Statements from Prisoners

Omar Ibrahim
After being remanded on October 7, anti-cuts activist Omar Ibrahim, of Glasgow, was finally sentenced today in a London court room. Omar recieved 18 months for trumped up charges of ‘violent disorder’ at the TUC demonstration in London on 26 March this year.

Before being remanded in custody last month, Omar wrote the following statement:

Being tried for violent disorder and now preparing to be sentenced by Justice Price of Kingston Crown Court I can fairly say he is an unjust man. I came to this firm conclusion when he informed me that I would serve an immediate custodial sentence, despite having a letter offering immediate employment, even if I accepted the lesser charge of affray. A decision that tore apart any potential employment opportunity for me and left me no choice but to go to trial for violent disorder. Such is the contempt that the judiciary displays towards the commoner. One wonders if Justice Price has any idea how difficult it is to secure a firm contract of employment in this economic climate.
Despite being found guilty by a jury of my peers I maintain that I am not guilty of violent disorder in an incident on London’s Oxford Street during the March 26th cuts protests.The crown’s case is that I am to be incarcerated for throwing a child’s toy that I picked up from the kerbside, a smoke bomb from a joke shop, in the direction of Top Shop and then struggled with police officers during arrest, alleging that I squeezed an officer’s testicles. I maintain that I have a weak shoulder and was wearing a backpack. My shoulder has been dislocated over forty times, due to an epileptic condition that is now under control, meaning the joint is deformed. This was operated on to clean up bone fragments and tighten up ligaments in 2009, but the joint can slip out of place if forced. As I was apprehended from behind and forced towards the floor I tried to maintain my balance. My arm was grabbed and was being twisted behind my large rucksack, causing my shoulder to slip a little so I tensed my lateral and deltoid muscles to to keep it in place. I was again forced almost to the floor, the officer was under my rucksack, beneath me. It is in getting in this position the officer maintains I grabbed and squeezed his testicles. I do not believe this happenned and maintain this incident was a complete accident if it did. On getting to my feet a second officer came and the pair dragged me to the side of Top Shop by my legs and arms. All the while I was either trying to hold my shoulder in place or tell them about my shoulder. This was not acknowledged by the court, despite one officer admitting he heard me in his report whilst the other denied any knowledge, and this is how I am to blame for the charge of violent disorder: where three or more people engage in violent or threatening behaviour that may cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their safety.
The crime of violent disorder and its misuse in political policing goes back to 2001, where a man was incarcerated for ten months for shaking his fist and shouting “Kill the Bill”, and is being enforced more and more as the protests themselves continue to go on as we head towards recession. The crown wishes my case to be seen as one of a mob of hooligans who broke off from the TUC demonstration against the cuts to charge around London causing chaos and destruction. I see a carnival of protest full of colour, noise and rebellion which wished to highlight those that are at fault in this economic crisis. I was not there simply for the TUC demonstration but also the UK Uncut demonstrations on Oxford Street. I sought to challenge men like Philip Green, who outsources his production at Top Shop to the Mauritius and then funnels his profits out to Monaco, leaving the taxpayer purely the chance to consume or distribute. He recieves a knighthood for his disservice: I throw a discarded jokeshop smokebomb and I am not only deprived of contracted employment but sent to prison. Thus is the demonisation and criminalisation of the 21st century protestor.
When I look at my case in context I see a system where the relations between the state and the individual protestor have been twisted to such an extent that they have now passed breaking point. First the state tries to challenge popular and peaceful demonstrations such as that of the dearly missed Brian Haw. Then there is the demonisation of popular protest by prosecuting those who have committed minor offences, eg Breach of the Peace, and charging them under the vaguely defined charges such as violent disorder. One recent example is Francis Fernie.  Then there is rampant harassment of poltiical protestors, wasting police time in raiding their homes, making cross-border raids and acting in an intimidating aggressive manner that is almost oblivious to anything but its own voice. A friend of mine was taken from his home and down to England to face a police questioning which ended up a case of mistaken identity. He was excluded from their enquiries this week, months after an incident where his friends and family were intimidated in an overenthusiastic political policing campaign.
