Activism

1 April 2022Comment

How to hold a destructive quango to account – part two in a series

In 2015, I went with Peace News’ Emily Johns to the Hastings home of John Shaw, director of SeaChange, the ‘not for profit economic development company’ for East Sussex.

SeaChange – a private company – has been given millions of pounds of public money to ‘regenerate’ Hastings.

This ‘regeneration’ has included building the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in the teeth of fierce local opposition (see PN 2658).

Emily and I had come from the site of SeaChange’s latest…

1 April 2022Review

Goldsmith Press, 2020; 432pp; £32

Having volunteered with a small religious group supporting homeless refugees in Calais and London, I resonated strongly with this book. In particular, it helped me to see, in hindsight, our contribution as part of an extraordinary international mobilisation of volunteers endeavouring to provide refugees and migrants with on-the-ground help.

The book is divided geographically into ‘flashpoints’; places where refugees and migrants gathered to cross borders or found their journey across…

1 February 2022Feature

Some other acquitted activists respond to the historic Colston Four verdict

To mark the Colston Four acquittal, we asked some other campaigners who’d been found ‘not guilty’ in protest cases for their reactions. We’ve put them in chronological order of their earliest not-on-technical-grounds acquittal (some of them have multiple court victories).

Chris Cole:

I was delighted to see the acquittal of the Colston Four for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it kept an evidently lovely bunch of people out of jail.

Secondly, it led to a whole raft of MPs…

1 February 2022Comment

Starting a new series: how a brilliant activist has held a secretive quango to account.  

Nine years ago, I was part of a big campaign to stop the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road, a monstrosity of a road that threatened fragile habitats in the service of ‘opening up’ land for development. We were also promised, of course, that it would reduce congestion on the coast road between the two towns – a promise that would be greeted with a hollow laugh by anyone with the slightest knowledge of road-building and ‘induced demand’ (more roads create more traffic).

It was a hard-fought…

1 December 2021News

Report from Youth & Student CND rep

This October, I went to Catalonia with three other representatives from Youth and Student CND (YSCND) to the International Peace Bureau (IPB) World Peace Congress in Barcelona. We were there to run a workshop, ‘“Protest and Survive”: Youth, Peace and Enduring Time’. It was an intergenerational workshop, designed to provide a space for different generations of the peace movement to learn from each other through the medium of games, discussions and pre-recorded videos.

As well as…

1 October 2021Review

Luath Press, 2021; 224pp; £12.99

For me, the most interesting chapter in Activism for Life was ‘Answering questions from a young activist’, in which Angie Zelter reflects on what makes for effective action and on her support for the direct action tactics used by current movements.

Most of the book, though, is storytelling along with an archive collection. Zelter covers 50 years of nonviolent direct action campaigns – from Greenham Common to the founding of XR Peace.

As she recounts her own experiences…

1 October 2021News

Palestine Action campaigner freed as campaign continues

A Palestine Action (PA) activist was released from Foston Hall prison after a 37-day hunger strike soon after our last issue went to the printers, on 23 July.

Yogi Bear had been remanded to prison on 17 June after refusing to accept extremely restrictive bail conditions following a PA occupation of the Arconic Factory in Birmingham. (See PN 2655.) They were released after the conditions were reduced to simply remaining in one fixed abode, which they were willing to accept.…

28 September 2020Feature

In January, we asked activists and groups around the country what they thought campaigners should be doing – this year and over the next 10 years. These are the responses we received.

Ali Tamlit (pictured right)

I’m interested in questions of: What does care look like? How can we support one another as whole people and communities – rather than seeing each other’s value in ‘productive’ activist times and then disappearing in times of burnout. And also how to balance accountability within this care?

Beyond this, as we go into the 2020s, although many positives will also happen, I think it’s important to acknowledge some trends which are likely to get worse: the…

1 June 2020Feature

A look inside the creativity fuelling the US struggle to defund the police

It’s hard to keep up when the world lurches from pandemic to racial justice uprising seemingly overnight. After months of living in a quarantine pressure cooker, amidst a global pandemic that’s thrown millions out of work, exposed the vicious inequities of our current capitalist system and killed hundreds of thousands, masses of people hit a breaking point.

Fuelled by their righteous rage about the videotaped killing of George Floyd, people have flooded the streets and taken the fight…

1 December 2019News in Brief

The Metropolitan police more than doubled their spending on policing the protests against the DSEI arms fair in East London, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The cost this September was £2.4m, whereas it was only £978,000 the last time in 2017.

The Met spent £21m dealing with XR in October, much more than the £16m it spent in April.

By 10 October, XR itself had raised just over £2.5m in 12 months, according to the Financial Times.…

1 December 2019News

Bexhill meeting explores UN Charter

At a meeting on 26 October, Bexhill and Hastings United Nations Association (UNA) explored the UN’s meaning of peace by working through the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations.

Bruce Kent (Movement for the Abolition of War) discussed how ‘We the peoples’ can actually ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’.

Chris Coverdale (Make War History) suggested ways to end Britain’s perpetual involvement in war, including persuading taxpayers to obey the…

1 December 2019Feature

An XR act of gratitude to Brixton police officers was painful and racist

My work as coordinator of the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) has kept me busy for some months now supporting the rights of Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaigners to exercise their freedom of assembly.

XR activists have been out on the streets since 7 October and over 1,400 have been arrested so far. Now the police have abandoned any pretence at facilitating their rights and have imposed a blanket ban on XR protests covering the whole of London.

As well as…

1 December 2019Comment

Cath Bann is caught up in the maelstrom

I never made an actual decision to join XR Peace; I was caught up in the maelstrom that is Angie Zelter. One minute I was in a meeting about blockading DSEi, the next we were discussing the finer details of using Yorkshire CND’s mock Trident missile to block the MoD on the Embankment on 7 October.

I hadn’t previously been involved in Extinction Rebellion as I had little time and some misgivings. These stemmed from the fact that I broadly share Peace News’ critique of XR,…

1 October 2019Feature

Another extract from the Climate Resistance Handbook

Demonstrations for democracy in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar, in 1990. Photo: Mongolian Democratic Union

This is an extract from The Climate Resistance Handbook – or, I was part of a climate action. Now what? written by Daniel Hunter with a foreword by Greta Thunberg. Published by 350.org, this 68-page book is being mass distributed in the UK at cost…

1 August 2019Feature

Some thoughts on how to improve meetings from a fed-up campaigner

Franz Sedlacek, Ghosts on a Tree (1933) via WikiArt

I think there are two major reasons why people come to public meetings (and, to a lesser extent, organising meetings). First, they come to learn facts and perspectives about ‘an issue’ – to get beyond the headlines. If you’re not particularly confident around the skills of tracking down different sources and perspectives and comparing and contrasting them, then this can be a relatively efficient way of getting information.