Thursday, 21 April 2011

GDC statement on collapse of case against anti cuts activists

Victory in Glasgow as case against anti cuts activists collapses!

In a significant victory for anti cuts activists in Glasgow today, charges against supporters of the Glasgow Defence Campaign and the Free Hetherington were dropped before they went before a judge at Glasgow Sheriff Court. The bail conditions which prohibited the five arrested last week from attending demonstrations of two or more people – a clear attack on human rights and free speech – were also withdrawn. GDC spokesperson Paul McKenna stated: ‘We welcome this news as a significant victory for all those opposed to the cuts and those fighting for democratic rights in Glasgow. In recent weeks we have witnessed first hand Strathclyde police along with the crown office and the judiciary working together to destroy effective opposition to the cuts in this city. We refuse to be intimidated, and we refuse to be criminalised.’

The GDC is clear that recent, heavy-handed police tactics are aimed at intimidating those involved in any growing anti cuts movement. Police behaviour has included purposefully delaying arrests and charges from 9 December, increasing door-stepping, engaging in illegal questioning, making illegal arrests, issuing threats, targeting teenagers and disrupting family life. All of this in order to increase pressures on supporters. By withdrawing the charges and draconian bail conditions the police and crown office hope that they are now free to continue acting with impunity and with their campaign of targeted harassment. The politically motivated bail conditions unilaterally imposed by Strathclyde police – an explicit example of political policing – were intended to disrupt effective organisation against the cuts. That the crown withdrew the cases prior to any judicial scrutiny reveals the true intentions of last week’s arrests.

The Glasgow Defence Campaign believes that this latest victory is a vindication of the open and democratic approach we have adopted in highlighting the attacks on legal protesters. Speaking at last week’s rally against police harassment McKenna stated: ‘The challenge before the anti cuts movement is to make the legal and political defence of those on the sharp end of police harassment and criminalisation central to the new movement. It will be necessary to alter the balance of political forces in favour of those opposed to cuts and in defence of free speech. We need to reach a stage where it cannot be claimed that it is in the public interest to give those people who stand for justice and in defence of living standards a criminal record for doing so.’

The GDC would like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters for the messages of solidarity over recent days. A week of convictions, arrests and harassment ended with a successful rally of progressive forces in Glasgow city centre and the dropping of all issued charges. Defeat has been turned into victory. But we call for extra vigilance against complacency. The political police have not gone away. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters Dominic O’Hara and Jonathan Simons are still facing trials for taking part in anti cuts protests on 29 January and 9 December respectively. The GDC once more pledges its commitment to oppose all instances of political policing in Glasgow and elsewhere. We will continue the struggle to build a movement capable of resisting the government’s destruction of state welfare and the rights and living standards of millions across the country.

21 April, 18:00

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