Guilty for using a megaphone against ATOS

 
Today in Glasgow Sheriff Court, a judge sitting alone without a jury found Dominic O’Hara guilty of the criminal offence of using a megaphone on a picket against ATOS and in defence of disability rights in Glasgow on 22 February 2013. Sentence has been deferred until 18 March 2015 pending a 'good behaviour' report. These are the means through which the British ruling class hopes to deal with any opposition voices they deem a threat.
 
Supporters packed the public gallery in court number 20 to hear the third and final day of a trial which has cost in the region of £10,000 to bring to conclusion. From the outset the Glasgow Defence Campaign has been very clear – the trial was a political trial – where the right to effective protest was at stake. The trial can only be understood in the wider context of the undeclared war on the working class which is underway. The attacks on democratic rights cannot be separated from the violence which is currently being reined upon the most vulnerable in society who are being made to pay for the economic crisis.  
 
When placed against a background of almost four years of constant harassment directed against supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Glasgow, today’s verdict comes as no surprise. Money and resources was no object. Four crown witnesses were used, three of them police officers. Two supporters were illegally arrested and detained on the protest. The charges relating to this were later to be dropped as the arrests themselves were unlawful. In the weeks following his arrest, one supporter was accosted and stalked at his family home by undercover police officers who attempted to recruit him as an informer. We reserve the right to comment further on the police manoeuvres during this period and will do so at a time of our convenience.
 
For the time being the Glasgow Defence Campaign would like to place on record our sincere thanks to all those who have helped publicise this case and who have stood with us throughout the past year. Tens of thousands of people have read our recent blog postings confirming what we believe to be a growing concern among more and more people about the nature of ‘justice’ in this country. We have held no less than nine pickets of Glasgow Sheriff Court in relation to this specific case to make it absolutely clear to those who oppress the vulnerable we will hold them to account. We would like to salute our comrades from Dundee Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Dundee Against ATOS who have travelled in support during the trial. We hope you learned something about the nature of the British justice system and how the police react to effective court mobilisations and we hope also to have learned from you about the need to continue to resist.  
 
When faced with injustice we have no option but to continue to resist.
 
Miriam Kelly GDC
Glasgow, Scotland

 

19 March 2014 
 
They've got all their law books and their regulations
They've got all their prisons and fortresses;
Their ‘deterrent measures’ we needn't mention!
They've got all their prison guards and judges
Who are well paid, ready to do anything:
Well, why is that then?
Do they really think they’ll wear us down with all that?
Before they perish (and that will be soon)
They will see how all they did was in vain.
 
They've got their newspapers and printing presses
With which to attack and silence our voices
Their statesmen we needn't mention!
They own Priests and Professors
Who are well paid and ready to do anything:
Well, why is that then?
Is it because the truth’s so frightening?
Before they perish (and that will be soon)
They will see how all they did was in vain.
 
They've got their tanks and their cannon
Machine guns and hand grenades
Their stilted truncheons don’t really count!
Their policemen and their soldiers
Who are underpaid, but ready to do anything:
Well, why is that then?
Is it because their enemy’s so powerful?
They think they must find some support soon
To halt what’s tottering up.
A day will come, it will be soon
They’ll come to see that that’s no good to them at all.
Then they can go on screaming ‘stop!’
Neither money nor cannon will save them!
 
Bertolt Brecht
 
Translated by the Glasgow Defence Campaign

Glasgow Defence Campaign on trial

Militant protest held outside Glasgow Sheriff Court, Monday 6 January 2014

On 22 February 2013 two supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! were arrested during a monthly protest against the benefit cutting multinational Atos. This brought to a head a six-month campaign of criminalisation waged by Strathclyde police (now Police Scotland) to demonise, isolate and ultimately divide and rule the militant and growing opposition to cuts to disability benefit in Glasgow.

The Glasgow Against Atos 2, Daniel McGarrell and Dominic O’Hara, were detained and charged with using a megaphone when instructed not to, resisting arrest and attempting to liberate a prisoner. In October a Sheriff Court judge found that the police had been acting unlawfully having no powers of arrest under the legislation s.54 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.Regardless of this abuse of police powers and the collapse of the case the Sheriff upheld the political charge against Mr O’Hara of ‘using a megaphone’. The trial continues on 28 January and has become a fight to defend protest rights in Glasgow city centre in the run up to the Commonwealth Games in July which are being sponsored by Atos. The Glasgow Defence Campaign (GDC) is mobilising supporters to picket the Sheriff Court on the morning of the trial and is also pursuing legal action against Police Scotland for illegally arresting and detaining these anti-cuts protestors.

The ongoing trial as well as wider changes to Scottish policing and the limiting of access to legal aid representation underline the importance of unifying opposition to ruling class cuts and subsequent criminalisation now. 1 April 2013 saw the introduction of the punitive Bedroom Tax. On the same day a major restructuring of Scotland’s police forces took place with eight regional units, previously autonomous from one another, unified into a single national force known as ‘Police Scotland’. Already major concerns over local accountability and ‘massaging’ of crime figures to meet targets have arisen. A new generation of foot soldiers for the British ruling class are being trained to control and put down effective opposition to welfare cuts in Britain and imperialist occupation and war abroad.

