are entering a dangerous period where legal assistance, even at a basic level, is becoming once again the property of the rich and powerful. That is why the Glasgow Defence Campaign urgently requires your donations. Even ten people donating £20 would really begin to send us on our way…

Everyone has a part to play, no part too great nor too small!

All power to the people!

Glasgow Defence Campaign

Friday, 4 February 2011

GDC meeting in the Free Hetherington building

The Glasgow Defence Campaign salutes those students who occupied the old Hetherington Research Club at 13 University Gardens, Glasgow University last Tuesday. The space has been reopened as the Free Hetherington and will be used as a hub for anti-cuts organisation in the city, open to all.

The GDC is holding a meeting in the Free Hetherington building on Wednesday 9 February, 7.30 - 9.30pm and we urge everyone to come along. The meeting will discuss how we can organise against the police harassment which is intensifying as the anti-cuts struggle develops. This key political question will be introduced by an FRFI supporter and set in the context of the class nature of the state and the repressive developments in British policing over the past 30 years.

There will also be Legal Awareness training on Monday 7 February in the Free Hetherington building, between 4 and 6pm.

Succesful GDC meeting builds unity against police harassment

On the 26th of January, the Glasgow Defence Campaign organised a successful meeting on the southside of Glasgow on fighting the cuts and defending democratic rights. Representatives from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scottish Socialist Youth and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities all contributed to the meeting and agreed on the importance of organising unity against political policing and harassment. The meeting agreed to organise protests outside police stations whenever someone was arrested, keep a log of all police harassment, increase street activity, demonstrations, militancy and organisation in the anti-cuts movement and take seriously the question of defending our right to organise on the streets. 

The authorities got a taste of this when, following the arrest of an FRFI supporter after an anti-cuts demonstration in Glasgow on Saturday 29 January, 40 people immediately held pickets outside Stuart Street and then Baird Street police stations to demand the young activist's release. On the Monday, the Glasgow Defence Campaign organised supporters to attend his court hearing. Strathclyde police and their political paymasters can be sure that their anti-democratic activities will be exposed at every turn.

Below are reproduced two of the talks given to the 26 January meeting, the first from a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Group, the second by a supporter of the Glasgow Defence Campaign.

1. RCG talk:


In August last year representatives of my organisation the Revolutionary Communist Group following a period of sustained harassment of our supporters met with Chief Inspector of New Gorbals police, a Stephen McAlister, where he declared that the police and his officers were what he termed ‘a political’, and would never engage in political policing. Our people took a different view.

Since then, events have confirmed our point, as the crisis has deepened the role of the police has changed, just as our role as political activists has to change in order to relate to these new objective conditions.

There is something wrong with society when police men start policing politics. They are attempting to restrict the distribution of our newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! which for over 30 years has been sold in this city. Now Strathclyde police, along with the state prosecution, the Procurator Fiscals office, are attempting to use the courts in order to criminalise our supporters. It is vital that this is resisted.

We stand in long tradition, since the foundation of the RCG over 35 years ago, literally hundreds of our membership have faced harassment and arrest for carrying out political work advancing anti imperialist politics. It has taken many forms, be it in relation to anti racist work, in support of the revolutionary national struggles in Ireland, South Africa and more recently in support of the Palestinian people. At home our work against state racism led us to become involved in defence campaigns, in support of the striking miners, and in relation to the non payment of the poll tax. Throughout it all we have learned important political lessons.

The most important of these is to understand the enemy, to understand the forces we are up against. This is the central task facing those in the receiving end of attacks on living standards. The need for clarity and understanding demands of us a higher level of understanding and political consciousness.

The first question to ask is why are these attacks happening now?

We are living through one of the biggest crisis of the capitalist system since the First World War, almost one hundred years ago.

For those of us attempting to build opposition to the cuts, we have not heard enough politics. Meeting after meeting, discussing sometimes irrelevant details, the need for clarity is confused. Often this is carried out on purpose.

