Home | Friday 17th October 2008 | Issue 651
WAKE UP!! IT'S YER GOING DOWN A BOMB FACTORY...
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Story Links : Pepperazzi | Crap School Suspension Of The Week | Bank Job | Upper Class War | Careering Off | 'allo 'allo | Black'n'read All Over | White No Sugar | Flight Fingered | Free Speech Impediment | And Finally 651
COPS ATTACK AS SMASH EDO DEMO PAINTS THE TOWN RED AGAIN...
Over 400 people gathered in Brighton on a very wet Wednesday in the latest protest called by Smash EDO against local bomb factory EDO MBM/ITT. The last demo, in June (See SchNEWS 634), saw protesters invading the factory grounds and smashing windows. This time the cops were determined to have an overwhelming presence. At noon Sussex University campus was occupied by large gangs of cops as people arrived at the demo's start point at the uni entrance.
Police tactics soon became obvious. As the crowd gathered they issued a Section 60 notice, giving them the power to remove masks. Trying to stamp their authority, they quickly set about the gathering crowd demanding people remove any kind of face covering, photographing everyone and generally using any tactics to intimidate, attempting to seize banners and alienate as many onlookers as possible.
Initially shocked - the mob soon found the resources to fight back and just after midday the march burst into life. The red and black-clad crowd sprang into action to the rallying call "Get behind the banner". Behind the sturdy, massive SHUT ITT! banner - reinforced with a wooden frame - and waving flags, the noisy bloc moved at pace through Stanmer Park and out onto the Lewes Road, filling both lanes.
At least ten pairs of police evidence gatherers with long lenses, video cameras and spotter cards, including the Met's Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) were in evidence from the start but spent most of the march foiled by FIT Watchers (See SchNEWS 639). Hundreds of copies of FIT Watch's spotter cards were distributed complete with photos, names, numbers and descriptions of FIT police likely to be in attendance. Whenever FIT teams appear, shouts of 'Block That Shot' is becoming a call to arms for activists sick of only being able to protest whilst constantly under surveillance.
Multiple sound systems and makeshift instruments kept spirits up in the procession towards the factory. Police seemed to have taken a leaf from the anarchist book and handily blockaded the whole of Lewes Road for several hours, with 8 vans bumper to bumper, urging people towards their sanctioned 'protest pen' at the bottom of Home Farm road. Unsurprisingly the idea of being herded into a massive steel cage surrounded by a sea of fluorescent baton wielding cops didn't appeal to anyone. Determined to march on, people surged towards the police lines, pushing the cops back behind their line of vans. Heavy use of pepper spray and batons on those at the front took the sting out of the crowd, who, nursing bruised bodies and the ill effects of an impromptu chemical eye-bath at the hand of Sussex's finest, split into two groups. Half the crowd stood their ground, eyeballing the cops, whilst others in small groups gradually headed off-piste, up the slope and into the woods towards the back of the factory.
PUT THE KETTLE ON
Marauding bands of masked militants swarmed through the forest, whilst clueless coppers couldn't see the hoods for the trees. In a hail of irony, laser-guided paint-missiles bombarded the factory's roof - staining the factory walls blood-red in a spot of unrequested decoration. After scuffles in the woods and open fields where someone narrowly avoided castration via a police dog bollock-biting attack, a group of about 50 managed to reclaim Lewes Road nearer town before being joined soon after by other cross-country cells and marched towards town.
By half two, the crowd on Lewes Road had begun to disperse and the police line had moved across the road, freeing up one lane of traffic. The remaining crowd were able to launch themselves down Lewes Road towards the Level. Fearing that 100 or so anarchists might not cause enough trouble, the cops kindly contributed towards the mayhem by sending some 25 vehicles to create a police traffic jam stretching halfway down the road.
When the converged marchers arrived at the Level (traditional end point of Brighton demos), police backed off, thinking that the crowd had had enough. As it turns out, the up-fer-it protesters saw the police begin to disperse and made a break for it to storm the city centre, with the local Army recruitment centre as a goal. Still singing and chanting, they carried on, pursued by police until they were finally kettled near Queens Road. Seeing their plight, locals started harassing the cops, kettling in the kettle and throwing food and water to the stalwart marchers. Police eventually followed the protesters to the beach for their final push, where they nicked a pebble-thrower.
With a total of around ten arrests, one sore scrotum, plenty of bruised knees, inflamed sinuses, and stinging eyes, the last 100 intrepid protesters completed the 5½ mile anti-arms trade mini marathon to bathe aching feet in the sea. Andrew Beckett, spokesperson said "We didn't let the police control events. We went where we wanted, when we wanted. All the police from four counties weren't able to stop us making our stand against EDO/ITT".
* See www.smashedo.org.uk
CRAP SCHOOL SUSPENSION OF THE WEEK
For having a beard and a gun...
A 17-year-old Muslim boy was suspended from Slough Grammar School recently after the headmaster Margaret Lenton saw a photo of him on the internet posing with his beard, headgear and a gun... Despite it er, actually being a paintballing gun - taken when he was, er, painballing - he was suspended from school and quizzed by police.
