Home | Friday 10th July 2009 | Issue 683
WAKE UP!! IT’S YER KETTLE DRUMMIN’...
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Story Links : Bobbies On The Bleat | Hans Off! | Won’t Take It Zelaya-n Down | Oh, The Humanity | Inside Schnews | Nice Tosia, To See You Nice... | Call Out! Keen To Squat! | Climate Campaigns Run Hot | Digging In | And Finally
BOBBIES ON THE BLEAT
A SchNEWS RETORT TO THE POLICE REPORT
SchNEWS has cast our cynical eye over the HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary) report about the policing of the G20 protests, ‘Adapting To Protest’. The HMIC say they welcome feedback on the report. Well here’s SchNEWS’ take...
So why was this report commissioned? Maybe something about the police being out of order, the fact an innocent bystander was killed or that all this was caught on camera? In the words of the HMIC: “The high volume of publicly sourced footage of the protests, including the events leading up to the death of Ian Tomlinson, has demonstrated the influence of ‘citizen journalists’ – members of the public who play an active role in collecting, analysing and distributing media themselves. Consequently, individual and collective police actions are under enormous public scrutiny.”
The report is more concerned about the perception of the police than the police actions themselves. Police were initially pleased with media coverage, but “by the 5th April this was becoming more critical. This intensified following the emergence of images relating to the death of Ian Tomlinson.” One suggested solution to this is to have “embedded” journalists with police on the front line! Police say they face “dilemmas around using potentially sensitive information connected with death or serious injuries at public order events which may subsequently become evidence in legal proceedings.” But this didn’t stop them spinning a whole host of lies over the death of Ian Tomlinson (claiming there was no police contact, medics were assaulted, and he died from a heart attack - SchNEWS 672).
We are told that in relation to the press there should be “Awareness and recognition of the UK press card by officers on cordons, to identify legitimate members of the press.” But what use is a press card when police officers don’t give a damn if you are press or not? On April 2nd there was a Section 14 notice (under the Public Order Act) issued to the press. A City of London Police Inspector told the press to “Go away for half an hour and possibly come back to help us resolve this situation.” He was acting on behalf of Commander Broadhurst who was top cop for the day – so harassment of the press was coming right from the top and being carried out by an Inspector. Yet the report makes no mention of this – it is not a case of a few officers failing to recognise press cards, it is a systematic abuse of the police’s powers to manage the news and restrict the freedom of the press (it’s also a shame more press don’t stand up for press freedom and refuse to cooperate with unreasonable police demands).
In the build up to the G20 protests, there were lots of media reports anticipating violence. The report has a breathtaking omission: “An article titled ‘The Summer of Rage Starts Here’ was published on a popular protester website by a member calling themselves London Anarchists.” But it totally fails to mention that the phrase “Summer of Rage” was coined by David Hartshorn, who heads the Met’s public order branch. Also, no mention is made of police blogs gleefully spoiling for a fight, or Commander Simon O’Brien’s boast: “We’re up to it and we’re up for it.” Such spin can only be designed to try and deflect blame from the police themselves for ratcheting up the tension.
The report also conducted an opinion poll survey on the public’s attitude to the police and protesting (well, they need to frame their PR correctly). It did admit that there was a split on whether the police handled the G20 protests well, but did show the public were largely favourable of the police overall. Also it showed a distinct age and class bias, with young people and the working classes being the least in favour of the police – reflecting the obvious fact that the police are there for the rich rather than the poor and likely to hassle youth.
Curiously, the report is illustrated throughout with rent-a-mob riot porn photos: masked protesters, a fire, smashed windows, brew crew with a bottle... but funnily no snarling riot cops without ID numbers hitting people with truncheons!
There were some acknowledgements that the police did cock up on the day – apparently we will see all Met officers displaying their numbers in future (we wait with baited breath). The report is critical of police planning for the day saying that a whole protest should not be criminalised – it acknowledges that people have a right to protest and that this should be protected under human rights law: “the police, are required to show a certain degree of tolerance towards peaceful gatherings... even if these protests cause a level of obstruction or disruption.” How much disruption is a matter of “debate” according to the report.
The police claimed they were at a disadvantage when it comes to communication on the ground: they have to cope with a “flexible and responsive protest community which is capable of advanced communication and immediate reaction to events on the ground. This is in stark contrast to the traditional communication capabilities of the police.” So let’s get this straight – the police have at their disposal CCTV street coverage, helicopters tracking movements of crowds, radio communication equipment and a central command bunker overseeing the whole operation and they are at a disadvantage over us with mobile phones and a make-it-up-as-you-go-along attitude on the ground?!
