Solidarity Against #Spycops

NCND1It has been over five years since we learned that Mark “Marco” Jacobs was not just another anarchist in the south Wales activist scene, but was actually an undercover police officer. We made all the relevant political points about the matter in our statement at the time: “They come at us because we are strong

Since then a number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account.

spycopsSince we first filed an application in court, both sets of Police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice, giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence of all aspects of Officer Jacobs (and all other undercover police) deployment.

On Wednesday 25th March we will be in the Royal Courts of Justice in London attempting to strike out this non-defence.

The night before we are in London we will be holding a protest outside Cardiff Central Police Station to draw attention to the case and the problem of undercover political policing in general.

Protest outside Cardiff Central Police Station, King Edward VIII Avenue, CF10
Tuesday 24th March, 6pm – 8pm (facebook event)

Then please join us if you can in a Solidarity picket of the court before the case starts.

Picket outside Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2 (Holborn or Temple tube)
Wednesday 25th March, 9am – 10am (facebook event)

It was recently announced that there will be a full public inquiry into political undercover policing. Though this is welcome, providing it is transparent, robust and independent, such exercises are unlikely to ever offer any path to justice. It is particularly unlikely that the truth about the role of undercover police in suppressing political activism in the UK will come to light whilst would-be whistleblowers have the threat of prosecution hanging over them.

Statement against Police Harassment

Police in Bristol appear to be stepping up their so far fruitless efforts to find individual anarchists and those that they think are responsible for property destruction actions over the last few years in Bristol. One year after their firearms training centre at Portishead was burnt down, they have turned to desperate measures to try and get any scrap of useful information.

They have made a number of arrests, detained people at airports, and raided people’s homes. The majority of people targeted have not even been charged with a crime, and we do not know of anyone who has been successfully prosecuted. Further, officers from CID have recently visited people at their homes under the pretext of having “a friendly chat”. Not surprisingly, they have been met with a resounding wall of silence with no cups of tea involved, as most good people understand the importance of not getting drawn into conversations with the police. Even if any one of the people recently harassed by these visits knew anything about these actions or the people involved, we are confident that common sense and solidarity would prevail and the police would get the sum total of zero information. Anything else would be working for the police.

These home visits, arrests, searches and requests to snitch are not just about information and evidence gathering. They have as much to do with a concerted effort to intimidate and divide us all. A big part of their plan is to scare people into inaction and to create divisions between us. They hope to get us blaming each other for increased surveillance to the point where someone falls for their lies and starts talking to the bad guys. These are tactics that have been used against social movements in countless places and times.

But they won’t work here in Bristol. None of us will ever co-operate with those whose job it is, all in the name of “security” and “safety”, to defend the rich and powerful while keeping us down.

We know that we are not the only people who face repression from the police – in no way do we want to compare what is happening to us to the things they are doing to others, for example their systematic use of anti-terrorism powers against people they see as Muslim. We oppose all police brutality and harassment, whoever they do it to. We also understand the need to stick together in the face of state control and repression. Anarchists and others targeted by the police have a wide range of opinions and preferred tactics, but we know who our comrades are and recognise the enemies at our front doors.

Signed:

Bristol Defendant Solidarity
Bristol Anarchist Black Cross
South Wales Anarchists
Bristol Solidarity Network
Bristol Legal Observer Network
Bristol SolFed
Kebele Social Centre
Riot Ska Records
Rising Tide
Spanner
Bristol Hunt Saboteurs
Empty Cages Collective
Bristol AFed

Here is some useful information on dealing with the police, both on the street and at your front door….
There are no friendly chats with the police! If police try to talk to you, we recommend you refuse to answer anything – answer “no comment” or “I am not obliged to answer that” to all questions. This isn’t just about protecting others – any other response will be taken by them as a sign of weakness, and they may hassle you more as a result. The ONLY time you legally have to tell them anything other than your name and address is if you are stopped at an airport under “Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act”. Even then, you do NOT have to answer questions about others, and they can ONLY ask you questions related to terrorism. If this happens to you, request a solicitor.

If police come to your door, do not let them in unless you have to. The only times they can force entry are when they have a warrant, when someone who lives at your house has been arrested, or in order to prevent a crime from happening. If you live in a shared house and someone is arrested, they can ONLY search communal areas and the room of the person arrested.

