Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Archive for July, 2009

Kingsnorth Police Report: Poor Handwriting Slammed

You may have thought that unjustified stop and searches, assaults and raids may have been the focus of the report. But apparently, the fact that some Officers have ineligable handwriting is, as Emily Apple of Fitwatch and now the Guardian (!) says in her article (below) is  apparently of more concern than, for instance,  the fact that her and Val Swain were brutally arrested and then remanded for 3 days, only later to have their charges dropped.

Emily Apple (Guardian Article) :

The soundbites sound good. A report into the policing of Kingsnorth has stated the use of blanket stop and search powers were “disproportionate and counterproductive” and show a failed command structure displaying incompetent leadership and poor communication.

However, the motivation behind these findings needs to be examined. The report is not concerned with the rights of protesters but protecting the integrity of the police force. Yes, the searches were criticised, but not for the right reasons. Instead of finding the searches contravened civil liberties, the report worries about the effect a judicial review might have on the force, stating they were “counterproductive” because of “organisational vulnerability through legal challenge”. Instead of using the opportunity to condemn the blanket use of section 1 stop and searches as an abuse of civil liberties, even more draconian legislation is called for asking for further powers, presumably to counteract the effects of any pesky judicial interference.

None of the civil liberties concerns raised by activists and politicians in relation to the camp are addressed. In fact, the report praises the police for meeting one of their key objectives of “facilitating peaceful protest”, which is simply not true. Facilitating protest must include adherence to all human rights law, including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Stating that, during a protest which extended over several days, the police facilitated one march at the end of the week ignores all the civil liberties abuses which took place at the camp itself.

While no mention is made of the use of excessive violence by officers using batons strikes against peaceful protesters, the handwriting of officers is criticised, with fewer than 25% of all forms legible. However, instead of criticising the need for 8,000-plus searches, the report laments the fact there weren’t more details to put onto the police database. The fact details of thousands of protesters has been entered into a database is not examined, nor is the admission this information is disseminated to the Forward Intelligence Teams (Fits), and that people should not give the police personal details if they do not want to end up on such a database.

Meanwhile, another report commissioned by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), has not been released, even to the IPCC. The findings were seemingly not to the liking of senior police officers, who ordered this current report to be written instead. Despite promises by the policing minister, David Hanson, to publish the original report, this has not been done, and we are left with a report which is hostile to demonstrators and repressive in tone.

The recommendations of the HMIC report to move towards a less confrontational model of policing will never be achieved unless the attitude of the police changes towards demonstrators. However, the biggest test for all the reports will be seen on the streets over the next couple of months. Climate Camp is returning to London in August, while in September activists return to the City for a mass protest against the DSEi arms fair.

It is clear from this report, and from examples such as the suggestion, made by City of London police during a meeting with the family of Ian Tomlinson and the IPCC, that Tomlinson might have been attacked by a protester “dressed in police uniform”, that the mindset of the police has not altered. It is important they are held to account on the streets, and anyone who has any concerns over the policing of protests and civil liberties should attend these events to monitor and challenge this policing for themselves.

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Vestas Workers Besieged by Riot Cops

Taken from http://workersclimateaction.co.uk

Link to channel 4 report: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1184614595?bctid=30341056001

Wind-turbine-workers-stag-001

Workers staging a sit-in at the soon-to-close Vestas wind turbine plant on the Isle of Wight are being starved out by police.

The police, many inside the factory and dressed in riot gear, have denied food to the workers who took over the factory offices last night, to protest the closure of their factory. The police, operating with highly questionable legal authority, have surrounded the offices, preventing supporters from joining the sit-in, and preventing food from being brought to the protestors.

Around 20 workers at the Vestas Plant in Newport, on the Isle of Wight, occupied the top floor of offices in their factory to protest against its closure which will result in over 500 job losses.

Acting without an injunction, on private property, the police have repeatedly tried to break into the office where the protesting workers have barricaded themselves, and have threatened the workers with arrest for aggravated trespass, despite the fact that no damage has been done to the property where the protest is taking place. Police have also forcibly removed people from private property, another action that is of very questionable legality in the absence of a formal injunction.

The office involved in the latter action was number 3606. The officer who appears to be in charge is 3115.

This heavy handed response is the latest in a long line of over-reactions to protest by various UK police forces.

vestas

The Vestas workers inside the factory released a statement earlier today:

“As workers at a wind turbine manufacturer, we were confident that as the recession took hold that green or renewable energy would be the area where many jobs could be created – not lost.

