Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Before I start this poem,
I’d like to ask you to join me
In a moment of silence
In honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon last September 11th.
I would also like to ask you
To offer up a moment of silence
For all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned,
disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes
For the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.
And if I could just add one more thing…
A full day of silence
For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the
hands of U.S.-backed Israeli
forces over decades of occupation.
Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people,
mostly children, who have died of
malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S.
embargo against the country.
Before I begin this poem,
Two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa,
Where homeland security made them aliens in their own country.
Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Where death rained down and peeled back every layer of
concrete, steel, earth and skin
And the survivors went on as if alive.
A year of silence for the millions of dead in Vietnam – a people,
not a war – for those who
know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their
relatives’ bones buried in it, their babies born of it.
A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of
a secret war … ssssshhhhhhh…
we don’t want them to learn that they are dead.
Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia,
Whose names, like the corpses they once represented,
have piled up and slipped off our tongues.
Before I begin this poem.
An hour of silence for El Salvador …
An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua …
Two days of silence for the Guatemaltecos …
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas
25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found
their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could
poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.
And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of
sycamore trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west…
100 years of silence…
For the hundreds of millions of Indigenous peoples from this half
of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek,
Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the
refrigerator of our consciousness …
So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut
A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust.
Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be.
Not like it always has
Because this is not a 9/11 poem.
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem
This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.
And if this is a 9/11 poem, then:
This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971.
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977.
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York, 1971.
This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.
This is a poem for interrupting this program.
And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.
If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit.
If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost.
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the
Penthouses and the Playboys.
If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton’s 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful
people have gathered.
You want a moment of silence
Then take it NOW,
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence,
But take it all…
Don’t cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.
Tonight we will keep right on singing
For our dead.
Emmanuel Ortiz is a third-generation Chicano/Puerto Rican/Irish-American community organizer and spoken word poet residing in Minneapolis, MN. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, and is the coordinator of Guerrilla Wordfare, a Twin Cities-based grassroots project bringing together artists of color to address socio-political issues and raise funds for progressive organizing in communities of color through art as a tool of social change.
In this nuclear subcontinent, that context is Partition. The Radcliffe Line which separated India and Pakistan and tore through states, districts, villages, fields, communities, water systems, homes and families, was drawn virtually overnight. It was Britain's final, parting kick to us. Partition triggered the massacre of more than a million people and the largest migration of a human population in contemporary history. Eight million people—Hindus fleeing the new Pakistan, Muslims fleeing the new kind of India—left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Each of those people carries and passes down a story of unimaginable pain, hate, horror, but yearning too. That wound, those torn but still unsevered muscles, that blood and those splintered bones still lock us together in a close embrace of hatred, terrifying familiarity but also love. It has left Kashmir trapped in a nightmare from which it can't seem to emerge, a nightmare that has claimed more than 60,000 lives. Pakistan, the Land of the Pure, became an Islamic republic, and then, very quickly a corrupt, violent military state, openly intolerant of other faiths. India on the other hand declared herself an inclusive, secular democracy. It was a magnificent undertaking, but Babu Bajrangi's predecessors had been hard at work since the 1920s, dripping poison into India's bloodstream, undermining that idea of India even before it was born. By 1990, they were ready to make a bid for power. In 1992, Hindu mobs exhorted by L.K. Advani stormed the Babri Masjid and demolished it. By 1998, the BJP was in power at the Centre. The US War on Terror put the wind in their sails. It allowed them to do exactly as they pleased, even to commit genocide and then present their fascism as a legitimate form of chaotic democracy. This happened at a time when India had opened its huge market to international finance, and it was in the interests of international corporations and the media houses they owned to project it as a country that could do no wrong. That gave Hindu Nationalists all the impetus and the impunity they needed. This, then, is the larger historical context of terrorism in the subcontinent, and of the Mumbai attacks.
At PhotoVoice we encourage the use of documentary photography by enabling those that have traditionally been the subject of such work to become its creator - to have control over how they are perceived by the rest of the world, while simultaneously learning a new skill which can enhance their lives.
