THe Daily Mail made some interesting comments about yesturdays student demonstration in London and the subsequent trashing of the Tory Party HQ.
First they say that NETCU was disbanded in October 2010. The website is still up the last post being on the 25th when the second SHAC case concluded.
Then they say that NPIOU (who have files on 1822 of us at the last count) has had it’s budget cut by 20%.
The political police who reside on the 7th floor of Scotland Yard it would seem needed a boost and how could the government possibly justify cutting police child protection teams to the bone whilst allowing the bloated budget of NETCU, NDET, NPIOU to continue? Well a nice little riot is one way, let it happen and then terrify people about the consequences of allowing Class War and “animal rights extremists” (both seemingly blamed by a senior police officer in the DM) to be at liberty.
THe DM appears to say that FIT teams and the NPIOU should be given a big budget and licence to deal with the nasty anarchists.
Even more telling is police Inspector Gadget’s blog with one cop commenting at 08.08 this morning, “I would suggest NPIOU is a bit safer in regards its budget today”. Yes it would appear so, no doubt Nick Herbert’s speech later today will shed some light, I just hope that he remembers that when he was a student in Cambridge that his youthful high jinks did not count against him.
Regardless some people need to take security measures, no doubt the tablois will be posting up pictures of those wanted for arrest.
THe Daily Mail made some interesting comments about yesturdays student demonstration in London and the subsequent trashing of the Tory Party HQ.
Call to mass action Saturday 11th October against the surveillance state in solidarity with activists all around the world.
A broad movement of campaigners and organizations is calling on everybody to
join action against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses. On 11
October 2008, concerned people in many countries will take to the streets, the
motto being “Freedom not fear 2008″. Peaceful and creative action,
from protest marches to parties, will take place in many capital cities.
Assemble 1pm at New Scotland Yard
Surveillance mania is spreading. Governments and businesses register, monitor
and control our behaviour ever more thoroughly. No matter what we do, who we
phone and talk to, where we go, whom we are friends with, what our interests
are, which groups we participate in – “big brother” government and
“little brothers” in business know it more and more thoroughly. The
resulting lack of privacy and confidentiality is putting at risk the freedom of
confession, the freedom of speech as well as the work of doctors, helplines,
lawyers and journalists.
The manifold agenda of security sector reform encompasses the convergence of
police, intelligence agencies and the military, threatening to melt down the
division and balance of powers. Using methods of mass surveillance, the
borderless cooperation of the military, intelligence services and police
authorities is leading towards the construction of “Fortresses” in
Europe and on other continents, directed against refugees and different-looking
people but also affecting, for example, political activists, the poor and
under-priviledged, and sports fans.
People who constantly feel watched and under surveillance cannot freely and
courageously stand up for their rights and for a just society. Mass surveillance
is thereby threatening the fabric of a democratic and open society. Mass
surveillance is also endangering the work and commitment of civil society
Surveillance, distrust and fear are gradually transforming our society into one
of uncritical consumers who have “nothing to hide” and – in a vain
attempt to achieve total security – are prepared to give up their freedoms. We
do not want to live in such a society!
We believe the respect for our privacy to be an important part of our human
dignity. A free and open society cannot exist without unconditionally private
spaces and communications.
The increasing electronic registration and surveillance of the entire
population does not make us any safer from crime, costs millions of Euros and
puts the privacy of innocent citizens at risk. Under the reign of fear and blind
actionism, targeted and sustained security measures fall by the wayside, as well
as tackling peoples’ actual daily problems such as unemployment and poverty.
In order to protest against security mania and excessive surveillance we will
take to the streets in capital cities in many countries on 11 October 2008. We
call on everybody to join our peaceful protest. Politicians are to see that we
are willing to take to the streets for the protection of our liberties!
Assemble 1pm at New Scotland Yard with pots, pans and other stuff to make some noise!!
I have been protesting against Sequani labs for about 10 years now. Often it was a quick demo en route somewhere else or just a couple of us deciding to go there one afternoon. Until 2006 before Staffordshire police (bored after the closure of Darley Oaks farm) arrived advised West Mercia police to eradicate ALL protest there was a fairly innocuous policing presence in Ledbury . In January 2006 Ledbury became a no go zone for ANY protest and in May 2006 operation Tornado was launched scooping up nearly everyone who had been outside the gates of either Sequani or a company associated with them. The state failed miserably to prosecute activists first of all using the NETCU handbook and making unlawful arrests resulting in apologies and compensation for myself and others, secondly they failed to convict 12 activists they arrested originally out of 14. Dave pleaded guilty and we all know what happened to Sean, they hammered him in court, made him out to be puppet master and therefore responsible for everybody elses actions. We are not puppets and Sean is not our leader but a much loved and respected friend, I hope to make this clear by attending a demo’ with no leaders or organisers. I am not responsible for the actions of other activists, nor am I an “organiser”. In fact I would like to make it clear I am seriously disorganised and I am attending the carnival as an individual.
Despite the fact that last time we had a demonstration in Ledbury I met with Chief Inspector Hancock and we agreed a route, this time it has been made crystal clear to myself and others who have liased with the police before that to take on this role involves taking responsibility for everyone who attends the demonstration. To put yourself forward as an organiser is to put your head in a noose, however affable Chief Inspector Hancock may be, we all know that Detective Inspector Williams is straining at the leash to round as all up.