The press and state love to blame political protestors, and especially anarchists, for all the trouble. So much so that the street I live on was published in the national press on my arrest back in March. I am a committed anti-fascist activist and this publicising of my address led to me being threatened by the organiser of a group associated with a proscribed terrorist organisation and the National Front. I asked he not approach my family should I be imprisoned and was immediately told that they would be left alone as long as I didn’t cause him any trouble. A big deal was made in court of the fact that I wore shinpads to this demonstration, but I have been at demonstrations where I have not been arrested but my shins have been scarred and bloodied by over-enthusiastic riot squads. I have spoken to and dealt with the police calmly in high pressure situations and in situations when they have requested my assistance. I wore shinpads in case policing got heavy handed, as it proved to be later on that evening and has been on many occasions in the past. If the riot police are dispatched with full on kevlar and carry on booting away at protestors, putting them in chokeholds when they are kettled, shinpads become necessary protection. The wearing of shinpads is not an indication of violent intent but a matter of personal safety.
Still the state continues to blame society for the ills of the state. The most apparent symptom of this ignorance broke out this summer in Tottenham when a protest that merely asked for the ear of a ranked officer of the law was ignored and responded to with increased police presence resulting in the beating of a 16 year old girl when there could have been a simpler, community minded response to the protest.That incident broke out into the most widespread incidence of looting and vandalism on the streets of England in years, for 5 nights running. It is important to highlight that anarchists, including myself via social media, promoted and participated in the riot clean up campaigns across the UK to regain some sense of social cohesion amongst this symptom of a sick state with a market that needs investment and growth not deprivation and inflation. Society is not sick. Society responded to the infantile riots not as playground bullies charging around with body armour and blunt instruments, muttering about water cannons and rubber bullets. That was the state response. Society demanded a clean up. Society applauded Tariq Jahan as he called for an end to the tit for tat violence after seeing his own son die in his arms.
However, this society is not an impressive high roller and has diminishing options for employment. It is not exemplary enough for those who looted en masse this summer. Society is having its services cut and its options for education and retraining denied with a growing debt to default on to fund its higher education. Society looks like a loser to those with higher ambitions. Banks get bailouts, corporations avoid tax, parliamentarians fiddle expenses, police officers inform journalists for money whilst investment bankers pray for the recession to cut deeper for long term rewards. High rollers reap the profits of corruption whether the market is booming or bust. Justice Price is not one of those high rollers in my eyes. He is a well intentioned man carrying out the full rigour of the law to a strict conservative agenda. It is for him a time to gain a legacy as a comic book villain who deals a strong whip hand towards any voices of descent. He is a child of the hang em and flog em generation. One who perhaps feels he missed out on donning the black cap and dishing out corporal punishment by just a few years.
I am not a hero like Mr Jahan and neither am I a qualified servant of the crown like Justice Price. I am a silly man, with a bad shoulder, who threw a child’s toy at Top Shop, revelling in a carnival. For this I will serve an idiotic prison sentence, this much I can take as read. This does not worry me, my main concerns are my parents and my elder brother and sisters who will spend the time I am imprisoned sick with worry and my inability to comfort them beyond a phone call or prison visit, aswell as my nephews and nieces. I hope they are not targets of scorn and ridicule. No doubt they will feel that pain and to them I give my humblest apologies. To those who compare our justice system to those of corrupt regimes I wish to remind you that many have been served prison sentences far longer than my sentence, by this system, for doing absolutely nothing. Men like Paddy Hill and Gerry Conlon. Their lives were ruined by this system, despite any recompense they may have recieved. I do not claim that level of innocence. At the very least I know that I did throw a child’s toy at Top Shop.
You can find Omar’s Address to write to him on our prisoners page. Please write to him and show him support.

