Friday, 30 September 2011

Victory for Democratic Rights as HSBC 3 Exonerated!

Posted below is the victory statement of the HSBC 3 Defence Campaign in Newcastle where political charges and convictions against three Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters have been successfully overturned. The Glasgow Defence Campaign would like to send them our solidarity and applaud their consistent work against the cuts and the attack on democratic rights which has led to this victory against political policing! They did not win justice by sitting on their hands!
Their Victory is Ours! See

Join Court protests in Glasgow!

Trial of Anti Cuts Activists
Friday 7 and Monday 31 October, from 9.30am
Glasgow District Court, St. Andrews Street,
Glasgow (just off Saltmarket)
Sentencing of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporter

Thursday 13 October, from 1.30pm

same Court as above

Posted on by HSBC 3 Defence Campaign 

The convictions of Mark Pearson and Patrick Reay – who were arrested for protesting against public sector cuts and tax dodging banks and companies in December 2010 – were overturned yesterday after a two day appeal at Newcastle Crown Court. The success of the appeal is a victory for the democratic right to protest in Newcastle and shows that it is always worthwhile challenging political policing.

Picket of Newcastle Crown Court on 28th September

Stop Political Policing!

The arrests and charges of the HSBC 3 were politically motivated, designed to intimidate protesters, and restrict future protests against the cuts and austerity measures. As John Pilger said in his solidarity statement, ‘The arrests of Patrick, Mark and Toby starkly represent the most disturbing trend in Britain — the rise of an openly political police… At worst, the police can kill with impunity, it seems, and increasingly they arrest and prosecute arbitrarily those whose dissent which marks the line between democracy and a state of fear and compliance’. 

In recent years many activists have been arrested on trumped-up charges, including the Gaza solidarity demonstrations in early 2009, the student protests in December 2010/ January 2011 and the August 2011 uprisings. Many people were encouraged by duty solicitors to plead guilty or accept a caution, on the basis that they would avoid a criminal record or receive a reduced sentence. This may seem like a better option in the short term but it erodes political rights for all of us, allowing protest to be criminalised.

Defend One, Defend All, Defend the HSBC 3!

The HSBC 3 Defence Campaign has shown that it is possible to fight charges on a political basis, thereby defending both individual activists and future demonstrators. The HSBC 3 refused to accept any guilt for their legitimate actions as protesters. Even after Mark and Patrick were unfairly convicted at the magistrate’s court and fined a total of £760, they were able to appeal the convictions because of the support of the campaign.

Many thanks to all those people who supported the HSBC 3 defence campaign. In particular the court witnesses, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! / Revolutionary Communist Group who organised demonstrations and court pickets, members of the North East Anarchists Group and the Anti-Cuts Network who organised several benefit gigs, everybody who took part in those events or helped publicise them, Unite Newcastle Central Branch who made a financial contribution, and the many people who showed their solidarity from the court’s public gallery during the trial. The HSBC 3 Defence Campaign has always been clear on the need for political action on the streets alongside a legal defence in the courts. As with the police, the fundamental role of Britain’s courts is the defence of private property – they cannot be trusted to defend working class people.

The defence of democratic rights is the defence of working class living standards. As the fight against austerity continues, we need to be ready for more defence campaigns. The example of the HSBC 3 Defence Campaign should be celebrated and followed.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Palestine Supporter Sentenced

On Tuesday 13 September Paul Donnachie, former student and supporter of Palestinian rights, was sentenced to 150 hours community service and a payment of £300 compensation to an American Jewish student for his criticism of the state of Israel and its flag. Sheriff Charles MacNair oversaw this attack on free speech at Cupar Sheriff Court.

Donnachie's conviction on the ridiculous charge of 'racially-aggravated conduct' in August, which resulted in his immediate expulsion from St. Andrews university, is further evidence of the increasing intolerance of the British state towards criticism of its policies at home and abroad. The detainment of Sheik Raed Salah on 28 June 2011 was another example. The British state fear that criticism of the racist state of Israel might further expose British complicity in the oppression of the Palestinians and therefore have no option but to stamp it out.

Supporters of Palestinian rights determined to oppose this criminalization responded to a call by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) for a picket of the court and defaced the Israeli flag outside the court in an act of political defiance. The Glasgow Defence Campaign applauds this action but stresses the need to remain on guard as the state may use this to bring future charges against those involved. Delayed arrests and charges were used against GDC supporters in April 2011 with the imposition of draconian bail conditions preventing their attendance at a rally to oppose the cuts and political policing on 16 April.

At all times we must be prepared to defend ourselves and others against state attacks! We would like to send our solidarity to the former student, who is appealing the sentence, and urge supporters of Palestine to speak louder in their condemnation of Zionist Israel than ever before.