Namma Bhoomi (Our Land) is located near Kundapur town in the Udupi district at the foothills of the Western Ghats on the bank of the river Varahi. The 6.25-acre campus was designed to give working children a chance to continue their education and also relieve the immediate burden of survival. The campus has residential accommodation, educational and training facilities for over 100 youth (girls and boys).
The aim of the RRC is to be a community resource that….
Qualities of leadership
Enables access to appropriate technology
Provides mechanisms for soc-cultural, political and economic change
Given Gandhi’s values and his vision of what constituted a truly civilized and free India, it was not surprising that he developed firm views on education. Education not only moulds the new generation, but reflects a society’s fundamental assumptions about itself and the individuals which compose it. His experience in South Africa not only changed his outlook on politics but also helped him to see the role education played in that struggle. He was aware that he had been a beneficiary of Western education and for a number of years while he was in South Africa he still tried to persuade Indians to take advantage of it. However, it was not until the early years of this century, when he was in his middle thirties, that he became so opposed to English education that he could write about 'the rottenness of this education' and that 'to give millions a knowledge of English is to enslave them ... that, by receiving English education, we have enslaved the nation'. He was enraged that he had to speak of Home Rule or Independence in what was clearly a foreign tongue, that he could not practice in court in his mother tongue, that all official documents were in English as were all the best newspapers and that education was carried out in English for the chosen few. He did not blame the colonial powers for this. He saw that it was quite logical that they would want an elite of native Indians to become like their rulers in both manners and values. In this way, the Empire could be consolidated. Gandhi blamed his fellow Indians for accepting the situation. Later in his life he was to declare that 'real freedom will come only when we free ourselves of the domination of Western education, Western culture and Western way of living which have been ingrained in us .. . Emancipation from this culture would mean real freedom for us'.
Friday, 13 November 2009
Flash Research Workshop
A flash research workshop is a short and intense collective workshop. The aim of a FRW is shedding light on a specific topic or a specific area of interest by means of all available information and knowledge found or created during the course of the investigation. The process is more important than the end result, even though some kind of final reply or articulation is essential in terms of fulfilling the process. As a point of departure any preexisting knowledge or experience of the workshop participants needs to be activated and shared. The workshop travels through found and invented contexts, which becomes a dialectical process for catalysing knowledge. Knowledge is always the relation between the people taking part and their milieux and never a finality external to the project. The process of a FRW is more akin to psychoanalysis, automatic writing or an urban drift than a positivist scientific method, even though the knowledge that is generated during a FRW has a perfect claim on truth. The length of a FRW can vary but between one day or one week of non-stop research have been shown to be optimum for such a investigation. Food and drink, walking and sleeping are important as means to valorise the social and individual senses as parts of the process. The final articulation could be an image, a pamphlet, a film, or a poem, according to the medium found most suitable to the chosen topic or area of interest.
Flying Universities - Flash Research Workshop - Warsaw November 4 - 8 2009
What was the flying universities? Could we make a map of the Flying Universities? Could we make a time-line? What kind of knowledge did the Flying Universities produce and reproduce? Who were the students? Who were the teachers? What was the relationship between 'flying' and occupation? How was the FU organised? Under which historical conditions was 'flying' necessary? To what extend were the Flying Universities kept secret? What is the advantage of secrecy? What does it mean to fly? Can we meet some of the people involved? Can we walk to some of the places where the flying universities were situated? Can we get access to documents? To what extend were they facilitation research? To what extend were they facilitating education? To what extend were they fascilitating resistance? What kind of economy was involved? What was the relationship between the teachers and the students? Gender and age of the flying students and scholars? Is flying still necessary? Are we under occupation? What kind of knowledge is lacking or excluded? Is the tradition still alive? How can we organise? What do we want to know? How can we fly?