So we were horrified to find out that our jobs were moving abroad and that more than 525 jobs from the Isle of Wight and Southampton were going to be added to the already poor state of island unemployment.

This has sent, and will continue to send, shockwaves of uncertainty through countless families on the island – many of which are being forced to relocate away from the island.

We find this hard to stomach as the government are getting away with claiming they are investing heavily in these types of industry.

Only last week they said they would create 400,000 green jobs. How can the process start with 600 of us losing our jobs?

Now I’m not sure about you but we think it’s about time that if the government can spend billions bailing out the banks – and even nationalise them – then surely they can do the same at Vestas.

The people of Vestas matter, and the people of the island matter, but equally importantly the people of this planet matter. We will not be brushed under the carpet by a government which is claiming to help us.

We have occupied our factory and call on the government to step in and nationalise it. We and many others believe it is essential that we continue to keep our factory open for our families and livelihoods, but also for the future of the planet.

We call on Ed Miliband as the relevant minister to come to the island and tell us to our face why it makes sense for the government to launch a campaign to expand green energy at the same moment at the country’s only major wind turbine producer closes.

Please show your support.

Protest at Newport Vestas at 5pm today (off Dondor Lane – Monks Brook Newport, Isle Of Wight, PO30 5WZ)

Demonstrate Friday 24th of July Friday 5.30pm St. Thomas square Newport”

Contact details:

(ed) 07775763750

(martin) 07950978083

savevestas.press@googlemail.com

http://savevestas.wordpress.com

UPDATE:

Mass Walk-In Breaks the Siege

On July 22nd, 2009 Stuart says:

Taken from: savevestas.wordpress.com

At 5.10am this morning, a climate activist at the protest outside the Vestas plant attempted to take a bag of food to the occupying workers by means of a rope which the workers had lowered from the balcony. The activist was grabbed by 5 police officers and arrested. On his release he obtained the police report of his arrest, which stated that the reason for his arrest was that, as his bringing food to the occupiers had the stated intention of prolonging the protest, it was facilitating a breach of the peace – clearly ludicrous as the police have themselves admitted that the protest is not breaching the peace.

At 1248, a large number of protestors walked through the line of police holding food in their hands which they threw up to the balcony. The police pushed some of the protestors and attempted to obstruct the line but did not offer substantial resistance. One protestor was harassed by a security guard, and asked a police officer, whose number was 24266, if he intended to do anything about it; the officer said he didn’t. Another protestor saw a police officer grabbing the arm of an activist as he attempted to throw food to the balcony – the activist told the police officer that this constituted harassment, the police officer took no notice.

A second climate activist was arrested and taken through the front doors of the factory. Later, a sergeant whose number was 3027 came out and said that no-one had been arrested for carrying food, but that one activist had been arrested for assault. Other protestors present have commented that as the activist in question, who has not given permission for his name to be released, is a christian pacifist, this seems unlikely.

Security have started putting up a fence around the site, with protestors outside attempting to get a second food-carrying walk-in past the police before its completion. There are currently around 50 protestors outside the factory, over 30 of them Vestas workers, and sources say they expect numbers to increase drastically around 6pm when the protest starts.

climate activists, policing and the state

With the G20 police inquiry, recommendations  focussing on inadequate training –  a skillfully bureacratic de-escalation of the princples involved – rather than the fact that Ian Tomlinson’s death and the beating of many outside the carbon exchange was a direct result of an order from “Bronze Command” to clear the streets using “reasonable force”.

In the end, we are all potential victims of The States’ “reasonable force”  –  many gathered outside the carbon exchange that day may have thought that police violence would have been reserved for the “bad protesters” kettled at Bank, or smashing a couple of windows at RBS.

The fact that when the order came, the climate protesters met with the most sustained state violence of the day, perhaps to their surprise.

The fact is, despite the perception of many within the anti-capitalist/anarchist  movement in britain as climate activism being reformist, The State seems to view it as it it’s biggest threat –  at least in terms of the repressive policing witnessed not just in London, but at the three climate camps, monitoring of meetings and harassment from the FIT team.

Its a shame then, that the climate movement itself doesn’t regard itself as  revolutionary. In both dialogue and propaganda it’s happy to be a media-friendly lobbying campaign.  Its time we started taking ourselves seriously, rather than function as irrelevant  adjunct to Greenpeace, or The Green Party (The hopelessness of Greenpeace’s lobbying stunts to have any influence over the current G8 meetings decisions is a fait accompli – why with a smaller budget should we try to replicate those?).