The most controversial tactic of all, ‘kettling’ gets the thumbs up from the HMIC, which they qualify as being suitable as long as it is proportionate – but police should let people leave the areas if they er, like the look of you (ditch the black hoodie for a suit?). The report recommends updating ACPO’s public order manual and says that the police need to adapt their public order tactics. However, the police have already tried to deflect criticism of their tactics, with Commander Bob Broadhurst, the head of the Public Order Unit, laying the blame at the feet of inexperienced ordinary police officers for the violent and repressive policing at the G20. They ignore the whole issue of kettling and the fact that the two most reported instances of police abuse (the death of Ian Tomlinson and the blatant assault on Nicola Fisher) were committed by the TSG - the Met’s fully trained riot goons. The police are still trying to spin the few bad apples line, when we know it’s the whole damn cart that is rotten.
* See full report at: www.inspectorates.justice.gov.uk/hmic/docs/ap
There will be a second instalment later in the year with “a systematic review... to inform the ongoing debate on the policing of protest.” We can’t wait!
More information following the campaign against police violence, inspired by Ian Tomlinson’s death: http://againstpoliceviolence.blogspot.com
Conclusion: A LOAD OF HORSESHIT
Here’s an actual page from the G20 police report, wrapping up many pages of lucid argument and rigorous research. But just what is that pile of brown stuff next to the word ‘conclusion’? Under magnification, we can clearly see that it is in fact a well chosen visual metaphor to sum up the report. It’s all complete horseshit.
In the most serious Chinese government massacre since Tiananmen Square 20 years ago, hundreds of people were killed on Sunday (5th) in Urumchi, capital of East Turkestan - or Xinjiang, as the ethnically Uighur province has been known since it was occupied by the ‘People’s Liberation Army’ 60 years ago.
On Sunday, students organised a protest against the Chinese authorities’ inaction on the mob killing and beating of Uighurs at a toy factory in the southern Guangdong province two weeks ago, and the increasing racial discrimination against the Muslim Uighurs across China. In the earlier attack, the police didn’t show up for three hours as the Uighurs were being beaten, resulting in at least three fatalities.
The march in Urumchi initially passed peacefully, with the student protesters even waving Chinese national flags to appease the security forces. It didn’t work however. Paramilitary police arrived, heavily armed and in position to confront the marchers before they even reached the central square. Police initially tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas. When this failed they shot into the crowd with live ammo and hunted down groups of protesters well into the evening. According to eyewitnesses, seventeen demonstrators were crushed by armoured vehicles near the university. While it appears that most of the several hundred dead and over a thousand injured were Uighurs, there were also Han Chinese victims as, following the repression of the march, many Uighurs vented their anger in attacks on the Han and their property.
In response some 1,500 Uighur students were subsequently rounded up. Many are still being held and are being threatened with execution for being responsible for the deaths during the Sunday clashes. Protests were also violently repressed in other East Turkestan cities such as Kashgar, with reports of dozens killed.
Security forces flooded the province’s cities on Monday, fearing a larger uprising in a region simmering with ethnic tensions, where the indigenous Uighirs have been resisting the extermination of their culture and language for decades. With the world’s media in town, the police acted with restraint to control groups of Han Chinese who went on the rampage on Monday against Uighur businesses, and Uighur women protesting against the detention of their relatives on Tuesday. Many Uighur have since tried to flee the area, scared for their lives.
Complementing the city lock-downs by the security forces, the authorities imposed a communications blackout with almost all internet connections and phone lines to the outside world cut off, even for the world’s media, who were forced to rely on official press releases and video footage of the clashes. The Chinese authorities presented the Uighurs as the instigators and main aggressors in the violence – only Han Chinese victims were shown and Uighurs were shown attacking property. None of the 156 dead claimed by the authorities have been named, nor has their ethnicity been revealed. Rebiya Kadeer, Uighur political prisoner for six years from 1999 until 2005, and currently in exile in the US, was blamed by authorities for masterminding the protests.
The massacre in Urumchi resembles the brutal crackdown of protests in Tibet in March 2008 when over 200 Tibetans were killed by police followed by a massive cover up by the authorities. But while this provoked the righteous fury of western liberalism - spurred on by the sage noddings of spiritual mentors such as the Dali Lama and Richard Gere - the Uighurs, being Muslims, are less likely to be sanctified by the western press. Video footage has since emerged however, of brutality by the security forces towards protesters. As reports painting a distinctly different picture to the official version of events begin to emerge from East Turkestan, it looks like this situation is also one the Chinese government will struggle to keep covered up for long.
