When the revolution comes, well get rid of the police
cos therell be no more crime... yeah right. Anarchist utopias
are all very well, but anti-social behaviour is carving up communities
in the here and now, and blueprints for the future dont
take knives off throats. - Bristol resident
Last week, without the help of apathetic police, archaic laws,
or an out-of-touch government, the people of Greater Leys estate
in Oxford did something for themselves. They decided theyd
had just about enough of teenagers terrorising their neighborhood
and issued an eviction notice to the gang in the local
park where they hang out.
The gang had taken control of the park, which people have to cross
to get to the only local shop, and their threats and intimidation
were escalating - one youngster was smashed in the face with a sawn-off
pool cue, another slashed with a knife. One mother who turned to
the cops after both her sons were attacked was told there was nothing
they could do. She is now living in fear of reprisals after one
of the ringleaders threatened to burn her house down.
Another local resident, Jane Lacey, said What we are trying
to do is show them (the gang) that theyre not big or clever
doing this stuff - theyre screwing the community and they
will be despised for it. We also want the parents of the gang members
to sit up and take notice before its too late and their kids
become totally beyond control.
Despite the picket and eviction being organised through word of
mouth, the gang got wind of the plan and stayed away, but residents
promised to step up their campaign if the attacks and muggings continue.
Already the family of one of the gang members has approached the
family of two of the victims with an assurance that he will be a
good boy from now on.
In Manchester, anti-mugging patrols happen on an irregular basis
in part of the Hulme estate. Mick from Hulme told SchNEWS, There
are a lot of community activists and anarchists on the estate. Residents
keep in touch with an email list called shout. Whenever
anyone gets mugged or attacked someone sends a shout
out to the list. Often people then take it upon themselves to arrange
a time to do an anti-mugging patrol.
Its not aggressive. Residents sit out around a fire or listen
to a radio at the end of one of the streets. We tell passers by
what we are doing and get a favourable response. We cant be
everywhere on the estate at once, but the fact that there are people
out and about seems to be very good at preventing muggers, at least
for the period of the patrols. It also builds the kind of community
spirit that prevents this kind of crime in the first place.
The people that have been mugged really appreciate this informal
scheme as it is obvious for them that they live in an area where
people do care about their neighbours. It turns around the victim
mentality by doing something active and positive. I think
the general consensus on the estate is that wed rather do
things this way than get CCTV. But maybe thats cos were
all so dodgy!
In the Easton area of Bristol getting over-run with crack
selling yardies locals who are tired of waiting for police
who never come have taken things into their own hands too. They
cut off pay phones regularly used for drug dealing and
spray painted heroin for sale at a place of blatant
public smack dealing. One of the members of the community, Flaco,
points out This isnt about vigilantism, but about taking
control back from all bogus authority whether that authority
is backed by parliament, or by a pistol in the boot of a BMW.
Oh Behave Yourself!
So what do we do about anti-social behaviour? Introduce more laws
that ultimately get used on protestors? Stalking laws were introduced
to protect women but have now been used on protestors, while an
animal rights activist has already been issued with an interim Anti
Social Behaviour Order. So while its quite obvious to some
of us that more laws arent the answer, then what is? If people
are getting the crap beaten out of them while just going to the
shop, or the local playground is full of needles, it really doesnt
help anyone to say, Dont worry- wait for the revolution
and then everything will be alright.
The answers not easy - community action against anti-social
behaviour does have to be well handled and can be a magnet
for thugs, vigilantes and right-wing reactionaries or people who
want the police to have even more powers and more CCTV. In Easton,
Bristol, the members of the community groups who came together agreed
about the need for do-it-yourself action but found themselves divided
on issues like installing CCTV cameras. The beating to death of
Josie Dwyer, a Dublin heroin addict, by a vigilante mob, is a particularly
grim example of what can go wrong.
It is a serious problem that has to be faced, as a member of the
Independent Working Class Association who won their first ever councilor
in Greater Leys said Issues like this have proved a major
weakness for much of the orthodox Left The issue is
difficult, so lets avoid it. But isnt that what
radical politics should be about - providing practical solutions
to problems, despite difficulties and dangers? If you cant
do that, why should anyone have any faith in your ability to solve
bigger political problems? I often get the feeling the Left is more
comfortable talking about revolution or stopping
the war, precisely because those questions dont demand
an immediate test of their politics...
Individually the people of Greater Leys were vulnerable to attack
but collectively, by coming together as a community, they
could tell the gang Your behaviour isnt acceptable.
As communities get stronger and people get to know each other, they
can tackle all sorts of issues - like why there arent decent
bus services or shops in their area. And if people from radical
politics are involved, local communities might just start taking
their ideas seriously.
