Veterans for Peace march to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day, wearing hoodies bearing the Harry Patch quote, “War is organised murder”, and carrying a banner saying “Never Again”.
They lay a wreath of mainly white poppies with a few red ones – to remind us that the vast majority of people killed in wars are civilians, and that they – as well as soldiers from all sides of all wars – should be remembered too.
The escalating violence in occupied Palestine saw angry scenes on the streets of London on Saturday July 5th. This was part of a worldwide protest over recent human rights violations by the state of Israel.
The recent murder of 3 teenagers from an illegal settlement has seen Israel react with a series of raids, house demolitions and bombings of targets on the Gaza strip. There is no evidence to link Hamas to the murders. In a truly horrific revenge attack settlers kidnapped a Palestinian boy in East Jerusalem and tortured and murdered him. Autopsy finding suggest that he was burned alive by his attackers. Arrests have been made though the homes of the detained individuals face no threat of destruction despite being on stolen land. In another incident caught on camera a cousin of the murdered boy was badly beaten by Israeli police. He is an American citizen so the attack has attracted more publicity than is usual with these cases.
In London, up to 1,000 people attended a protest outside the heavily protected Israeli Embassy in Kensington. A symbolic ‘die in’ at the Embassy gates became a full on blockade with hundreds of people in the road forcing the police to close it. Traffic was briefly diverted and buses stacked up nearby until the police brought in around 80 officers to push the protesters back into their pen across the road from the entrance to the embassy. REEL NEWS remains baffled at how such unlimited police resources remain available to protect the Embassy of a rogue state in these times of cuts and austerity. Meanwhile no officers were available to stop just 7 racists from the fascist Britain First group from invading 2 Mosques down the road in Kent during Ramadam.
It is with great sadness that we have learned of the sudden death of RMT General Secretary Bob Crow at the age of just 52. He was a trade union leader like no other constantly fighting and winning for his members.
Bob came from a humble background leaving school at 16 to work on the railways. He progressed through the forerunners of the RMT becoming a national officer and then General Secretary of the RMT in 2002. For ten years he led the union never giving an inch to the bosses. From the tunnels of the London Underground to the oil rigs of the North Sea, workers represented by Bob had enormous respect for his methods as they saw their pay and conditions improve under his leadership.
Aside from his Trade Union work Bob was passionate about international issues and local social justice. He supoorted the Tomlinson family after Ian (a fellow supporter of his beloved Millwall) was killed by the Police at the G20 protests in London. He was also an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause and a vociferous critic of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
RMT organiser Mac McKenna who spoke at our last REEL NEWS monthly event said: “They hated him; the chancers and the spivs, the privatisers and the bullies, the toffs and the Tories, they all despised him, cos he wouldn’t be ‘reasonable’, he wouldn’t be ‘modern’, he wouldn’t accept that ‘the market’ was best. Instead, he led a trade union that tried, very successfully at times, to defend its members interests, save jobs, push up pay and improve conditions. At a time of stagnating or declining trade union membership, the RMT grew; and it grew because workers could see the RMT was prepared to fight. Proper fight. Not just words and resolutions, but strike action, and Bob would go on TV and defend his members for taking strike action and lay the blame firmly on the bosses. When a Circle line train driver was sacked for playing squash while off sick, Bob turned up at his press conference and presented the driver with a new squash racquet. It was that sort of ‘fuck you’ that made it worth being in the RMT. So long Bob, it was a privilege to be a part of the fight with you.”
Bob leaves behind a proud legacy. Although his life was cut painfully short, his last great battle to save jobs and ticket offices on London Underground saw massive public support and tory mayor Boris Johnson humiliated. His example will be the toughest of acts to follow. Our thoughts are with his family and comrades.
The strike by RMT and TSSA station staff on London underground is looking solid as it goes into its second day. The only line working appears to be the Northern Line, which is running a very limited service relying on ASLEF drivers and members who are not part of the dispute.
Last night a strike rally was held outside Euston station just before the dispute began. RMT Deputy General Secretary Steve Hedley told the assembled crowd that Transport For London had refused to negotiate and made the strike inevitable. He also commented on the hypocrisy of the media who had hailed station staff as heroes when they had rescued people trapped in tunnels during the 7/7 bombings but were now saying they were surplus to requirements.
This morning commuters were walking across central London bridges in their droves to get to work. Many more were waiting for a very long time for overcrowded buses. There were also chaotic scenes at many major stations.
