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anti-government/anti-capitalist – it’s popping off everywhere

I wrote a piece for the section of the newspaper I edit about Turkey and the protests there. Unfortunately I couldn’t add a lot of the lefty rhetoric I would’ve liked to hurdur so I’ll add it in here.

It’s obvious that the resistance is emblematic of wider social problems caused by a conservative and controversial regime. That so much protest, by so many different types of people on all ends of the spectrum, kicked off as a result of the environmental demos, shows that there are more deeply entrenched anxieties and problems than seen if viewed superficially.

There has been a G8 demo in London today, and it was pathetically attended, and vociferously over-policed. Anti-capitalist demos should be drawing more people than ever in today’s austerity Britain, and yet I was dramatically underwhelmed. There was just no publicity – it is apparent that the situation in Turkey is not likely to be replicated in the UK if the comments of people walking past are anything to go by. The stereotype of stinky hippy/black bloc anarchists needs to be overcome if we are to create a populist uprising (dare I say revolution?), but it is not gonna happen soon if the only people that attend demos such as this, at least visibly, are either of the aforementioned.

There are further parallels to be drawn between Turkey and the UK, in that the policing is OTT. While we may not have rubber bullets and tear gas, the actions of the TSG certainly contradict the vision of a larvely English Bobby pedalling a quaint little bike. What I’m saying is that it’s all relative – in such a ‘polite’ society such as England (doubtful, but lets go with it) punching the public in the face and telling them to “shut up” is pretty naysty. Things are obviously worse in Turkey, and I’m not putting the two situations on an even footing, but the similarity is there.

But anyway, vicious treatment, raiding convergence spaces and pre-empting mass arrests by bringing – how many? – meat wagons… a sign that the cops are scared, and that they are trying to big up situations like this to stop the cuts affecting them – but surely they will… and then we shall see.

Street party at 5.30 in Piccadilly Circus. I will be boxing. But be there!

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This is my attempt at being objective and diplomatic.

May first is symbolic in many ways. As well as representing the beginning of spring, it is International Workers’ Day, prompting demonstrations of solidarity across the world every year. This week was no different, with demonstrations taking place in the North America, Asia and Europe. Thousands of people took to the streets of cities like Bologna, Napoli and Madrid to protest against austerity measures and record levels of unemployment throughout Europe, which stands at 27% in Spain. Some demonstrations ended with frustration turning to violence, such as in Istanbul, where police used teargas and watercannon against protesters, who were said to have thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at police lines. Public and private sector strikes were called in Athens, bringing services like hospitals and banks to a standstill, and causing major disruption to transport services.

Similar scenes were seen in Seattle, the location of the 1999 ‘Battle of Seattle’ anti-globalisation demonstrations against the World Trade Organisation. Peaceful rallies of trades unions, students and labour activists marched throughout the day, but a small “non-permitted” demonstration caused damage to property during the evening, after the march. Police were quick to dispel the situation, with mayor Mike McGinn justifying their response by connecting the situation to the Boston bombings earlier this month, which is still fresh in the minds of many Americans.

The collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh earlier this week sparked May Day protests in Dhaka, where demonstrators demanded factory owners be held to account for the disaster which killed 402 people and injured around 2500.

May Day is a celebration of the strength and solidarity of workers all over the world, and many marches showed exactly that. The sporadic violence that erupted illustrated the anger and frustration felt by workers in exploitative situations such as in Dhaka, where workers were paid just £32 a month.

UK Squatting Law Change – effective 1st Sept 2012

SQUAT LAW CHANGE ALERT

The new law on squatting (s144 LASPO 2012) will be coming into force on the 1st September 2012.

Not everyone who is squatting, or considered by others to be squatting, will be affected by the new law, but people will need to be prepared to explain, quite forcefully at times, why they are not affected.

The wording of S144 starts:
(1)A person commits an offence if—
(a) the person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser,
(b) the person knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser, and
(c) the person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.
(2)The offence is not committed by a person holding over after the end of a lease or licence (even if the person leaves and re-enters the building).

So Squatting is still legal in non-residential properties.

You are also not committing an offence if you have, or have had a tenancy or licence to live in the property, if you are not living or intending to live in the property, or if you do not know you are a trespasser (in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading this).

Tenancies and licences do not have to be in writing, but if people have reason to think they may be accused of breaking the law it would be best to collect as much paperwork as possible. Tenancies and licences can also have been granted by a tenant of the owner, or by an agent, possibly without the owner’s knowledge (but they can check and return).

Any police officer would need to have reasonable suspicion that you (or anyone) have committed a crime, to force entry and to carry out an arrest, so it can be in your interests to explain otherwise. But you do not have to talk to them, and explaining through a closed door or upstairs window can be preferable to letting them in.

Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 still applies against those trying to force entry without lawful authority. The problem is that the new law gives further lawful authority to the police to enter (in the circumstances covered by the law).

Advisory Service for Squatters
Correct as at 22nd August 2012. Check our / SQUASH website for updates

(Critical) Mass Arrests

Police repression isn’t uncommon in this country, nor this city; indeed, it’s particularly difficult to get away without a few bruises after a police encounter when the Met and/or TSG are involved, but the mass arrest of 182 cyclists on Friday is ridiculous. I mean, come on – critical mass has been going for ages without them getting involved (except for that incident in 2008 when they tried to get it banned and FAILED), but this only demonstrates how paranoid the organisers of the olympics (i.e. the ones with the money, which controls the sponsorship, which controls the games, which control the government, which controls the police.. ) are getting. Introducing new by-laws in Trafalgar Square – a human statue was arrested there yesterday, and 7 people were arrested last Friday for spilling custard on themselves – and using new security forces such as the Olympic Protection Squad (sounds like a swat team of fat, retired Met officers if I ever heard one) and heritage protection officers, and of course the army, shows how much the suits are crapping their pants.

Anyway.

The police have decided that their favourite (new – ha) tactic is repressing Londoners; impressing upon them draconian changes of behaviour to suit their new corporate suitors.. or maybe that should be the other way round.

Yet another thing to add to the list of why ACAB.

Ian Tomlinson killer walks free

Simon Harwood, the TSG officer who shoved Ian Tomlinson to the ground in an unprovoked attack that killed him, has received a not guilty verdict. 

It sickens me, but it comes a little surprise – the Met will always seek to preserve their reputation, and to protect those within their ranks, even if they have been repeatedly reported to be violent whilst on duty, as Harwood has. It’s symptomatic of a long-standing tradition of protecting those who commit crimes within the police – especially since Harwood was part of the elite TSG – no police officer has been convicted of manslaughter on duty since 1986 (Guardian, 2012).

When the institution that claims to protect people fails to convict a killer in its midst, it further highlights its ineptitude and redundancy as a protective force. How can they expect anyone to have faith in a police force that cannot see its own hypocrisy? I lost faith in the police long ago, but no doubt they’ll lose more over this. And rightly so. ACAB.