As one person from Oxford commented We look to the Piqueteras
in Argentina, the Zapatistas in Chiapas, and praise them for their
direct action and seizing power and running their own communities
without the aid of corrupt politicians. And yet, when the community-minded
citizens in Oxford do the same thing, they are slagged off. We should
be learning by their example, giving support, and helping other
communities to take control of their own space. If they dont,
no one else will do it for them.
More on the Blackbird Leys campaign www.bliwca.fsnet.co.uk
Crap Arrest Of The Week
For throwing a teabag
Yep you read it right, not a rock, a bottle or even a bomb but a
harmless old teabag. A seventeen year old girl was recently nicked,
charged and then sentenced to nine months community service (!)
for throwing said tea bag at an animal abusers car during a demonstration
outside the National Institute of Medical Research, a government
sponsored vivisection lab in north London. Another protestor was
charged with endangering a driver because he took a picture using
a flash! 12 officers came to the house of the teenager to arrest
her. Now thats what SchNEWS reckons is real anti social behaviour.
From the governments point of view, the Anti-Social Behaviour
Bill is more important for what it says than what it does- but,
unfortunately, it will also manage to impose some extremely oppressive
controls on vulnerable people-Legal Action Group (LAG)
While communities have been organising themselves, MPs this week
have been debating the legal nitty-gritty of their new Anti-Social
Behaviour Bill. Keep your radar switched on as this Bill is part
of the governments wider campaign that originated with the
Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and, though relatively minor in itself,
its important cos its worded to allow nasty new clauses
to be attached to existing Criminal Justice laws.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Bill is supposedly being put in place
to give cops greater powers to protect communities and
deal with troublemakers such as deviant kids in dysfunctional
families; it also allows for the dispersal of groups of two or more
young people to prevent the risk of disorder. Clause
59 of the bill, introduced quietly at a later stage, amends the
Public Order Act 1986 so that the police can impose conditions on
public assemblies also consisting of just two people!
The original powers were designed to prevent serious public trouble,
LAG fears that those who will be the target of the bills
powers are likely also to be the victims that it claims
to protect. People who depend on the state for housing, income,
education and support services are always subject to the changing
fashions of welfare provision
The resulting insecurities that
such people experience make them more vulnerable to this current
moral crusade.-LAG Editorial
Remember the Public Order Act 1986? That made it difficult to have
festies, with strict restrictions on numbers. Then came the 1994
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, tightening the law even further.
Those laws have had massive effects on festivals, protests, public
assembly and free community events not approved by the cops or the
council. The rise of Neo-Labour and its crusade against terror
has meant further clampdowns.
If this new Act is passed cops will more easily be able to ban
protestors and partygoers from gathering for demos or knees-ups
of two or more people; they will be able to arrest people trespassing
either outside or in disused buildings and they will be able to
slap restriction orders on protestors and ravers alike.
As Statewatch point out Left unchecked, basic freedoms and
democratic standards - freedom of movement, freedom of expression
and the right to protest, freedom from surveillance in everyday
life, accountability, scrutiny and data protection - will be whittled
away one by one threatening the very democracy being defended by
the war on terrorism.
Check out LAG editorial: www.lag.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=90471
Ben Thirley, 24, tragically drowned last week. Originally from
Sheffield, he had lived recently years in Bristol, Brighton and
finally Bath. He was best known in Brighton after being involved
in squats most significantly the Harvest Forestry squat in opposition
to the Sainsbury development (as well as helping out with other
things including SchNEWS). Always lending a hand, and everybodys
mate, our thoughts go out to his family and friends. His funeral
takes place next Friday (31st) in Sheffield.
Warmongers that prey together, stay together. Literally, in the
case of Tony & George. Bush will be in the UK from 19-21st Nov.
As well as a full state banquet (courtesy of the tax-payer) he will
stay overnight at Blairs tiny Sedgefield constituency house.
No doubt theyll be allowed to stay up late and play Battleships.
With so many people against the war in Iraq, it should mean anti-Bush
action is just as widespread. A special website, www.resistbush.org,
has been set-up to co-ordinate protests during the visit. At 2pm
in Hyde Park there will be a march to Trafalgar Square, where a
statue of Bush will be toppled. Depending on how cold it is on the
day, it is hoped there will be a mass anti-Bush moon, perfectly
expressing the sentiments of most of the UK. (www.bloggerheads.com/can_weblogs/bush_bum.asp).
Anti-Bush bus passengers should note that with a slight adjustment,
signs can easily be amended to Bush Stop.