At Sequani itself the police have generally been fair and polite since being sued. There have been 2 arrests one for writing in the dust (criminal damage), one for uttering the word murderer out of earshot of the actual murderers. Speaking for myself I do not think that the police have finished with us. Of course anyone who does something like smashing a window will be arrested but I think that since the Crown Court trial somewhere high ranking officers and CPS lawyers are learning from their mistakes and conspiring to stop protests at Sequani. They want to make it water tight this time and are simply biding their time after all promises have been made and far from stopping protests they have stirred up a hornets nest. They must be furious and even if protestors just turned up every week and stood silently outside the lab we would all still be at risk anyway. I feel that I am just waiting for the next police raid and have a choice to either stop speaking out altogether or to take some risks by carrying on. I have seen much on Indymedia about how loads of people will be arrested on this carnival, how risky it will be to attend etc. People might be arrested but my view is that those who are in a position where they do not want to be arrested will soon have to abandon all protest anyway. People have to make a choice about how far they are prepared to go and that choice must be respected by others, encouraging veganism is one of the most important roles there are right now (however the phrase “are you or have you ever been vegan?” springs to mind).
Sean is serving 4 and a half years for legal protest, Greg , Natasha and Dan are facing serious sentences for running a campaign, Heather is on remand for running said campaign, Mel has been fitted up by the police in the most callous way possible, Kerry, John and Jonny are serving 12 years for running a campaign. All have been made responsible by the state not for their own actions but for those of persons unknown. We have to evolve and adapt accordingly.
Make no mistake where vivisection is concerned they want ALL criticism silenced, they have already rounded people up for polite, legal protest, the police state is already here and we have to realise that the police are our enemies as much as the vivisectors. I am not for one minute suggesting as some have that it is OK to harm individual police officers but resistance using Fit Watch tactics, a good dose of suspicion of all police officers and defending ourselves are all a good start. I was so impressed by fellow activists at Climate Camp. When the riot police charged people did not meet them with violence but stood firm against them and stopped them in their tracks, no-one ran away and no-one lost their temper, all from where I stood remained disciplined and resolute.
I have read much about how the police are only doing their job, how nice they are etc on the one hand and how they are all scum on the other. I can only speak for myself but I think that the primary role of the police is to protect the powerful and they will be ruthless in doing so. Of course many police officers themselves will disagree and are in fact decent individuals who have joined up to protect the weak in fact but you only have to look at where senior officers allocate resources to see where the priorities are i.e big business and NOT the vulnerable, the elderly etc. I have met many decent police officers in my time who have been very kind to me and others. The fact remains that the rank and file either hate us and really want to hurt us, are told all sorts of fibs during briefings which they believe (I would love to be a fly on the wall), know the truth but go with the flow OR (tiny minority) they agree with us, leave the force and even become activists (one DS even served a prison sentence for ALF activities, very nice bloke). You can not however really tell if a police officer is being nice to you or trying to get information, the only safe option is to always assume the latter. I would not like to see a police officer attacked and to do so on a demonstration could cause other activists to get hurt, self defence is an entirely different matter. At Hillgrove in 1997 many activists went to prison after police officers wearing hooded tops with hidden cameras encouraged them to throw rocks at the house. Be wary of anyone you do not know, if the police are not attacking people why provoke them?
As well as having some good experiences of the police for example the Cambridgeshire traffic cops who warned me about a very bad bubble on my tyre (no fine or points) which could have caused a nasty accident, the sergeant who brought me in news papers when I was in Charing Cross police station for a few nights, the actual vegan policeman who told us to keep up the noise levels outside Park Farm and gave the manager a very short shrift… I have had some eerrr interesting challenges as well. Pride of place comes to PC Manton for smashing my femur and face when he shook me off a tripod, being interviewed as a suspect (unbeknown to me) whilst suffering severe blood loss and on a morphine infusion, having to sit in the public gallery full of cheering police officers when he was acquitted of GBH at Peterborough Crown court, learning that non activist witnesses had been threatened with death and arrest and then finding that the cheeky gits are using my limp, facial and leg scars to positively identify me as they did at Climate camp via the PNC!
Other “highlights” include enduring a forcible strip search just for being an animal rights activist (although the Met’ professional standards were very good and I was financially compensated), annual raids on my house, repeated arrests and attempts to remand in custody, Superintendant Pearl (head of NETCU) colluding with HLS to have my house taken off me by them (failed hah hah), attempts by Thames Valley Police to have me struck off the NMC register (Nurses and Midwives Council, failed again) , false entries on my PNC record by Sussex and Cambridgeshire(for example drinking a bottle of beer from HLS hospitality being sexed up to domestic burglary, non existant breach of bail convictions) and being asked to be an informant. My point is that the police are a massive organisation, they tend to stick together and although you may have good experiences from individuals, sometimes unexpectedly they can go to extreme lengths to hurt you, they also break the law frequently. However at present there are many weapons with which to fight back, I have found the IPCC and police officers within professional standards to be good , bad and indifferent at dealing with complaints I have had 6 upheld so far. Legal action against police officers who break the law also works and I have successfully sued 6 times. Contemporaneous documentation, dictaphone, video and stills evidence are absolutely vital weaponry in combating police excesses and my view is that it is not a bad idea for everyone to take responsibility for this.
I will be on the grass verge opposite the train station in Ledbury at 12.00 on Saturday 6th September 2008. I intend to be thoroughly law abiding and peaceful but will most certainly be active in monitoring the police especially if they start misbehaving. I would suggest the following to all who come:
Bring warm clothes, water, food, notepad, pen, camera, useful phone numbers e.g solicitor, money, map of the area, medication, medic alert bracelet (if you wear one) and anything else you may need for example if you are an medic please bring your kit. Alas I don’t think burgers, tea or coffee will be making an appearance so be prepared.
The people of Ledbury are rather undecided about the lab’ and protestors get a lot of support, some locals will attend. I think it is not a good thing to alienate ordinary folk, courtesy to the locals, not dropping litter, etc and being aware that they are fed up with the almost constant police presence at Sequani and complain about it would go a long way to keep them happy. It goes without saying that some of them are Sequani workers/ hunters/police and hate us but generally speaking the person on the street is open minded despite the police and Sequani telling them that we are going to smash up their homes, cars and businesses. There are lots of independent shops in Ledbury including 2 health food shops and an internet cafe that does soya lattes mmm. Ethical shop keepers should of course be supported by activists. Bear in mind the person in the street makes a brilliant witness if the police get violent be nice to him/her.
