Tag Archives: police

Nationwide TopShop protest

A month on from the previous London demo, matters have escalated. TopShop’s cleaning company, Brittania have now sacked one of the two suspended workers, Susana, a single mother with several years service to the company.

09 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

She is determined to see justice, and the grassroots ‘United Voices of the World’ union have expanded the protest so that 17 shops around the UK were targeted by actions today.

Also more groups have come forward to support the fight, moved not only by the issues of living wage, harassment and bullying, but also by the fact that Philip Green’s tax arrangements see TopShop paying very little in the way of UK tax.

01 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

08 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

Today’s protest in London began at 5pm outside the flagship Oxford Street store, and was briefly visited by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who held a banner in support.

Like last month, the policing was intense, with two Inspectors on duty, Forward Intelligence Officers, the mysterious green van with what is thought to be a petapixel camera on a pole, plus other surveillance officers and dozens of uniformed police. All this was on top of some very large private security guards hired by TopShop.

03 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

11 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

The police were quite pushy-shovey, marking out arbritary lines for where people could and couldn’t stand. Even the Police Liaison Officers, supposed to be all smiley, got a bit shouty at times.

02 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

05 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

Despite the excessive policing, the protest remained good-natured and there were no arrests. A walk up Oxford Street took the roughly 150 activists to TopShop’s Marble Arch branch where the shutters came down and customers were huddled out of a rear door. Business was effectively suspended for around 30 minutes, and amongst the noise, some drumming, vuvulezas, and chants, one egg was thrown.

07 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

By 7pm the march was back at the Oxford Circus branch, and after a few more speeches on the open mic, the protest was finished for the day.

12 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

We heard that there had been a banner drop inside the store, and also that 600 hand-written notes had been left amongst clothes inside the store, telling readers about the bullying, the suspensions and sackings, the poor wages and Philip Green’s tax avoidance.

For more background info, read my previous post, and for future events in this rapidly growing campaign check the United Voices facebook page

06 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

10 UVW TopShop 16th May © @indyrikki

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1st December #DontBombSyria rally

Arriving in Parliament Square just after 6pm this evening, the first banners I saw were those of Peace Strike, at the gates of Westminster.

01 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

Across the rush-hour filled road, the Stop the War Coalition had set up a small stage, and a crowd of up to two thousand had already arrived.

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03 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

Among the speakers were Caroline Lucas and George Galloway.

04 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

As more protesters arrived, they spilled out onto the road, but police kept a single lane open to traffic heading west.

05 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

Just after 7pm, a short march was announced, and set off towards St James.

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The first stop was the nearby Conservative Party HQ where Andrew Murray delivered a letter to the Conservative Chairman.

07 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

The march continued loudly and briskly.

08 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

A second letter was delivered at the Labour HQ.

09 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

As the marchers headed back along Victoria Street towards Parliament Square, I could see there were still marchers way behind at St. James’ station. Clearly numbers had built up massively, and I’d estimate there were more than 5000 involved.

10 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

Back in the square, people started to leave, but a group of around a thousand continued chanting, and some people climbed statues and trees in the square while police numbers built up to block any attempt to block the roads, although later there was a brief sit-in, some skirmishes as police intervened, and one man was arrested.

11 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

12 151201 syria rally - © @indyrikki

Among the crowd was a tearful Syrian man who was showing people pictures of his family home bombed to ruin – the real face of war.

With the parliamentary debate taking place tomorrow and a vote by 10pm, the Stop the War Coalition has called a further protest including a die-in from 6pm tomorrow evening. I am sure other groups will join this call, and Peace Strike will be continuing their vigil during the day.

 

Bob Lambert spycop protest at London Metropolitan University

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According to Green MP Caroline Lucas, Dr Robert Lambert, Lecturer in Criminology at London Metropolitan University, is actually a serious criminal himself, having committed the criminal act of planting an incendiary device in a Debenham’s store in the 1980s, one of three arson attacks which he helped organise, causing millions of pounds worth of damage, and for which two other activists were jailed.

At that time, he was known as Bob Robinson, and was acting as an agent provocateur and spying on protest movements as a Special Branch officer in the SDS (Special Demonstration Squad).

Between 1983 and 88, he spied on peace and social justice campaign group, London Greenpeace. He also sexually exploited several female activists by entering into relationships with them, and even fathered a child with one.

After the incendiary incident he left his activist family without a word in an unimaginable breach of trust.