I have heard some say that the present cut backs are ideologically driven, that they are ‘Tory cuts’, this is outright deceit. It’s a position increasingly common among the left. You will hear this often, it’s a lazy way of attempting to explain the crisis.

We need to be clear - we are living through a structural crisis of the capitalist system as a whole, at its heart stands the over accumulation of capital, and the overall crisis of profitability. This is a material phenomenon; it is born out of contradictions inherent within the capitalist system, independent of everyone’s will. It is not a question of ideology – as all of the ruling class parties are united in defending the the capitalist system, practice has demonstrated this point time and time again beyond all reasonable doubt - who here can claim that fundamentally there is a difference between the Labour party the Tories, the Lib Dems, and for that matter the SNP, when it comes to defending capitalism and protecting the system of profit?

We need to oppose those who wish to rehabilitate the Labour party. Recent months have been a real lesson in political opportunism. It’s almost as if the 13 bloody years of Labour in office never happened. The Labour party who in 1998 abolished student grants, introduced fees for the first time, founded the private enterprise called the Student Loans Company, now posture in opposition as the champions of student rights; this is an insult to our intelligence. We refuse to let them or their allies away with such deceit.

The only way this can be restored is by attacking living standards. This is the process which is now underway; we need to be part of building the conscious opposition to these cuts. We need to be clear in advancing the position that the responsibility for the crisis does not lie with the working class, but with the system of capitalism and those who wish to defend it. We say we will not pay for the capitalist crisis.

We are already witnessing a realignment of class forces. New divisions will emerge, and intensify; between those with privileges and those without.  Between the property class, the real property class that is, and those who rent. The dream of home ownership is ending for the vast bulk of the working class, leaving all but a relatively tiny few. Britain’s unique high levels of home ownership will come under a severe test as the crisis unravels. Real battles lie ahead in terms of housing and also in jobs; the attacks on education are merely a taste of things to come. The recent announcement of higher levels of graduate unemployment confirms our point. Already there are less and less working class people receiving further education. Faced with this situation, we say we have no other option other than to educate ourselves. The period of luxury and passiveness is coming to and end.

I would like to end by making some further points in relation to the period ahead.

We need to cease the corrosive sectarianism which dominates, and divides the left. New forms of organisation will be required in order to fight these cuts.

For those who argue in defence of the Labour party we say take your apologist imperialist politics elsewhere, do not be polluting the new generation with your reactionary politics, you are part of history.

We need take strength and encouragement from those who in recent days have shook the world in Tunisia and Egypt. May they see victory and self determination! These are the forces of the future.

Oppression breads resistance; this is a rule of history, and we can add that resistance breads victory. And we know what victory looks like as we take inspiration from our comrades in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and elsewhere where they have advanced the cause of anti imperialism and socialism  - this must be at the heart of the new movement.

In conclusion I would appeal for people to engage with us in political education and discussion. We make no apology for advancing the cause of socialism. There can be no capitalist solution to the crisis. This is the central task facing the anti cuts movement, to understand the period we are in, to recognise the crisis as an imperialist crisis, and to understand the politics and economics behind it. It demands higher levels of organisation and understanding. My organisation is pledging all of its resources, experience and collective knowledge in order to meet these immediate tasks in the next period.

Thank you.

Paul Mallon, Glasgow RCG, 26 January 2010



GDC Talk:            


‘Challenging centuries of repression’
I am supporter of FRFI and the Glasgow Defence Campaign.

On the 9 December I was violently arrested on a protest in Glasgow city centre. This had been organised to show solidarity with English students who are set to face tuition fees of up to £9,000 for one term at university. From a static demonstration this rally developed into a lively and spontaneous protest which attracted the support of the public and the participation of working-class youth. The police reacted by manhandling and attacking the peaceful protest while a helicopter hovered above. Another supporter of FRFI was singled out and arrested at the end of the protest.