Kuba Szreder (the Slow University), Romek Dziadkiewicz (Academy 36,6), Jakob Jakobsen (former Copenhagen Free University
Jakob Jakobsen in collaboration with Kuba Szreder
Statement from the Towarzystwo Kursow Naukowych 1978
We the undersigned bring the Towarzystwo Kursow Naukowych (Society for Academic Studies) into being. By taking this initiative, we express our wish to respond to the recently awakened aspirations of Poland's students and young intellectuals to broaden, enrich, and complement their knowledge. These aspirations are particularly striking in the realm of the social sciences and the humanities. They result from the need to understand the historical period and the society we live in, as well as from the desire for self-knowledge. Both this intellectual quickening and its motivations form a phenomenon that is extremely valuable to society. After all, creative and independent civic attitudes cannot be formed if people do not search for the truth about the world and about themselves. Forming these attitudes requires not merely the attainment of professional competence - however indispensable it may be - but also an understanding of the whole of society's life. What is needed is a solid knowledge of the historical roots of all dimensions of the present. There is no place in the world today where the educational system is able to satisfy these needs. The educational system serves pragmatic purposes by favoring increasingly narrow specialization both in teaching and research. This results in a dangerous disintegration of culture into instrumental and cognitive layers, a separation that is harmful to both pursuits. Another result is the transformation of an intellectual into a performer of tasks; he does not participate in their formulation and is not even able to sensibly participate because his narrow professional specialization makes him unable to realize the consequences of those tasks. This potential danger is made more acute by the structure of political power in our country. All this brings harm to our society, to its culture and learning. Those who are hurt most are the young people: they try to satisfy their needs by undertaking self-education initiatives. The shortcomings of official education and the political and ideological restrictions on learning have been known and criticized for centuries. In an effort to remedy this situation, societies have been creating institutions and forms of education and self-education outside the official educational system. In this respect, the history of Polish learning and education has a splendid tradition of numerous educational associations: the flying university, the guidance for independent study, or, in the interwar period, the Polish Free University. Aware of this tradition, as well as of our present needs, we declare our initiative. Our purpose is to help anybody who wishes to increase his or her knowledge through self-education. We wish to offer - within the limits of our capacity - our counsel, knowledge, and assistance in teaching and research to anybody who would like to approach us. The curriculum board, appointed by us, will take the responsibility for the quality and scope of this program, its methods and direction, and its freedom of discussion and exploration. During the academic year, the nucleus of this activity will be the work of self-education groups that will study selected problems in history, sociology, economics, literature, philosophy, and pedagogy. The classes are open to anyone free of charge. The participants are students, graduates of virtually all fields, and lecturers who work without remuneration. Despite the fact that taking part in self-education does not provide the student with any special privileges and does not offer a diploma, the Interest among the young is remarkable, confirming the existing social need for this kind of activity. We undertake our initiative as a result of our conviction that an action of this kind is urgently needed today. Further developments of this initiative will depend on its acceptance by the students themselves, as well as on the support of the society as a whole.
Warsaw 22 January 1978
"Toward a Global Autonomous University: Cognitive Labor, The Production of Knowledge, and Exodus from the Education Factory"
Edu-factory is planning to build up a transnational network of research, education and knowledge production, based on struggles, experiments and experiences that already exist across the globe.
"Toward a Global Autonomous University" is the book edited by the edu-factory collective based on two years of web-based discussion on conflicts and transformations of the university.
This book is a tool to articulate student and faculty struggles within university systems at the global level and to build up a global autonomous university. We do not want to enter the education market. On the contrary, our aim is to open a process of conflict in the knowledge production system and question its mechanisms of hierarchisation.
EduFactory Book Release and Panel London 24/11
Tuesday November 24th 4-6pm
Francis Bancroft Building, Room 3.26
University of London, Queen Mary, Mile End Road, London
edu-factory & Queen Mary University present Toward a Global Autonomous University: Cognitive Labor, The Production of Knowledge, and Exodus from the Education Factory edu-factory Collective (2009 Autonomedia)
A panel discussion with:
Marc Bousquet (Santa Clara University)
Anna Curcio (edu-factory)
Mary Evans (University of Kent)
Nirmal Puwar (Goldsmiths )
Gigi Roggero (edu-factory)
Stevphen Shukaitis (Autonomedia)
Chair: Stefano Harney (Queen Mary)
Reception to follow
The Introduction to The Little Red Schoolbook
Many of you think 'It's no good. We'll never get anything done. Grown-up's decide everything and our friends are either frightened or don't care'.