Toilets are within the town centre, the police have threatened to arrest activists for peeing in fields and woods, don’t get caught!
If arrested people will probably be taken to Leominster police station (which is on an industrial estate NOT the town centre) or Worcester near Foregate St station as this is where people have been taken in the past. Hereford police station is being rebuilt.
Police will be there from all over the country, FIT will be there. You will be photographed, monitored and bullied. My very personal view is take a leaf from Fit watch’s book film them back, keep your cool, know your rights, complain if they behave unlawfully , defend if attacked using minimal force and do not upset them (too much). If arrested NO COMMENT! If a situation arises please be aware that your house may get raided maybe the same day maybe a year later and if for example you get good footage of a police officer beating up an activist THEY WILL COME LOOKING FOR THE FOOTAGE, get it somewhere safe.
If anyone fancies hill walking you could get the police to chase you up the nearby Malvern hills which are utterly wonderful, lovely views and might let them work off some steam. There are even springs which you can fill bottles up with. There is also a vegetarian cafe near the beacon at St Annes Well, vegan chocolate cake etc, etc.
The press will be there. Please bring banners, eye catching things if you want.
Animals are tortured in Sequani every day and they are trying to stop us questioning this through 145 and 146 SOCPA. As well as banners highlighting the plight of the victims of vivisection, banners highlighting the fact that we are losing what used to be the right to protest and could face prison for challenging the atrocity of vivisection.
These are very personal views. Feel free to agree or disagree.
See you all there
This bunch protect people like the Dalai Lama, they advise businessmen going to dangerous places and they are keeping an eye on us all. Indeed we suspect that they do lots of sinister things using ex police officers to make a mint on telling multinationals all about all kinds of activists. Maybe to raise funds we’ll tell them lots of interesting things about ourselves and share the proceeds or if we find enough pennies we’ll get them working for us! We presume that activists across the board know about them any info would be appreciated cos we really think it would be terribly rude not to show an interest. Furthermore under the Data Protection Act they are obliged to tell individual activists about what information they hold on that individual or else the Information Commissioner gets very cross indeed and might even prosecute a company for breaking the law one day. Data protection requests should be sent to the address below but really only well known activists should do this to avoid giving them information they do not already have and this is an action not to be taken lightly (unfortunately you do have to give them £10 for their costs). Obviously they have poor Brian Haw in their sights intimating that he is a terrorist is utterly disgusting. Read the attached article and please spread the word on this company.
The Data Protection Officer,
The Inkerman Group,
3-4 Elwick Road,
Oh and if you are reading this Colin, Gerald, James, John, Tim, Fay, Richard, Elizabeth and David because we know how much we fascinate you, a great big hello to you all, the fascination is mutual. Oh and happy 49th to Fay on the 7th March if you’ve got a party can we come too, just make sure you’ve got some nice vegan food, we’ll be very well behaved and we won’t bring those naughty clowns!
DISPATCHES FROM SEQUANI ANIMAL TORTURE CENTRE, SOCPA AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR DEMOCRACY.
Sequani is a contract testing laboratory based in Ledbury in Herefordshire. They test anything for anyone for a price which includes poisoning rats, mice, dogs and numerous other animals with various products from drugs to anti dandruff shampoo to toothpaste.
Recently the women of Ledbury have been invited to partake in human trials for a tampon which contains painkillers which we presume was first tested on animals hardly life saving medical research, more like the medicalisation of normal female physiology. The menopause has long been regarded as pathological the implication being that women cannot live without medical help, utter nonsense except in a minority of cases. Notwithstanding that it is hardly healthy to take painkillers for every little ache and pain there is many issues at stake here. A woman who has very painful periods maybe should be checked over by her GP to make sure that all is well instead of rushing off to spend hard earned cash on something which may treat the symptoms but not the cause and might actually poison her into the bargain. For those who have mild period pain there is always paracetomol and a hot water bottle. Child a bit lively? dose it up on Ritalin. Feeling a bit sad? dose up with Prozac the Americans are taking it in their millions so it must be good. Of course Ritalin and Prozac may be useful drugs for some individuals but certainly not on the scale we are seeing.The drug companies are making billions out of the mass medication of people who certainly do not “need” it and in fact might be harmed by it. Oops a daisy those who took HRT to cope with minor menopausal symptoms now have breast cancer, some of those who took Zyban rather than using will power to stop smoking are ermm dead, ditto some individuals who took Baycol to lower cholesterol,etc, etc,etc. We only mention all this because we are so often depicted as arch deviants who want to stop all medical research, dig up grannies, and cause the collapse of humanity into the abyss and so pot? kettle? black?.
Well we support proper medical research because some of us work in the NHS, some of us are or may become ill, ie not for petty imagined “illnesses” and not on other species (how is a month old rat in any way comparable with a 60 year old man?))For the record no animal rights person has been charged or convicted for digging up Gladys Hammond and we only mention her because whenever we complain about the way in which we are being treated someone always brings up this incident, we have no idea whether or not animal rights people were involved and certainly were not involved ourselves. By the way BAA intend to dig up not one body (which is grossly indecent) but 3 ENTIRE GRAVEYARDS disentering the corpses some of whom were killed by aviation pollution!!!
We believe that there are many important issues surrounding testing on animals and for 25 years local people have gone to the gates to demonstrate disgust at vivisection and highlight these issues. Certainly over the last 10 years this has been a small local affair and not much other than placard holding and chanting has occurred much as it would at any other demonstration. There have been a couple of minor public order arrests and some Sequani staff have on occasion been very threatening even throwing protestors into oncoming traffic but nothing terribly exciting, no corpses, no home demos, no bombs, no hate mail, no liberations, no criminal damage. So why is it that 12 protestors are now facing 5 years in prison for protesting peacefully against Sequani and why should even a fox-hunting, fur hag, foie gras eating vivisector be concerned? We aim to open some debate on this, alert the wider public and save democracy and we will begin by describing the events of 2006.
