Boiling with rage after being ‘kettled’ by cops
On Wednesday 1 April, the police “kettled” me and other anti-G20 protesters at the Bank of England. They prevented us from leaving by pushing us violently with batons and shields. I eventually got to the climate camp protest at around 5pm, but at 7pm riot police blocked all exits and forbade anyone from coming in or out of the street – we were “kettled” once more.
At around 11pm more vans arrived and someone in the crowd broke the news of the death of a man at the earlier protest. The music stopped and everyone linked arms as the police started pushing us back, snatching some people. They hurled a sound system on the floor, pushing and yelling, “get back.”
They proceeded to remove us, grabbing us one by one. In about 30 minutes they had cleared the camp, leading protesters away by force. Everyone was in a state of shock.
The police had no right to do what they did – there was no violence whatsoever from the protesters, even though the police had been extremely provocative and violent.
The war machine deployed at the protests that day is only a taste of what the government can unleash when people begin to fight back against the system.
The police planned their attack carefully but the truth is they are scared and these actions show that they will use “anti terror” policies and violence to prevent people taking to the streets, because people have power.
Sara el Sheekh, South London
I arrived late at the G20 demonstration on Wednesday last week to find police armed with batons indiscriminately assaulting protesters. The group of protesters appeared to be frustrated that they were not allowed to leave.
Police lines encroached from all surrounding streets, herding people into an ever smaller space. People were peaceful but concerned that there was no way out.
Many people attempted to reason with individual police officers but they maintained that no one was leaving and wouldn’t say when this would change.
I saw people who were clearly injured approach the police to ask for medical attention but this was ignored. One man could barely stand but it took over 30 minutes for a medic to come to him.
The police crushed the demonstration further and used batons to hit people. Many protesters were badly injured with wounds to the head. A handful of protesters helplessly threw pieces of rubbish into police lines as the police charged.
All reports about the instigation of violence resting with the protesters is a complete fallacy. The police pushed the situation to the brink of disaster.
Some reports have said the message of the demo was incoherent, but this is wrong.
A whole range of groups and working class people had converged on the city to resist the rebuilding of this oppressive capitalist system.
Ben Eakins, North London
In spite of all the police road blocks, we found our way to the start of the anti-Nato demonstration in Strasbourg last Saturday.
Clearly many of the predicted 40,000 demonstrators did not make it through the blockades the police had erected around the city and on the border with Germany.
It was obvious from the start that the police were up for a battle as they shot tear gas into the car park where protesters were gathering.
The march began peacefully, but was divided into two by the police.
I was near the front of one of the demonstrations as we approached a railway tunnel. On the other side was a building billowing clouds of smoke, with firefighters working to put out the fire.
It was not safe for the protesters to pass, so we waited patiently and peacefully in the sunshine. The organisers announced that we could proceed in five minutes.
Suddenly, with no warning, the police began firing tear gas over the railway embankment into the demonstration.
Police in riot gear approached from the tunnel and the embankment.
There was general panic. Some protesters stayed to fight the police, while others escaped along the sides of a nearby canal.
To turn back was not safe, as we’d been told that police had also attacked the back of the demonstration.
As well as panic I felt extremely angry, as it was obvious to me that the police had set this up.
The tunnel provided a bottleneck, and the embankment a position of height, perfect for their battle. Who gave the message to the organisers that the march could continue in five minutes? Surely the police.
Strasbourg was a ghost town appearing to be under military control, but if they think this will put people off demonstrating in future, they’re wrong.
I, for one, am determined to assert my rights even in this illusion of democracy.
Anne James, Beaune, France
Swimming to victory for public baths
Conservative-controlled Dudley council has voted to close Coseley Swimming Baths.
It has stated that the baths need up to £4 million to be spent on them for health and safety reasons, but because they want to cut spending, they insist the baths will close in August this year.
Meanwhile the council is spending money on other leisure facilities in the areas that elect Conservative councillors.
Two weeks ago over 200 people packed into a public meeting. People were very angry and determined to fight the closure.
A meeting to organise a campaign committee against the closure attracted 50 people.
