Tag Archives: Occupy

A day with the anti-Olympic movement

Standard

I spent Saturday afternoon in the company of the Counter Olympics Network, (CON),  who are the main coalition of anti-Olympics campaign, taking in OurOlympics, the Coalition of Resistance, the main parties of the left, various NGOs campaigning against sweatshop labour and the Olympics sponsors (BP, Dow, G4S, etc), as well as many other veterans of the Occupy movement. Our main topic of discussion was what plans should we have for the proposed day of action on Saturday July 28th (i.e. the first Saturday of the Olympics). I’ll not go into too much detail here, save to record that the focus is likely to be in East London during the middle of the day.

There will be weekly planning meetings taking place between now and the 28th and those interested in getting involved should look out for updates from CON and OurOlympics.

A calendar of events is starting to taking shape:

+ 21 May, John Carlos speaking at Friends Meeting House

+31 May, Stop the Olympic Missiles, public meeting in East London

+ 7 July, Fattylympics, the alternative Games

+28 July, the main Counter Olympics Network protest

In the evening, I was at Bookmarks, for Carlos and Zirin’s warm-up talk. John Carlos described growing up in poverty in Harlem, following the rise of Malcolm X and being part of his entourage, what it felt like when Malcolm died, and the enduring shame of racism in the US.

Dave Zirin had some nice lines too. “In two days in England I’ve learned that Black pudding isn’t chocolate. And that Dave Cameron is both a dick and a tosser…”

Save Leyton Marsh: Mike Wells freed on bail

Standard

Reports on twitter (#freeMikeWells) indicate that the journalist Mike Wells, was freed today on bail:

after 2 nights in police custody & 6 nights in HMPThameside Mike has been granted bail

This is how writers associated with the Save Leyton Marsh campaign reported Well’s original arrest:

On Thursday 26th, April Mike Wells, a citizen journalist who writes for the Games Monitor website, was filming unsafe working practices on Leyton Marsh at the ‘chaotically managed’ Olympic construction site. As a result of his attempt to film and draw attention to the unsafe practices of an excavator working close to pedestrians on Sandy Lane (the pathway running adjacent to Leyton Marsh), Mike was assaulted first by the driver who did not want the activities filmed and was then brutally restrained by a number of bailiffs resulting in injuries to his ribs and forehead … His assailants refused to show ID or explain their actions but appeared very agitated and were ordering people to keep away. One of them was recording the scene and bystanders on video. Police arrived and immediately arrested Mike, who was driven away in handcuffs after being treated for some time in an ambulance.

Wells was then placed in police custody, and originally refused bail, before finally being granted bail today.

For those who want to know more of the context, particularly from the Olympic Development Agency’s perspective, I’d recommend reading the judgment of the High Court which in April granted ODA’s injunction against protesters, not prohibiting them from entering the Marsh, but limiting their means of protesting against its development into an Olympic practice area.

(One of SLM’s criticisms of Wells’ original bail hearing is that the CPS substantially misrepresented the terms of the injunction to the Magistrates, suggesting that Wells, and other members of the public, were excluded from the construction site. As will be seen, the injunction does no such thing).

I have no independent knowledge of the truth or otherwise of this account of Wells’ arrest – or indeed of the bail hearing. But this treatment of Wells, if proven, would accord with other complaints Save Leyton Marsh have about contractors working on the site, which include the allegation that a company solicitor – masquerading as an Evening Standard journalist – was sent to the site to trawl for information that would be embarrassing to the protesters.

I’ve previously discussed the case of Simon Moore, who received the first Olympic ASBO.

These allegations have to be placed within context. The approach of the Olympic authorities generally has been to crack down on anybody (whether commercial or political) who might contaminate their “brand”. As Tom Hickman has reported in the UK constitutional law blog

The London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006 prohibits businesses from any promotion linked to the games. It would catch, for example, a bed and breakfast offering a discount on rooms to anyone attending the games, or a pub that gets in a big screen to show the Games and publicises the fact on a sign outside.

Businesses are on very risky ground if they make any use of a combination of any two of the protected words “Games”, “2012” or “twenty twelve”, or combination including other secondary protected words, including “gold”, “London” or even “summer” …

The result was highlighted by the Newham Recorder in an article that received coverage on Have I Got News for You, that a local greasy spoon called Café Olympic had been forced to paint over the “O” on its shop sign.

