3 October 2006Comment

Once upon a time there were far more political bookshops around the country than the handful left today, including several right in the heart of central London's bookselling zone around Charing Cross Road. These shops were very convenient to help the Met Police's Special Branch keep track of things - they could (and did) short-circuit a lot of research into the political scene by simply strolling up the road and buying armfuls of the radical papers and magazines on sale.

But the…

16 June 2006Feature

Just before 3am on Tuesday 23 May, around 50 police swooped on Brian Haw and his supporters in Parliament Square. Their instructions were to remove most of the anti-war display.

They brought a lorry and freight container, and unceremoniously dumped placards, cuttings, models, religious items and donated artworks, in a crammed heap into it.
    Two supporters climbed on top of the container and held up the police until they were overpowered…

16 June 2006Feature

On 8 May, Brian Haw's exemption from the ban on unauthorised protest under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) came to an end.

The Home Office won an appeal against last year's High Court decision that the Act could not be applied retrospectively and Brian's protest has, in theory, been brought under police control.

Attempts at control

Despite media headlines to the effect that this would be the end of Brian's epic stand against this government's foreign…

3 March 2006Comment

"We do not expect justice, not from this court, nor any other. We don't believe in your laws, your sentences, your jails. So why claim a right that means nothing to us? This contradiction bothers us, of course." Aubonne Support Group

The recent case of the Aubonne Bridge Two - the trial of Swiss police officers who cut two activists' climbing ropes during a blockade of the Evian G8 and caused incredible injuries - ended, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the acquittal of the police officers involved.

In the run-up to the trial, in a statement published by their support group, they acknowledged the contradictions in initiating a case against the police, calling it “reformist”, but went on to explain why, in this instance…

1 March 2006News

On 16 February 2006, two police officers were acquitted of charges of causing severe bodily harm to two activists who narrowly escaped with their lives after a police officer cut a climbing rope during an action at the protests against the G8 in Evian, Switzerland, in 2003. Despite clear video evidence that the police officers had cut the rope in question, the judge ruled that the police officers involved could not be held accountable.

In June 2003, two climbers suspended themselves…

1 December 2005News in Brief

Members of Brighton's SmashEDO campaign (see various PNs) have engaged in a unique open-letter negotiation with the local police, informing them of their planned demonstration against the EDO weapons plant on 10 December, International Human Rights Day. The letter was posted on UK Indymedia and, rather bizarrely, an open dialogue between members of SmashEDO and an officer of Sussex Police appears to have been taking place on the site.

The application for an…

1 September 2005News

"Czechtek", the electronic music festival that takes place annually in the Czech Republic, was recently brought to a violent end when over 1000 heavily armed riot police moved in and attacked revellers.

At least one person has been confirmed dead, with reports of possibly two more, and scores of injuries. The music, video and arts festival - in its 12th year - was held on private land in full compliance with Czech law, despite official statements from Czech police claiming that the…

1 September 2005News

On Saturday 13 August, shoppers in Brighton town centre witnessed the extent to which our right to protest is being curtailed, when a peaceful demonstration against arms manufacturer EDO was abruptly halted by police using heavy-handed tactics.

Around 50 peace campaigners - including the elderly and mothers with children - met at 12 noon in Churchill Square where they were greeted by police officers carrying surveillance equipment. Whilst some protesters had travelled from London,…

1 August 2005News

Anti-war activists have called for solidarity as over 20 people face charges following the demonstration against George W Bush’s UK visit in June.

In recent weeks the Metropolitan Police have arrested several people identified from video footage taken on the day, house raids have taken place, and charges brought including for “violent disorder”. The police have a special operation dedicated to the demonstration called “Operation Spring Brook”.

A police appeal was printed in the…

1 April 2005News

Early on 11 March officers from Lothian and Borders Police dismantled a large model Trident nuclear weapon submarine which had blocked the street outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh for 14 hours in a challenge to the Parliament to take a stand against Britain's weapons of mass destruction.

At 10am on 10 March the submarine had approached the Parliament building and, as it crossed the Canongate, peace activists on the inside, from Trident Ploughshares and the Theatre of War…

1 February 2005News

In November 2004 – on the day of the reopening of parliament – four anti-war activists staged a series of die-ins to highlight the slaughter in Iraq and the deafening silence of both politicians and the mainstream media. The first die-in took place outside parliament – where the four were quickly dragged off and searched under anti-social behaviour legislation. The second, outside 10 Downing Street, went on for much longer, under the bemused and sometimes supportive gaze of tourists. After…

1 December 2004News

Trident Ploughshares report that one of their pledgers - a Swedish national - was detained and questioned for three hours about next year's G8 actions

The woman, who had a warrant for non-payment of a fine from a previous Faslane protest, flew into Scotland in early November. In order to to ensure that she didn't get picked up unexpectedly on future visits, she waited to the back of the queue at immigration at Prestwick airport and then told the officers that there was a warrant…

1 September 2004Feature

Bear in mind that the police are probably much better equipped and trained for close combat than you or we. They have been psyching themselves up for hours, are likely to have plenty of reserves standing by, and usually feel confident with the law behind them. Beating the police is about outwitting them, not necessarily hitting them over the head.

In Britain the Public Order Manual of Tactical Operations and Related Matters provides the police with clear instructions for dealing…