It was only years later that he was spotted giving a presentation at a police conference and the truth began to unravel.

Spycop whistleblower, Peter Francis, has added more evidence to the despicable tactics used by Lambert and others, and Lambert has been named in connection with police attempts to spy on and discredit the Stephen Lawrence campaign, and also to spy on Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Today’s vigil outside the Met University in Holloway Road was supported by Baroness Jenny Jones who stated to the Islington Tribune that she felt “a man without a moral compass is not an appropriate person to be teaching”.

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Certainly, the women he effectively raped, think he should be held to account rather than employed by the university.

Todays’ protest was one of a series of monthly actions at the University which began last year.

For more info and contact details to write to the University and to Dr. Lambert himself, see https://islingtonagainstpolicespies.wordpress.com

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Students anti-cuts protest as Queen’s Speech promises austerity.

Wednesday 27th May was the State Opening of Parliament, and people, angry at the prospect of more cuts, austerity and student debt, from a Government given total control with fewer than a quarter of the population’s vote, organised a 5pm protest via the Facebook page of National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

More than 7,000 indicated they would come, but on the night there were only a few hundred at the start of the evening, though many others came and went during the course of the next few hours, so the organisers’ claims of several thousand were probably realistic overall.

They certainly attracted many more protesters than the People’s Assembly, who despite their massive fund-raising mailing list, only mustered a few dozen people listening to lonely speakers opposite Downing Street at their 5.30 start time.

As the Trafalgar Square crowd set off down Whitehall, police tried to disrupt the People’s Assembly protest by blockading the students to force them to march through the Assembly’s static protest.

27th may 2015 on day of state opening of parliament, students take to the streets to protest against austerity, cuts, and the tories

02 students

Despite huge numbers of police blocking the way, the students were not about to be forced to join a protest they hadn’t called. Even by Metropolitan Police standards the tactic of forcing one protest to join another seemed bizarre, and not designed to facilitate either demonstration as is their duty. So with some minor scuffles, students broke the police lines and followed their original intention marching past Downing Street towards Parliament Square.

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At the bottom of Whitehall, progress was again impeded by police vans parked across the road, and in ensuing arguments, a couple of arrests were made, but again, the police interference appeared ill-conceived and counter-productive, just building up tensions, as the marchers pushed forward into Parliament Square and on up Victoria Street.

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The authorities were expecting the procession to head towards Buckingham Palace, and several vans full of riot police waited there. However, three cheerful girls with placards were the only threat to the Queen as the rest of the students had doubled back up Whitehall towards their start point in Trafalgar Square, where they held up traffic with a sit-down protest for a while before taking to the steps and listening to a few speakers on an open microphone.

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06 students

07 students

After a sort stay there, one group of a couple of hundred set off up Charing Cross Road, while others remained in the Square. The mobile crowd picked up pace, and in doing so, lost more and more stragglers along the way, as they headed west along Oxford Street, down Regent Street, and off into Mayfair.

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By the time they arrived in Maddox Street, there were fewer than a hundred. Their destination was apparently a freshly evicted squat, guarded by bailiffs, TSG police, and two dog handlers with fiercely barking Alsatians.

It wasn’t clear whether the dog handlers were real police or private security. They certainly appeared to be impersonating police but were not displaying lapel badges. Questioned by legal observers they argued about displaying ID, but were eventually persuaded to give up their information, before entering the building.

A small crowd tried to follow them in and scuffles broke out, during which one TSG officer completely lost control and had to be forcibly restrained by several of his colleagues in scenes more reminiscent of hooliganism than professional policing.

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With access to the building clearly impossible, the small group headed off again up to Oxford Street and then down Park Lane, possibly to join the several hundred people we’d heard were now outside Downing Street with a sound system. I left them there.

Paul Mobbs – Arrest the Cabinet

It’s been awhile since a blog update, mainly because I’ve been busy making films.

I’ve been working with Real Media covering their Manchester pre-launch conference. Also doing some editing for Bez’s Reality Party. Some more stuff for the Talk Fracking campaign, and a series of gigs and actions with the anti-consumerist ‘preacher’, Reverend Billy, over with his 12-piece Stop Shopping Choir from the States.

So this is the first of a few posts pulling some of my favourites together, beginning back in March when ecological researcher and futurologist Paul Mobbs attempted to get the Cabinet arrested, and when Downing Street police refused to help, he tried to perform a citizen’s arrest, before eventually being arrested himself under a Road Management section of the Terrorism Act.

