Short UK news items from Black Flag #215 1998.
Knowle West Riot
Coming only weeks after the massive police mobilisation brought out to prevent "mob violence" at the Reclaim the Streets demonstration at Easter, Bristol police were thrown into complete disarray when Broadbury Road police station in Knowle West was attacked by a huge crowd of rioters.
Bottles, bricks and petrol bombs were rained down on police lines and the station following a protest over released child killer Sidney Cooke.
Only days earlier residents in St Pauls had protested angrily at the idea that Cooke should be housed in a bail hostel there. When it was alter rumoured that he had been taken to Broadbury Road, local residents came out to voice their objection.
After receiving no hint of confirmation or denial form the police that Cooke was being held there , tempers boiled over when officers in riot gear started lining up outside the station. Heavy handed police tactics coupled with their unswerving arrogance was all that was needed to tilt the protest into full scale conflict.
Residents from all parts of Knowle converged on the station and gave full vent to their anger. The arrival of police reinforcements along with dogs and more vans served only to inflame the situation . Local residents were having none of it. In the ensuing riot 46 officers were injured, windows in the station smashed and several cars set alight.
Police had plainly forgotten how quickly a community can react against them. The following day police spokesmen moved swiftly to lay the blame upon "outsiders" and the catch-all rentamob. Failing to explain just who these "outsiders" and "mob" were. The same mob they vowed but failed to stop at the Reclaim the Streets demo perhaps ?
By the large number of Knowle West residents choosing to riot a number of messages were delivered. Particularly that out on the council estates there is still a genuine hatred of the police that can be ignited at any moment: That places like Knowle can only be dumped on for so long before reacting. That there are common links between the black working class of the inner city and the white working class of the estates. That the liberal bleaters calling for "calm" and "tolerance" are hypocrites in that none of them are offering child sex killers a place to stay in their homes and communities. And amongst the dross of the media reportage- the sparkle of class war summed up by one resident's quote: "Why doesn't he go to Clifton or Sneyd Park- but I don't suppose there is any chance of that ?"
[ Bristle Box 25,82 Colston St, Bristol BS1 5BB]
Genetically Modified Food: Policing The News
On Monday 20th July, video footage sold to HTV by Bristol network 'i-Con-tact' made top news all day. Bulletins in the West of England led with film of, and interviews with, exasperated citizens pulling up the Genetically Modified crops most of us know to be unsafe. The next day HTV's news editor, John Alcock, got a visit from the police. They wanted to know who and where the film came from and to take a copy as evidence. John made it clear that they'd have to get a court order first and handed them a copy of the previous night's broadcast.
Two weeks later the high court ruled that it was powerless to interfere with a GM test field next to an organic farm in Devon despite its illegality. On Mon 3rd August i-Contact were tipped off that a group from the Genetic Engineering Network may respond by pulling up crops again. This time though, cameraman Ben Edwards was stopped in his tracks. Before he'd got any worthwhile film, before protesters had even got to the offending field, he was arrested with the protesters on 'suspicion of conspiracy to cause criminal damage'.
Ben was kept in Tomes police station for 24 hours while a team from Trinity Road police station in Bristol searched his home. Fellow i-Contact founder Tony Gosling was there when the police arrived. He checked their warrant then watched helplessly as the police went through Ben's room earmarking the i-Contact computer, video tapes and piles of documents. Tony called The Press Gazette who were anxious to cover the story and he was interviewed for about ten minutes by Andrew Johnston. When Tony put the phone down one of the policemen asked him who he had been talking to and Tony told him. The cop warned him that by calling the press he could be "perverting the cause of justice." The article was subsequently pulled. Andrew Johnston claims this was an editorial decision of the Press Gazette.
Keeping a watchful eye on the police going through Ben's room, Tony then called HTV's newsdesk. The news editor immediately sent a cameraman round. As he arrived outside the five policemen beat a hasty retreat with armfuls of Ben's belongings, including the i-Contact computer and video tapes. HTV's cameraman filmed them as they drove off. This and Ben's overturned bedroom were on HTV news Tuesday evening. The loss of the computer has effectively put i-Contact out of action. One their services had been an environmental video e-mail list with an international list of subscribers.
Ben was released on Tuesday evening without charge and bailed to return to Tomes on September 24th. The cops refused to return his £2000 digital camcorder ensuring no more i-Contact coverage of the GM food issue. When Tony contacted the inspector, who signed the search warrant, he was told the camera would be retained for the foreseeable future as "evidence is prioritised". When asked how the camera could be evidence, the detective in charge of the case, Peter Gartrell, replied: "we don't have facilities to copy the tape, so we need to keep the camera". Monsanto and their colleagues at MAFF were clearly unhappy about the coverage HTV gave to the GM issue and are certainly involved in a conspiracy far more serious than that alleged of the protesters.
