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Dundee police harass activists

Report by Fight Imperialism Fight Racism 17 January 2009

The day [Saturday 17 January] had started very well with a militant, angry and noisy protest march against Israel’s attack on Gaza going into Dundee’s city centre. After the rally, activists from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism, one of whom had spoken at the event, set up a protest stall in the Murraygate to continue building support for the people of Gaza and Palestine.

Once again the city centre ambassadors demanded we remove our stall as we did not have permission or insurance. Once again we told them no! The police were called this time and proceeded to threaten the comrades with Breach of the Peace or causing alarm. It was suggested they go and consult their law books and superior officers as we were not backing down to such contrived charges. They appeared to accept this but returned an hour later with a van and told those present that this time they had come up with obstruction as a charge. Third time lucky for them maybe but the comrades then began speaking to the gathering crowds explaining what the police were doing and asking them to stay around as witnesses, sign the petitions and support political rights. People were told to check out the You Tube videos about the cops in Liverpool trying to close down protest there and to check out Dundee Arrest on You Tube where a comrade was violently assaulted and arrested by Tayside police for handing out leaflets about Cuba. Speakers explained that when people start to protest here about unemployment, low wages and rent rises that the same cops would be out attacking their rights too. We were speaking out for the people of Gaza who were dying at that moment and we would not allow the police to silence us.

Talk about obstruction! - by now there was 1 police van and 100 people prepared to listen to speeches and chants about free speech. Comrades from the Socialist Workers Party joined the protest having been harassed for doing political work for Gaza that week.

By now the police action was a very public affair and they were not looking so comfortable. They charged Michael with obstruction under Section 53 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. As Michael explained to the youth present this was one of the hated Margaret Thatcher’s laws and it was no surprise that her favourite bobbies were digging it up now!

Michael was threatened with arrest if the stall was not immediately removed and after consulting with the comrades and the crowds it was decided to call a rally in the Murraygate at 12 the following Saturday to protest the harassment and charges.

We call on everyone to openly and publicly challenge this attack on democratic and political rights. Get up! Stand Up! Stand Up For Your Rights!