His ‘Frackademics‘ research presents a compelling case against members of the Cabinet of misconduct in public office over their support for fracking in the UK. Before his arrest, he handed a dossier to police and they later gave him an official crime number relating to his evidence against David Cameron et al, so in theory, the Police claim they are investigating his allegations.

He will be representing himself in his own court case which is currently scheduled for August.

The film was a collab with Gathering Place Films.

Climate March and policing 7th March 2015

It is hard to understand why yesterday’s Climate March attracted many fewer than in Autumn, other than that the corporate media, owned by a handful of right-wing billionaires, is successfully misdirecting the public by continually ignoring or playing down the pressing scientific argument against the stranglehold of oil multi-nationals on national and international energy policy.

Still, several thousand angry folk gathered in Lincoln’s Inn Fields at lunchtime, before a bike bloc led the march towards Parliament.

01 climate march

03 climate march

There was a pause for a sit-down on the Strand, lasting around ten minutes, and there was also a detour by an anarchist bloc which turned off Whitehall and looped back into the rear of Parliament Square to establish the #occupydemocracy gathering due to follow the climate rally.

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Prior to the march there was controversy over the Met’s demand that organisers pay for private road management – a position they retreated from later. In their original reasoning, they claimed that there was no need for any police presence because their core responsibility was “preventing and detecting crime, maintenance of the Queen’s Peace and protecting life and property”, and that because there the proposed march was “expected to be crime-free there was little requirement for it to provide a policing operation”.

So it was interesting that the event was not only fully policed, but that there was also a marked ramping-up of surveillance, with several FIT teams filming protesters, and a huge number of blue-tabarded “Liaison Officers”.

A smiley "liaison officer" from the National Domestic Extremist Special Operations branch

A smiley “liaison officer” from the National Domestic Extremist Special Operations branch

They seem to have given up any pretence that they are not gathering intelligence, with more and more of them sporting Public Order (CO) lapel badges, one Sergeant showing his SO (Domestic Extremist/Terrorist Specialist Operations), several Tactical Support Group officers (whose usual liaison with protesters involve shoving, punching or batoning them!), and out of their usual beat, several City of London police and some Detective Inspectors from Kent.

Perhaps this huge increase in intelligence gathering was a celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week, in the John Catt case, that for the moment legitimises the wide-scale collection and retention of intelligence for “police purposes” that may include studying the “leadership, organisation, tactics and methods” as well as “links between protest groups”.

After the speeches and rally, one group of around a hundred activists headed off to block the steps of Tate Britain in protest at their sponsorship deals with BP, which provide huge amounts of greenwash and free advertising to the disgraced oil company in return for financial support which amounts to less than 1% of the Tate’s budget.

Another larger group, led by a ‘carbon bubble’ and huge dinosaur, took a stroll across Westminster Bridge and rallied outside the Shell HQ on the South Bank, where there were a few minor scuffles as TSG officers, protecting the corporation, tried to burst the bubble and snatch a few placards.

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08 climate march

After some speeches there, the several hundred protesters began to head back over the bridge to re-occupy Parliament Square, but suddenly things took a dark turn. The same group of TSG that had been observing protesters earlier in the Square, and who were involved in scuffles at Shell, suddenly decided in the middle of the bridge to snatch someone and arrest them on the strange premise that they had previously committed a Section 5 public order offence in Humberside. This character had been noisily playing a tambourine in Parliament Square during the afternoon, was very visible around the Shell protest, and was clearly heading back to the Square, so why the police chose to so publicly snatch him in the middle of the bridge is a mysterious lapse in judgement.

Inevitably, his arrest, and claims that the arrest was completely unfounded, led to the prisoner van being surrounded by protesters, with costumed polar bears staging a sit-in in front of the van.

09 climate march

For the next 45 minutes, ever increasing numbers of police fought to clear a path for the van to exit, with many protesters receiving injuries in the process, despite the overwhelming majority acting peacefully.

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During the operation, another three people were arrested, including an NUJ journalist.

Even when the van finally made an escape along York Road, it got held up by traffic and some activists tried to halt its progress further, but in a terrifying few moments, the driver gradually built up speed, as protesters ran backwards with their hands on the bonnet, until eventually they realised he literally might kill them, and they span off to the side.

