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RTF International Action Camp 2015: Towards a world without prisons

RTF | 08.09.2015 09:58 | Ecology | Policing | Repression

Overview/report-back of the recent Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp in Wrexham, North Wales.

From the 28th August to the 2nd September 2015, the Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp drew over 130 people to Wrexham, North Wales, to resist the ‘North Wales Prison Project,’ the construction of Europe’s second largest prison. Held at Borras Community Protection Camp, a site camp established to oppose fracking in the area, the gathering sought to link land struggles with resistance to the prison industrial complex(1) and ongoing mechanisms of state violence and dispossession.

Connecting the dots

From Saturday to Monday, a comprehensive programme of workshops, discussions and practical activities took place. People connected the dots between struggles around the prison system, food sovereignty, borders, and other aspects of the world post-enclosures. Several workshops explored the brutality of the prison system, introducing the P.I.C., ongoing struggles around IPP prisoners, nonhuman prisons and how prisons relate to gender and queer struggles, and over the course of the weekend a permaculture design was developed for the camp and people began work on a herb garden, biochar system and solar panels for the site.

Never alone, Never forgotten

Throughout the camp several actions took place. In the evenings, folk took sound systems, megaphones, and other noise making instruments to local prisons determined to show prisoners they are not forgotten and not alone. HMP Stoke Heath, HMP Drake Hall and HMP Altcourse were all visited, with many prisoners shouting back and banging their doors. Chants like “If you hate the screws, clap your hands” rang out under a full moon.
As part of the International Week of Solidarity for Anarchist Prisoners, children at the camp made a banner for UK anarchist prisoner, Emma Sheppard. Letters were written and prisoner stories shared. Banners were also made for comrades on tag and repressive bail conditions who couldn’t make the physical gathering.

In the Streets

There were also highstreet actions, with folk leafleting Wrexham about the prison and how they can get involved in fighting it. On Monday a protest was staged at P&A Landscaping. They are the prison’s landscapers and have supplied several fences and materials to the jail. In response their public garden centre was visited and customers were informed about their role in prison expansion.

Day-long Blockade of the Prison

fire to the prisonsOn Tuesday 1st September, around 20 people blockaded the three access gates to the Wrexham Mega-Prison’s construction site. This simple action was easy to co-ordinate, and with confused and unprepared police and site staff, had a big effect with very little effort. A queue of trucks were prevented from entering and exiting the site, including a huge cement delivery which had to be turned away before it spoiled. Simon Caron, Project Director for Lend Lease, begged protesters to let it in saying, “We’ve been reasonable letting you protest, please just allow this one to get through”. No one budged and vehicles delivering materials failed to enter. Read about the action in the local newspaper here and here.

Suppliers targeted regionally

As camp participants networked and bonded, regional groups formed to take actions against local targets in their own areas. (Find a list of suppliers in your area here). One group visited the Gloucestershire offices of Precast Erections Ltd, the company supplying concrete blocks used to build the prison. More actions are planned. Contact your local group to find out how you can get involved in Community Action on Prison Expansion

Solidarity Protest at the Court

On Wednesday 2nd, people from Reclaim the Fields supported a local woman, Vanda Gillett who had been charged with assault during the Barton Moss Community Blockade. Following a guilty verdict, anger erupted in her defence. The court was occupied and ‘scuffles’ with the police took place outside. Four people were arrested and people moved to demonstrate at the police stations where they were being held. See a video and mainstream media article on the day here.

Due to the arrests and priority of station support, further actions in Manchester were postponed, however local people motivated by the anti-prison struggle are keen to continue to target local companies and delay the construction of this super prison.

Reclaiming the Fields, Reclaiming our Lives

Reclaim the Fields is a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume the control over food production. We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.

This camp is one part of our story (read the UK history here). We are not a ‘campaign’ or ‘coalition’ or a ‘mass movement’. We are diverse people, projects and struggles converging and diverging all over Europe. The manifold of ways in which capitalist economics comes to dominate the land (whether that be through the construction of prisons, drilling for gas or the exploitation of industrial agriculture) implicates and connects us all. While gatherings and action camps can be politically limited, they are not the be-all or end-all of our work. They are points of encounter, a chance for comrades to meet and critically reflect on how these struggles shape our lives. Read more about how RTF organises in our latest bulletin.

The gathering came alive through the work of an incredible group of people working collectively and horizontally. Numerous ex-prisoners and people who have supported loved ones through jail were present and moved by the experience. The passion and the hate for the prison system was very present and very visible. As was the desire for something more, for growing food, reclaiming land and living differently.

We will continue our work to reclaim our lives from the state, from our capitalist economic system and oppressive prison society. Until All Are Free!

– Reclaim the Fields, September 2015

(1) Defined here as the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems.

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Hide the following 11 comments

good job

12.09.2015 09:17

id say it was a great camp by the sounds of it with some good actions. I particularly enjoyed reading the spoiled cement had to turn around as im sure the managers would have gotten a massive ear ache over that and lost out on funds. one action but means so much to know people are resisting. also well done for all the other solidarity stuff and getting the message out there.

good job!



15.09.2015 08:47

As much as I support the idea of there being no prisons on earth, how do you plan to educate and change the people on earth who are actually violent?

