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Defend the Right to Protest – Jailing of students & anti-cuts protesters

Defend the Right to Protest
Jailing of students & anti-cuts protesters
Urgent action needed!

Last Friday at Kingston Crown Court 5 more young people sent to prison for between 8 and 18 months for their involvement in last years student protests and the TUC March for the alternative demonstration. In every case the judges were clear this was about deterrent sentencing and collective punishment for a series of protests that shook the government to the core and helped pave the way for the strikes against austerity. As one judge said on sentencing to a protester. “You said you have to fight for what you believe in – oh no you don’t”. See www.defendtherighttoprotest.org for a full report.

Defend the Right to Protest

The level of sentencing is brutal and frightening. But it is also dangerous for the courts, police and government exposing to wider layers of people the true nature of the state and provoking outrage. At Sussex Uni, following the sentencing of student and comrade Zenon, an emergency protest drew togehter 40 people and scores of academic staff have signed a petition calling for his immediate release.  We need to spread this kind of response across the movement.

Over the next few weeks  many more trials of students and anti-cuts protesters will take place and the trial of the Fortnum and Masons occupiers will begin.  We need to give these cases a public profile at the same time as building solidarity with those now in prison. Some good news on Friday was that Bryan Simpson got a suspended sentence, in a case where widespread support for him was noted by the judge. In the cases coming up many defendants are fighting their charges including students and the UK Uncut activists charged with aggravated trespass for the fortnum and Masons occupation.  In this context political campaigning can help make a difference to the outcome, whilst one victory can help to push back the current intensification of attacks on protesters.

 What can you do?

  1. Motion: Get support for DTRTP raised in your union branch – use the new motion attached. 
  2. Petition: Circulate the new petition calling for the release of Sussex University student Zenon Mitchell and other protesters.
  3. Twin with a prisoner: Raise awareness of the DTRTP prisoner twinning campaign amongst fellow students/workmates.
  4. Invite a speaker in: Arrange for DTRTP speaker to speak at meetings and events in the run up to 30th. We now have a range of defendants, prisoners family and friends and supporters such as Nina Power, Alfie Meadows, Susan Matthews etc. who will do meetings -contact info@defendtherighttoprotest.org with requests.

 Key Dates:

  1. Thursday 10th November, Protest in support of Fortnum & Mason occupiers as their trial begins. 12noon-2pm, City of Westminster Magistrates Court, 181 Marylebone Road, NW1 with speeches and workshops on the history of civil disobedience. Bring union banners.
  2. Friday 25th November, Resistance Riddimz Gig for defendants & imprisoned protesters, with  Lowkey, Logic, Caxton Press, Nate, DJ Steaz plus speeches and spoken word from Jody McIntyre, Alfie Meadows, Gary McFarlance and others. 7pm-1am, LSE Student Union.