Cops Harass Anarchist Fundraiser

From the Anarchist Federation myspace site.

Red and Black Fest, like the Spanish Revolution, was beautiful but oh too short.

On Saturday 29th September, Sheffield Anarchist Federation ran a successful (but short-lived) fundraiser event for Oaxacan Anarchists at a squatted factory in the city centre.

Bands down to play were:

Kamikaze Sperm
Power Corrupts
Grebo Bastard
Sammys Fatal Mistake
Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers!
Fry
The Casual Terrorist

Plus a post-gig party to be hosted by the autonomix collective.

We also had stalls hosted by Sheffield Animal Friends, ANTIFA, Leeds ABC and Anarchist Federation.

From 3:00 til about 8:30 everything was going well. Plenty of people had turned up, we had raised quite a bit of money and people were generally having a good time. We were on to our third band and still going strong. Booze was flowing freely and even the stalls were gathering a good level of interest.

At around nine, the police turned up. At first, we were only met with a couple of bobbies on the beat. They told us to turn the music down and that they didn’t want to have to come back to tell us again. We complied with this order. A short while later they returned, this time they cited breach of the peace and noise complaints from local residents. At this point we were given no legal warning and shown no noise abatement order. We explained that this was a well marshalled, controlled gathering in a private residence and that there was no risk of harrasment for the general public.

It should also be noted that this exchange was taking place, not at 2am in the morning but at 8:45 on a saturday night. The two adjoining properties to the building are abandoned and in the one opposite residents had their windows open (clearly experiencing little problems with noise). The area is also host to two private superclubs. At this point TSG arrived. The officer arriving on the scene demanded two spokespeople from the organisers to negotiate a de-escualtion of the situation. Two spokespeople were mandated and let outside of the property. The negotiation was a complete farce. The officer had no interest in an open dialogue, he ordered that the soundsystem be removed from the premises within ten minutes and when the spokespeople refused to give out their personal details repeatedly threatened them with arrest.

The pigs basically wanted someone to pin this on and they knew it would be easier to get a positive ID outside of the closed gates. They nonetheless agreed to comply with the order but stated that people would remain in the property.

The officer recognised the validity of our section 6 and thus that the building was legally our private property. The spokespeople returned to the building in order to relay the ten minute order and the gate was secured behind them. At this point the cops basically went ape-shit. They chose to break the previous agreement to allow us ten minutes to move the equipment and instead chose to illegally break onto out property. Bolt cutters were used to cut the chain on the gate and they forced entry.

They then started “seizing” evidence (confiscating flyers and posters) and generally harrassing and threatening with arrest organisers of the event. Make no mistake, the law is written by the rich for control of the poor – nothing about the Fest was actually illegal; under Section 6, the venue was private property and what the police did legally amounts to trespass and criminal damage.

By taking this action the pigs effectively undermined their own orders by impairing people helping to shift equipment by trying to ID and interview them. In typical arrogant fashion a bobby levelled with us later on that the only reason they were there was because the residents of luxury flats at the end of the street had “friends in high places” and simply did not want us in the area.

Most people scarpered at this point but a hardened few endured and bands who were due to play decided to stay and have a few beers anyway. So it basically turned into quite a bizarre squat party and Kamikaze Sperm even had their own soundsystem so we could still play some tunes. We were genuinely touched by the spirit that perceivered throughout the night despite some quite shitty circumstances.

On the plus side, despite being shut down @ 9:00 we did make money for a good cause and covered all our costs. No one got arrested and all equipment was secured. This was a well controlled event, so a big thanks to all the people who were involved in keeping everyone safe and happy. Thankyou is in order for the bands who helped us out and especially the autonomix collective who stuck with us through thick and thin. Thanks to everyone who turned up and supported us and especially for keeping cool when the police were trying to provoke a reaction. A special thankyou to our driver and all the people that helped make this happen (before and on the day).

I think the events carried their own importance in introducing for the first time for many people a situation where they face open confrontation with the state for no good reason than having a good time. So make no mistake, we aint even halfway done with this one…

it lives …

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