On the eve of the mass education/sparks/cabbies proteston 9th November, it is clear the state are trying to intimidate us.
From the news today that the police have written to protesters arrested at previous demonstrations warning them off protesting (see picture), to the “total policing” of the last couple of weeks witnessed at the squatting demoand deaths in custody march (amongst others), the message is clear; attempt to protest and the state will clamp down, act violently, and make arbitrary arrests. And, if you’re unlucky enough to get caught, the courts are making sure long deterrent sentences are passed, regardless of how insignificant the individual action, in attempt to scare us away from future protest.
However, whilst even seasoned activists have admitted to being a little scared at the current state of policing, it’s not all doom and gloom, and we mustn’t be tricked into feeling intimidated. It’s nearly the anniversary of the Met’s attempt to silence Fitwatch for giving common sense advice to the Millbank protesters. This is still recommended reading, as is this Fitwatch call to action.
Above all, we should be applying the lessons we have learnt on the streets over the last year. When we don’t just ‘walk on by’, and act in solidarity with each other, we are stronger; when we act as fast mobile blocs, we are more effective and harder to contain; when we sit down or put our hands in the air, we are fodder for baton strikes and kettling; when we refuse to play the divide and rule game and condemn fellow protesters, we are more threatening.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, when we mask up, and make no comment to police questioning, we are harder to convict and lock up.
See you on the streets!
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.
* 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.
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!