Rapists, murderers, dominant males, thieves?

The best example for me is the program Miami Megajails, where the fools really act like a bunch of violent monkeys.


The previous comment hit on an important point

15.09.2015 19:28

It might seem unfair, but you can't simply argue "prisons are unacceptable" and charge the existing system with coming up with an alternative. Or rather you can do that, but if so, will be ignored.

Unfair as this might seem, it is up to those of us who oppose prisons as the solution for those not safe to have among us, WE have to propose an alternative. Has THIS campaign any proposals to put forward?


Prisons are a capitalist construct that are rarely if ever needed

16.09.2015 16:50

Take a look at the majority of prisoners.

Drugs offences - no real crime, no need to be in prison
Street Theft - no real crime, no need to be in prison
Burglary - no real crime, no need to be in prison

These three account for over 90% of all the prisoners currently held.

Prisons are a form of control, a way to keep the population docile and controlled.

Fire to the prisons

Really? A CAPITALIST construct?

16.09.2015 19:58

Look, being an anarchist, I would agree with you totally about "drug use" (personal drug use). Should not even be illegal, to say nothing about punished by imprisonment.

But I haven't noticed that what few socialist societies we see are any more permissive in that regard. Nor with "street crime" (you mean things like mugging, purse snatching, etc. right?) or "burglary*".

No need to discuss whether your percentage is correct or not. Can't you see that AT BEST you have made an argument for LESS prisons, not NO prisons.

Throughout human history there have been many approaches, and in fact, imprisonment as punishment not particularly a common one. You really do need to suggest your "other approach".

* It might come as a shock to you, but "stealing" tends not to be a crime committed by have nots against haves. The overwhelming percentage is within roughly the same socio-economic class > When you do have cases of poor burglars breaking into the houses of the well off, they haven't a clue what to take!


stop trolling

23.09.2015 12:08

> You really do need to suggest your "other approach".

Well let's see. I gave you something to read as a starting point, and you haven't bothered. So I'm going to assume you're just trolling.


judge, jury, executioner? You decide?

23.09.2015 18:57

I don't think MDN is trolling. I would say MDN makes a valid point.

On page 74 from your link below anon, it say's this;

“Some cases are clear cut, others much less so. A “you are either with
the survivors or you're a rape apologist” attitude is unhelpful. While this
is an understandable approach given the patriarchal society in which we
live (in the UK, 7% of reported
rapes lead to conviction), it is undeniable
that some people (albeit distinct minority) do make false accusations of
various kinds against others. This might be because they have an axe
to grind, or because they suffer from particular mental health problems.
It is also true that radical circles can be a magnet for people with such
problems due to the more generally supportive culture and our systemic
analyses of mental health conditions. We need to allow for the
possibility that an accusation may be false, and by diving into
accountability processes that require an admission of responsibility, I
cannot see any way out for people caught up in such a scenario.”

For me, the above C&P poignantly and soberly gives fair comment to recent events within radical circles.
I'm still wrestling with this paragraph below on page 79 as to how it is any different from vilgilantism.
Imagine, a collective consisting of a disproportionate amount of these “magnetised” people with “axes to grind and particular mental health problems” having carefully considered all the “facts”, then deciding on retribution. Well you don't have to imagine, it's been happening on a regular basis of late and it's all been one shitty affair. Damaging all round.

“In demonstrating love and solidarity and helping to empower survivors,
the collective or another group including the survivor may want to take
other actions, such as publicly exposing the culprit, attacking their
property, or causing them physical harm. The important thing here is
that the survivor(s) are satisfied and given the power and respect to
take action. Again, to avoid 'getting it wrong', in cases where the
perpetrator is a member of the community/collective this should ideally
only be on the cards where the group has reached the decision that that
the individual cannot be reconciled, i.e. the decision has been carefully
considered beforehand.”
Anyway it's good listening to what people think, so keep talking :)


yes to prison

27.09.2015 13:30

> Drugs offences - no real crime, no need to be in prison
Maybe. But, if you have a guy selling Heroin to people, who all then are going out to 'feed' their habit, so that the dealer can buy a nice BMW..... well, I think the dealer should be put in prison.

> Street Theft - no real crime, no need to be in prison
Completely disagree. I was mugged at knife point. Not a pleasent experience having someone threatening to kill you. Lost about £60 and a phone + a wallet. Had to work to replace the value of items lost.

> Burglary - no real crime, no need to be in prison
Completely disagree. Had a theft from my car of golf equipment and radio. Had to work to get the money to replace the equipment, and to fix damage to the door and to replace the radio.

I lost a lot of money that went into the criminal's pocket. If said criminal is put in prison, presumably he is then unable to commit the same crimes against other innocent members of the public. That is a good thing in regard to people who have got jobs and are just trying to get on with their lives without hurting others.


No to Prisons

27.09.2015 22:52

As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer so the poor will find themselves imprisoned for no other reason than they are poor.

No to Prisons

So funny

01.10.2015 09:41

So very funny to see the little junior capitalists here bleating about their phones and gold clubs being stolen - LOL !

All property is theft. When everything is owned by everybody there is no theft.

Drug dealers should go to prison ? What are you a complete idiot - think it through you knob.

Fire to the Prisons