We were detained overnight at Stewart St police station. During our stay I was unnecessarily strip searched and we were both approached by CID with the aim of extracting information on the groups and individuals involved in the protest.

We suspect our detention was linked to our involvement in the Govanhill Defence Campaign, which was set up to oppose political policing, and to our consistent work against racism and the spending cuts. For many the battle to defend education services from government cuts is being taken from the streets to the courts. This criminalisation of protest and attack on democratic rights will increase as resistance to the spending cuts increases.  This is nothing new; activists who oppose capitalism and imperialism can expect at some point or other to be taken to court because opposing injustice is a crime in the eyes of the ruling class.

Focus must now be put on building defence campaigns for those targeted by the state. Defending people who have been arrested and opposing political policing and the spending cuts are interlinked struggles and must be fought alongside each other. The fight to defend democratic rights is not separate from the fight to defend the right to a university education or good health care.

Opposition to political policing can only be mounted when people see the police for what they are, ‘an arm of the state used to force the poor and oppressed to accept their lot or to attack them when they do not’. The police, or as they are more commonly known ‘the pigs’ are defenders of a system which condemns thousands of people in this country to poverty and enforces on people throughout the world starvation and war. This is while the rich maintain and expand their wealth and power.

History exposes as a liar anyone who claims that the police are not an enemy of poor and working class people. Right back to the time of the Chartists, who campaigned for universal male suffrage in the 1800’s, the police have been used to infiltrate and crush progressive movements. In the early 1900’s suffragettes were imprisoned and tortured by the authorities, those who opposed the first imperialist world war were arrested in their hundreds and revolutionary figures like the Marxist school teacher John MacLean were singled out for mistreatment. In the midst of the great capitalist crisis during the 1920’s and 30’s hunger marches led by unemployed workers were attacked by the police. In the 1960 & 70’s anti-Vietnam war protestors and black civil rights activists were targeted. In the 1980’s miners and black and white youth in places like Brixton were forced to defend themselves against police brutality. Anti-poll tax protestors were attacked in the 1990’s. The new millennium has seen a continuation of these repressive tactics; in 2001 Govanhill residents were attacked for opposing the criminal closure of the swimming baths, state racism and surveillance was and is still being used to scapegoat and terrorise the Muslim community in Britain, in 2009 people protesting against Apartheid Israel’s bombardment of Gaza were brutalized and imprisoned. The latest attack on student protests does not come as a surprise to those who have even a slight understanding of history. Over two hundred arrests have been made down south and a number of people have been charged in Scotland.

The Govanhill Defence Campaign has been expanded into the Glasgow Defence Campaign in response to these developments. We have so far held two successful free speech rallies in the city centre. We call on all progressive people and groups to attend future rallies and to bring their newspapers, banners, leaflets and anything else which helps to draw the public into the fight against the cuts along. There is a megaphone open to anyone who wishes to express their views.

Over the weekend anti cuts activists, Irish republicans and people handing leaflets out against cuts in disability benefits were harassed; the British ruling class is organising its forces to crush any dissent, we urgently need to organise our own if we are to challenge the repression which has met progressive movements for over a century.

Another FRFI supporter is due in court in March for selling a political newspaper to locals in Govanhill. The thought that working class people might escape the racist and anti-poor propaganda spewed out by the mainstream press is of great concern to the authorities who rely on ignorance and racism to divide and rule the poor. Had he been selling the Sun or the Daily Record it is unlikely he would be facing charges.

Protests will be organised on the main dates of the trials of each of our comrades; leave contact details if you’re interested in coming.