The GDC has been busy at work organising against this under the slogan ‘Don’t Panic – Organise!’. The GDC, established by supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in 2010, has been consistent in undertaking work in defence of progressive activists and organisations. We have consistently; updated our blogspot with reports of political policing (including our ‘police harassment log’); educated ourselves and others in matters of law by producing ‘know your rights’ bust cards and put this knowledge into action (our youtube video ‘how to deal with police harassment’ has had over half a million views); mobilised supporters and concerned members of the public for free speech rallies and pickets of Glasgow courts to support those facing political charges; wrote to national newspapers to highlight these issues and built support for our campaign on the streets and among well known individuals and sympathetic politicians. We invite all those opposed to the cuts, racism and wars of the British ruling class to stand together in joining the campaign to defend the protest rights we currently have. No Justice! No Peace!

Court Picket: Unite Against The Cuts! Defend Free Speech!
Tuesday 4 March, 10.15am
Outside Glasgow Sheriff Court, 1 Carlton Place
Trial in court 19 (open to the public)

For more info visit glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.com; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; call 07734348065. To join the campaign donate a £5 pledge or standing order to the credit of Glasgow Defence Campaign Sort Code: 08-92-99, Account No: 65685253. Send your contact details to us at; PO Box YI-45, 2nd Floor, 48 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1 BP

Megaphone trial begins in Glasgow

Militant protest held outside Glasgow Sheriff Court, Monday 6 January 2014

The trial against Dominic O’Hara a supporter of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and the Glasgow Defence Campaign began yesterday at Glasgow Sheriff Court as protesters staged a militant protest outside the court. On 22 February 2013 Dominic was unlawfully arrested and detained for speaking on a megaphone alongside another Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporter Daniel McGarrell on a protest against cuts to disability benefits being carried out by the multinational ATOS, on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. As we noted at the time, the state were setting out to smash the growing resistance against the cuts and in particular divide and derail the campaign against ATOS.

At a previous court hearing on 1 October 2013 the case in respect of three charges against the ATOS 2 collapsed, in an important victory for the Glasgow Defence Campaign, as the crown was forced to concede that their original arrest and detention was unlawful as they had no powers of arrest under the legislation s.54 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 that they had originally claimed. The flagrant abuse of police powers is currently subject to legal action being pursued by the Glasgow Defence Campaign.

Yesterday’s trial heard from two prosecution witnesses surrounding the events of the day. Speaking outside of the court, convenor of the Glasgow Defence Campaign, Paul McKenna stated that ‘this trial is a political trial which is intended to restrict and criminalise any effective protest against the cuts. The only criminality which took place that day on a wholly orderly and peaceful protest was the police snatch on our two comrades. We are confident that they will be vindicated’.

The trial was adjourned and will resume on Tuesday 28 January at 10am in court number 19 at Glasgow Sheriff Court, before a single judge sitting alone without a jury.

The Glasgow Defence Campaign will again be mobilising for a court protest and reminds supporters of this Sunday’s important meeting on the fight for democratic rights.

Policing the crisis

When the law makers are the law breakers there is no law

Sunday 12 January 2-4pm

Woodside Halls, Glenfarg Street, near St Georges x underground, Glasgow.

Report reproduced from the Glasgow Defence Campaign BlogSpot

For more information visit – glasgowdefencecampaign.blogspot.com

 

UKBA protest: standing up to racism in Glasgow, 9 Sep 2013

On 9 September people gathered in front of the UK Border Agency offices to protest against their recent degrading poster campaign which depicts destitute refugees alongside slogans such as ‘Is life here hard? Ask about going home’. This blatant attack on some of the most vulnerable people in society is just one in a long line of continual repression and discrimination against asylum seekers and refugees throughout the country. Asylum seekers are forced into derelict housing where eviction is common and must live with the constant threat of dawn raids and deportation. And now to add to a life of poverty and human suffering, asylum seekers must endure further humiliation sat in the waiting room of this government agency building as their claim gets processed.

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Glasgow Defence Campaign – For immediate release

Two arrests on peaceful Glasgow Against Atos protest

22 Feb, Glasgow – Two supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (Glasgow) were today violently arrested, Friday 22 February, shortly after 2pm outside the Royal Bank of Scotland on Gordon Street, Glasgow city centre. They were taking part in a peaceful rolling picket organised by Glasgow Against ATOS, a campaign committed to opposing the French multinational ATOS and the government’s attack on welfare.

Both those arrested were taken to Stewart Street police station and were released at approximately 18:30. They are facing charges of liberating a prisoner from custody, resisting arrest and using a megaphone. Court date is set for Friday 22 March, for which solidarity protests are being organised. In an outrageous attack on democratic rights, their bail conditions include a ban on attending demonstrations in Glasgow city centre. This is the real reason behind these arrests: to disrupt and destroy political activity.

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Glasgow Events

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Get in touch with your local Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! group:

Glasgow: glasgowfrfi@gmail.com

Tel: 078 2620 3476

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