Grown-ups do have a lot of power over you: they are real tigers. But in the long run they can never control you completely: they are paper tigers.
Tigers are frightening. But if they're made of paper they can't eat anyone. You believe too much in the power of grown-ups, and not enough in your own capabilities.
Children and grown-ups are not natural enemies. But grown-ups themselves have little real control over their own lives. They often feel trapped by economic and political forces. Children suffer as a result of this. Co-operation is possible when grown-ups have realised this and have started to do something about it.
If you discuss things among yourselves and actively try to get things changed, you can achieve a lot more than you think. We hope that this book will show you some of the ways in which you can influence your own lives. We hope it will show you why grown-ups are paper tigers.
The Little Red Schoolbook
Written by two teachers, Søren Hansen and Jesper Jensen
It was banned in France and prosecuted in the U.K where a judge (aged 57) found that the pages on sex were likely to 'deprave and corrupt' young people. Despite the prosecutiuon, a revised edition was published in the U.K. Apart from the infamous School Stopper's Handbook which was handed out by anarchists in the U.K in the late 80's, I can't think of any recent attempt to publish and distribute radically critical material on growing-up, school, sex, the family and work etc.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Roberta Elzey on the London Anti-University:
“In the summer of 1967, the Dialectics of Liberation Congress was held in London, bringing together many people of diverse backgrounds. Out of this grew a desire for more meetings, particularly among those still in London with experience in various matters discusses at the Congress and those just starting to explore them. In November 1967, Allen Krebs, David Cooper and Joseph Berke had been among the founders of the Free University of New York, where Krebs had been co-ordinator. David Cooper’s anti-institution, Villa 21, had been acclaimed as a radical experiment in psychiatry. These three then called to discuss the Anti-university in a wider group. They had three general orientations: radical politics, existential psychiatry and the avant-garde of the arts.”
The London Anti-University was active 1968-69 at 49 Rivington Street in East-London. Text from ’Counter-Culture’, ed. Joe Berke, 1969. Photo taken 2003.
From 'Notes on institutions, anti-institutions and self-institutions'
by Jakob Jakobsen of the Copenhagen Free University
'And what a responsibility it is to see that no one takes our responsibility away from us.'
– David Cooper (1978)
'It will come to the mass of men...like the changing season; they will find themselves in and stimulated by the situation consciously at last to recreate it within and without as their own.'
– Alexander Trocchi (1964)
An imaginary and a real university woven into each other. A spontaneous and an anti-university. 'I murmured something about trying to write an article on the Anti-University', Roberta Elzey writes in the book Counter Culture published in 1970 and edited by Joe Berke, a leading anti-psychiatrist at the time. 'Invisible insurrection, Ralph Schoeneman appears and disappears, Shimon Tzabar, McLuhan: Madison Avenue Cop-out, auto-destructive art, dance and movement, R.D. Laing, alchemists, Black Power SOMA ... tea or Coffee?'. She continues on inhered. Joe Berke and David Cooper were among the founders of the London anti-university in 1968."
Experimental Music – The course would involve students in playing and listening. 'I think many people swing towards and away from experience of music without realising its proximity. My aim would be to identify the experience and expand and prolong it. Speaking for myself, the concert hall is one of the less likely places to find a musical experience' – Fortnightly – Thursdays 6:30 p.m. Cornelius Cardew, London Anti-University, Rivington Street.
Monday, 9 November 2009
October 13, 1909, one hundred years ago!
"Let no more gods or exploiters be served. Let us learn rather to love each other."
In 1902, the first Modern School of Francisco Ferrer was opened. He admitted both males and females, both rich and poor. The school books had religion removed from them and he taught a fully secular education. Shortly afterward, forty schools were operating in Barcelona and his textbooks were adopted by eighty other schools. Ferrer regarded religion as "ancient error" and he led the people to a higher ground of education. He taught them about their natural world, about equality, about life and love.
In 1906, an anarchist threw a bomb at the king and Ferrer was held responsible and his schools were closed down. On his prison wall, Ferrer wrote,
"When their god and his exploiters cease to be adored and served, we shall live like comrades in mutual respect and affection."
