Created: Tuesday, 15 February 2011 13:24
Written by Glasgow FRFI
Defence Campaigns – Fighting criminalisation
Defence campaigns have been set up in Glasgow and Newcastle for FRFI supporters arrested on protests against the cuts. Both the Glasgow Defence Campaign and the HSBC 3 Defence Campaign stand in solidarity with all those being criminalised for taking part in actions against the cuts and against police harassment. The fight against the criminalisation of protest is central to building a new movement to fight back against attacks on the working class and oppressed in Britain. We offer unconditional solidarity to all those facing the sharp end of British justice for organising against cuts, racism, capitalism and imperialism, and call for maximum unity in the face of such attacks.
Glasgow Defence Campaign
HSBC 3 Defence Campaign (Newcastle)
On 9 December 2010, two FRFI supporters were arrested by Strathclyde police during
student protests in Glasgow. One was strip-searched, and both were detained overnight. The charges against them range from breach of the peace and obstruction to assaulting and obstructing police officers and attempting to assist the escape of a person in custody. After pleading not guilty, both were released on bail, one with a city centre restriction order – a condition subsequently dropped in the face of publicity and pressure from the defence campaign. One of them is due back at Glasgow District Court on 18 March, where he faces a possible jail sentence if convicted; the other is currently due back on 16 April.
Another FRFI supporter, who has been selling Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in Glasgow for 13 years, now faces prosecution for doing simply that, in a clear case of political harassment. He will appear at Glasgow Justice of the Peace courts at 2pm on 14 March.
And on 29 January, one of the two comrades arrested on the 9 December was again violently arrested on leaving an anti-cuts demonstration on Glasgow city centre. After being detained for 55 hours, and his supporters being harassed by police officers inside the court, the comrade was eventually released on bail. The Crown’s attempts to ban him from “attending organised demonstrations” were defeated.
These arrests follow FRFI’s campaign over the summer against police harassment in Govanhill. Support is growing for the defence campaign, with support from Ken Loach, George Galloway, Mike Prysner, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scottish Support for Political Prisoners and many others.
Policing politics in Glasgow (FRFI 217)
Stand up for your rights! Street rally in Glasgow as third FRFI supporter arrested
Militant protests storm Glasgow – FRFI supporters arrested
Oppose political policing in Govanhill
During a Newcastle demonstration by Students Against Curs as part of a UKUncut national day of action on 18 December, two FRFI supporters were also violently arrested and held for nine hours before being charged with police obstruction and breaching conditions imposed under the Public Order Act. Both were subjected to bail conditions preventing them from entering the city centre except for work. However, after a vigorous campaign by supporters, the bail conditions were dropped. A trial has been set up for 28 and 29 March. A third activist was arrested on an FRFI stall three days later allegedly ‘on suspicion of assaulting a police officer’ during the protest the previous Saturday.
Mark Pearson, one of those facing charges, explained why it is so important that all those arrested on such political charges are defended:
‘The banks are robbing the world and getting away with it, yet the police are trying to make it an offence to peacefully enter a bank and express opposition. The government and police have made it clear whose side they are on: they will do everything in their power to protect the banks and businesses, while savagely attacking our living standards and our freedom to protest. We have to stand together and fight back.’
There have already been solidarity demonstrations, with more planned, and a public meeting on the role of the police is being organised. The defence campaign is supported by local branches of Counterfire and the Coalition of Resistance, Students Against Cuts, FRFI/RCG, Palestine Action Group and many others.
Check the blog and Facebook for regular updates.