It seems that protesters – as the greatest potential source of brand contamination – are being treated with the greatest contempt.

Finally, those interested in following the Leyton Marsh story should keep an eye on the SLM blog.

 

Meeting the Olympics Project for Human Rights (part 2)

Standard

I was present on Monday for a second meeting of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, the London network that has invited John Carlos to speak at Friends Meeting House in London on 21 May. There were a number of campaigns represented at the meeting including the Institute of Race Relations, Unite Against Fascism, Defend the Right to Protest, the RMT union etc.

Several other unions including the FBU are now backing the meeting as well as other campaigns such as the United Friends and Families Campaign.  The socialist sports writer and Carlos’ co-author is now speaking on the 21, will be Doreen Lawrence, and Janet Alder among others.

Carlos and Zirin will also be speaking under the banner of “John Carlos in Conversation”. The following is their timetable:

May 16, Brighton,
May 18 Brixton,
May 19, Bookmarks

May 22 Norwich,
May 25 Liverpool,
May 29 Stratford,
May 30 London

Meeting the Olympics Project for Human Rights

Standard

Am just back from a meeting of the Olympics Project for Human Rights, the London-based successor to John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s original campaign, which culminated in their salute at the 1968 Olympics.

OPHR’s re-foundation has been the work above all of the RMT trade union, which early in March organised a public meeting in London titled We Demand Justice, bringing together the families of Christopher Alder and Sean Rigg, two Black Britons who died in police custody, and whose families have been campaigning for justice ever since, with Paddy Hill, John McDonnell MP and several other speakers.

“OPHR 2”, as I’ll call it, has organised a further public meeting, at 6pm on 21 May at Friends Meeting House opposite Euston station, to be addressed by John Carlos (above). Other speakers will include Janet Alder (of the Christopher Alder campaign), Doreen Lawrence (of the Stephen Lawrence campaign) and the rapper Lowkey.

OPHR 2 seeks to bring together the memory of Carlos and Smith’s action with the many family justice campaigns of which the Lawrence, Alder and Rigg families are merely the best known. The campaign is calling for practical human rights victories to come out of the Olympics (and the anti-Olympics protest movement): including and end to Stop and Search, and the prosecution of the police officers responsible for deaths in custody.

The formation of OPHR 2, alongside the Counter Olympics Network, Occupy London and others, is a clear sign of the growing number of people in London fed up with Olympic organisers’ neo-liberal vision.

A flier for the event on 21 May is attached here

London 2012: The Security Games

Standard

In 2006, when there was a serious debate as to whether the UK’s should renew its Trident nuclear submarines, one of the most common arguments made against renewal was simply the anachronism of the supposed deterrent. In an age of terrorism and “asymmetrical warfare”, what was the point of retaining a weapon which was only capable of being used against a state?

It appears that no-one told Lords Coe or Moynihan, whose plans for the protection of the Olympics games comprise not merely the £284 million payday for G4S, but also the deployment of 13,500 ground troops, several typhoon jets, and two assault warships (HMS Ocean, and HMS Bulwark).

Even poor Trenton Oldfield, the Van der Lubbe of the Occupy movement (“If you are a taxi driver can you take the passenger the slowest possible and most expensive route?”) has been dragged into this.

Lord Moynihan was on Radio 5 on Sunday, talking up the threat of disruption to the Olympics and the need therefore for the present plans: “It just takes, and is likely to be, one idiot. It’s not likely to be a well-orchestrated campaign through Twitter or websites. It is likely to be someone similar to the idiot yesterday who causes major disruption. That is why all the security measures need to be put in place to minimise the chance of that happening.”

Now Colin Moynihan, despite the millions in taxpayers’ money he has been paid since the London bid as Chairman of the British Olympic Association is notoriously not the smartest even within the set of 50-something former career Tories. So, in case one of his advisers should stumble across this blog, I’ll go through this as simply as I can:

  • It’s true isn’t it that HMS Ocean is an amphibious attack vessel?
  • That means, it was built to attack and occupy land overseas, wasn’t it?
  • It is the largest boat in the British Navy, isn’t it?
  • Given its actual military capabilities HMS Ocean couldn’t have stopped Trenton Oldfield, could it?
  • And if it couldn’t have stopped Trenton Oldfield; it’s not going to be much use in stopping “one idiot” in the summer, is it?