Ferrer was acquitted.
Shortly after his incidence with the police and the courts, Ferrer started his schools back up and created the International League of Rational Education. What would ensue, however, was an uprising. After Spain had lost its Imperialistic possessions of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, it took over Morocco (a North Western African region in the Sahara desert).
On July 11th, 1909, the Spanish government began drafting soldiers from its general population to help keep control of Morocco and suffice its greedy Imperialistic desires. Thousands of men and women went to the docks and rail depots to go to the war. However, the Spanish government's plans were interrupted. Women began blocking the railways and the Committee for a General Strike, led by Jose Remero and Miguel Moreno called thousands of workers to strike in the Barcelona factories. Protesters and rioters started becoming violent with their needs. In this end, the Pacifists, the Socialists, and the Atheists had revolted against a tyrannical government supported by the Roman Catholic Church. What followed was referred to as "The Tragic Week." During this time, men and women fought against oppression. In doing so, they burned down eighty churches, blew up railroads, and attacked barracks. The workers put up barricades that prevented soldiers from entering the city. To worsen matters, many of the soldiers in the Spanish army became mutinous and refused to fire upon the open crowds. One clergyman declared, "The partisans of the godless schools must be suppressed if peace is to be reestablished and Spain returned to God." Artillery and Spanish reinforcements eventually took over the city of Barcelona, killing over six hundred workers.
During the Tragic Week, Ferrer was nowhere near Barcelona. However, he was charged as being the leader of the insurrection. The court and its orders were an atrocity. When Ferrer wished to call defense witnesses to testify, the court denied them right to speak. The others who were involved in the riots were acquitted because they testified against Ferrer. The court easily found him guilty and he was sentenced to death.
On the eve of October 13, 1909, Ferrer wrote on his prison wall,
"Let no more gods or exploiters be served. Let us learn rather to love each other."
Shortly afterward, he was taken to the trenches of the Montjuich Fortress and shot by a firing squad. Pope Pius X sent a gold-handled sword engraved with his felicitations to the military prosecutor who had obtained Ferrer's death. This great man, Ferrer, had caused revolution in the minds of children, opening up their thoughts to all that the Universe had to offer them. He refused to fill their thoughts with the vile contents of Christianity, a god so profane that he asks for the execution of heretics and then promises their eternal suffering. He stood bold and firm in his convictions to the last shots that had ended his life. Ferrer will foreign reign in the hearts of Freethinkers and Humanitarians.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Friday, 6 November 2009
JOHN BUCKLE CENTRE
National Office of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
170 Wandsworth Road
London SW8 2LA
Tel: 020 7627 0599
Progressive Books and Periodicals was renamed in the memory of John Buckle after his tragic and untimely death in an aircrash on November 27, 1983. The premises are now the John Buckle centre.
John Buckle came to prominence as a communist and ant-fascist leader in the 1970s when the forerunner organisations of RCPB(ML) had played a prominent role in the defeat by mass action of the bourgeosie's attempt to develop a mainstream fascist party to attack the workers' and progressive movement. He came forward to lead the reorganisation of these forerunner organisations with the founding of RCPB(ML) on March 19, 1979. As RCPB(ML)'s General Secretary he led the work of the Party in this crucial period until his death in 1983.
If the working class is to play its historical role and lead the entire society out of the crisis and open up a path for progress, it must have its own independent programme, that is, it must set its immediate and long-term aims.
The Immediate Programme is summarised by the following principles:
1. Recognition of All Inviolable Rights.
2. More into the Economy than is Taken Out.
3. Democratic Renewal of the Political Process.
4. Recognition of the Inviolable Right of all Peoples to Determine Their Own Affairs Nationally and Internationally.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
The Maoist movement in India is a direct consequence of the tragedy of India ruled by her big bourgeoisie and governed by parties co-opted by that class-fraction. The movement now threatens the accumulation of capital in its areas of influence, prompting the Indian state to intensify its barbaric counter-insurgency strategy to throttle it. In trying to understand what is going on, and, in turn, to re-imagine what the practice of radical democratic politics could be, it might help if, for a moment, we step aside and reflect over the questions: What is Maoism? What of its origins and development? What went before its advent? What are its flaws? Where is it going? Where should it be going, given its legacy? As I write at this lovely time of the festival of lights -- Diwali -- in India, I hope to bring back into the glow this body of thought and practice that the stenographers of power have consciously, deliberately distorted. I am fully aware that those whose job it is to transcribe the opinion of the dominant classes will -- having already presupposed what Maoism is all about -- accuse me of pushing an ideological agenda, and will dismiss what I have to say as illegitimate. Nevertheless, let me persist.
