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London picket in support of John Bowden and ABC

Brighton ABC | 09.06.2007 11:21 | Repression

England and Wales Parole Board HQ picketed in support of John Bowden and the Anarchist Black Cross

As part of the ongoing International campaign in support of John Bowden and his parole application and against the ludicrous labelling of him and the Anarchist Black Cross network as "terrorists", a picket of the Parole Board HQ at Grenadier House in Horseferry Road was held yesterday, Friday 8th June.

John Bowden is a long-term prisoner and renown prison resister who has consistently refused to bow down to prison authorities throughout his 25 years of incarceration despite constant brutalisation by the screws in all the nicks that he has had the bad fortune to visit at 'her majesty's pleasure'.

He has served his original 25 years sentencing tariff and had, for the past 2 years, been on both day release in the community from Castle Huntly open prison, working with mentally and physically vulnerable people, and on weekend home leave without any problem. With his parole hearing approaching for possible release on ‘life license’, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) decided to employ the services of a social worker from outside the prison service to write a report on John’s suitability for release. It seems that they had decided that they couldn’t trust one of their own to compile an ‘objective’ report and claimed that John had formed an ‘inappropriate’ bond with his previous social worker. Shit, we can’t have prison service workers actually liking and respecting prisoners.

So SPS chose Matt Stillman, a reactionary American social worker from Perth & Kinross Social Services Department, to write the report. And his sole interest in John’s suitability for release was his politics and his links to Brighton ABC prisoner support group. This report labelled Brighton ABC as appearing “to be primarily eco-terrorists or para-military members involved in what they see as battles against political systems and principles.” The release of this report to the public resulted in sensationalist headline in the local Dundee Evening Telegraph and Courier and John being returned to Category C conditions in HMP Glenlochil.

Another consequence has been an International campaign of support for John Bowden and the Anarchist Black Cross network. SPS have been bombarded with phone calls, faxes, letter and e-mails. Glenochil prison has even had to set up a special system to divert incoming calls in support of John.

Friday 25th May saw an International day of action in support of John and the ABC, with actions around the world including a demonstration, organised by Leeds ABC outside the Scottish Parliament, which attracted 25 people. As a consequence of the publicity generated by the Edinburgh action, the prison authorities have threatened John with another move as punishment.

Although smaller than the recent Edinburgh demonstration [lots of people are at the G8 remember], the London picket managed to attract support from as far away as South Wales and, being outside Channel 4 HQ too, a lot of public attention. Nearly a thousand ‘Hands off John Bowden’ leaflets and copies of Active Solidarity, Brighton ABC’s occasional newsletter [current edition highlighting John’s case] were distributed. Unfortunately, the picket had to be organised under SOCPA conditions [within 1km of Parliament] and was subject to a strict time limit and the usual petty conditions – no hanging of banners from the barriers used to pen demonstrators in with – “ They are council property and they wont allow you to do that.”

Thank you to everyone who has seen through the state’s lies to support John Bowden and defend the Anarchist Black Cross. Further actions to be announced soon.

Some Ways You Can Help:

Find out more at:

Send a postcard reading ‘Hands Off John Bowden!’ to Scottish Prison Service HQ, Communications Branch, Room 338, Calton House, 5 Redheughs Rigg, Edinburgh, EH12 9HW. You can also e-mail them at Phone them on 01259 760471. Or fax them at 01259 762003.

Write to Glenochil prison, where John is being held: Audrey Parks, Governor, HMP Glenochil, King O' Muir Road, Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, FK10 3AD. Telephone: 01259 760471. Fax: 01259 762003.

Complain to the Care Commission about the lies being told by Matt Stillman, who is employed by Perth & Kinross Social Services: The Care Commission, Headquarters, Compass House, 11 Riverside Drive, Dundee, DD1 4NY. Telephone: 01382 207100. Fax: 01382 207289.

Send John a card or letter of support: John Bowden, 6729, HMP Glenochil, King O' Muir Road, Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, FK10 3AD.

Become involved in the support campaign for John by e-mailing

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Display the following 6 comments

  1. London anarchos, where were you? — gobshite
  2. pissing in the wind — on the fence
  3. The Daily Mail Mindset — Fabric Dressing
  4. re: london anarchos — k
  5. An ABC opinion — Joe B
  6. re: london anarchos — Danny