We cannot say anything about the trial because of draconian reporting restrictions. The hysterical exaggerations and fantasies of some of the staff and some police officers as well as the disgraceful manipulation behind the scenes will have to remain a mystery for now suffice to say that the state have spent millions of pounds of public money persecuting a small group of people for protesting, peacefully against vivisection. If only the victims of muggings and burglaries and organised gangs (who now rule some areas) were as well connected as Sequani….
Until now security, police and protestors all managed perfectly well. Every protestor knew that if they ran in through the gates and did “naughty” things that the police would arrest them, security guards knew that if they decided to throw protestors into oncoming traffic that it was best to do it when the police were dealing with actual crime. The police ignored protestors complaints about security staff but hey ho they were not too draconian and did not arrest people for simply holding banners and speaking out against vivisection and no one died as a result of being hurled in front of lorries. 2006 saw a massive change and we think that the police promised Sequani that they would eradicate us. Staffordshire police turned up for a couple of demos no doubt getting withdrawal symptoms from activists after Newchurch guinea pig farm closed (deep down they really must love us) and “advised” West Mercia on how best to deal with us. This started with an errr interesting interpretation of section 42. Protestors would arrive and hold banners, a police officer would arrive and look terribly important because s/he had been given a clip board and thus dear reader reached the very zenith of his/her carreer. S/he would then announce that because there were “dwellings” nearby that the demonstration could upset someone and everyone would be ordered to move under pain of arrest and not return for 7 days when the whole charade was then repeated. Using the legislation this way meant that ANY demonstration in the vicinity (vicinity is not defined it could mean 2 miles away), of any dwelling (dwelling is not defined it could mean a tent halfway up Scafell or a yacht in the English channel) would be unlawful. Fortunately the police soon learnt a year later to their considerable cost (£25,000 in all we believe) that this was in fact not the case after those unlawfully arrested sued for compensation for abduction, malicious prosecution and assault. Credit where it is due West Mercia Professional Standards (police officers who police the police) investigated on behalf of the complainants and found that there was this briefing document lurking about which was given to the police on the ground who believed that they were making legal arrests under both section 42 and under antisocial behaviour legislation when in fact they were not. West Mercia apologised and compensated very gracefully, clearly orders had come from on high and police on the ground were not to blame or were they? At that time it was impossible to tell what would happen at demonstrations because one day arrests could happen and the next a police sergeant could be congratulating everyone on their good humour and peaceful demeanor and all was well.
At present we are glad to report that the police are behaving themselves and have curbed their anti social behaviour but we suspect that this might change soon. Only 2 gripes apparently Sequani are allowed to film us as much as they want as they are utterly trustworthy, responsible and would not dream of tampering with the footage. We have been threatened with arrest if we have a video camera even if it switched off, even if security guards are hurling people in front of lorries in case they feel intimidated and so if any protest does go to court the only recorded evidence will be from Sequani as our footage will have been destroyed and equipment confiscated. How odd that footage filmed by Sequani played in court has had the sound of protestors shouting enhanced so that they can be heard over lorries rushing past? Must be a technical problem.The second gripe is that we are well behaved we really do not need a police officer each and we are sure that they would rather be elsewhere doing real police work (well most of them anyway except those who keep nicking the donuts from the Sequani security building, and the occasional officious nutter)
PUNISHING PEOPLE FOR THEIR BELIEFS
May 2006 saw the first raids to our knowledge (certainly in the last 10 years) of Seqauni protestors homes. These were dawn raids and houses were cleared out of every cd, computer, printer, leaflet, banner, everything really that was not nailed down. Initially 14 people were arrested 12 were later charged under SOCPA and are at the moment in the midst of a trial so we can say little else suffice to say that if you wish to hold up a banner (and that is all and we do mean a nice polite banner and no we do not mean a roof top demo, or one that might be on the evil one’s land) outside for example Tescos, or BAA then one day you might be in the same court room facing 5 years inside. Lucky really that SOCPA just refers to vivisection but seriously how long will it be before those who are against nuclear power, or are pro hunt, or are against phonemasts or indeed disagree with government policy in any way face the same sanctions? You could argue that we are nasty, violent graverobbers, but we are actually quite a nice bunch and whilst we are by no means perfect we do not kill people like the Fascists and believe you me you’d rather meet us on a dark night in the woods rather than some hunt supporters or badger diggers. Neither fascists or the Real Countryside Alliance face this law in all its full glory but they will one day as will all protestors. The police and their chums in the CPS are very keen to squander 4 million pounds thus far of public money on this case no doubt at the expense of ordinary folk who face an epidemic of real crime and no assistance from the law. In the West Mercia area burglaries, serious harassment and environmental desecration such as flytipping are utterly neglected at the expense of doffing the collective police cap to the vivisection industry. This does not benefit even a Sequani worker. Just imagine you work for Sequani, the police pester you for a statement to say that you felt harassed by an octogenarian holding a banner that you couldn’t quite see a year ago, you go home and find that your partner, a carpenter, has had his lock-up burgled yet again with thousands of pounds worth of tools gone. He can no longer work as he has no tools and cannot buy more tools as he can no longer work, you lose your house, the police are not interested but they still really want to know about the trauma you suffered because you might have seen this old banner. The police are being used as political pawns and some of them seem to really enjoy this role.
The message they want to send out is that if you protest however peacefully against animal experiments they will ruin your life.
