Archive for the ‘activism’ Tag

Kent Police report into Kingsnorth protest policing

Kent Police have published a report into the policing of the climate camp last year near Kingsnorth power station.

The full report can be found here, with more bizarre acronyms than one could shake a stick at (should you want to; young people get up to the strangest things nowadays.) The report essentially can be summed up as “EON kept running and we didn’t wallop too many people. Go us!”

The report does, however, concede that the use of stop and search powers during the camp was “both disproportionate and counter-productive.”

It has also made me feel some form of empathy with the police, labouring as they do under a burden of jargon that would make the typical Daily Mail reader spontaneously implode. Such as the following:

From the outset this operation was resourced bottom up from an established resource baseline defined by a judgement made in the planning unit not based upon CMM identified threat and risk defining the tactical challenges for mitigation (top down.)

No wonder they’re angry all the time.

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The Met’s attack on photographers

The Met’s attack on photographers

Today the Metropolitan police service (MPS) issued advice to the public and the media on photography in public places. It details the Met’s interpretation of anti-terrorism legislation, and how these laws should be used against photographers. Professional photographers such as myself view it as part of an ongoing campaign to create a hostile environment for photography in the public sphere.

The advice covers section 44, section 43 and section 58a of the Terrorism Act 2000 (58a is more commonly known as section 76). On sections 44 and 43, the MPS say that “officers have the power to view digital images contained in mobile telephones or cameras carried by a person searched”.

Hickman & Rose’s Anna Mazzola argues this advice is highly questionable as it “does not take into account the fact that such images may be protected journalistic material – for example, special procedure material.”

Did the MPS seek legal guidance before they distributed this “advice”? Because rather than clarifying the Met’s position, it looks set to cause yet more confusion. As Mazzola says: “If the police truly want to convince journalists that they are committed to allowing freedom of expression and to enabling members of the press to do their jobs, then they should engage with these issues rather than issuing guidance which is likely to hamper them.”

Met’s G20 plan was ‘inadequate’

Met’s G20 plan was ‘inadequate’

A watchdog has said the Metropolitan Police’s planning for the London G20 protests in April was inadequate.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said the force had responded well to some of the challenges posed by the world summit.

But it said the force had not planned for the peaceful but highly disruptive Climate Camp in the City of London.

One man died after the London protests and investigators are looking at other formal complaints about police actions.

In his wide-ranging report, the inspector of constabulary Denis O’Connor said police tactics had been far too focused on tackling violence, such as the sporadic clashes outside the Bank of England, rather than facilitating peaceful protests during other parts of the day.

Pathologist in Ian Tomlinson G20 case suspended

Pathologist in Ian Tomlinson G20 case suspended

The Home Office pathologist who ruled that Ian Tomlinson died of natural causes at the G20 protests has been suspended pending investigations into his professional conduct.

Freddy Patel, who conducted the first post-mortem examination on the newspaper vendor from east London and concluded he died of a heart attack, has been removed from the government
register of accredited forensic pathologists
amid concern as to whether he has breached regulations.

A second post-mortem by another pathologist found Mr Tomlinson died from internal bleeding in the stomach.

Video showed he had been struck with a baton and knocked to the ground by a policeman on 1 April.

Dr Patel found injuries on Mr Tomlinson’s body but concluded he died of natural causes. The controversy over Dr Patel’s involvement in the case prompted a review of his work by the Pathology Delivery Board, which monitors the Home Office register for the National Police Improvement Agency.

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

Housing Activists Seize “Mr and Mrs Expenses MP” Home!

A group of housing activists have entered and occupied the house of Anne and Alan Keene. Both Labour MPs they were known as “Mr and Mrs Expenses” two years before the MP spending scandal broke; Mrs Keen, a health minister recently admitted making an expense claim for private hospital treatment for a member of her staff. At the centre of their scandal was their double mortgage claim, where they illegally used Parliamentary expenses to pay interest on the mortgages of both their homes – one of which has now been occupied by outraged locals along with activists from all backgrounds and nationalities.

It was revealed several days ago that they faced having their Hounslow constituency home repossessed by the council after leaving it empty for over a year. The £385,000 three-bedroom terrace was being renovated whilst they stayed in their central home London near Parliament which they billed the public £137,679 for. After an alleged falling out with the builders the house was left empty, but at a local residents meeting a member of the public alerted activists to the location of the house, and 2 days ago it was occupied.

Fit Watch campaigners describe how they were arrested and bundled to the ground

Fit Watch campaigners describe how they were arrested and bundled to the ground

“Have you seen the Blues Brothers over there?” the police surveillance officer said. “Look – filming everybody else.”

It was supposed to have been a routine day of protest for Val Swain and Emily Apple, but at 1.31pm on 8 August last year, moments after being spotted by the surveillance unit, they found this was to be no ordinary demonstration.

After challenging a police officer over his failure to display a badge number at a protest against the Kingsnorth power station in Kent, the two women were wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and placed in a police van. They were held in custody for four days, three of which were spent in HMP Bronzefield.

Swain, 43, was arrested for assault and obstruction and Apple,33, for obstruction. The charges were later dropped.

The arrests were caught on police surveillance footage obtained by the Guardian and will be submitted to the Independent Police Complaints Commission tomorrow in a complaint lodged by the solicitors firm Tuckers.

Swain, from Cardiff, and Apple, from Cornwall, believe they were unlawfully arrested and detained because they campaign for Fit Watch, a protest group opposed to police forward intelligence teams (Fits), the surveillance units that regularly monitor political activists and demonstrations and meetings.

