This war is raging. The question is, when will we start fighting back? How many times do we have to read of people dying through poverty; of claimants committing suicide through benefit cuts and sanctions? How much racism do we have to see on our streets? How many have to die in police custody? How many have to be beaten up and imprisoned? When do we finally say enough is enough, when do we rebel and fulfil our duty to be ungovernable?
Welcome back to Fitwatch. We know it’s been a while, but we’ve needed time out to recharge. But we’re back, invigorated, and ready to join the fightback.
Change isn’t going to happen overnight, and there’s lots of battles ahead. But, if we are going to win, it’s through mutual aid and solidarity; through militancy and a diversity of tactics; through not playing the state’s game of divide and rule.
To win, we also need an understanding of police and state tactics; we need to protect ourselves, learn how to keep ourselves and others safe, and take action to counter their tactics. We need to keep ourselves off their databases, out of the courts and prisons, and on the streets.
On June 20th, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity are holding a demonstration in Central London. Whilst we don’t know the numbers or the intent of those attending, thousands are expected to join the protests with coaches providing transport across the country, with many not wanting to accept the flaccid state sanctioned mistakes of the marches against the Iraq war.
Equally, we must learn from more recent mobilisations, and the clampdowns which have followed. Fitwatch have published much advice in the past regarding personal safety and security which we recommend you read.
However, here are some of the key points:
- Mask up and wear black. Protect yours and others anonymity. Join Netpol’s privacy bloc and support their campaign to keep people off the domestic extremist databases.
- There is no such thing as a friendly chat with the police. This is particularly true of PLOs who will use their “friendliness” as a guise for intelligence gathering.
- Remember NO COMMENT. There are very few occasions when you have to give personal details to the cops. If you’re arrested, you only have to give a name and verifiable address to get bail. Otherwise, answer no comment to all questions and contact a good solicitor. Once released, contact GBC or LDMG legal support groups for help and advice.
- Be careful what you post on social media. The cops will trawl through social media for evidence. Think before you post that action shot – is the post going to end up as part of the evidence against someone later on? If you do insist on posting photographs or video, blur faces. The same applies to live streaming – consider what the purpose is of streaming, and whether you are doing the cop’s job for them by providing them with hours of intelligence and evidence.
- Block their cameras and disrupt their intelligence gathering. Use traditional Fitwatch direct action tactics to stop them filming. Disrupt the PLOs and stop their intelligence gathering. Take their photos and send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Get a cheap disposable phone which doesn’t contain all the details of your life and social networks. Cops regularly seize phones during mass arrests and trawl through them to build a bigger intelligence picture. Don’t give them the opportunity – leave the smart phone at home.
- If things kick off, don’t accuse protesters of being agent provocateurs. Respect a diversity of protest and that people want to express their dissent in different ways. Remember UK political policing is based on a model of total control of public order situations – often employing violence to regain control, so it is unlikely they are going to start damaging property or causing disruption. Accusing justifiably angry protesters of being agent provocateurs without evidence is damaging and undermining.
- Total policing requires total cooperation. You don’t have to co-operate with having your picture taken on the streets, and you don’t have to follow all the instructions given to you by cops. Mass arrests require cooperation – imagine how much harder it is to arrest 100 people who are resisting than 100 people passively waiting in line to be loaded onto buses? Non cooperation doesn’t have to end on the streets – if you’re arrested, you can make it hard for them by refusing to answer questions, refusing fingerprints and DNA samples (though be aware these can be taken violently by force), and make them think twice about mass arrests in the future. Jail solidarity can and does work but only do what you feel able to do.
Stay safe! Stay strong! See you on the streets!