* For more visit www.uyghurcongress.org www.uhrp.org
WON’T TAKE IT ZELAYA-N DOWN
Last Sunday (5th) saw a tense stand-off in Honduras as President Manuel Zelaya attempted to defy military threats to arrest him for treason by returning to the country after being ousted in a military coup the Sunday before (28th) (See SchNEWS 682). Zelaya was supported in his attempt by hundreds of thousands of protesters demonstrating for his return.
Although a few hundred protesters managed to reach Tegucigalpa airport in the early afternoon, the police and the military attempted to prevent the main body of marchers by blockading access roads. However, the blockades didn’t last and by the time Zelaya’s plane was entering Honduran airspace, a reported 500,000 had surrounded the airport.
As the plane approached it became clear that the military was blocking the runway with vehicles. Protesters tried to force their way into the airport on the southern side, resulting in violent clashes with rocks hurled at the police, who responded with tear gas and live rounds. A number of protesters managed to break through the lines and spilled onto the runway, but were cleared with gunfire. The clashes saw the first confirmed death of the uprising when a 19 year old student, Isis Obed Murillo, was shot and killed by police gunmen.
With military aircraft in the flight path and soldiers and military vehicles still blocking the runway, Zelaya’s plane was forced to re-ascend after circling the airport several times. It eventually landed in Nicaragua.
Daily protests have continued ever since, although they have been severely hampered by the military imposed curfew, was has been brought forward three hours and now starts at 6pm. A teachers strike, which began the day after the coup, has also continued. The teachers union has claimed that teachers have faced heavy pressure from the authorities to return to work.
Speculation - fuelled by Zelaya - is rife that he will attempt another return in the coming week – possibly by land. But any return will have to wait for the conclusion of mediations between Zelaya and coup “President” Roberto Micheletti, which are now underway in Costa Rica.
* For more information see http://www.narconews.com
OH, THE HUMANITY
On June 30th the Free Gaza Movement boat, Spirit of Humanity, was captured in international waters whilst en route to Gaza with a cargo of humanitarian supplies and human rights witnesses. Not taking any chances with a small boat carrying an unarmed crew of pacifists, eight Israeli warships followed the Spirit, boarding her and taking the crew hostage. At the time the boat was still some 19 miles from the coast, well outside the 12 mile limit that marks the end of any country’s territorial waters.
Ten Israeli commandos stormed the ship and handcuffed everyone on board. But despite being dressed up in full Navy SEAL combat gear, these commandos hadn’t quite earned their sea legs. Having nicked everyone during slightly choppy weather, they proceeded to throw up over the boat. Apparently this really pissed off the Spirit of Humanity’s captain.
The Israelis tried to spin the story that the boat was ‘trying to enter Israel illegally.’ The mind boggles that the Israeli propaganda machine has the balls to get away with such outrageous rubbish as this. Not only did the ship’s onboard GPS and navigation equipment all prove that the ship was headed for Gaza, but this is the Free Gaza Movement’s boat (the clue’s in the name). Technically even the Israeli state isn’t claiming that Gaza is part of Israel (at the moment at least).
SchNEWS spoke to one of the Free Gaza organisers, Greta, based in Nicosia, Cyprus. “The 21 hostages were taken to an Israeli immigration jail. They wanted to make the charges (illegal entry into Israel) stick. But nobody signed anything, and they saw that this tactic wasn’t going to work. The Israelis have tried it all before. They rammed one ship three times, and tried to capsize another. These things didn’t work, so I guess they figure ‘maybe if we board them...’ But it’s not going to happen. We’re going back. But we won’t go back with just one ship next time, we’ll take three or four
.” To date this is only the second boat that they’ve prevented from getting in.
After the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Richard Falk) spoke up by saying that Israel had clearly violated the law, Israel quietly dropped the illegal entry claim. They also, somewhat bizarrely, tried to claim that the ship was illegally flying the Greek flag. The commandos tried to rectify this by tearing up all the flags on board (bravo brave defenders of Zion). This fact came as a surprise to the Greek owner of the ship. He’s currently in Tel Aviv negotiating the return of his vessel. Despite the keenness of the Israelis to hold onto the Spirit of Humanity, there are fairly strict rules about capturing the vessels of other nations. These rules are variously referred to as Piracy, Privateering or Acts of War (take your pick, Israel).
It’s getting harder and harder to decipher Israel’s game these days. After kidnapping the passengers and crew of the Spirit and throwing them in jail, they allowed them to keep their phones and call the world’s press from their cells. It’s almost as if the government revels in bad press.