Although the police chose not to bang him up for no reason what-so-ever (which they could have), it took a campaign and petition by other pupils on Facebook before he was reinstated back at school.
The City of London took another pounding last week... and not just financial. Students and activists had taken stock and, on the afternoon of Friday 10th , shared a rolling demo against the big bank bail-out. Ostensibly organised by the Socialist Workers Student Society, it was a little feistier than their usual A to B hold-a-placard excursions.
Several hundred came together on short notice, meeting at Bank tube station and catching the City of London Police by surprise. The march was initially repulsed as it headed to the Bank of England but soon split off into side streets - pushing through disorganised police lines as it went.
Protesters also forced their way into the Royal Exchange - confusingly not a stock-exchange but an upmarket shopping mall for the super rich. Well it's the thought that counts. Meanwhile some Clown Army types walked around with a banner saying, "There's no business like no business" and the march ended with a sit-down with speeches at Bishopsgate.
* There will be a similar event in Edinburgh, meeting on October 24th, 4.30pm at the top of the Mound, outside the corporate HQ of HBOS, one of the failing banks being bailed out. See http://scotland.indymedia.org
* Also watch out for demos spooking out the Bank Sector around the country for Halloween. On October 31st dress up in your best garb and head to Lehman Brothers, 25 Bank Street, London, 5pm - midnight
** Aneurin Bevan Statue on Queen Street near Bradford and Bingley Bank, Cardiff, at 5pm
** EDO MBM on Oct 29th, Home Farm Road, Brighton, 4-6pm.
** Alternatively, for you cranksters, head to Bristol for a Critical Mass Halloween Solidarity Ride, Oct 28th assembling at College Green at 5pm, to celebrate the wonders a bicycle can bring - "We do not block the traffic, we are the traffic!
UPPER CLASS WAR
SchNEWS slightly cynical eye-witness reports back from the Climate Rush:
Padding, balaclava, anything black. That's the established wardrobe of the direct action movement. Well it saves on injuries, recognition and wardrobe angst. But on Monday 13th October all that changed with 'Climate Rush' - an action which saw hundreds of campaigners attempting to storm parliament dressed as early 20th Century transvestites and Edwardian ladies.
Demanding deeds not words from the government, this cunning band of well-connected revolutionaries got permission for their jolly japes by pretending they were celebrating 100 years to the day since the suffragettes enacted a similar stunt demanding votes for women. (Madness! Why did nobody warn them all this voting malarkey only encourages them...the politicians that is.)
After sharing tea and cake on the lawn of Parliament Square, women described as "inspirational" stepped up to the mic with speeches. They included Rosie Boycott, Caroline Lucas MEP and the president of the WI. Our trusty reporter fell asleep on her travel rug at this point but is reliably informed they all talked about the state of the planet, direct action and how lovely everyone looked in their carefully assembled outfits.
With the formalities dispensed with at 6.25pm, in Parliament Square the Harris fencing went flying and the fancy dress mob went rushing - right up to the doors of the mother of all parliaments.
Given the threat to democracyT you'd have thought the line of coppers waiting to greet them at St Stephen's door might at least have had their truncheons out. But no. Arms-length and friendly was the policy. "Honestly, you couldn't get yourself arrested if you tried," moaned one rioter - er, rusher.
Well six people did manage it, but most of the more enthusiastic moshers were merely pulled out and let go again around the corner. To come back round for more (obviously). It was so safe, the front line were actually sharing cake as the police pretended to control them with stern but polite requests to "Step back. Please!"
At one point a protester got her ankle stuck through the railings (very suffragettist). She was rescued by a policeman who knelt at her feet, untied her boot, slipped it off and eased her stockinged foot back through the bars. No such erotic chivalry was ever provided for the real suffragettes. And 100 years on we reckon it should still be beyond the call of duty.
After a couple of hours of such horseplay, the activists headed for the pubs of Westminster to swear this 'was only the beginning'.
"It was eerie," said a lady dressed as Christabel Pankhurst (one of Emmeline's daughters who guided the suffragettes towards militancy - firebombing, throwing themselves in front of horses, you know, the more run of the mill extremist stuff). "We were in Whitehall standing outside a pub after attempting to run amok in the nation's seat of power and a Met officer is offering to light our cigarettes."
"It's a class thing," moaned another corset shirker, whose great grandma attended the original 1908 rush. "It proves once again that it's one rule for the upper classes and another for the rest of us. If this had been an anti-war protest by hard core activists we'd have been hammered." No change there then - when Emmeline (wife of an MP) and Christabel Pankhurst were arrested for the original rush, furniture and dinner was delivered to their police cell from the Savoy Hotel to make the ladies comfortable.
Climate Rush, safe in the knowledge that their leaders (Leaders? What happened to facilitators?) are protected by mummy and daddy's connections, plan further acts of daring do. Keep watching www.climaterush.co.uk for the plan. Dress code: ridiculous."
Activists infiltrated an attempt by BP to woo Oxford graduates at a top-notch hotel on October 14th. One interrupted the cheesy BP PR man's presentation as he claimed that he 'loved the countryside' - while putting the gloss on oil and gas exploration, extraction and financing - to ask, why then, has BP spent more on its green sunflower rebranding than on its annual renewable energy budget?