Dealing with police can be upsetting and intimidating, so it’s important that we support each other. Counselling For Social Change may be able to help if you need to talk through anything that’s happened http://www.counsellingforsocialchange.org.uk. Activist Trauma Support has a list of resources to help understand and deal with trauma – http://www.activist-trauma.net. The most important thing is to give each other space to talk without being given advice, and not to be left to deal with things alone.


Bristol Defendant Solidarity
is a group of local people committed to putting principles of solidarity into practice and standing alongside anyone facing trouble from authorities for involvement in radical politics. Anyone approached and harassed by the police to give information about people involved in struggle, here in Bristol or elsewhere, can contact BDS for support. We are also compiling a list of arrests, home visits and interviews at airports so far to get a clear picture of their lines of questioning, to track their operations and to use in any future court cases that people may want to bring against them.

Contact:
bristoldefendantsolidarity@riseup.net
07746741104

We have compiled a more extensive guide to police powers and your rights if they target you, which you can read here: bristolabc.wordpress.com/defendant-solidarity/police-harassment

Mayday Mayhem For Police As Summer of Rage Continues!

The head of the march as it charged through the streets of Brighton

South Wales Anarchists joined up to 2000 people from around the UK in Brighton on May 4th for the largest demonstration to date against Brighton based ‘EDO/MBM’ bomb component factory, organised by Smash EDO.

The MayDay Mayday Street Party against war, the arms trade and capitalism was a lively and colourful march that started at Brighton’s sea front. It continued through the town and paid visits to a number of local branches of multi-national corporations, including McDonalds, RBS, HSBC and Lloyds which invest in ITT, the corporation which owns EDO.

Activists scaled scaffolding on Barclays bank to drop a banner demanding “arms dealers out of Brighton”. Police paid special attention to protect a branch of McDonalds which proved to be a flash point with a police van nearly being tipped over and a flare set off underneath it.

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Mayday McMayhem outside a certain fast 'food' outlet that owns 61,500 shares in ITT

Compared with previous EDO demos, policing was relatively hands-off initially, without the automatic attempt by police to cordon every man, woman, child or dog in sight. However, batons and pepper spray were used on activists during the day as riot police attempted to control the march and activists successfully forced back mounted police a number of times. Of course, the police ‘Forward Intelligence Teams’ were present but were forced to retreat behind police lines as FIT- watching activists made their job of intrusively filming protestors more difficult.

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

A police officer attempts to de-escalate the situation...

It seemed that many activists had learnt from the G20 protests and refused to be drawn into long fights with the police. Activists instead found alternative routes and kept moving around the streets when unable to break through police lines quickly, outwitting the cops and leaving them stranded waiting for orders. At one point the cops themselves were ‘kettled’ (penned in) thanks to protestors’ quick thinking. The demonstrators’ refusal not to be kettled or subjected to violence by the police meant that officers were often surrounded and outflanked.

Towards the evening, as the march appeared to retire to the park by St. Peters church and just as riot police had storm-trooped away, the party took to the streets again taking us all by surprise! The streets were again re-claimed by activists and local young people, running through the streets of Brighton, through the Pavilion and back towards the beach for more partying.

Police on the back foot

Police on the back foot

Many felt that the police were on the back-foot at this time since the G20 protests and due to the associated bad press officers received for their tactics. While the police may have been aware of the public eye upon them and tried to behave themselves a bit more on this occasion, the fact is that the police continue to protect private corporations who profit from war and death; meeting resistance to this with violence and repression. While slightly less violent and oppressive policing may be an improvement, better still would be no police at all and the complete freedom to shut down EDO and all corporations who are responsible for the continuation of the bloody war machine.

Some People Push Back

g20-police-medicOne of the most important points to be made about the policing of the G20, other than the attempted cover up of the death of Ian Tomlinson, is the fact that heavy handed policing is not uncommon.  Events such as the climate camp, the G8 summit protests and, more recently, the protests against the blockade and invasion of Gaza have all been met by brutality from the police, resulting in injuries to protesters.