The mainstream media have steadfastly refused to report on the real issues surrounding the dispute. Instead papers like the Mail and Sun have run irrelevant and childish stories about the holiday and living arrangements of RMT leader Bob Crow. Also complaining about his “fat cat salary”. Rank hypocrisy coming from news outlets whose owners earn billions while avoiding their taxes.
The strike centres around a plan by London Mayor Boris Johnson to close London Underground ticket offices losing nearly 1,000 jobs. This is against his own election pledge when he stood for mayor. Many campaigners fear that this will make public transport less accessible to the elderly, disabled and also foreign visitors on whom the London economy is so reliant. This morning Boris evaded many of the key questions being put to him by the media at London Bridge station while talking up the idea of a fully automated underground system.
The strike is due to run until 9.30 pm on Thursday with more action planned for next week.
The EDL managed to attract just 150 hate-filled racists to Slough for their “National Demo” on Saturday. Their smallest national turnout ever. One of their coaches had just 8 people on it and their organisers were heard begging their supporters for cash at their rally in the town centre. Splits and internal rows have clearly taken their toll. If calling this protest was an attempt a energizing an organisation that is in rapid decline, it seriously backfired. Many of them were complaining about the low turnout and poor organisation on twitter before the event even started.
Will no pubs open to get tanked up in before the march began. Bored EDL supporters were contained by the police at the station for nearly 3 hours. Nearby anti fascists jeered and heckled as half empty mini buses rolled in with the dregs of what is left of their active base. A group of local Asian men got as close as the police would allow to the racists and unfurled two unions jacks chanting: “St George was an Arab” at them.
When the march eventually started, what should have been a ten minute walk, took over an hour as antifascists blocked the route. A counter protest called by Slough Trades Council & local UAF attracted well over 100 people. The same numbers were mobilised by the Anti Fascist Network and at least a further 100 local youths turned out and joined the antifascists leaving the EDL massively outnumbered and in need of heavy police protection.
The police did disappoint charging into the counter protest on the high street with shields and horses. This to clear the route for the EDL, who threw glass bottles into the midst of the contained anti fascists injuring at least one person. Having pushed the counter protest back towards the shopping centre the police were then met by a mixture of anti fascists and local youth further down the road. The stand off was eventually broken when the police charged again with batons dogs and horses also scattering terrified locals out shopping with their children. Many local people were furious finding themselves banned from their own high street or imprisoned in shops until the EDL rally had finished.
Despite locking down the entire town centre the police found getting the EDL back to the station just as difficult. Many anti fascists had regrouped and continued to heckle the racists and block their way home. As usual the ‘master race’ challenged everyone to a fight from the safety of their mobile kettle behind their riot cop protectors. The locals laughed and jeered at them telling them to come back without their security guards. More dogs and horses were deployed to clear anti fascists blocking the road near the station.
Slough can now add its name to the proud role call of places that are no go areas for the shrinking remnants of the EDL. Anyone interested in witnessing the agonising death of this loathsome phenomenon in person should head to Brighton for their next grand humiliation on April 27th.
Today thousands of Fire and Rescue Service workers came from across Britain to protest at the government’s plans for their workplaces. The national demo was called by the Fire Brigades Union and exceeded the expected numbers despite the torrential rain.
Their main grievances are the raising of fire fighters working age to 60 which many see as ridiculous given the very physical nature of the work. The closure of fire stations in city areas which many believe will increase response times and therefore cost lives. Also the attack on members pensions is seen as a cynical move by a government prepared to spend billions bailing out banks.
As the protest passed through Whitehall hundreds of Firefighters broke from the route and mobbed around Downing Street. Seven very nervous police stood between them and the gates though the protest remained peaceful and good humored if extremely loud. Recent protests by Fire Fighters in Belgium have reminded many of the potential that they have to humiliate the state and its agents.
The BNPs protest outside the Lunar House UK Border Agency HQ turned out to be small in numbers, pathetic in outlook and actually quite boring. For a party that previously had an elected London Assembly member and 12 councillors, the 27 strong demonstration was pitiful. Considerably less than the shambolic turnout by (EDL splinter group) the EVF a few weeks earlier at the same location.
After their arrival, under heavy Police police protection, the BNP spent the next two hours sitting around looking bored as their Italian mayoral candidate Carlos Cortiglia cured everyone’s insomnia with a succession of rambling speeches and barking mad conspiracy theories. According to Carlos, the UNITE trade union is campaigning to scrap the age of consent at the behest of the Labour Party which is itself a front for an enormous paedophile ring or something. The strange reality occupied by the BNP is even more paranoid and delusional than that of the EDL.