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14 climate march

Serious questions must be asked about whether the police were wise to attempt the original arrest in the middle of a large crowd in the middle of a bridge, and then whether their ensuing operation and escalating violence was proportionate in order to question someone about an historic alleged minor public order offence.

Once things had calmed down, the crowd returned to Parliament Square, where, under intense further surveillance, a group of up to a hundred held a meeting and then enjoyed some conscious poet and music entertainment into the evening from the likes of David Willard, Pete the Temp, and Danny Chivers.

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17 climate march

Occupy Democracy organised prisoner support at Charing Cross police station so that as people were released they were met with a friendly welcome and some food etc. It took the full 24 hours for the last of the four to be released.

Occupy Democracy have announced they will be in Parliament Square during the election period from 1st till 10th May, and Liberty have just had the go ahead to launch a judicial review on the legality of the GLA’s closing of the Square to protests.

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Occupy Democracy February – “Equality and Representation”

Last weekend, ‘Occupy Democracy’ returned to Parliament Square for a series of events around ‘Equality and Representation’. Despite an ongoing legal challenge against the GLA over previous repression, on Saturday they faced further arrests by police who appeared to be having difficulty providing a legal basis for their actions.

The afternoon began peacefully on the pavement by Churchill’s statue with a presentation on Islamaphobia, followed by a mock funeral for democracy at the foot of Mandela’s statue.

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02 occupy democracy february

03 occupy democracy february

Then the activists walked on to the grass area and unfurled a huge tarpaulin, on which they continued debate, with an inspirational offering from Kerry-anne Mendoza (aka Scriptonite).

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05 occupy democracy february

Heritage Wardens and police kept interrupting proceedings and attempting to hand over pieces of paper and information to members of the group, but were mostly ignored. Police numbers were also building up, with TSG officers arriving on the scene, and suddenly a dozen or more officers bundled into the crowd, ignoring the shouts that there were elderly and infirm individuals present, and they made their first arrest of the evening, targeting Donnachadh McCarthy, author and media activist. The authorities clearly see him as some sort of focus, as this is the fourth arrest he has endured.

From then on, the evening descended into a petty legal farce and police actions which successfully disrupted the planned events. Superintendent Kohli, heading the police operation, began the evening in assured form claiming his conscience was clear, but as legal arguments ensued, he was heard arguing with CPS about whether CCTV was needed to support any charges, and later literally refused to speak with Bindman’s lawyers and drove away into the night. See the video.

Each of the several more arrests over the evening followed the same bizarre pantomime. A Heritage Warden, surrounded by a large group of TSG officers, would randomly select a member of the public on the grass and (if they didn’t run away), would ask them to leave the grass, without giving any reason for the request. He then claimed they were breaking a Bye-Law by not following a “reasonable direction”, but constant requests to be told the “reason” for the request were ignored. He then asked for a name and address, and if refused, police piled in to arrest the person targeted.

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At one point, people in chorus (using the ‘mic check’ technique of call and response), described to the wardens and officers that some months ago, a Bindman’s solicitor had explained to the commanding Inspector why this exact same scenario was unlawful, and as a result he had withdrawn nearly 200 officers allowing the occupation to continue peacefully – this caused the police and wardens to withdraw and huddle for a while, but they returned for more arrests soon after.

The argument lies around whether a Warden can just issue a direction to leave (which clearly opens him/her up to the dangers of discrimination or infringement of human rights), or whether the “reasonable direction” has to have one of the reasons defined by the rest of the Bye-Laws.

The arrestees were released hours later, and all except Donnachadh, who is facing other charges, were told there would be ‘No Further Action’. Thus, the entire police operation seriously disrupted a peaceful and probably entirely lawful assembly by a few dozen people wishing to discuss the state of democracy in front of Parliament. It seems the occupy movement have a point.

They returned the next day and again held many of their workshops (with topics including ‘feeding the homeless’, ‘black activism’, ‘Greece and Syriza’) on the pavement next to Churchill’s statue.

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Romayne Phoenix

Romayne Phoenix

But when they peacefully moved to the grass, they faced further intimidation and harassment from wardens and police threatening further arrests.

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04 occupy democracy february 15

They finished the day by holding a small rally in front of Parliament.

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Superintendent Kohli certainly had CCTV covered on the Sunday, with a crew of four mysterious figures observing and filming from an overlooking window, and an unmarked green van sporting a powerful surveillance camera just behind the gates of Westminster.

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01 surveillance

Occupy Democracy return to the Square on the day of the massive Climate March next month on the 7th.

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