First of all a dawn raid. Now apart from having the inconvenience of your door being smashed in, you being assaulted, your pets and/or children being terrorised, every little thing you own(including letters, cards, school reports, photos, bank statements) being scrutinised by some creepy Herr Flick wannabe and being dragged off in handcuffs to the police station, being raided is not too bad. It is almost an annual event for some of us, a bit like Kim and Aggie coming in and decluttering your house minus channel 4 and the glamorous sequined gloves but plus another even creepier Herr Flick wannabe(who looks like Voldemort with a hangover) filming your every move and plain old latex gloves (don’t ask you’ll find out soon enough). However if you live with your parents or a partner who are not fully understanding even if the case is dropped entirely you could still be in trouble with your nearest and dearest, a landlord/lady might throw you out especially if you are a lodger and of course others in the movement who can not risk getting raided feel forced to abstain from ANY actions unable to risk upsetting an elderly relative or their children.
Secondly Work. Those who are retired, on benefits, the self employed, or who are really valued by an organisation who do not wish to lose valuable skills should be OK. Anyone else could be in trouble. Imagine explaining to an employer that not only have you been arrested but that you need a day off for court the following week. You go to court and another date is set, then another, you have to then take days off to discuss strategy with your legal team, you use up all your holiday and then a trial is set to last 13 weeks. Your name might be all over the press. Many employers would be none too chuffed and even the most sympathetic might think of getting rid of the activist if not there and then maybe at a later date when the police repeat the process or another event for example a car crash or having to care for an elderly relative causes more friction. The point is of course to punish those who criticise vivisection. West Mercia police also made a point of arresting people at work and searching people’s places of work in a vindictive attempt to make people lose their jobs. Again some other activists would have had to stop legal, peaceful protest unable to risk losing their livelihoods. Even if the case is dropped people’s jobs are still in jeopardy especially if the police do the same thing repeatedly which they have been known to do.
Thirdly money. A 13 week trial traveling to and fro and supporting self and family with no wages is somewhat difficult which is why the trial is taking place in Birmingham rather than Worcester or Hereford.For those on benefits it is almost impossible if the defendant wants to eat as well. Clearly another attempt to intimidate and send out a wider message that what has been regarded as legal protest in the past is now only the preserve of the very wealthy who can afford such disruption.
Needless to say all of these factors make a guilty plea appear to be the much easier option!In spite of the intimidation only one defendant has pleaded guilty so far.
The reason we mention all this is not to cause panic or to spread paranoia, but to make it very clear that the right to protest in a traditional way is under an onslaught which has severe ramifications for us all. We utterly oppose any attack on democracy and whilst we are the enemies of hunters we are opposed to them being arrested for wearing “bollocks to Blair” Tshirts, obviously we are opposed to the attacks on Brian Haw and Mia Evans and numerous other activists but this is not a matter of an arrest at the scene of the offence, a day in the magistrates court, a fine and a criminal record. These things are bad enough when one has only protested in an orderly manner but it is quite possible to continue pick up the pieces and continue with life, we know as we have done this repeatedly. What is happening right now starting with animal rights activists is the total dismantling of people’s lives and many seem to think that this is appropriate but think again do you really deep down feel that an animal rights activist who has gone into an office, let off an air horn, handed out a few leaflets and walked out again is worse than a child rapist? Recent sentencing of activists have included 4 years for a few office occupations, 6 years for putting paintstripper on cars, 12 years for running a campaign and an indefinite sentence for property damage. Many who rape and kill will be freed long before animal rights activists, clearly human beings rate far less than a company’s profit margin! We have read and heard of many views that support the crackdown on us but if you really think that the powers that be will stop once we have been rounded up, demonised and interned then you are seriously deluded. You may not like what we have to say but in a democracy if someone wants to protest outside Barclays that space pixies from Venus have stolen their pencil case it is the right for that person to protest that is important not the fact that you do not like what they are saying. The bottom line is that if you want to live in a democracy we come as part of the package, if you do not like the pictures of tortured animals walk past and bear in mind we find your McDonalds corpse burger and your fur coat far more offensive and we happen to think that skinning animals alive is extreme ditto factory farming. Even some leading Pro-test members have expressed disquiet over draconian legislation which could potentially limit all anti vivisection protest to a carefully worded occasional letter to the press or an MP. Imagine if the unions and the Suffragettes had been thus limited and then think what sort of regime we will all have to endure a few years from now. The outcome of the Sequani trial will partially set the precedent for whether or not we continue to enjoy liberty or face a tyranny unheard of for centuries.
We will continue to protest until we are locked up or indeed maimed (at least one of us has suffered life threatening injuries from the police requiring a 2 week hospital stay)as we have a duty to speak out for the animals and to those brave souls who handed us the legacy of a free (ish) country after suffering torture and death for their beliefs. We do not fear the police or the courts and if they persecute us we will challenge them for as long as we possibly can. For those who think that this does not apply to them do not expect too much sympathy when the door is smashed in and it is you who are hauled off for handing out leaflets against a phone mast, or holding a banner at a farmers blockade at Tescos. You have all been warned please take note. If you disagree with SOCPA then come to Ledbury, or any anti SOCPA demo, write to your MP and say so even if you also disagree with us.
Filed under: Animal Rights, Arrests, Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Convictions, Corruption, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Injunctions, Justice??, Police State, Protests, Raids, Repression, Sequani, SOCPA, Speak Campaign | 5 Comments »
Our hypothetical campaign situation resulting in a civil liberties cluster-fuck happy reading…
Vivisector: I am a vivisector at ToxiKill Ltd.
Protester: I am a campaigner that thinks that ToxiKill Ltd does pointless and dangerous experiments on animals which cost human lives as well as animals I am going to protest outside the lab.
Police Evidence Team: Note new campaign started against ToxiKill Ltd – three campaigners ID currently unknown.
Vivisector (to police): Someone is outside our business holding a placard with a picture of a dog that has been killed in animal experiments, even though this is something I routinely see at work, I don’t like being reminded of my unethical job and I feel slightly uneasy.