See the SPSC press release here

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

GDC supports Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign call for protests at Cupar court

The Glasgow Defence Campaign gives its support to the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign's call for "supporters of Palestinian rights, anti-racists and supporters of free speech to assemble outside Cupar Sheriff court on Tuesday September 13th at 9am to support Paul Donnachie. An injury to one is an injury to all." 

Paul Donnachie is a student who was convicted on a ridiculous, politically-motivated charge of 'racially-aggravated conduct' at Cupar court in August, leading to his expulsion from St Andrews university. The trial verdict essentially criminalises any criticism of the brutal violence waged by the Israeli state against the Palestinian people. Those who dare to oppose this racist state are now decried as racists.

The verdict is being appealed and the Glasgow Defence Campaign and its supporters will aim to attend the protest next week. Anyone concerned with basic democratic freedoms in a world of imperialist war and violence should do so too.

The full SPSC statement can be read here.

Monday, 5 September 2011


The British state - the police, courts, parliament and media - has responded to the uprisings in English cities with a viciousness and hypocrisy that only the imperialist ruling class and its defenders are capable of. They ranted about destruction, anarchy, violence, disorder and lawlessness while the Royal Air Force had flown over 15,000 missions against the people of Libya and dropped high explosives on residential areas killing innocent men, women and children. What causes the greatest damage, we ask, a half brick or a jet fighter loaded with murderous missiles! Which is the more anti-social crime? Helping yourself to a pair of jeans or helping yourself to a country's oil?

In this context, the reality of ruling class violence and lawlessness, we look back at the last year of the Glasgow Defence Campaign's work and the argument that we made in August of 2010 that the British state was preparing to attack the living standards of the working class through the cuts budgets and would attempt to control and criminalise all resistance to the rule of the wealthy. As a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) supporter stated at a May Day rally in Dundee this year: the defence of working class living standards is the defence of democratic rights.

Comrades from FRFI got out onto the streets of Govanhill, Glasgow last year to protest at the austerity budget of the newly elected Tory-Con Dem government. Within hours we were facing Strathclyde police's attempts to immediately close down our leafletting and petitioning. Regulations were cited and invented to try to force us off the streets. Our human rights to expression and association - clearly upheld in law- were ignored by the bullies in uniform as newspapers and stalls were seized and charges issued against FRFI supporters.

We stood firm in the face of this political policing and fought back by openly challenging the police censorship and gathering support from every group and individual sharing our concern about the attack on democratic rights. We urged unity and public protest to defend those rights and warned that we were only at the begining of the state's attempts to limit and make any protest ineffective and isolated.

Towards the end of that year as students took to the streets everywhere to protest at education cuts we recognised the emergence of new police tactics to control, intimidate and criminalise protest. From Parliament Square in London to George Square, Glasgow, the kettle was on. FRFI supporters were targeted and arrested by police on protests in December and January and hauled in front of sham courts. Delayed arrests, house raids, frame ups, surveillance and assault were evidence of the state giving the green light to the police to close down protest. 

The Glasgow Defence Campaign was established to meet these attacks in kind, recording and exposing every incident of police harassment, naming and shaming the officers involved, taking protests to the doors of the District and Sheriff courts and the streets of Glasgow. The thuggish police operation to evict the Free Hetherington occupation on 22 March educated new layers of young people in the need to organise rapidly against such repression. The even more brutal eviction of Margaret Jaconelli soon followed. On 16 April, after another week of arrests and convictions of FRFI and other anti-cuts activists, the GDC held a defiant rally in Glasgow city centre to demand an end to the political attacks, uniting progressive forces. Five days later, all charges against seven activists were dropped as they were due to appear in court. This victory showed that the anti-democratic activities of Strathclyde police and their paymasters could be effectively challenged if people stood together. 

Now, faced with the anger of inner city youth facing poverty and unemployment - sparked off by another police killing - the British state's real methods of operation are obvious to many more people. Their idea of justice is to ignore the theft of billions by the wealthy elites represented in the cabinet and parliament or the corruption of policemen and women by the millionaire press and to treat the working class as criminals deserving only of a prison cell should they rebel.

The Glasgow Defence Campaign states its commitment to the argument that the defence of democratic rights is the defence of the working class. We define that working class as workers in jobs, youth in revolt on the streets, the disabled and poor, immigrants and asylum seekers- all those who the rich are trying to make pay for an economic crisis not of their making.

The police who tried to close down our political activity last year and who were made to back off by the campaigning work of the Glasgow Defence Campaign have been made bolder and more arrogant by recent developments. At the time of writing this statement, concern is rising about a steep rise in deaths at the hands of  police - 3 killings in 8 days. Recent arrests in Glasgow and the return of police interference in legitimate and legal political organisation should put us all on alert and demands that unity and solidarity must be fought for and built in the struggle to defend democratic rights and in the fight for real justice.


Issued by the Glasgow Defence Campaign, 6 September 2011