 

Thomas Meyer-Falk

Freedom Now!
If you fight against the state, if you fight for a better world, fight for freedom, there is a chance that you will get thrown to the cage – that is the place where I stay. For over 15 years now. In the infernal regions, kept in isolation for security reasons, for more than 10 years. I was arrested in 1996, and only released into the general prison population in 2007.
In October 1996 I was arrested after a bank robbery to raise money for left-wing projects – legal and illegal ones. I was convicted to 11 and a ½ years and P.D. (Preventive Detention, based on a Nazi-law from 1933 which permits the state to keep me in custody for a life-time, as long as they believe that I am a “threat to public safety”). Because I fought back strong they kept me in isolation for more than 10 years; I have spent the last 4 years in the general prison population, but I refuse to cooperate with the state nor
accept forced labour. So a 2009 parole court found no reason to release me. In 2013 my sentence will be completed and I will get transferred to another maximum security prison for the P.D. In fact the P.D. should have begun in 1998, but I have had a few more trials in the last decade for “insulting judges / politicians and prison staff”; for that I got another 5 and a ½ years (not a joke!).
No person was killed by me, no one was injured (for the hostages in the bank there was trauma, we should not close one’s eyes to that, but that was more than 15 years ago now); I don’t know how long the state will keep me in it’s cages but there is no way for me to “co-operate” with them. Nor with the prison staff, nor with the courts, nor with psychologists or anyone else from the state.
I am sure there is little chance that the courts will set me free in the next 5 or more years; but if people outside show the Governor that there is a strong movement and support, he may throw me out of the cage.
So I would really appreciate it if you could write letters and e-mails to:

Ministerpräsident (Title of the governor in Germany)
Mr.Kretschmann
Staatsministerium
Richard Wagner Str.15
D-70184 Stuttgart
Germany

Fax: 0049-711-2153-340
Phone: 0049-711-21530
E-mail: poststelle@stm.bwl.de

and request him to give me liberty!

In the struggle!
Thomas Meyer-Falk
c/oJVA-Zelle 3113
Schoenbornstr.32
D-76646
Bruchsal
Germany

http://www.freedom-for-thomas.de

John Bowden

John Bowden, long time prison resister and anti-authoritarian.
John’s address is on our prisoner list. Please send letters/cards expressing your support.

Since being in prision, John has been a vocal writer and critic of the system we all live under and with. Links to some of his writings/actions are below. John is also published regularly in Inside Time, the ‘national newspaper for prisoners’.

Thoughts on prisoner solidarity (2010, download as pdf here Thoughts on prisoner solidarity) includes a new short piece on what John sees as the role of prisoner support groups, along with a reprint of his 2009 article ‘solidarity without prejudice’.

Solidarity Without Prejudice (2009, http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/01/417462.html)
John asks what criteria  could be used when supporting prisoners

Return to Resistance (2008, on UK Indymedia)
John asks the urgent question: “Why then has the militancy that seemed to characterize the behavior of long-term prisoners, especially, towards the prison system been replaced by conformity and submission?”

Perth Prisoners Strike (on London Class Struggle Gridlock Website)
‘I sense that thinhgs here are moving towards serious and sustained confrontation.’

Prisoner Sues for Violence at HMP Long Lartin (on Miscarriages of Justice UK)
‘He was physically assaulted by about five screws, placed in ‘locks’ and dragged to a sensory deprivation special cell where he was beaten again and left for 24 hours.’

Her Majesty’s Profit (with Mark Barnsley/on SchNews)
‘We are currently seeing the growing exploitation of prisoners’ labour by private companies and by the state… compulsory work is nothing less than slavery.’

Racism in Close Supervision Centres

Another Attempt To Sabotage John Bowden’s Parole By Prison Hired Social Worker

A Message From the So-Called “Main G20 Conspiracy Group” Toronto, Canada

Regarding Our Plea Deal

November 22, 2011 — As people across Turtle Island look towards the global wave of protests against the austerity agenda, the memory of the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto looms large as both inspiration and caution. We are seventeen people accused by the state of planning to disrupt the leaders summit – the prosecutors call us the G20 Main Conspiracy Group.

This alleged conspiracy is absurd. We were never all part of any one group, we didn’t all organize together, and our political backgrounds are all different. Some of us met for the first time in jail. What we do have in common is that we, like many others, are passionate about creating communities of resistance.

Separately and together, we work with movements against colonialism, capitalism, borders, patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, hetero/cis-normativity, and environmental destruction. These are movements for radical change, and they represent real alternatives to existing power structures. It is for this reason that we were targeted by the state.

Although these conspiracy charges have been a big part of our daily reality for the past year and a half, we have been slow in speaking out collectively. This is partly because of the restrictive bail conditions that were placed on us, including non-association with our co-accused and many of our close allies. In addition, those of us who did speak out have been subjected to a campaign of intimidation and harassment by the police and prosecutors.  We are writing now because we have decided to resolve our charges to bring this spectacle to an end.

