A quick round-up of legal/repression related news, and other notes of interest:
There’s a few political court cases going on at the moment. In Glasgow, on Thursday March 8th, an IWW member will be up in court after having been arrested while trying to defend a teenage marcher from police harassment at last summer’s Glasgow Pride event. Down in Chelmsford, on Monday 12th, 15 people who blocked a deportation flight are now facing terrorism charges that could carry heavy sentences if convicted. The trial is expected to run 4-6 weeks, and there’s a rota being set up to try and ensure that enough supporters get down to have a consistent presence in the court throughout their trial. You can keep up with End Deportations on fb, twitter or their blog for more on that case as it continues.
There are also two alleged YPG volunteers currently facing prosecution. James Matthews definitely seems to have a fairly organised support group, with a presence organised for his court date on March 1st, and a petition asking for his charges to be dropped if petitions are your thing. The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign should have more information on that one as it continues. I don’t know much about the case of Aidan James, but Liverpool Solidarity with Kurdistan or Merseyside Anti-Fascist Network might have updates.
As well as these ongoing cases, there’s also a number of more historic trials and court battles that have a lot of relevance to the present day. Over in Rotherham, where twelve local men were dragged through the courts in 2016 for defending the town from a far-right group, ten of the defendants plead not guilty and beat the charges in court, but two of them initially entered guilty pleas and only changed them after the court victory of their co-defendants, leading to a lengthy legal stand-off. The charges against those two have now been dropped, and Vakas Hussain from the defence campaign has published a history of the whole case.
I have no idea how slander/libel law works around these things, and lawyers are probably quite good at protecting their reputations, but there is a part of me that would like to see the people who initially gave legal advice to those two defendants publically named and shamed, because if they’d just gone not guilty like the other ten then they would have been acquitted back in 2016 and not had to carry on putting their lives on hold until now, and if you advise your clients to plead guilty on charges so flimsy that they eventually get thrown out of court, then you probably shouldn’t have any clients.
Meanwhile the spycops inquiry drags on, with “Bob Stubbs” and “Christine Green” being named as infiltrators into 1970s trotskyism and 1990s animal rights campaigns respectively, while the process as a whole has been described as like “banging your head against a brick wall” due to the inquiry’s chair’s determination to protect the police at all costs. In related news, a Humberside police misconduct hearing has found that the police operation that spied on Janet Alder after her brother was killed in police custody was unlawful, but that there is “no case to answer” for any of the officers involved. The annual Christopher Alder remembrance march will go through Hull on March 31st, and if anyone’s in Peterborough there’ll be protests against former-spycop-turned-tory-councillor Andy Coles on March 7th and April 18th.
In more historical police stuff, more unreleased police files about the Battle of Orgreave have been discovered. I’ve not seen a full response to the latest news from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign yet, but staying with the miners’ strike, the Orgreave campaign have very snazzy new fundraising shirts as part of a collaboration with the band Public Service Broadcasting, and you can read one of the band’s thoughts on the subject here. Also, if you can make it along, the annual commemoration of Dave Jones and Joe Green, the two strikers killed on the picket line, will be held in Barnsley on Saturday 10th March.
Going back even further in history, the Shrewsbury 24 campaign, on behalf of the building workers who were jailed for their role in a 1972 strike, has received a legal setback and will now be launching a judicial review to continue trying to overturn the convictions, and are asking for funds as they’re not eligible for legal aid.
Looking around internationally, a new international anarchist defence fund has been launched and is asking for donations, and Peike, an anarchist from Amsterdam who was jailed for his part in last summer’s G20 protests in Hamburg, has launched an appeal against his conviction, which looks likely to drag on throughout March and April. The Hamburg G20 prosecutions continue, and while there’s not a huge amount of English-language info available, this machine translation gives some indication of recent developments. If anyone can make it over to Hamburg on March 17th, they’ll be having a big demo against the post-G20 repression then.
Over in Russia, Moscow ABC have a lot of information about recent repressions of anarchists in Russia, and some of the defendants have shared their stories of being tortured by the security services. See the Autonomous Action site for much on this case.
In the US, as ever, there’s a lot going on, and two ongoing fundraisers that people might want to contribute to are for Kris Thompson, a woman who’s facing the threat of being framed up to silence her after she was the only witness to the St Louis police killing her wife, and for Seattle antifascists facing charges as the result of an alleged confrontation with a group of anti-Muslim bigots last year. Also on a North American note, the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia has been inspiring to watch, and It’s Going Down has been doing a good job of covering it. The latest news is that Oklahoma teachers look set to walk out, while WV is also now seeing a statewide strike at a major private sector communications company. On a smaller, but still inspiring note, in Parkdale, the area of Toronto that saw a major successful rent strike last year, a new rent strike has now forced the landlords to the negotiating table.
Back in the UK, there’s also a wide range of other social and workplace struggles going on. At Yarl’s Wood detention centre, detainees are on a hunger strike, and down in Brighton, SolFed are carrying out an escalating campaign against a letting agent that stole a tenant’s deposit.
In workplace news, Teesside construction workers recently went out on a wildcat over working conditions, and also took on the tricky issue of foreign workers being employed on different contracts. The long-running Picturehouse Living Wage dispute will see another day of strike action on March 8th, a day that will also see a call for a women’s strike. There’s a Picturehouse strike fund benefit scheduled for March 16th, with her off of La Roux doing a DJ set, and supporting acts including Test Department, the group who famously collaborated with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir and were generally notable for being one of the only industrial bands with non-dodgy politics.
As the UCU strike continues, there’s more and more material being produced for it: the Notes from Below collective have started doing a rank-and-file strike bulletin, and Unis Resist Borders have made a flier aimed at international students in both Chinese and English.
Finally, a quick round-up of things going on with a few radical groups: the Anti-Fascist Network have a day of discussions and training scheduled for Saturday March 10th in London, Bristol IWW are hosting a meeting for couriers on “How to win against Deliveroo” on the 19th, Plan C London have a day school scheduled for the 24th, the London Anarchist Communist Group have a public meeting on “London in Struggle” on the 25th, and the Angry Workers of the World are always putting out great written material – “Migration and National Social Democracy in Britain” is as a good a summing-up of the “big picture” and the current hype around Labour as I’ve read anywhere, while “Low wages, long hours, management bullies: Nothing can be done?! – Something is being done!” focuses in on how workers have been resisting their conditions in a few specific workplaces.