“No War! No Warming! Build the People’s Economy!” The incredible Grassroots Global Justice alliance of social movements, and the It Takes Roots delegation of frontlines communities from the U.S. demand real action from Obama on climate change. Includes powerful contributions from Iraq Veterans Against the War, and from black and indigenous activists from all over the U.S.
Across the world anger is growing over the constant bombardment of the Gaza strip by the Israeli Defense Forces. The Palestinian death toll has now reached over 400 as the densely populated Hamas controlled area is pounded by shells, missiles and guided bombs. Meanwhile the Israeli death toll after over 1,000 launches of Hamas’ near useless rockets remains at two. One of those being and Israeli soldier killed by his own side which exposes the lie about how “careful” they are being to avoid the deaths of innocent people.
Another source of great anger has been the outrageously biased coverage by most of the mainstream media. Media outlets like the BBC and CCN to name just a few insist on describing these events as a ‘war’ or a ‘conflict’ giving the impression of two equal sides. Gaza has no air force, no air defense and very little capacity to strike Israel as the body counts shows all too well. On Wednesday July 15th protesters took their disgust at the nature of the coverage directly to the BBC in central London.
Despite it being Ramadam thousands of mainly Muslim demonstrators blocked the main road outside of the BBC for several hours. The event remained peaceful with just one minor scuffle when police over stepped the mark trying to prevent people from boarding a stranded bus. They backed off and the vehicle reversed out away from the crowd. Two Zionists also showed up and demonstrated their jaw dropping arrogance by trying to argue down and increasingly hostile crowd. Well done to the demonstrators for refusing to be provoked.
On Friday July 18th activists tried a more direct approach to getting the attention of the UK government by occupying the Cabinet Office in Whitehall with the demand that the UK and others stop supplying arms and money to a rogue state that flouts international law on a daily basis.
It is no secret that Israel would neither be financially nor militarily viable were it not being armed and funded by the west to the tune of several million dollars a day. It is clear that only thing that will make Israel behave itself is intervention from its foreign sponsors. Not that activists have high expectations from a government that favors Israel at every level. The blatant hypocrisy of the UK government who are turning a blind eye towards British Jews who are fighting with the IDF while arresting British Muslims who take action against the Assad regime in Syria is a recent case in point.
Finally on Saturday July 19th London saw its biggest anti war protest for many year with tens of thousands of people marching from Whitehall to the Israeli embassy.
The organisers claimed that over 100,000 people were in attendance while the BBC and Daily Mail both claimed that around 15,000 had participated. Whatever the actual figure it was clear that yet again a mostly Muslim m0bilisation had brought central London to standstill in blistering heat. During a time of year when most were fasting from sunrise for Ramadam.
It is clear that with a useless neocon like Tony Blair as Middle East peace envoy (what a sick joke!) and no sign of Israel growing a conscience any time soon, that the slaughter will continue. So are the protests expected to increase in their size and anger.
Back at The Grosvenor this Saturday for a proper old Brixton night out: Reel News will be projecting anti-gentrification films onto the luxury flats opposite (which very conveniently have a huge white covering over them at the moment) from 9pm – 10pm, featuring successful anti-gentrification protests from around the world. Then original rockers from Brixton, R.D.K. will be shaking the foundations inside the pub until the early hours…
And yes, it’s another benefit – all profits will be split between Active Zone and Reel News.
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.
Veterans for Peace (VFP) gathered today in Trafalgar square and then marched with their supporters to the Cenotaph under a banner saying ‘NEVER AGAIN’. Present were organiser Ben Griffin a former special forces soldier who left the army in disgust over its actions in Iraq and Joe Glenton who was jailed for refusing to be deployed to Afghanistan.
The organisation, which was set up by ex servicemen to raise awareness about war towards its abolition as a foreign policy, had not contacted the authorities about today’s action. Police stationed around the Whitehall Cenotaph, for what is one of the most rigidly stage managed days of the year, were initially baffled by the veterans action but allowed them to go ahead after some negotiation.
Upon reaching the monument a wreath of predominantly white poppies (symbolising peace) was laid and a veteran of D-Day sang the anti war song 1916. Following this another veteran of the more recent Afghan conflict recited the famous poem ‘Suicide in the trenches‘ by Siegfriend Sassoon. The ceremony ended traditionally with the playing of The Last Post.
Though smaller than its counterpart in the USA the UK veterans movement is increasing in popularity with ex service personnel following the disastrous deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
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.”
The battle of Balcombe is hotting up as more and more environmentalists answer the call from activists and local villagers to stop Cuadrilla from destroying the local countryside and water supply. Protesters have been slowing the arrival of equipment to the site which is now reportedly several days behind its drilling schedule. Meanwhile two activists were arrested yesterday (July 31st) for gluing themselves to the gates of the site holding up deliveries for several hours. Today an old fire engine is blocking the gate with several demonstrators locked onto it. Local people continue to welcome the activists camping at the gates by bringing food and other supplies.