The state’s strategy after the G20 has been to cast a wide net over those who mobilized against the summit (over 1, 000 detained and over 300 charged) and then to single out those they perceived to be leaders. Being accused of conspiracy is a surreal, bureaucratic nightmare that few political organizers have experienced in this country, but unfortunately it is becoming more common. We can’t say with any certainty if what we did was in fact an illegal conspiracy. Ultimately though, whether or not our organizing fits into the hypocritical and oppressive confines of the law isn’t what’s important. This is a political prosecution. The government made a political decision to spend millions of dollars to surveil and infiltrate anarchist, Indigenous solidarity, and migrant justice organizing over several years. After that kind of investment, what sort of justice are we to expect?

We have not been powerless in this process; however any leverage we’ve had has not come from the legal system, but from making decisions collectively. This has been a priority throughout, particularly in the last several months, as the preliminary inquiry gradually took a back seat to negotiations for a deal to end it. The consensus process has been at times a heart-wrenching, thoughtful, gruelling, disappointing, and inspiring experience, and in the end, we got through it together.

Of the seventeen of us, six will be pleading and the eleven others will have their charges withdrawn. Alex Hundert, and Mandy Hiscocks are each pleading to one count of counselling mischief over $5,000 and one count of counselling to obstruct police, and Leah Henderson, Peter Hopperton, Erik Lankin, and Adam Lewis are each pleading to a single count of counselling mischief over $5,000. We are expecting sentences to range between 6 and 24 months, and all will get some credit for time already served in jail and on house arrest.

Three defendants in this case had their charges withdrawn earlier and one has already taken a plea to counselling mischief over $5,000 that involved no further jail time. This means that out of twenty-one people in the supposed G20 Main Conspiracy Group, only seven were convicted of anything, and none were convicted of conspiracy. The total of fourteen withdrawals demonstrates the tenuous nature of the charges.

This system targets many groups of people including racialized, impoverished and Indigenous communities, those with precarious immigration status, and those dealing with mental health and addiction.  The kinds of violence that we have experienced, such as the pre-dawn raids, the strip-searches, the surveillance, and pre-sentence incarceration happen all the time.  The seventeen of us have moved through the legal system with a lot of privilege and support.  This includes greater access to “acceptable” sureties, and the financial means to support ourselves and our case.  While the use of conspiracy charges against such a large group of political organizers is noteworthy, these tactics of repression are used against other targeted communities every day.

There is no victory in the courts. The legal system is and always has been  a political tool used against groups deemed undesirable or who refuse to co-operate with the state. It exists to protect Canada’s colonial and capitalist social structure. It is also deeply individualistic and expensive. This system is designed to break up communities and turn friends against each other.

Within this winless situation, we decided that the best course of action was to clearly identify our goals and needs and then to explore our options. Within our group, we faced different levels of risk if convicted, and so we began with the agreement that our top priority was to avoid any deportations. Other key goals we reached were to minimize the number of convictions, to honour people’s individual needs, and to be mindful of how our decisions affect our broader movements. Although we are giving up some important things by not going to trial, this deal achieves specific goals that we weren’t willing to gamble.

Our conversations have always been advised by concern for the broader political impacts of our choices. One noteworthy outcome is that there are no conspiracy convictions emerging from this case, thus avoiding the creation of a dangerous legal precedent that would in effect criminalize routine tasks like facilitation. Taking this deal also frees up community resources that have been embroiled in this legal process.

We emerge from this united and in solidarity.

To those who took us in while on house arrest, to those who raised money for our legal and living expenses, to those who cooked food, wrote letters, offered rides and supported us politically and emotionally throughout, thank you.

To those in jail or still on charges from the anti-G20 protests, to political prisoners and prisoners in struggle, we are still with you.

To communities and neighbourhoods fighting back from Cairo to London, from Greece to Chile, in occupied Turtle Island and beyond, see you in the streets.

http://conspiretoresist.wordpress.com/about-2/

http://guelphabc.noblogs.org/

Interview with Mandy Hiscocks prior to her incarceration in Vanier Centre here

http://uppingtheanti.org/news/article/uta-interviews-mandy-hiscocks/

Statements to the court and individual statements from the so-called “G20 main conspiracy group” can be found here

Leave a Reply