Police (to Protesters): Someone has told us you have been “anti social” by displaying a banner which depicts animals which have died as a result of vivisection. Using Section 50 of the Police Reform Act 2002 I am asking you for your names addresses and date of birth (although I don’t have any power to ask for DOB I will tell you that you could be arrested if you don’t give it).
Police Evidence Team: Campaigners identified.
Campaign continues for four months with police presence at every demonstration including evidence gatherers.
Protester (to other protesters): Here’s an idea, why don’t we protest against the companies supply ToxiKill Ltd with lab cages?
Other Protester: That’s an excellent idea, why don’t we do some demos against the people who supply them with animals as well?
Police Evidence Team: Campaign tactics have changed suppliers of ToxiKill now being campaigned against tactics peaceful although suppliers say they feel distressed by the protests and they feel that the profits are down since the campaigning started.
Protester (via Megaphone to Arrowlight Biosciences limited): We are here to stay, Arrowlight until you drop ToxiKill we will be here every day!
Police Evidence Team: Blackmail noted.
Protesters then trespass onto Arrowlight property which is a civil offence not a criminal matter unless they are asked to leave then if they refuse it is a criminal matter of aggravated trespass.
Bob (Arrowlight) 999 call: It is Bob here from Arrowlight, protesters are outside our doors which a banner and shouting we feel scared even though there are three of them and they seem calm and two hundred staff members!
Police (arrive at Arrowlight): Under section 14 of the Public Order act I am moving your protest over the road which is roughly 200 metres from the entrance of Arrowlight outside some other place. Making your protest ineffective.
The demonstrations continue for 4 months some protesters are recorded swearing at a van delivering beagle puppies to ToxiKill, police don’t take action but document the swearing.
Meanwhile, Operation LibertyHoover is started.
Police take statements from staff and ask if people would be willing to testify in court if needed. Many staff members agree as they are told it could stop the protests all together. They don’t really care for the right to protest they just want the protests to stop.
Police called to Arrowlight after protests knock on the windows and shout “puppy killers” and “how do you sleep at night animal abusers”. Even though this is a possible section 5 public order offence the police are told not take any action to stop the protest.
One month passes…
The three protesters are raided, their companion animals are let onto the streets and one activist is pushed down the stairs whilst handcuffed behind his back. All computer equipment, campaign materials, clothing, cars and phones are taken the houses are stripped bare.
They are held for twenty hours and questioned by CID and various other officers they are shown emails which they have sent calling for others to protest and told about phone records that show a clear leader in the eyes of the police.
Questions like “who updates the website” and “who is the leader” are asked. “Someone must be organising these demonstrations! Who is the leader?” The police focus on one protester who has been something of a liaison with the press and also seems to (according to phone records) phone other members of the campaign more than others have phoned him.
Police continue to look for a hierarchy even though it is just a couple of individuals who care about animals and have a common goal of stopping vivisection. There is no leader, people are told about times and dates of demonstrations if they wish to attend they are welcome to. The police make the person who turns up on all the demos and makes more phone calls the leader.
They are all charged with Section 145 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act for “Conspiracy to interfere with contractual relationships so as to harm animal research organisation”.
The bail conditions disallow them to attend any animal rights events, speak with other activists and they are given a curfew where they are to be at home between 1900 and 0700. One activist suffers from depression waiting for the trial to start after being disallowed to speak with their friends they find the bail conditions unbearable.
The trial starts a year later, all three plead not guilty, the jury are told about certain security precautions as the trial might make them a target for animal rights extremists. The jury fear for their safety and they start the trial with the mindset that the defendants are dangerous individuals. Extra security is added in the court room to heighten this fear and people giving evidence give it behind a screen as not to be seen by anyone else in the court room.
Witness (ToxiKill worker): I felt intimidated by the protesters I didn’t like the way they said I killed puppies. I found it hard to work at times thinking about having to drive past them again.
Police evidence is shown and a person who isn’t even a defendant swearing at a white van is aired for the first time. Also video footage of protesters knocking on windows is shown, this footage also doesn’t include any of the defendants knocking on the window.
The trial is dragged out for four months, two of the three are found guilty and one is given a 14 month suspended sentence. Although the jury don’t know this, they assume that people wouldn’t face years in prison for so little.
The others are sentenced to four years.
Four years in prison, for:
- One person who wasn’t even a defendant swearing on a demonstration (harassment)
- Other people who weren’t defendants knocking on a window. (harassment)
- Statements from workers saying they found it difficult to work with the protesters outside. (harassment)
- Statements from witnesses who said they were intimidated although the protesters were outside a high security laboratory site with five security on the gate. (harassment)
- Telling your friends that there is a demonstration on Tuesday (conspiracy)
- Telling a supplier you would continue to protest until they stopped doing what they were legally allowed to do (blackmail).
Previous to SOCPA these offences were a section 5 of the public order act and were about as serious as swearing in the street at anyone.
SOCPA takes tiny offences such as Section 5 and then for use against animal rights protesters makes them into huge crimes for which activists can face years in prison.
People can ignore the facts and keep saying it’s only because they are animal rights that they get raided all the time, and you can live in denial that it will never happen to your movement. These laws make a mockery of the freedom to protest and should be recognised for how much they destroy our civil liberties regardless of the movement.
First they came for the animal rights protesters.
I was not an animal rights protester:
Then they came for <insert your movement here>
Then there was no-one left to speak out for me.
Disclaimer: The names of companies, individuals are fictitious and are not intended to resemble any real person or business.
When asked, most people would agree that all people who have been charged with an offence have the right to a fair trial? I wonder if a trial might still be considered fair if for example the victim of a robbery or rape was the judge in the case?