Villagers have also uncovered documents from the land registry that seriously question the legality of the drilling project. Restrictions on the land include not causing “annoyance”, “nuisance” or “damage” to local people and their property. The storing of dangerous chemicals is also prohibited. So many are wondering if the police shouldn’t be arresting the drivers of the delivery lorries and giving out community service awards to the people trying to stop them?
Elsewhere the father in law of Chancellor George Osbourne has become a one man PR disaster for the Tories by saying that fracking should only occur in the “desolate” North East. He went on to alienate the rest of the North of England by saying he actually meant the North West. The Tory peer has become an instant figure of hate for everyone residing north of Watford as well as his own party’s press and communications department. With the media becoming steadily more hostile Cuadrilla Chief Executive Francis Egan has been trying to reassure local people that the drilling rig will not result in any long term damage to the environment. Today (August 1st) a coachload of activists will be arriving in Balcombe from Blackpool bringing evidence of what Cuadrilla’s activities did to their local area.
Another cause for concern among local people is the mounting cost of the police operation. Anyone attending a festival or football match will be aware that policing costs are covered as part of the ticket price. However it has emerged that Cuadrilla (a multi-billion pound company) are paying nothing towards the bill which is being picked up by local tax payers. Activists noticed a large cherry picker being brought onto the site yesterday suggesting that G4S have serious concerns about keeping it secure when/if the drilling starts. REEL NEWS contacted the Press Office of Sussex Police to ask about the cost of the operation. We were told that no figures would be available until after the protests end. Also that on Wednesday “75 officers were deployed to the protest”. We know this to be untrue as we counted 60 being used to escort the lorries in. A further 29 around the camp, 5 evidence gatherers, 6 more further down the road towards Whitmans Green, 3 police motor cyclists and four more traffic police stationed at the roundabout towards the M23. The operation is 24 hours a day. So estimates that it has cost over 1 million pounds already do not seem to be an exaggeration. Why so many police are required for what is an totally peaceful protest with local support remains a mystery?
On Saturday (July 26th) the English Volunteer Force (EVF) and South East Alliance (SEA) promised to bring “thousands” of nationalists (ie racists) onto the streets of South London for a “peoples march against terrorism”. The ‘terrorists’ presumably not including the Loyalist murderers, bombers and gangsters whose banners they like waving on protests? It became clear that a slanging match was happening with the EDL leadership when the organisers were forced to release a cringe-worthy video prior to the event.
In the end the planned 9 mile march from Woolwich to “west minster” did not happen. A group of no more than 40 assorted racists & fascists protested outside Lunar House in Croydon against immigration. The building has been the focus of BNP protests in the past. So it was unsurprising to see plenty of familiar faces there. The EVF were the biggest group who seem to be little more than a front for what is left of the National Front (NF). The NF saw a recent influx of disillusioned BNP activists who jumped ship to their miniscule party after deciding that BNP leader Nick Griffin was too liberal for their liking. Despite this, it is still a tiny organisation with few members and resources.
A massive (and no doubt expensive) police operation was deployed to protect the EVF from over 200 anti fascists who came from a broad range of groups including the PCS (whose members work at Lunar House), Unite Against Fascism and the Anti Fascist network. The racists went through their usual ritual of acting tough while being guarded by hoards of cops. Meanwhile the police demonstrated their well documented impartiality by harassing and detaining the anti fascists wherever possible. Earlier in the day some local hooligans attacked members of the press near the protest. They were grabbed by the cops as they tried to run from the scene but the police then released all but one of them to join the EVF protest. Ignoring complaints from the assembled press whom had been assaulted. Would such leniency be applied to the left?
Despite being assisted considerably by the state, the fascists seemed to have a pretty miserable time of it. It was clear that the organisers were visibly shaken by the low turnout and that many in their midst were uncomfortable in each others presence given decades of splits and acrimony in the far right. One individual with a strong Israeli accent invited pretty much every photographer present to snap his t-shirt of the extreme Zionist ‘Jewish Defence league‘. Seasoned anti fascists were highly amused to see him being photographed standing next to well known holocaust denier (and former BNP deputy leader) Richard Edmonds. We can only assume that they did not get round to chatting about thorny issues like the works of David Irving?
After less than an hour of being shouted down by anti fascists from all sides. The EVF & SEA left under heavy police protection and were escorted to Woolwich where they promptly cancelled their march and took the train to Westminster for a tedious rally outside Parliament. There they were again harangued by anti fascists while being heavily protected by the police. Not a good day for the master race…
REEL NEWS is pleased to announce that they will show our documentary Into The Fire at 8pm on Friday July 19th. We are pleased for this opportunity to support the workers at the station and their struggle to save their jobs and this important national institution. We are also pleased at this opportunity to shine a light of the plight of refugees and migrants in Greece and to infuriate the Greek government, Golden Dawn and the Greek Police.