The Glasgow Defence Campaign has been established to oppose political policing and defend democratic rights in the struggle against the cuts in Glasgow. If you face any form of police harassment or violence, please log as many details as you can and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
political policing. Defending the right to protest.
We are writing to you
today to call for your support and solidarity with a student protester in Glasgow facing criminal
proceedings for using a megaphone. We do not believe it is in the public
interest to criminalise young people who participate in peaceful protest
against the cuts in social welfare. We are demanding that the Lord Advocate
intervenes and drops the outstanding charge in the interests of justice.
On 22 February 2013, during a
peaceful anti-cuts protest in Glasgow
city centre Dominic O’Hara was arrested for using a megaphone under
Section 54 of the Civic Government of Scotland Act (1982). Daniel McGarrel was
arrested for allegedly attempting to free a person in custody. At court, 10
months after the arrests, the Procurator Fiscal conceded that the original
arrests were unlawful and all charges of resisting arrest, police obstruction
and attempts to liberate a prisoner from custody were dropped before the trial.
However, in a quite incredible decision, the Crown Office decided to pursue prosecution
of Dominic for use of a megaphone under the 1982 Act. Maximum penalty for this
is a £50 fine, yet to date the case has, we estimate, cost £7,000.
This ‘megaphone’ case
is a sign of the times we are living in, and is only one in a long line of
police attacks on peaceful protestors over the last three years. The Glasgow
Defence Campaign (GDC) was established to oppose this political policing. Our
work aims to offer practical, emotional and political support to all those
being criminalised for defending our democratic rights in the struggle against
the cuts in Glasgow
and across the UK.
collapse of the original charges Dominic told the GDC: ‘The key question here
is freedom of speech for everyone who is trying to organise against the cuts
and welfare reform. It’s a fight we can’t lose.’ Daniel added: ‘That the Crown
didn’t abandon the megaphone case shows that this is clearly political. The
dropping of the charges against myself shows the importance of fighting
political charges with a political defence. I’d like to thank the GDC and supporters who
have stood with us throughout the last twelve months.’
We are writing to you
today to call for your support and solidarity with Dominic and all those across
the country who are facing such criminalisation and demand that the Lord
Advocate intervenes and drops the outstanding charge in the interests of
justice. . It is vital that all progressive thinkers
unite to stop this attack on the right protest. You can support GDC by:
·Joining us on Tuesday 4 March,
at the Court Picket, Glasgow Sheriff Court. 1 Carlton Place. Trial begins in court 19 (open to the public).
·Demand the charge be dropped! Send us a statement of
support and solidarity and publish it on your blog or website. Read the
statement of solidarity from the renowned writer and working class activist
James Kelman on our website. We commend Kelman's consistent and principled
stand on this question and urge others to follow his lead.
·Become a member of GDC. You can support the
vital work of GDC by becoming a member of the organisation or sending us a donation
In 2012 ‘The Offensive Behaviour at
Football and Threatening Communications Act’ was passed. Since then Strathclyde
Police and now Police Scotland have been using their new power to build cases
against football fans. Under the new legislation any action within a football
stadium that may cause offence to someone may be treated as a criminal act.
Although this sounds absurd, bordering on laughable, this is a very serious
issue illustrated by the house raids, arrests and prosecution of Celtic fans who
now face the possibility of jail time if found guilty. This should concern any
citizens in Scotland who value their right to freedom of speech and right to
protest.These rights are
something that the working classes have had to struggle for, over hundreds of
years, and we should vigorously resist this attempt to erode them.
The Celtic fans facing trial are
accused of singing of a song called ‘The
Roll of Honour’ which was written by the band The Irish brigade in 1982. The
band have opposed any attempts to slander the song as racist or offensive
roll of honour was written at a time of great social and political upheaval in
the North of Ireland. It was to commemorate the sacrifice of ten young men who
died in the Hunger Strike of 1981. The song was a reflection of the thoughts,
feelings and beliefs, held by many in Ireland and throughout the world who felt
that these deaths could have been avoided if the British Government at that
time had not taken such a harsh and unbending attitude towards the prison
crisis. The line ‘England, you’re a Monster’ is figurative language and is a
reference to this belief. The word ‘Monster’ is defined as someone ‘unnaturally
cruel’ – the Government at that time. It is not or was not, at any time, to be
construed as referring to the English Nation or the people of England, it is
not a racist remark’.
In response to the
legislation and prosecutions a group
called Fans Against Criminalisation has been formed by Celtic supporters to
campaign against the criminalisation of football fans. FAC recently held a well
organised leafleting session in the area surrounding Celtic park before the
match on Saturday 8February in
order to publicise the re-release of ‘The Roll of Honour’ song on iTunes in
protest against the prosecutions. On 16 February the single reached number 33
in the official UK top forty singles chart showing that there is widespread
opposition to this attempt to criminalise the content of the song and to prosecute
Celtic supporters for singing it.
‘The Roll of Honour’ song is neither
racist nor is it sectarian and in fact carries many similarities to the National
anthem of Scotland (Flower of Scotland) in its opposition to national
oppression and foreign occupation. Up to this point no one has been charged for
singing ‘The Flower of Scotland’ nor do we expect them to be. This once again highlights
that anti-Irish racism is alive and well in Scottish society; on the street and
in the establishment. If you sing a song about Scottish nationalism it’s okay
you’re only being patriotic but dare mention Ireland’s politics or nationalism
and you’re a criminal. ‘The Roll of Honour is an Irish political song. Under
this legislation a potential sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment faces those
who sing it in football stadiums.
The Glasgow Defence Campaign calls on
everyone to stand shoulder to shoulder against this injustice and we call for
organisation and mobilisation against this sectarian legislation. We send our
support both to those facing prosecution and to those who are organising in
defence of them.