The BNP youth wing (if it still exists) was nowhere to be seen with half the demo made up of mostly male, middle-aged oddballs. The other half looking like a racist remake of Last of the Summer Wine.
As the protest dragged on the nazis looked increasingly bored and demoralised. Back in the 90s the Croydon BNP branch was one the biggest and most active in the country. On Saturday their presence was laughable with local black and Asian residents wandering past their demo looking neither impressed nor intimidated.
The only incidents that lit up the dullness of the occasion was a banner drop by South London Antifascists and a brief intervention by two extremely drunk EDL supporters who attempted to challenge the entire UAF demo to a fight. They were quickly bundled into a subway by the police before their alcohol-induced desire for martyrdom could be fulfilled.
After what seemed like a tedious eternity of playing megaphone tennis with the UAF, the BNP were eventually escorted back to East Croydon at around 3pm.
On the night of September 17th, the 34-year old antifascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas (aka Killah P) was murdered by a member of fascist party Golden Dawn, who received 7% in the 2012 elections. Find out more.
Today, September 21s, antifascists gathered outside the Greek embassy in a show of solidarity to Greek antifascists and in memory of the latest victim of murderous Golden Dawn.
On Saturday Sept 7th the racist English Defence League (EDL) had promised to bring thousands of its intellectually challenged supporters to the multi-faith East London borough of Tower Hamlets. Their previous attempt to march past the East London Mosque in 2011 had ended in failure with the EDL being kept out of the area, harassed by anti fascists around Liverpool street and one of their coaches being trashed. This time they announced that they would rally in Altab Ali park, a community space named after a Bangladeshi textile worker whom was killed in a racist attack in 1978.
A broad range of organisations including East End United, London Anti Fascists and Unite Against fascism vowed to stop them entering Tower Hamlets supported by the TUC, RMT, CWU, UNITE and various other trade unions and faith groups. By 11am thousands of people were in the park while the EDL (who numbered between 5 & 700) gathered south of London bridge. The racist mobilisation was far smaller than the recent gathering of the EDL in Birmingham despite the murder of Lee Rigby in South East London and the date having no domestic football fixtures, which would have boosted the EDL’s hooligan contingent.
The previous attempt by EDL leaders to enter Tower Hamlets had ended in humiliation with their self-styled leader Tommy Robinson getting arrested while crying to the police after being smacked by an anti fascist. This time the EDL were prevented by the police from entering the borough after seeing the size of the opposition to their presence. Robinson (aka former BNP organiser Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) was arrested again, this time for breaching his bail conditions and incitement.
A determined group of militant anti fascists attempt to confront the EDL as they crossed Tower bridge but were detained by a massive police operation. Meanwhile anti racist groups and local people left Altab Ali park and blocked the main route through Whitechapel to ensure the EDL’s non attendance. They then marched to East London Mosque after the EDL had been escorted back across the river in defeat. By this stage it was clear that anti fascists were outnumbering the EDL by at least 3-1.
Meanwhile the police detained everyone who had left the designated protest area in two ‘kettles’ for several hours. They then systematically arrested all the detainees and put them onto buses that had been clearly prepared for the occasion. They had employed similar tactics back in June when the UAF and South London Antifascists had ruined their plans to facilitate a march by the fascist BNP from parliament to Whitehall.
In the end over 280 antifascists were arrested. Most of them released after a few hours with bail conditions that prevent them from going near racist and fascist organisations.
More worryingly the police also arrested Legal Observers from Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG) treating them with the same measures as the demonstrators. In the past the police have not exactly be pleased to see the volunteers from LDMG but have allowed them to do their job and recognised their role as observers rather than participants.
The behaviour of the police towards the detained protestors and legal observers raises several questions about civil liberties. If no charges against the detained are pressed or they are found not guilty then legal action against the police is very likely. It is possible that the European Convention on Human Rights was violated in several areas including article 10 (freedom of expression) and article 11 (freedom of assembly). Meanwhile the confiscation (and no doubt copying) the legal observers notes is in contravention to article 6 (right to a fair trial).
The arrest of five clearly identifiable legal observers in the Mansell street kettle has resulted in an angry statement from LDMG with more expected to follow. Tony Martin one of the coordinators said “The arrest of five Legal Observers is outrageous. Although we have had individual Legal Observers arrested before, this is a very rare occurrence. What is different on this occasion is that the decision was taken at a very senior level of the Metropolitan Police.”