"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Don’t Just Walk On By! (Fitwatch Article)


Anonymous fitwatcher at DSEi protests

It’s getting to that time of year…the students are back, the weather is getting colder (so you won’t be removing your “seasonally appropriate” scarf and hood when the cops tell you to!) and the political climate is already starting to get considerably hotter.

Since this time last year, we’ve had dissent articulated in many different ways. From the regular store occupations of UK UNCUT, the university occupations, squatted freeschools and militant demonstrations of the student movement, the spectacular defiance of March 26th, several wildcat strikes in the cleaning and building trades as well as the urban uprisings in August.

This winter, there is every reason and every opportunity to get out on the streets and fight for the world that you want to live in, with whatever tactics suit you best.

But none of us can do this alone. We rely on each other for support and solidarity in the face of a common enemy: the repressive policing of our demonstrations.

If you are out at the ongoing Occupy the Stock Exchange , the Education Demonstration on November 9th  or taking part in strike action on November 30th keep an eye out for these tactics…

* Stop & Search:
You are not required to give your name and address under any stop and search power. If you see someone being stopped, ask them if they are okay. Try filming the cops doing the search if the person being searched consents to it. Witness the search. Remind them they do not have to give details. Take the cops shoulder numbers. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Tweet it. Facebook it. Use whatever means you can to let your fellow demonstrators know WHERE and WHEN it is happening.

* Arrest for Breach of the Peace:
Breach of the Peace is not a recordable offence. This means they do NOT have the power to demand your NAME, ADDRESS, DNA OR FINGERPRINTS. They are using this power to gather intelligence on people and they will keep doing it until people wise up and refuse to give them what they’re looking for. Again, communicate this.

* FIT:
You know what we’re going to say. DON’T PUT UP WITH IT. End of! Be brave. Legally speaking, you do not have to comply with overt surveillance. However, if you block their cameras from taking anyone else’s image, it may constitute an obstruction. However, the more people that do this with determination, the less likely arrest is. FIT are there to intimidate people into being ‘orderly’. If they feel their presence may cause ‘disorder’, they will leave. Once again, it is essential that you use all means at your disposal to communicate WHEN and WHERE FIT are around. Take photos. Give ’em hell!

* Mask Up:
Wear as many things as you can to defend your anonymity from the prying eyes of the surveillance state. They need to know nothing about us other than that we oppose them. If a s.60(a)(a) is in place, the police have the power to ASK YOU to remove your face coverings under threat of arrest if you don’t. If they pull it off your face, that is an assault.
Case law also dictates that it is NOT a criminal offence, under s60, to keep face coverings on if they are seasonally appropriate attire. That is, it is cold and you’re wearing a scarf and a hood etc. Whilst this little nugget of information will not stop you from getting arrested if they get their hands on you, it will likely win your court case.

It might seem like alot, but if you can familiarise yourself with this information, you will be alot safer, more confident and more assertive on demonstrations. We are also more use to each other when we are well informed. We are better placed to act in solidarity when we know what we’re doing. This is what makes us strong.

If you apply this knowledge out there on the streets, you will be taking direct action against the surveillance state. And we all know direct action gets satisfaction.

Good luck, see you on the streets!


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