From an article by Tony Gosling posted on the net. i-Contact video network: c/o 76 Mina Road, Bristol BS2 9XQ. Tel/Fax: 0117 914 0188
Steve Hedley Victimised by railway management
Steve Hedley is a trade unionist, a member of the rail union RMT, and is the local staff representative for GTRM workers at Euston. The RMT is currently in dispute with the infrastructure companies set up on the rail network under privatisation for better pay and conditions, Steve Hedley is seen by GTRM as a thorn in their side for insisting on safe working practises - always a barrier to the pursuit of profit.
On July 2nd a contractors van was driven straight at the picket line at Euston. The next morning Steve was identified as having damaged a wing mirror on the van and was arrested. The description from the contractor was of someone wearing a bomber jacket, jeans and brown boots, which couldn't have been Steve, and he has not been charged yet.
However, management have used this flimsy accusation to discipline Steve. On July 29th, Steve was sacked. Steve has 5 kids and is likely to be blacklisted. Witness statements from scabs used by management are contradictory and show that this is just a stitch-up.
Ring or fax the GTRM management to express your disgust and demand that he is reinstated immediately. GTRM phone number is 01923 207 306, fax is 01293 207 428. Send messages of support and cheques made to 'RMT Strike Support Group' to 145 Imperial Avenue, Victorian Road, London, N16 MIL.
For more information or speakers for meetings phone Terry Dunn on 0181 314 5'1
Passing largely unnoticed in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act was a section to stop people wearing masks. The police are given the power to demand the removal of masks and face covering and to seize them. If an officer or inspector or above thinks there is going to be serious violence or that people are carrying knives they can authorise this power. This is very similar to other public order powers that the police have when a senior officer is getting worried.
You can be arrested if you don't comply. The policeman must "reasonably believe" that the face covering is being worn to conceal identity. The law does not state what happens on cold days, what to do about face paint and beards (real or false) or gas masks. Our advice is steer clear of the cops except for necessary short periods and don't talk to them, [Ss 25-27 1998 Crime and Disorder Act. The sections are due to be implemented in winter 1998.
Movement against the Monarchy
Class War's own think tank, Movement Against the Monarchy, pre-empted the Communist Party's successor Demos' report on the monarchy with a solution to the age old problem of reforming the monarchy: do we shoot 'em or do we hang 'em? Their answer is in the European tradition - the guillotine. MA'M will be giving their guillotine an outing on 31st October, meeting at Hyde Park corner at 2pm. Strangely the march on Buckingham Palace is not being received with the welcome that a royal family who claim to want to be more like Diana (ie 6 feet under) should offer. The police are also being uncooperative. So dress respectfully, check the usual sources for up to date news and contact M'AM at PO Box 14672 London E9 5UQ.
Prisoners: London Class War
From 1995-96 Class War subscribers in prisons rose to around 200. Issue 67 was banned by the prison service and prisoners often had to fight to receive copies. Good contacts were built up by many of the CW groups. With the "review process" this stopped and, with no paper coming out, contacts inside prisons have been lost. London Class War are trying to build up the class war prisoners network .Class War is still free to prisoners. They want to work with ABC and others, including ex-class war members, who believe in the ideals of prisoner support work. All class war prisoners, those interested in, or breaking, the law can contact Class War Prisoners at PO Box 467, London, E8 3QX
Gandalf Three, the state nil
On 23rd July 1998 the Gandalf Three had their conviction for conspiracy to incite persons unknown to commit criminal damage contrary to section 1 (1) and (3) of the Criminal Damage Act" quashed by Court of Appeal.
It was ruled by the court that the original charge was badly worded as it said "Criminal Damage" but quoted the section of the act that refers to Arson and where a charge of arson is made the specific word arson may be used.
The Court also ruled that because the original trial judge did not tell the jury they had to be sure we had incited people to carry out arson as well as criminal damage there had been a fundamental misdirection. The convictions were quashed unconditionally.
Hopefully this will hasten the collapse of the charges that continue against Robin Webb and Paul Rogers.
This is a real victory for the three defendants but because the convictions were quashed on a technicality suing the police is not a real option. The court did, however, not rule that reporting direct action cannot be an offence. The absurdity of this is that if, for example, we reported that on 8/8/98 the words "Scum" and "Class War" were painted on the London HQ of the Countryside Alliance this could, in the terms of the original charges be incitement. So everyone's learnt their lesson then.
Captain Jack White
Organise, the Irish section of the IWA have reprinted "The Meaning of Anarchism" by Captain Jack White.
White was an Ulster Protestant whose father was a field marshall and landowner. He met Conolly and was "converted" to socialism. In 1913 White proposed the formation of a workers militia, which became the Irish Citizen Army but always rejected nationalism.
This pamphlet is an explanation of anarchism, in the context of the Spanish revolution where White went with Ryan's International brigade. In itself it is a clear explanation of the differences, and the common ground, between Anarchism and Socialism. Its most important for its preface and as a part of Irish anarchist history
[£1 from Organise PO Box 505, Belfast, BT12 6BQ, N Ireland]