Friday, 3 June 2011

Glasgow Defence Committee statement on arrests of students at Strathclyde University protest

The following is reposted from the blog of the Glasgow Defence Campaign, who were "formed in order to defend democratic rights and oppose the criminalisation of political protest." It is important to recognise the increasing repression and violence being deployed by the state, and the means we have to fight back. [Hat-tip to Infantile Disorder.]

The Glasgow Defence Campaign condemns the police aggression and arrests of two people at a demonstration at Strathclyde University on Thursday 2 June. Students held a mass march around the campus in opposition to the scrapping of geography, sociology and community education courses. This is part of £12 million worth of cuts at the university, involving 100 job losses and other departments threatened. Students demanded that education should not be based on ‘income generating potential’ and business-led research. The entire campus was on lock-down as the authorities feared a potential occupation of one of the buildings. Glasgow writer James Kelman addressed the crowd and urged them to oppose all cuts.

During the demonstration, police moved to arrest a student ISG activist for the apparent crime of speaking on a megaphone on the steps of the McCance building. Another student was assaulted by officers, thrown to the ground and subsequently arrested. A young woman was punched in the face as she moved to help her partner. The GDC welcomes the initiative shown by protesters, who moved to defend those attacked and arrested, blocking the police vans from moving for over two hours, filming and photographing the actions of the police. Around 25 police and a helicopter were eventually deployed.

Over 50 people then held a militant, spontaneous march from the campus to Stewart Street police station. A GDC supporter present reported that chants of ‘Strathclyde police – hands off protest!’ and ‘Defend, defend, defend the right to protest!’ rang out across the busy traffic and protesters defied police attempts to force them off the roads. A protest was held outside the station as people demanded the release of the two students in detention. They were due to be released at 6.30pm, although we have yet to confirm this or the charges brought.

It is vital that Strathclyde police, individually and collectively, be held publicly responsible for their behaviour. The GDC believes it has identified Superintendent Nelson Telfer and PC Alan Carter as the two police responsible for directing the aggression against students at the campus. The former appeared on Scottish television to public defend the widely condemned eviction of the Hetherington occupation; the latter involved in securing the wrongful conviction of an FRFI activist on 10 April. We have also identified PC David Markey (A413), the officer in black helping to forcefully restrain a student on the ground (see video 1.15). This officer was involved in the police harassment of a GDC supporter witnessed here.

Check the GDC's police harassment log to reference the numbers of any Stewart Street officers previously involved in political policing. Police officers from Stewart Street can be identified here. We urge people to follow up with civil actions and complaints, and to record any injuries sustained with a doctor as soon as possible.

There is a movement growing across the country against police attacks on democratic rights, as increasing numbers are brought face to face with the reality of the British justice system: that the interests and property of the banks and the multinationals will be defended from effective opposition at all costs. The police will continue to act with violence and impunity against protest unless we can effectively organise to defend ourselves and others. The GDC has led the way in campaigning against political policing in Glasgow over the past twelve months and the response of the students today shows that this is broadening every day. Every anti-democratic action on the part of Strathclyde police only serves to expose their profound weakness and radicalise ever more people.

In response to the latest arrests in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the GDC is calling on people to turn Monday’s planned picket of Glasgow District Court at the trial of an anti-cuts activist into a mass show of solidarity with all those criminalised for peaceful protest. An injury to one is an injury to all! End the arrests – drop the charges!

All out for Glasgow District court!
Monday 6 June, from 10am onwards
21 St. Andrews Street, off Saltmarket, Glasgow