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Govanhill Political Policing (Pics)

Mohammed | 09.08.2010 12:27 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles

Strathclyde police are stepping up harassment against Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters in the Govanhill area of Glasgow. On Saturday 7 August the police once again intervened, seizing political material and cautioning and charging a supporter of FRFI for selling the newspaper. He is now the third FRFI supporter to be charged with this alleged offence following a similar attack on 13 July. These charges come at a time of increased harassment and threats of violence, including death threats emanating from local fascists and racists, who have also increased their attacks on FRFI in recent weeks in the area.

These latest events demonstrate that Strathclyde police are preparing the ground for further attacks on democratic rights in preparation for wider attacks on living standards among the wider Govanhill community as the economic crisis develops. The majority of officers involved in the harassment are part of the Southside Central Community Policing Team based in the New Gorbals Police Office. The police are using legislation from the Civic Government Scotland Act, which in part regulates street trading in Scotland. Section 39 (3) (a) of that act is very clear; it states that no licence is required for the sale of newspapers only. The police are arguing that Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! is not a newspaper.

Various political and community groups have for many years conducted stalls and distributed literature at the same location on Victoria Road. An FRFI activist stated, ‘This is political policing pure and simple. The state are concerned about any emerging organisation in the community prepared to stand up for our rights. We refuse to be intimidated off the streets by state harassment or from fascist and racist threats; we are calling on people to be vigilant in the face of these recent attacks and threats.’

FRFI’s consistent work on the streets and in the meetings in Govanhill has provoked this latest attack on democratic rights. But every progressive political and community organisation will come under attack in a similar way as soon as they are effective to even a small degree in challenging the status quo, especially in working class areas. The violent, large-scale police response to the occupation of Govanhill Baths in 2001 showed that the British state does not underestimate the possibilities of such local developments.

FRFI calls for maximum unity of all progressive forces and individuals to support the fight for democratic rights by challenging harassment and political policing. A legal case will be brought against the police but the true fight is a political one, which can only be won by demonstrating in practice that the state cannot drive progressive politics off the street.