The Save Coseley Baths campaign then held a 200-strong protest at a meeting of the North Dudley area of the council on Tuesday last week.
The Tory councillors tried to justify their actions saying they couldn’t afford the repairs.
After they were jeered, the Tory leader agreed to an independent survey.
This will look into the costs of the baths’ upkeep and attempt to identify where funding could come from.
The campaign now plans to lobby local Labour MPs to get the money.
For more information or to offer support email [email protected] or ring 0121 520 2911
Paul Bolton, Chairperson Save Coseley Baths
Generations must struggle together
Your recent articles on the poverty of both pensioners and young people made me think about how different generations have to work together to change society.
I remember a rally in Manchester last August to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the state pension bill.
I was moved when students from Manchester university marched into the square flying their banner high, and provided a speaker in support of the pensioners.
The age range of the rally was five to 95. I think this shows that a lot of younger people realise what’s going on with pensions and will fight for their rights alongside pensioners. Mary Phillips (Socialist Worker, 4 April) is correct that an adequate state pension is a right.
Dan Berry’s letter (» Letters, 4 April) just shows how bad working conditions are. I can assure him that pensioners will stand alongside younger people in their fight. Pensioners also realise the need for strong trade unions.
So Mary and Dan, keep up the fight – all age groups are with you.
John P Johnston, Secretary, Manchester TUC Pensioners’ Association (personal capacity)
Stop attacks on migrants
Over 46 migrants have fled their homes in Belfast after the attacks that followed violence at a Northern Ireland versus Poland football match. (» Loyalist bigots whip up race attacks in Northern Ireland, 4 April).
At least five people have decided to leave Northern Ireland permanently. Eight have gone to the housing executive as homeless.
Hungarians, Lithuanians and Slovakians, as well as Poles, have all been targeted.
There was a public meeting to discuss the tensions in the Village area of south Belfast which heard repeated calls from the audience for foreigners living in the area to be removed.
According to the Polish Association, which held an advice clinic for ethnic minorities forced out earlier this week, 46 people have fled the Village and Albertbridge Road areas because of physical abuse and attacks on property.
Sectarianism is alive and well in loyalist Belfast – it has just found new targets.
Joe Dwyer, Belfast
Football team sees off Nazis
A couple of weeks ago we got a call to say that the British National Party (BNP) had set up a stall in Maypole, a mostly white working class area on the outskirts of Birmingham.
About ten of us rushed down with Unite Against Fascism leaflets to see them off.
As we gathered in a car park round the corner we spotted a mini bus with pride rainbow flags hanging in the windows.
I went over to see who they were and it turned out to be an LGBT football team.
They jeered at the BNP stall on their way past and agreed to come leafleting with us.
Half of the fifteen team were in drag and all joined us in storming round the corner to challenge the Nazis.
We did the conga round the stall and saw the BNP off!
It shows that if you act then you can achieve things.
Lots of people in the local shops said it was great we were there and the football team wants to stay involved!
Sadia Jabeen, Birmingham
Picasso that must be seen
One painting by Picasso that will never get into the UN is his 1951 painting, Massacre in Korea.
It was a protest against the slaughter of Korean refugees by the US 7th Cavalry at No Gun Ri in June 1950.
The US was, of course, fighting in Korea under a UN mandate!
John Newsinger, Leicester
Share radical theatre tales
I would be very grateful if anyone who worked or participated in a left wing touring theatre company in 1974 could contact me.
I would like to share their stories and accounts of what it was like (all information will be treated confidentially, of course).
Please send emails to [email protected]
Jackie Mulhallen, by email
We’re up against Tesco
I am a member of campaign group Save The Walnut Tree Pub, in Leamington Spa.
Our local independent traders are under threat after it was announced last month that Punch Taverns, the brewery that owns our local pub, is planning to sell the site to Tesco.
The pub is well used and has lots of regulars.
Aside from the issue of losing a well-loved pub, we think the probable impact this change will have on local food related traders close by should be considered.
So far we have over 2,400 petition signatures and lots of campaign events planned.
For more go to our website » www.savethewalnuttreepub.com
Jane, Leamington Spa