Monday, 2 November 2009
".......All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India, contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are, moreover, so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them. It seems to be admitted on all sides, that the intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be effected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them.....
......I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed both here and at home with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the valuation of the Orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.......
......it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population....."
T[homas] B[abington] MACAULAY
2nd February 1835.
More than 200 people have been arrested after thousands of demonstrators clashed in an anti-Vietnam war protest outside the United States embassy in London. The St John Ambulance Brigade said it treated 86 people for injuries. Fifty were taken to hospital including up to 25 police officers.
The trouble followed a big rally in Trafalgar square, when an estimated 10,000 demonstrated against American action in Vietnam and British support for the United States. The mood at the rally was described as good humoured. The violence broke out when the protesters marched to the US embassy in Grosvenor Square.
The embassy was surrounded by hundreds of police. They stood shoulder to shoulder to cordon off the part of the square closest to the embassy. Tensions rose as the crowd refused to back off and mounted officers rode at the demonstrators.
The protesters broke through the police ranks onto the lawn of the embassy, tearing up the plastic fence and uprooting parts of a hedge. During a protracted battle, stones, earth, firecrackers and smoke bombs were thrown.
One officer was treated for a reported serious spinal injury, another for a neck injury. One officer had his hat knocked off and was struck continuously on the back of the head with a stick from a banner as he clung, head down, to his horse's neck.
Earlier the actress Vanessa Redgrave was allowed to enter the embassy with three supporters to deliver a protest. She had been one of the speakers at the rally in Trafalgar Square.
Labour MP Peter Jackson, has said he will be tabling a private question for answer by the Home Secretary about what he called "police violence".
He told The Times newspaper: "I was particularly outraged by the violent use of police horses, who charged into the crowd even after they had cleared the street in front of the embassy."
BBC Video of that day:
Later that year in October there was another big Anti-Vietnam demo that went past Grosvenor Sq with similar attempts to break police lines to get to the Embassy. Both of these events were seen as a big deal at the time and were a cause for concern for Establishment types. However, as 8 million workers had been on strike in France in this year with numerous battles and occupations, it was pretty small fare unless you were a streetfighting type with a head for the 'coming revolution'.
In the early hours of the 9th August 1971 British soldiers launched operation Demetrius, the introduction of internment without trial.
Relying on outdated lists containing 450 names provided by the RUC Special Branch, the British Army swept into nationalist areas of the north and arrested 342 men. The RUC intelligence, however, was hopelessly outdated and many of those arrested had no connections with the IRA. Others, although Republican minded, had not been active in decades. Others arrested included prominent members of the Civil Rights movement. In one instance in Armagh the British Army sought to arrest a man who had been dead for the past 4 years. It appears that the rapid radicalisation of much of the north’s nationalist community, and the RUC’s alienation from that community in the previous 2 years, had created a large intelligence gap in RUC files. Indeed, so out of date were the lists that within 48 hours 116 of those arrested were released. The remainder were detained at Crumlin Rd prison and the prison ship The Maidstone.
The reaction of the Nationalist community was furious. This anger was reinforced when news of the treatment of the internees, particularly 11 men who became known as the "hooded men" became public. This anger took the form of increased support for the IRA and the commencement of a campaign of civil disobedience that enjoyed overwhelming support within the nationalist community.
The public concern at the treatment of many of the internees led to the establishment of the Compton Commission, which reported in November 1971. This report concluded that whilst detainees had suffered ill treatment this did not constitute brutality or torture. Incidents of ill treatment included:
* in depth interrogation with the use of hooding, white noise, sleep deprivation, prolonged enforced physical exercise together with a diet of bread and water.