For more on Fit Watch please visit their blog. A video of the arrests is available on the Guardian’s website, as is an article by Emily Apple from Fit Watch.

In history of radical politics, KC researcher connects dots

In history of radical politics, KC researcher connects dots

Leonard Zeskind hunches over, one eye clamped to a loupe, and inspects an old black-and-white photograph taped to his office door.

The picture and what he’s looking for tell a lot about what has been on Zeskind’s mind the past few decades.

Taken in 1967, it shows the funeral of George Lincoln Rockwell, the assassinated leader of the American Nazi Party. Standing among the two dozen grievers, next to a floral display in the shape of a swastika, is a thin young man with dark hair, wearing a jacket and narrow tie.

Zeskind wants to figure out whether it’s a young David Duke, the one-time Ku Klux Klansman who went on to score startling electoral success in the early 1990s as a Louisiana political candidate.

“I think he’s too tall,” Zeskind said, postponing a conclusion until he gathers more evidence.

To Zeskind it’s another dot to connect in the evolution of radical, right-wing American politics. In the past 30 years, most of them spent toiling quietly in Kansas City, he has become known as one of the most effective and dogged researchers on the topic, an indispensable resource on fascist and neo-nationalist movements around the globe.

This week brings the culmination of what is essentially a life’s work — or at least a project he started 15 years ago. His new book, “Blood and Politics,” is being issued by a major New York publishing house, and for a few moments at least, Zeskind will step into a public spotlight he normally shuns.

Where There’s Smoke: Anarchism After the RNC

Where There’s Smoke: Anarchism After the RNC

I.
We’ve got the numbers, they’ve got the guns..
Our chants reverberated under the St. Paul skyway. The 2008 RNC protests were underway, the culmination of two years of anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing materializing before our eyes. For once, we were many, and they were few… or maybe not. With 3500 cops and an uncounted number of National Guardsmen and Secret Service agents on the streets, this time they had both the guns and the numbers.

Overwhelming force was only one element of the state’s repression strategy. The main hub of direct action coordination– the RNC Welcoming Committee– had been infiltrated by at least one undercover cop and two paid informants almost a year prior. On Friday night, the hammer came down with a raid on the St. Paul Convergence Center. Cops busted in the doors with guns drawn, forcing about 100 people to the ground, zip-tying them, and then photographing everyone and taking IDs. What a start to the weekend…

The next morning, I got a call from a friend alerting me that the cops were raiding anarchist houses across south Minneapolis. Eventually, four houses had been raided, and eight members of the Welcoming Committee jailed.

Over the next week, over 800 people would be arrested in conjunction with the protests. Many would be injured by rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tear gas, pepper spray, and other weaponry. The state imposed a high cost on expressing dissent.

London Metropolitan University under occupation

Campaigners have occupied London Metropolitan University in protest at plans for restructuring. The planned changes involve the sacking of large numbers of staff and closing of departments and facilities throughout the university.

The occupiers have released the following statement:

This is part of the campaign against London Metropolitan Universities plans to restructure. Read here for more

London’s biggest university- London Metropolitan University- is in the grips of a massive financial crisis threatening the entire future of the university.

1- The Government recently found that London Met had claimed that it had 7,000 more students than it actually did.

2- Every university receives an amount of money as funding PER STUDENT, so London Met had received millions of pounds too much.

3- Not only has London met been ordered to pay back the money (which it doesn’t have), but the budget has also been cut by £15 million a year.

4- To attempt to recover the money, London Met plans to impose devastating cuts- ONE IN FOUR members of staff are being made redundant, ALL BUT TWO libraries are to be closed (one City, one North), the Nursery will be closed, and many modules and courses are being closed.

5- In short, those who are not responsible for the financial problems are being punished for them- the staff and students.

6- The university is being run as a business, yet if it is a business then we the students are the customers, so why have the management not informed us and ACTIVELY LIED to us about the crisis and the cuts?

7- By losing OVER HALF OF OUR STAFF on some courses, we will not be able to continue receiving the standard of education we have been. The University cannot survive these cuts.

8- There is good news- YOU can help save the university. Everyone can. Any student or member of staff willing to get up and do something about this can stand up and fight.

9- It is a lot easier to help than you think [see below]. Let those who have already done so much for the campaign and have already started turning things around be your example.

10- We have received enormous media coverage and over 50 MPs have expressed deep concern at our situation.

A demonstration has been called by the UCU and UNISON trade unions in support of the occupation. More information and updates can be found at http://savelondonmetuni.blogspot.com/

G20 police ‘used undercover men to incite crowds’

G20 police ‘used undercover men to incite crowds’

An MP who was involved in last month’s G20 protests in London is to call for an investigation into whether the police used agents provocateurs to incite the crowds.

Liberal Democrat Tom Brake says he saw what he believed to be two plain-clothes police officers go through a police cordon after presenting their ID cards.

Brake, who along with hundreds of others was corralled behind police lines near Bank tube station in the City of London on the day of the protests, says he was informed by people in the crowd that the men had been seen to throw bottles at the police and had encouraged others to do the same shortly before they passed through the cordon.

Brake, a member of the influential home affairs select committee, will raise the allegations when he gives evidence before parliament’s joint committee on human rights on Tuesday.

“When I was in the middle of the crowd, two people came over to me and said, ‘There are people over there who we believe are policemen and who have been encouraging the crowd to throw things at the police,'” Brake said. But when the crowd became suspicious of the men and accused them of being police officers, the pair approached the police line and passed through after showing some form of identification.