Meanwhile, all the crew and passengers are out of jail and have returned home. The UK detainees made it back last Monday (5th). The Free Gaza Movement has plenty of people ready and waiting to brave high seas and low tricks to break the brutal and criminal siege of Gaza. They’re short of cash however, and need activists around the world to keep their missions to Gaza in the public eye.
* See http://freegaza.org
Heather Nicholson, who was jailed for eleven years in the SHAC conspiracy to blackmail trial (See SchNEWS 661, 663), was moved without warning on Tuesday (7th), first to Eastwood Park in Gloucester, before then being transferred to HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire.
* Write to her at Heather Nicholson VM5859, HMP Foston Hall, Foston, Derby, Derbyshire DE65 5DN
* Another imprisoned animal rights activist, Sean Kirtley, was this week granted leave to appeal against his conviction for “Interfering with the contractual relationships of a laboratory.” Sean is currently serving a four and a half year sentence for doing little more than running a website and attending demonstrations against Sequani labs (See SchNEWS 632). Judges ruled that it was arguable that the guilty plea of a co-defendant may have influenced the jury in the case. No date has yet been set.
NICE TOSIA, TO SEE YOU NICE...
As we reported in SchNEWS 681, the pipe-laying ship, Solitaire, contracted by Shell to build the offshore part of its gas pipeline though the increasingly less scenic County Mayo in Ireland, is heavily defended. In addition to 200-odd Shell goons, and over 300 extra crack Guardia troops shipped in to the area, the navy has also been present, backed up by a plane and helicopter – all to repress any direct action by Shell To Sea (S2S) activists.
Money is apparently no object when it comes to Shell’s right to despoil and cause climate chaos – figures released recently show defending Shell has cost the government 12 million euros and counting since 2006 – but this time they overlooked one thing. The Solitaire needs a constant supply of pipes and equipment from smaller vessels. These goods are coming through the port in Killybegs, so it was here that the canny S2S naval crew struck - showing that however large the iron fist, it’s difficult to crush people’s determination to protest.
On Monday morning, seven brave kayakers paddled out and headed for the relatively undefended supply ship, the Tosia Independent, busy being restocked to make another delivery to the Solitaire.
Coming alongside, some of the protesters then attempted to board the vessel, with one managing to climb into a large tyre hanging off the side of the ship and successfully holding up operations for several hours. Hearty respect from us mere landlubbers!
The fight against the full range of corporate/governmental forces continues – this coming week sees the state harassment and intimidation of the campaign step up a gear with over two dozen anti-Shell protesters being hauled before the courts on trumped up charges.
* For more see www.corribsos.com
CALL OUT! KEEN TO SQUAT!
The cheeky squatters of the house of MPs Anne and Alan Keen (see SchNEWS 682) are in court today (Fri 10th July) at 2pm. Alan Keen has recently stated that they should ‘get a job’ – presumably meaning one like theirs – which will be up for grabs, not before time, at the next election!
Assemble from 1:30pm outside Brentford Magistrates Court, Brentford, West London to demonstrate - nearest tube is Gunnersbury, or overground rail Brentford. The house is at 38 Brook Rd South, Brentford, TW8 0NN, Site mob 07912078757
* See www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/07/433958.html?c=on#c227743
CLIMATE CAMPAIGNS RUN HOT
With three court cases this week, plans for three Climate Camps, and other international demonstrations later in the year, it’s a busy summer for climate campaigners across the country...
THE DRAX 22
This week in Leeds Crown Court, guilty verdicts were handed down in a jury trial for the Drax 22 who were arrested in June 2008 for stopping a coal train destined for the Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, the UK’s most polluting power plant (See SchNEWS 636). Dressed in overalls, they used safety signals to have the train stopped, before climbing on board and dumping coal from it onto the tracks. Others were suspended from ropes across the track to prevent it moving. 29 were arrested – this trial involved 22.
The defendants were refused the right to claim in defence that they were acting against the “imminent threat” of climate change, citing that “UN statistics show that the amount of carbon produced by Drax was responsible for 180 deaths a year. Every minute we were on that train, we were stopping carbon emissions.” The judge instructed the jury to ‘stick to the facts’, refusing to allow this argument as a defence, but assured the 22 that custodial sentences were not on the cards. Along with the inevitable fines and costs, they are all likely to get community service, as meted out recently to the Plane Stupid Stansted Airport activists (see SchNEWS 659). As one of the Plane Stupid lot (a youthful D-lock fanatic) put it: “Death by charity shop old ladies”.