The Glasgow Defence Campaign sends our solidarity to the people of the Middle East who are challenging the agents of US and British imperialism in their own countries and echoes the chant of the Egyptian people 

“Revolution, revolution, like a volcano, against Mubarak the coward." 
Victory to the resistance! All power to the people!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Mike Prysner, leading US anti-imperialist, gives support to GDC

Today, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised a meeting in Glasgow with Mike Prysner, an ex-US soldier who served in Iraq and then became an active anti-imperialist organiser in the anti-war ANSWER coalition and the March Forward campaign http://www.answercoalition.org/national/index.html. People should see his amazing speech on imperialism and racism to the Winter Soldier testimonials here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kWU-JHetMM&feature=fvsr

Comrades from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and the Glasgow Defence Campaign attended the meeting and applauded another amazing speech on the need for anti-imperialism and the struggle for a new world. We spoke to Mike after the meeting and he pledged his support for the GDC and those facing police harassment in Glasgow. We appreciate his continuing organisation and unbending commitment to the anti-imperialist struggle and for giving such an inspiring speech in Glasgow today.

Anti-cuts protester in Glasgow freed on bail, 31 January


GLASGOW DEFENCE CAMPAIGN
Press release / Glasgow / 31 January 2011
Anti-cuts activist freed on bail

Dominic O’Hara, a 20-year-old student at Strathclyde University, was arrested on 29 January 2011 as he left a protest in Glasgow against education cuts and in defence of local services. Forty people picketed Baird Street police station immediately after he was detained, demanding his release. After over fifty hours in custody, Dominic was today released from Glasgow’s Justice of the Peace court on bail, with the Crown’s attempt to ban him from attending “organised demonstrations” dismissed by the judge. A legal complaint is also being pursued by his supporters after six police officers aggressively installed themselves in the court’s public seating area before Dominic went up before the judge. In a statement to the Glasgow Defence Campaign on his release, Dominic said: “I am emerging from this latest arrest more determined than ever. We refuse to let the courts and police criminalise our struggle and we stand in solidarity with all those arrested on protests across the country.” The Glasgow Defence Campaign is outraged by the police’s treatment of a young protester as a dangerous terrorist for participating in legitimate protest activity.

Dominic’s arrest was clearly an example of targeted political policing. On 9 December, he was violently arrested on student protests in Glasgow and charged with police assault and breach of the peace. On 29 January, he was the only person arrested as he was snatched off the streets by a van-load of Strathclyde police officers after leaving the demonstration. He was charged again with police assault and obstruction. Dominic is a supporter of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) and two other FRFI supporters are facing criminal trials in March relating to their political activity, including the selling of a political newspaper. GDC spokesperson Miriam Kelly stated: “These activists, along with hundreds of others in Glasgow and tens of thousands across Britain, have taken to the streets to resist the attacks on public provision by this country’s parasitic elite. We should ask: when did protest become a criminal act, to be met with violence, targeted arrest and possible jail terms?”

The Glasgow Defence Campaign is determined to organise in defence of democratic rights and against political policing. It is not only the right, but the duty, of people to take the streets against the government’s brutal cuts and we applaud the young people who have led the way in recent months. We stand in solidarity with all those attacked and arrested by the British state for their part in the protests and are determined to increase organisation and unity against police repression in Glasgow. The police’s aggressive response to recent demonstrations and direct actions is an expression not of strength but rather of profound weakness, in the face of a growing and militant movement with justice on its side. As the inspiring events in Egypt show, the tiny minority which stand in the way of the vast majority’s interests will in the end be swept aside.

The GDC is calling on individuals and organisations to send messages of support for Dominic and other activists facing trial in Glasgow to glasgowdefence@yahoo.co.uk. For further information call 07961 040 418 or see http://glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.com.

Defend democratic rights!
Fight the cuts!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Legal Observer Training

Tuesday 8 February · 18:00 - 21:00

Room 5.12, Graham Hills Building, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Solicitor Aamer Anwar will be holding a session to train people to be legal observers at demonstrations. In light of the police violence at the recent student protests there is no better time than now to know your rights and the limits of police powers. Event is open to all.

The Glasgow Defence Campaign encourages everyone to attend this free event. 

Organised by the Glasgow University Leftist Law Society