Throughout the G20 demonstrations there were baton charges and aggravation by the police, who claimed that their policing was a response to the violence initiated by protesters. As many who attended would agree, this was not the case. After being penned into a kettle, without food, water or toilets, tempers are clearly going to rise. Even so, it was not the protesters who initiated the violence. Standing on Threadneedle Street in front of police lines, in a huge crush of people, we noticed the police starting to advance, though quite where they thought we’d go was anyone’s guess. When they met with the slightest resistance, they drew batons and lashed out. This provoked a response from those in danger of being hit, and ultimately turned a peaceful protest into the scenes witnessed later on.

g20-protests-g20-protests-012On the other hand, one of the biggest successes for protesters that has not been reported was the effectiveness of group action. Soon after our arrival at the Bank of England, it was clear the police were trying to pen us in. A group of 20-30 protesters, wearing masks (to both conceal their identity and as a show of solidarity to make it difficult to apprehend specific people) formed a square block and walked quickly into police lines, in a non-violent manner, to assert their right to move freely. It worked to great effect. With the police not yet organised and caught unaware, 75% of the group made it out of the cordon before the police could reform. Despite the attempts by the police, those remaining managed to prevent any arrests being made.

This minor action shows the importance of working together and quick decision making in protests. If we as activists don’t like the tactic of kettling, it is not up to us to wait for any authority to prevent it; we need to take matters into our own hands. Working as a group is extremely effective and using directly confrontational actions can produce excellent results, as shown by those who broke out of the block and didn’t have to spend the day trapped in a cordon.

Cardiff musician and family lucky not to be murdered by south Wales police!

                                                                                                                                                                           victor-frederickOn 12 February 2009, as a police helicopter hovered overhead, four heavily armed cops raided the Grangetown home of jazz musician Victor Frederick, 63, his partner, Andrea Heath and their 12 year-old daughter.

 

 

Ms Heath described what happened:

“I heard some scuffling sound and shouting. When I opened the door there were four police officers armed with machine guns which had infra-red sights.

“The whole street had been cordoned off. I could see Victor in his underpants outside with police training guns on him. Other officers trained their guns on me. I was told I would be shot if I moved. It was absolutely terrifying.

“Our daughter was upstairs. She told me later that she had a camera and thought about taking pictures of the police activity and commotion. It’s awful to think what might have happened if the police had seen a camera flash from the upstairs window and assumed it was a gun.”

Mr Frederick was arrested under suspicion of possessing materials likely to be used for making explosives and hauled off to Rumney nick where he was held for 24 hours before being released without charge.  

In a published letter to Barbara Wilding, south Wales chief cop, Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood writes: “When [Mr Frederick] asked for [handcuffs] to be loosened, he tells me they were deliberately tightened to the extent that he was in extreme pain and circulation was cut off.

“He tells me that the police officers armed with machine guns appeared extremely nervous. They did not seem to have any background knowledge of why they were there. Other officers both in uniform and in plain clothes said they did not know what was going on…The family feels lucky and relieved that all three members are alive.”

And just what suspicious material did the cops find in Mr Frederick’s recording studio? A Mohammed Ali boxing video and a west Indian drink called mauby.

And as for south Wales cops? Still insisting, as they had done for the past six weeks, that officers had acted “in good faith based on genuine concerns”…until yesterday, that is, less than 24 hours after a much-publicised press conference given by Mr Frederick, Ms Heath and Ms Wood. Mr Frederick has now received a hand-delivered letter from Superintendent Bob Tooby, Deputy Divisional Commander of C Division, offering the family an unreserved apology. Bob has also offered to repair the damage the cops did to the family’s home.

Our advice? Tear the letter up and sue Barbara Wilding and her thugs for every penny you can get! But that won’t change much. South Wales cops seem to be out of control. We wonder how many other people have been terrorised by them and how many more will suffer at the hands of these people in “authority” who are meant to “serve” the community…

Resist police repression.

Gagged! 26

gagcover264Issue 26 of our newsletter is out now! featuring articles on Welsh assembly war crimes, death in Gaza, protests, Cardiff university occupation, shut down Aerolink 2009, G20 meltdown, police repression, deportations, the Cardiff anarchist book fair and much, much more!

Download GAGGED! #26 on .pdf

As well as our own input we have contributions from No Borders South WalesCardiff Anarchist Black CrossWestside Climate Action and FITwatch – if you want to see a story in Gagged! just get in touch!