Impartiality has to be the foundation of a fair trial, so why am I recoiling in horror to find out that the judge in the latest SOCPA trial is a hunter? Yes I’m serious, the judge for six people facing possible prison sentences for conspiracy to “interfere with contractual relationships so as to harm animal research organisation” spends his spare time when he is not a judge shooting animals out of the sky for fun.
Not to mention of course the fact that the jury are being privately bused in each day so that the scary extremists don’t “disappear them” in a Mafia Movie style which is a first for animal rights activists. The whole facade obviously serves the fair trial well in creating a false sense of insecurity for the jury so they actually feel like these people are a threat to everything good and pure anywhere…
To add insult to the fair trial, an announcement by the procecution on the first day of the trial told of an activist being arrested in Herefordshire “at this moment” even though the arrest was nothing to do with Sequani or even vivisection and how protests were happening even whilst they were in court.
We wish the Sequani 6 all the best in there trial and hope that SOCPA laws are recognised for the farce that it is and someone wakes up to the systematic removal of our civil liberties and realises the implications for the protest movement as a whole.
Protests continue at Sequani with a campaign being stepped up by other activists from around the country, protests take place on the first Monday of every month and any time people wish to protest there.
You can support the Sequani 6 by protesting at Sequani. More information here.
The harassment law now being used against anti-dumping protesters in Oxfordshire is turning into the riot act of our day (George Monbiot)
If any of you doubt that protest is being criminalised in the United Kingdom, take a look at an injunction posted at www.epuk.org. Granted in the high court by the Honourable Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, it forbids the people of a village in Oxfordshire from “coming to, remaining on, trespassing or conducting any demonstrations or protesting or other activities” on the claimant’s land.
As this land is also the villagers’ most treasured local amenity, it means they have to abandon any effective means of trying to protect their quality of life. If not, they could end up with five years behind bars.
On second thoughts, don’t look at the injunction – it will turn you to stone. A cunning clause ensures that it also applies “to any other person who has been given notice of the terms of this order”. In fact, you have probably already been injuncted by reading the first paragraph of this article. So, if you value your liberty, you can’t now go near Thrupp Lake.
The lake is the haunt of kingfishers, otters and even rarer wildlife, such as Cetti’s warblers and water rails. It is the place where local people walk their dogs, swim, fish and picnic. But for the giant energy company RWE npower, which runs Didcot power station, it is the next dump for its pulverised fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal. The company intends to empty the lake, line it with clay, and pour in at least 60,000 tonnes of grey slurry – the fly ash mixed with water – then wait for years until it solidifies before attempting “remediation”. Fly ash typically contains lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.
The project, in other words, is an abomination. The people of Radley village, as anyone would, have tried to stop this dumping. They have marched and demonstrated and photographed the cutting down of trees and the destruction of habitats. And now they have been confronted by one of the most brutal instruments on the statute book.
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is, on the face of it, a sensible piece of legislation defending people from stalkers. But when it was drafted, several of us warned that it failed to distinguish between genuine harassment and legitimate protest. Harassment includes “alarming the person or causing the person distress”, which could mean almost anything: you can alarm someone, for example, by telling them that pulverised fly ash contains mercury. It requires a “course of conduct” to be pursued, but this means nothing more than doing something twice. If you take two pictures of workers felling trees, that counts. Conduct also includes speech.
Worse still, the legislation was the first of several “behaviour acts” which blur the distinction between civil and criminal offences. The victim of the course of conduct may take a civil claim to the high court. On the basis of far less evidence than a criminal case requires, the court can grant an injunction against the defendant. If the defendant then breaks that injunction – by continuing to talk to the people he is seeking to dissuade, or to march or picket or protest – he then commits a criminal offence, carrying up to five years’ imprisonment.
We warned that the legislation had the makings of a new sedition law. No one took us seriously. But the first three people to be arrested under the act were peaceful protesters. Since then it has been used repeatedly to stifle what should be legitimate dissent.
The injunction was granted on the grounds that the site’s security guards were feeling threatened by the protesters. Many of the guards are former members of the armed forces. In the photos I have seen they wear black face masks. They allege that protesters have spoken threateningly to them and photographed them. I don’t know whether or not this is true, but the guards claim that this has made them feel scared and intimidated for themselves or their families. It seems to me that the security company has hired a bunch of right cissies. But all the act requires is a judgment that the men felt “alarmed” or “distressed”.
So an instrument designed to prevent intimidation in turn intimidates. As well as being forbidden to step on to the land they have walked and played on for years, the villagers and other protesters are forbidden to loiter “within five yards of any of the protected persons (whether on foot or in vehicles) in the vicinity of Radley Lakes”. In other words, should one of the security guards approach them, they must step well back if they want to avoid the possibility of five years inside. The injunction has thrown a great bucket of cold water over their attempts to protect the neighbourhood.
At first I thought these uses were an accidental product of bad drafting. Now I am not so sure. The law company serving the writ, Lawson-Cruttenden, describes itself as “the market leader in obtaining ground-breaking injunctions on behalf of individuals and corporations who have been the subject of harassment by direct action protest groups”. It also boasts that it “assisted in the drafting of the … Protection from Harassment Act 1997″. Are such apparent conflicts of interest normal? Did Lawson-Cruttenden know that the act would support a lucrative line of business? Did Michael Howard, the home secretary at the time, know that companies like this would use the law like a new riot act?
The journalist Henry Porter, who has done more than anyone else to draw attention to some of our illiberal new laws, believes that they result from Tony Blair’s “authoritarian streak” and his attempts to build a “fussy, hairsplitting, second-guessing, politically correct state”. On this matter I think that he is wrong.
Some of the most illiberal laws of recent years – the 1986 Public Order Act, the 1992 Trade Union Act, the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, the 1996 Security Service Act, the 1997 Police Act and the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act – were drafted by the Conservative party. Blair has supplemented them with all manner of pernicious instruments (such as the 2000 Terrorism Act, the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, the 2001 Criminal Justice and Police Act, the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act, the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act and the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act). But this illiberal trend long pre-dates him.