* deceiving detainees into believing that they were to be thrown from high flying helicopters. In reality the blindfolded detainees were thrown from a helicopter that hovered approximately 4 feet above the ground.
* forcing detainees to run an obstacle course over broken glass and rough ground whilst being beaten.
In Derry City barricades were again erected around Free Derry and for the next 11 months these areas effectively seceded from Northern Ireland. Protests, street demonstrations and riots were common as the entire community sought to demonstrate its opposition to internment. At the same time a rents and rates strike was introduced in protest against internment and within weeks was supported, according to government figures, by 26,000 households. A day of action on the 16th August saw 8,000 Derry workers on strike. The next day 30 prominent Derry Catholics withdrew from public bodies, as Jack Lynch called for the immediate end of internment and 3 days later 130 anti Unionist local councillors across the north withdrew from local councils.
In an attempt to provide a mechanism for the expression of non violent opposition to internment a number of rallies and marches were planned. On Christmas Day 1971 c. 4,000 protestors attempted to march from Belfast to Long Kesh. This march was blocked before reaching its destination on the M1 motorway and dispersed. On the 22nd January another protest march took place at Magilligan Strand, not far from Derry City. This protest was blocked by the British Army and dispersed with violence, in which members of the Parachute Regiment were prominent. The next anti-internment rally took place in Derry on Sunday 30th January 1972, this day now remembered worldwide as 'Bloody Sunday' when 13 people were killed by the British Army.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Thirty-five years ago, towards the end of July 1972, five London dockers were rounded up from picket lines and from their homes by the police, arrested, and put into Pentonville Prison in North London. Their crime? Secondary picketing or trying to get support for their dispute at another workplace in defiance of a court order.
They had been identified, with the help of a private detective firm, as taking part in unlawful picketing of various storage depots in East London, illegal that is under the Tory anti-union legislation of the time. The main site in question was the Midland Cold Store.
Edward Heath’s government that took office in 1970 quickly came face to face with a growing mass movement after introducing laws that abolished the legal immunity from damages enjoyed by unions for 70 years, outlawed secondary picketing and set up a special National Industrial Relations Court.
The Five dockers - Bernie Steer, Vic Turner, Tony Merrick, Cornelius Clancy and Derek Watkins - had been tried (in their absence) by the new court and ordered to desist. Their union, the Transport and General Workers union (T&GWU), refused to recognise the court, but at the same time had not given official approval to the dockers’ campaign.
The dispute itself had its origins in the claim by dockers that some large depots around the docks area were using cheap labour to do work that belonged to the dockers under the terms of the National Docks Labour Scheme, which had been introduced after World War II.
What happened next, after the Pentonville 5 were dumped in jail, truly shocked the government and shattered its plans (for a while) to limit and then break the power of organised labour. Dockers round the country stopped work and all the major ports came to a standstill, an action that historically had always struck fear into governments because of the stranglehold on imports and exports that this represented.
But the action did not stop there. Fleet Street printers came out and most newspapers did not appear, and a series of rolling strikes started, with miners, Heathrow Airport workers, car workers, all poised to join in. Finally, after days of silence, and more in a bid to control the spontaneous walk-outs than to lead them, the TUC called for a one-day general strike for July 31. The previous and only General Strike in Britain had taken place in 1926, and had resulted in a great betrayal of the miners by the TUC leaders.
On Friday July 27, a huge march of trade unionists behind the London docks shop stewards committee banner with its slogan “Arise ye Workers”, headed for Pentonville Prison. Once there it did not break up and disperse. The marchers kept up a strong presence day and night (one of The Five jokingly complained after his release that he could not sleep because of the noise).
The Heath government, faced with this threat, was forced to act fast, or risk losing control of the situation which could easily spiral into a challenge not just to the government but, much more dangerously, to the TUC as well. A mysterious court official - the Official Solicitor - whom nobody had ever heard of until then, was produced, as if by magic. He freed the dockers and the House of Lords quickly ruled that the unions themselves were responsible for the secondary picketing, even if it was unofficial. The five were carried out shoulder-high to a tumultuous welcome from the crowd on Saturday July 28.