On Nov 5th, before Bushs visit, www.burningbush.org.uk is
asking people to put George on their bonfire instead of Guy Fawkes.
They even provide a DIY kit on their website including a Bush mask
and press release for the local paper. As Blair has already visited
his chum several times, to explain where Iraq is, etc. its
not even clear why Dubya is coming here. Number 10 explains it as
an important opportunity to deepen our close relationship
with a close international partner. You wonder how close Tony
and George can get without penetration.
With any luck the extent of the protests will make the earth move
for George. Already plans for the Queen and George W Bush to make
a triumphant procession along the Mall have been abandoned because
of fears of anti-war protests. He will travel by helicopter to avoid
protesters lining road routes, other proposed events have been curtailed
or cancelled, and he will not address Parliament because of fears
of a boycott by MPs. Join the discussions firstname.lastname@example.org
Still at a loss for what to get involved in to show George your
displeasure? Let last weeks Sunday Mirror be your
well-informed guide: ANARCHISTS PLOT TO STORM THE PALACE
ran the headline, in a seasonal nod to Guy Fawkes. Anarchist
groups are secretly planning to swamp tight security at the palace
by sending thousands of protesters over the wall at the same time,
foams the rags man-in-the-know, fingering anti-war and anti-capitalist
groups from Justice not Vengeance to rent-a-blame faves Reclaim
the Streets. They are using the internet and text messages
to organize the attack on the Queens residence... Secret meetings
have been held across the country to plan the Resist Bush
protests, which include roadblocks and huge rallies. Hundreds of
anti-capitalist hardliners are expected to travel from Paris to
join the demonstrations. They have been involved in violence across
Europe and will be at the European Social Forum prior to Mr Bushs
So, dont say you werent warned.
SchNEWS In Brief
- Benefit gig for the protest camp at Sherwood Forest this
Sunday (26) at The Maze, 257 Mansfield Road, Nottm £5 /
£3 . 8pm till 12
- On Monday, tens of thousands marched to La Paz, celebrating
the resignation of President Lozada (see last weeks SchNEWS).
The marches came after new president, Carlos Mesa, a millionaire
media mogul, named his new cabinet. Bolivians must wait and see
if this unlikely revolutionary will bring about any real change.
For more check out Bolivia Watch on www.zmag.org/
- Halloween anti-war demo in Brighton, meeting near the
Old Steine fountain, 5:30pm. Ghosts of anger theme!
- Rail union RMT have called for a return the daily inspection
of tube tracks or they will consider themselves in dispute
with Jarvis-owned Metronet, responsible for
track maintainance. Profit-hungry Metronet insist on checking
tracks only once every 3 days leading to two tube derailments
over the past week. Good old Jarvis have had to hand back control
of national rail maintenance because of their appalling safety
- A campaign is being launched to oppose plans for the Oxford
Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre to become a Foundation Trust. Get
along to the meeting 6th November Quarry Village Hall Quarry Road
Oxford 7.30pm www.oxfordsa.org.uk/campaigns
- Many video collectives sprang up in the wake of the Argentinian
crisis in 2001 to document the struggle to build a new society.
A selection of some of the best ones will be shown next Thursday
(30) at The Other Cinema, 11 Rupert Street, London W1.
9pm. £5/7 unwaged/waged. Tel: 020 7437 0757 www.indymedia.org.uk
- The Free Mumia Abu-Jamal campaign have produced a 32
track double CD including tracks from Primal Scream, Chumbawumba,
Asian Dub Foundation, Zion Train and Smith & Mighty . 150
minutes in total plus booklet £15. Mumia is the ex Black
Panther fitted up by the Philadelphia police who has been on death
row for 22 years www.cultureshop.org/
75 year old Environmental activist Betty Krawczyk, was last week
sentenced to six months in jail after she was found guilty of criminal
contempt of court for continuing to participate in physical blockades
of logging roads in British Columbia. Betty is no stranger to prison,
with the judge saying her confinement to be comparable to
a self-inflicted wound.
Write to Betty, 03793924, Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women,
7900 Fraser Park dr., Burnaby, British Colombia, V5J 5HI
Here cum da judge
Witnesses saw the judge simply raise his gown, open his trousers
and perform unmistakable movements, said French newspaper
Charente Libre, whose reporter was in court when an un-named judge
began masturbating openly while an attorney was pleading his case.
The justice minister has asked a judicial council to review
the case. Punishment is likely to involve a temporary suspension
from duty, said an official spokesman. We thought no one gave
a toss about justice.
SchNEWS warns all readers if you can't vandal the same old yob story
- that's your problem.
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