Activists then gave their own presentation of BP's activities around the world, why major oil companies are counter-productive to climate change solutions, and why any tempted graduates should reconsider their career options. A member of Colombia Solidarity Campaign gave a first hand account of BP's complicity in environmental destruction, subverting peaceful social movements and funding death squads. A moment of stunned silence was followed by applause as the re-educated audience abandoned the shinding.
* See www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/10/410913.html
The EU are choosing an ironic place to hold their next summit on November 3rd-4th - Vichy, with its history of being the centre of the pro-Nazi French regime during the German occupation. So in the same place where deporting Jews into mortal danger was on the agenda, this time they will be thrashing out how to keep immigrants out of Europe.
Groups in France are mobilising, and there will be a demo on the Monday (3rd), in central Vichy, meeting 5pm at the Lycée Albert Londres.
For more email firstname.lastname@example.org
BLACK'N'READ ALL OVER
When wandering around ye Anarchist bookfayre forget thee not to pocket the latest issues of local newsheets from around the country. Primarily vehicles for getting propaganda into communities, these free publications are paper first and foremost. You can't reach the laundromats and chip shops in yer community with a blog! Like everything these days they're on the web too.
Gagged - the South Wales anarchist rag has its 24th issue out - southwalesanarchists.org
** Porkbolter - from Worthing has it's 88th issue out this month - www.eco-action.org/porkbolter
** Hereford Heckler - issue 5 - www.herefordheckler.wordpress.com
** Bath Bomb - issue 15 - www.myspace.com/bathactivistnetwork
** Hard Copy - Bristol Indymedia's offline 4-page newsheet has no. 2 out - www.bristol.indymedia.org/hardcopy
** Offline/Infousurpa - Indymedia London have their two newsheets out this week, one news, the other listings - http://infousurpa.co.nr
WHITE NO SUGAR
Stand Uptivist Mark Thomas will be joining a Brighton demo against Starbucks, Guantanemo torturer's favourite coffee chain, on October 24th. A new branch was recently opened in St James St, heart of the independent cafe culture, without proper planning permission - and it is currently trading as a 'shop', most certainly not a cafe. But You wouldn't know by looking at it.
Then again you wouldn't know from their cheery décor how they ban union membership, screw third world suppliers and do their bit for climate change by ordering staff to leave taps running at all times.
There are regular protests outside every Saturday 12-2pm. See www.brightonactivist.net
Last year, over 63,000 people were forcibly spirited away from this country - and the government's mass deportation of migrants policy would not work without the compliance of major airline companies. Companies like British Midland (BMI), who are happy to take refugees who are denied asylum status to persecution and repression - often handcuffed and abused by security personnel - right back in the countries they've worked so hard to escape from.
This was much the story for No Borders South Wales activist and gay radical artist/writer Babi Badalov, who was an unwilling BMI passenger on September 20th (see SchNEWS 648). He was deported to not-so-liberal Azerbaijan - where his political art had angered the local equivalent of the KGB and his own family had attacked and threatened to kill him for his sexuality.
Despite hundreds of phone calls, emails and faxes of protest, BMI claimed that it 'was beyond their control' and they had no choice but to do the government's dirty work.
This was not the case for XL airlines (Ok, now bust but not because of lost revenues from Stasi work). A concerted campaign to disrupt, name and shame them eventually led them to withdraw from deportations in 2007.
No Borders South Wales now have plans to give BMI similar treatment and intend to let them know what happens to the people they deport and how their image and business will be affected if they continue this practice.
They're now asking all comers to contact BMI and register disapproval at their role in deportations. October 20th (and each 20th month thereafter) has been named 'Shut Down BMI Day', so why not join in and overwhelm the company with negativity.
BMI Switchboard: 01332 854000 for more contact details check out: noborderswales.org.uk/tag/bmi
FREE SPEECH IMPEDIMENT
Fed up with constant police harassment of political stalls in Liverpool town centre, activists hit back with a Liverpool Freedom of Expression day of action last Saturday (11th).
Despite stalls having been held in the areas for years, the last few months have seen increasingly intimidatory tactics being used by police against campaigners. Ten stalls ranging from anti-war to animal rights set up in Church St, and just minutes later police swooped and began seizing leaflets.
Cops made two arrests but had trouble getting a van in to take the arrested away - they had to force their way through crowds of onlookers and passersby outraged by their heavy handedness. Abuse reined down on them from all sides before they manhandled everyone out of the way and went back to the nick with their tails between their legs.
AND FINALLY 651
An audacious legal attempt to rid the world of religious conflict came a cropper in the US courts this week. Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers was seeking a permanent injunction to prevent the "death, destruction and terrorisation of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants - caused by God. "
Unfortunately humanity were the losers as the judge threw out the case by ruling that because the defendant has no address, legal papers cannot be served.
Counter arguments that as the court had tacitly acknowledged the existence of God, and God knows everything - so he must know have known about the lawsuit - were rejected. God in the dock? That'll be the deity...
SchNEWS warns all readers - invest in dissent, it's a growth market. Honest!