Prison is no place for the student protesters
My partner is on remand in Wandsworth prison, south London, for a crime that has nothing to do with the student protests last year.
However since he has been there (nearly two months) he has been shocked and horrified to see that vulnerable young men should be thrown into a place like Wandsworth prison.
We must not forget that it is a category B prison which houses some extremely violent characters.
As much as I don’t condone the behaviour of some of the students last year, I am also disgusted by the way the police handled themselves during the demonstrations.
I was there and also got kettled for hours on end. But even worse than this has been the subsequent abuse of the judiciary system which casts a dark shadow on the state of our democracy.
Being the partner of a prisoner, I send out my deepest sympathy to those who have their children locked behind bars. I know what it feels like to have a loved one torn away by injustice.
I can only hope that these students will not come out feeling too cynical and too let down by the society in which they live.
But I would also like to let these families know that their children are not alone inside, and that there are also some good men who will watch out for them.
Name witheld, North London
I have gathered newspaper articles with headlines that reveal good information. One involves the police in Manchester spending
£2 million pounds on art pieces to be displayed in their £64 million headquarters.
Weeks later, maybe a month or so, they spent more money—this time buying trees to be shipped from Italy—only to be planted inside the HQ!
It just goes to show that the cops are only looking out for themselves and leaving us in the cold.
The fact that they spend money on themselves and at the same time they show brutality against protesters and activists gives us the reason to protest and argue more.
Why not go after real criminals instead? Why not arrest David Cameron for stealing from the public and committing mass murder by sending bombs to Libya just to get more oil?
The people deserve to know the truth and the truth is what we shall give!
Edward, by email
Greeks beat rulers before
17 November marked the 38th anniversary of the 1973 Polytechnic University occupation and uprising in Athens, Greece.
This year over 500,000 marched to remember that struggle—and be part of the new one against austerity.
In 1973, thousands of Greek students and workers occupied Athens Polytechnic University to overthrow the US-backed military junta (dictatorship).
Spontaneously people rushed to give solidarity—marching in Athens and other cities. Their demand, and central slogan, was “Bread, education, freedom!”
During the night of 17 November, the colonels ordered the violent evacuation of the university. The revolt ended in bloodshed, with a tank ramming the door of the university.
Police and government-backed militias killed tens of students and injured hundreds.
Despite the violent repression, the dictatorship was overthrown one year later.
Today, the message of that struggle is more relevant than ever in all it is dimensions.
People in Greece are resisting cuts, lay-offs and privatisation.
The demands for work and education are dominating in the demonstrations and strikes—against the new rule of the bankers imposed by the EU and austerity supporters.
The demand for freedom is also increasingly important. Violent police repression meets workers and students when they go on the streets.
The university asylum rule has been abolished, allowing police to enter institutions and arrest demonstrators.
Moreover, in the new government along with the Tory and Labour members, there are nationalists and open fascists in the ministries who were supporters of the dictatorship.
These are reactionary forces bent on attacking students, workers and immigrants.
The Greek people have shown very clearly that they will get the same answers that the colonels had 38 years ago!
Costas Todoulos, London
Disgraceful attack on Occupy Cardiff protest
On 11 November hundreds of protesters gathered in Cardiff as part of the Occupy movement.
We moved to occupy the grassy area just outside Cardiff Castle’s walls. It is a visible, central spot and the land has historic legal status.
In 1947 the fifth Marquis of Bute gave the castle to the people of Cardiff. Land belonging to the people was extremely appropriate as a venue for the 99 percent to make their feelings known. Clearly, the council and South Wales police did not see it that way.
For the first few hours the occupation was extremely successful. The numbers swelled and there was a general assembly where people voiced their views and statements of support were read out.
Over time the police presence bulked up with more officers and horses. We were told we were not allowed to stay. The group decided to stay anyway. An hour and a half later police assembled in a line at one end of the camp.
One supporter filmed as the police brutally destroyed the camp of around 20 tents. Then protesters were penned into a subway. There were six arrests during the attack on the camp. Those charged will be in court on 28 November.
Occupy Cardiff will be producing a statement to gain support for a defence campaign.
Pete Edwards, Cardiff
Occupy Wall Street scares the state
The police attack on the Occupy Wall Street camp in the early hours of last Tuesday morning was coordinated nationally. This was through a conference call of 18 mayors, no doubt in collaboration with the FBI.
They blocked out the press and called in 1,000 officers in riot gear in New York.
The ruling class sees that this movement can seriously fuck things up for them.
The repression can only be explained as an attempt to send a message to workers—this is what will happen when you don’t shut up.
They were able to retake momentum momentarily.
Everybody, not just activists, is looking to see what happens next. Many of my co-workers asked about it.
The ruling class is caught in a vicious cycle.
Now each instance of repression brings out more people. I think the state is trying to break that cycle by just shutting the camps and demonstrations down brutally and not allowing it to re-establish itself.
The police now have open license to kick ass and are being absolutely brutal.
We need to show our strength in numbers.
Kevin Prosen, New York
Our answer to poppy day
We need some counter-balance to the enlarged, obscene spectacle of poppy day. It is basically being pumped up to sell war.
The guise is to remember millions of dead. My suggestion would be an oppositional, lapel wearing motif that does not dwell on yesterday’s dead but focuses on those that will die in the future—more
millions—unless the warmongers are brought to task.
In other words, explains the nature of the ruling classes of the world colliding with each other in each trying to hold on to the rubber ring of their sinking profit system.
Who are the weaponry and target? You guessed it—the 99 percent.
Colin Frost-Herbert, Brighton
Do bans ever work?
Last week we heard of the decision by the home secretary Theresa May to ban the group Muslims Against Crusades from operating entirely, and to make support of their cause a criminal offence.
This decision could lead to the increased alienation of Muslims in Britain. And if the home secretary is “waging war on extremists”, then why not ban the EDL?
Many opposed this decision in Tower Hamlets, believing it would only drive them into an underground group. But if the home secretary is clamping down on extremism, then why doesn’t that include the EDL and the BNP?
Shelley Angelie Saggar, North London
Vultures circle poor
I was appalled to read last week about vulture capitalist firms making money out of the poorest people in the poorest countries.
Vulture funds legally buy up worthless debt when countries are at war or suffering from a natural disaster and defaulting on their sovereign debt. Once the country begins to stabilise, vulture funds cash in their cheap debt at massively inflated cost to the countries.
FG Hemisphere, run by vulture financier Peter Grossman, is trying to collect $100 million from the Democratic Republic of Congo on a debt that appeared to start out at just $3.3 million.
The case will be heard in Jersey. The British government has the power to stop this process, but will it?
Anne Founder, Bristol
Cleaners strike to win
The RMT cleaners employed by the Carlisle company on the Virgin London to Glasgow trains who won a 10 percent pay increase used a powerful weapon in their battle against low pay.
Their action started with a solid 24-hour strike at all 14 depots. But then it gets interesting. When the 350 workers reported back for duty after the strike, they refused to empty sewage tanks on trains for two nights.
The RMT rep at a depot in the north-west explained, “Managers tried to do the job, but they were taking an hour and a half to do one train.
“We showed Carlisle we were serious.”
While building for mass, all-out strikes, we can also look for opportunities to hit the enemy in other ways.
The RMT union says it plans to roll out similar action to fight low pay across the rail industry.
Mike Killian, Manchester
Thanks for the archive of SW!
A big thank you to Mick from West London who has donated a treasure trove of early issues of Socialist Worker from the 1960s and 1970s to our archive.
If other readers have old copies of Socialist Worker, or posters or other material, please let us know before you think about throwing them away!
Charlie Kimber, SWP National Secretary