* See www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=123128030015
THE RATCLIFFE 114
This week 67 of the Ratcliffe 114 (See SchNEWS 672), had their charges dropped due to ‘insufficient evidence’. The 114 were pre-emptively arrested over Easter in a huge media-splashed bust at a school in Nottingham where the group was staying, before any alleged demo could happen. The climate change campaigners found themselves on charges of conspiracy to cause criminal damage to the Eon-owned Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station, in a mass-arrest costing the taxpayer £777,000. The remaining 47 will find out what’s next over the following weeks as the police continue their futile search for ‘ringleaders’.
* See www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire
THE CLIMATE RUSH er... 4
Also up in court this week were four Climate Rush activists. The group who model themselves on the Suffragettes attempted to blockade a coal conference at Chatham House on 1st June by chaining themselves to a sculpture made of bicycle bits. When that failed they got out the superglue. Their case was dismissed in court this week owing to lack of evidence from the prosecution.
“We believe the police acted more forcefully than was absolutely necessary: namely arresting anybody!” sniffed a spokeswoman.
* See www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=37252577758
The Camp For Climate Action is back this summer with three camps across the UK. Firstly, one at The Firth Of Forth, Scotland, August 3rd-10th (See http://climatecampscotland.org.uk), then in Pembrokeshire, Wales, August 13th-16th, (See http://climatecampcymru.org) then onto the London area, August 27th-September 2nd, to take on the Met “somewhere within the M25 area”. The call is out for everyone to be ready and waiting in or around London to swoop on the site on 27th August. Details will posted on the web and texted for those who sign up (See http://climatecamp.org.uk). In the lead-up to all this there will be a Climate Camp National Gathering in London, July 18th-19th. For more info call 07534 598 733 and see www.climatecamp.org.uk/node/471
Dedicated campers have already been sharing their skills with a series of workshops at last weekend’s Glastonbury festival. The training involved tripod climbing and blockading techniques. Graduates of the Climate Camp School of BLOCK got to try out their new skills by closing down the Greenpeace bar which was appropriately fashioned as an airport terminal with departure lounge.
Planning meetings are also underway for a mass international action on October 24th-25th, when a range of groups will come together in Britain in an attempt to close down a power station. Climate Camp, Climate Rush and Greenpeace have formed a coalition and are inviting others to join for a day of global action shutting down climate criminals. For info see the climate camp site, plus www.climaterush.co.uk
COPENHAGEN COP OUT
The next UN Climate Conference, COP-15 (the biggest yet), will be in Copenhagen on December 7th -18th. While the leaders rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic one more time there will be an international convergence of protesters there to make an impact. One activist told SchNEWS that plans mooted include “keeping the lobbyists out, locking the delegates in until they come up with a respectable solution to climate change – and - create a space for proper talks to happen between delegates and activists, though probably still with the lobbyists locked in their hotels!”
Early last Tuesday (7th) protesters at the Mainshill Solidarity Camp in South Lanarkshire were rudely awoken by police barging a JCB digger into the barricaded entrance to the site. Following at their heels were representatives of both Scottish Coal and drilling company Apex, who rolled flat bed trucks into the site to remove their equipment, including two drilling rigs, a dump truck and two portacabins. The equipment had spent three weeks impounded in the camp, preventing exploratory drilling which has now recommenced at a different location.
Camp activists told SchNEWS that local support had been “overwhelming” and had come from “the most unlikely quarters... Even the police don’t seem up for evicting us
Undeterred by the raid, the camp continues and they are currently busy digging tunnels and erecting tree houses, barricades and other “interesting things”.
* The camp is in urgent need of people to help out and defend it against eviction. For details on how to get there and more see www.coalactionedinburgh.noflag.org.uk
or call 07806 926 040
BNP leader Nick Griffin has taken some well-earned flack recently in the mainstream press, who have been busy re-publicising his “Hitler went a bit far” quote – which, as incredulous understatements go, is up there with ‘the black death was a bit inconvenient’ or ‘the Hiroshima bomb was a bit of a bang’...
The BNP themselves are in indignant fury – and rushed out a press release (don’t worry, we only read them so that you don’t have to. Honest), to deny such outrageous slurs on their Fuhrer.
Referring to the quote, they thundered: “This is an outrageous falsehood. Chairman Nick Griffin never said anything remotely like this - it is a compete lie.”.
Panicking that hardcore supporters may indeed be outraged at such weedy assertions from their supreme leader, they make no reference to what the Grifter’s actual views about Hitler’s trifling failures may or may not have been. But they certainly leave plenty of room for Nazi Nick supporters to assume that what he actually meant was “Hitler didn’t go nearly far enough... just wait ‘til we get in power! Seig Heil! ”
SchNEWS warns all readers - read the police report if you like, but we’re telling you it’s not much cop. Honest!