I think it arose partly in line with rising inequality, and the ever more urgent demands by corporations and the super-rich that their assets and their position be defended. But I think it also reflects something else, seldom discussed by the press: the over-representation of lawyers in British politics. Lawyers have an instinctive love of new laws, as this is how they derive their power over the rest of us. In this respect, Blair differs not a jot from Margaret Thatcher, Howard, Jack Straw and the other barrister-legislators. When you elect lawyers, you get laws.
I have met quite a few lawyers – not always voluntarily – and some of them are able to perform a passable impression of human beings. Like teenagers, they are generally quite harmless by themselves. But sensible voters would ensure that they were never let loose in a representative chamber. People of the same trade seldom meet together but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public. Lawyers are no exception.
George Monbiot, The Guardian, Tuesday March 6, 2007
Five anti-vivisection activists charged with disorderly conduct after a protest in Blackpool had all charges dropped by The Crown Prosecution Service yesterday. The five had been arrested at a protest outside the Vodafone shop in Church Street, Blackpool, nearly a year ago on 25th March 2006 and were charged with displaying insulting pictures under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986
(this states that “a person is guilty of an offence if he (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”).
The protest had been held to draw attention to Vodafone’s financial support of Oxford University, the focus of a long campaign opposing their construction of a new animal-experimentation laboratory. The ‘criminal’ activities in which the defendants had been engaged involved holding a banner, handing out leaflets and displaying graphic posters showing primate experiments of a type similar to those already carried out at Oxford. When the protesters continued their protest after police had told them the pictures were offensive and were causing distress, they were arrested.
The decision to drop these charges follows the acquittal at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court last month of two other campaigners, Dr K Richardson and Mr Cain, who were arrested a year ago at a similar protest outside Vodafone and charged with an identical offence. 20 identical arrests under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 took place between March and July 2006 in Blackpool and Preston during protests outside Vodafone shops. The other 15 cases have either already been dropped, or the defendants were acquitted in court.
28-yr old Dr Joanne Moodie, one of the campaigners whose charges were dropped today, said: “Most animal experiments are funded through taxpayers’ money. The public has a right to know what the Government is doing with their money, and the police and the Crown Prosecution Service should stop interfering with this democratic process. This prosecution has been a complete waste of police and court time, and we have had this hanging over us for a year.”
Dr. Moodie added that protesters refused to be intimidated by heavy-handed policing methods, and that they would continue to protest and to inform the public that animal experiments are not only cruel, but hold back medical progress by giving misleading results.
The five activists are getting legal advice on taking legal action against the police for breaching their rights under the Human Rights Act, which states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”.
Original article posted on Indymedia 30th January 2007
in the same week that John Reid faces pressure over prison overcrowding, barbara tucker, a peaceful anti-war campaigner, faces jail for breaching draconian bail conditions imposed by judge snow, banning her from entering an area within 1km of parliament.
at about 9pm 29/01/07, Barbara Tucker was arrested by two officers from charing cross police station as she stood quietly outside downing street with her large pink banner against genocide.
earlier in trafalgar square, four community support officers kept her under surveillance, and then followed her to downing street where they kept a discreet distance while she stood by the gates. the diplomatic officers ignored her, but after around fifteen minutes a police van turned up and two policemen stepped out. they opened the rear of the van before even approaching her, then came over and told her they were arresting her for breach of bail.
in a calm and dignified statement, barbara told the arresting officers that they knew she had notified the metropolitan police commissioner on 3rd march 2006 and had failed to investigate the matter. the met had not dealt with this issue in a timely manner, and the commissioner had failed to authorise as he was legally obliged to do.
she said it is not a criminal offence to say ‘stop killing the children’. she pointed out that the commissioner was now the subject of an independent police complaints commission investigation, as were the two arresting officers themselves over previous dealings with barbara, including an alleged assault on her. she asked the police to go and do their proper duties before arresting her. after barbara finished her statement, she quietly allowed the police to lead her into the back of the van, and she was driven to charing cross.
she will be held overnight, and will face court in the morning where it is likely she will be remanded to holloway prison. her solicitors will be trying to contest the bail conditions in the crown court at the earliest opportunity.
barbara has been pursued and harassed by police for more than a year over her pink banner which she wears in parliament square and outside downing street on a regular basis. at first she was told she could not join brian haw’s (then exempt) demonstration, so she sent an email notifying the police of her ongoing protest in order to comply. ever since then, although it is clear that barbara has notified, the police have failed to authorise her, and have ‘reported her for possible summons’ on more than seventy occasions.
the only case so far to have been heard in court was thrown out by district judge snow as ‘void ab initio’, and since then, police have repeatedly failed to present evidence against barbara despite countless pre-trial hearings. cases against her have been thrown out on several occasions, and one previous attempt to restrict her movements with bail conditions was also challenged and thrown out.
it seems that barbara has ‘confounded’ the law with her unorthodox notification by email of an open-ended protest “until this government goes”. police have tried various other methods to restrict her, with cases of obstruction of the highway, obstructing a police officer, and even attempts to have her sectioned under the mental health act – but still after more than a year, nothing has been proved in court.
it seems they are not sufficiently confident to simply face her in court over a ‘serious organised crime and police act’ offence, and as the months go by, the pressure on barbara has been racking up.
the bail conditions imposed today bring into stark reality the conceptual black line that artist mark wallinger drew on the floor of tate britain as part of his recreation of brian haw’s original 40 metre display which he has named ‘state britain’. although the whole of the tate actually lies outside the proscribed exclusion zone, if barbara were to step over his line, she would be breaching bail.
instead, she chose to commit her breach in the very place that her protest is about – outside the residence of tony blair. she believes it is he who should be in the dock, for the crime of genocide, not her for holding her pink banner.