UK Feature Archive
The UK has had its share of squatted political spaces over the decades but the last few years has seen something of a resurgence in activity, inspired by the strong social centres movement found in Spain and Italy etc. Social Centres have been springing up all over the country but their existence is often precarious, dependent either on maintaining rent or retaining a squatted property.
The average lifespan of a squat typically clocks in at around three months. However the rampART (www.rampart.co.nr) will be celebrating its first anniversary this weekend (21st May)
Established May 21st 2004, rampART took it's name from Rampart Street E1, home of the abandoned warehouse which was previously used as an Islamic girls school. For the last twelve months the derelict building has hosted over 100 cultural and political events - placing the rampART firmly and literally on the activist map of London (see ramPARTY details and lineup)
Indymedia, together with other grass roots and alternative media groups are preparing for the G8 2005 Summit in Scotland in July. Several physical IMC centres are being planned to facilitate DIY reporting of the events around the G8.
Want to get involved? Have equipment you can lend or donate? Get in touch and find out more on the info page for the G8 Independent Media Convergence event. The convergence was held at the Institute for Autonomy social centre in London 14-15th May.
Money is also needed to help secure venues, vehicles for mobile media facilities and equipment - please consider donating money to Indymedia.
[ Convergence Call and Registration | Convergence Video Invite ]
'Dear Deputy Prime Minister, The SPODDEN VALLEY was the birthplace of the asbestos industry. Many people have been poorly or DIED from asbestos. A Planning application has been made to put 600+ homes and a CHILDREN'S NURSERY there. Please could you "call-in" the Spodden Valley plans so that SAFE decisions can be made.' Laura Livsey, age 11
Rochdale. In Rochdale’s Spodden Valley a huge quantity of asbestos may lie buried on the land where the world’s largest asbestos factory once processed the killer fibres. There are no plans to clear up this hazard, but there is a lot of interest in digging up the site. Developers Countryside Properties want to build on it. However, their controversial planning application has been put on hold.
Concern has already been raised about the way large piles of crushed rubble are being disturbed by a JCB digger and driven through Rochdale in open wagons.
Campaigners are now asking that the plans be "called-in" to the ODPM. Meanwhile, in an apparent bid to sabotage the campaign to save Spodden Valley, Countryside Properties have bought up internet domain names that include combinations of the words “save” “spodden” and “valley”.
Reports and links: www.spodden-valley.co.uk | Councillors Vote Against Road Closure | Crushed Asbestos: Locals Pray for Rain | Criticisms Voiced in Parliament | How to make brass out of muck | Piles of crushed asbestos | “Fake” websites exposed | Prescott gets the message | Candlelit vigil
This years Mayday Events saw Euromayday protests and actions happening in 20 cities around Europe, all based around the theme of 'precarity'[Photos] The Euromayday events have been happening over the last years in Europe, and getting bigger every year, with parades of causalised workers, temps, part-timers, immigrants and unemployed marching through Europe's capitals to demand new social rights for the most marginalised [see audio background interviews 1, 2 from globalproject.info]
Precarity Action The location of the euroMAYDAY/Flexmob action were texted to people's mobile phones at the last minute. Several hundred turned up at the Hackney Tesco, including Sambistas and a banner "All we have to loose is our chainstores". They stayed for some time before a huge police presence moved them out. Reports of several violent arrests [Arrest appeal]. The day finished with everyone continuing on to London Fields
[ Timeline | IMC London Feature | Precarity Assembly Report | Personal Account ] [ Reports and Pictures: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 ] [Videos 1 | 2 | 3 | 4]
London Critical Mass celebrated their 11th year of monthly bike rides with a huge event on Friday 29th April [Pics 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6], as well as a G8 bike ride benefit in the evening of May 1st. Other Critical Mass rides took place around the country for Mayday weekend.
A Reclaim The Streets Party started off at 1pm [Timeline and Reports], the Camcorder Guerillas screened their new G8 film "Why Close the G8" at 4pm, while the usual STUC Mayday Rally takes place at George Square at 11am. On Friday there was also a Critical Mass bike ride.
See Indymedia Scotland for further round-up of the days events.
In Birmingham there was a march through The Bullring™ in support of workers' rights in response to the asset stripping and demise of Rover which clashed with a pro-capitalist bloc extolling the virtues of unfettered capitalism, ending with a picnic in Pigeon park by the cathedral [Report].
In Lancaster Mayday Picnic on the Priory field at 1pm, as part of the reclaiming International Workers' Day festival.
In Sedgefield (Blair's constituancy) there's a pre-election Mayday WMD Festival running May 1st-2nd with music, comedy and a peace camp set up.
In Ireland, the scene of last years major Against Fortress Europe Mayday demonstrations, Dublin will have an Anti-G8 Reclaim The Streets Party on Monday 2nd, as well as a Euromayday Precarity Block on the usual Trade Unions march on Saturday 30th April.
To celebrate 10 years of critical mass, over 800 cyclists took to the streets in London last year with a bike samba band, live guitar from a rickshaw, multiple sound systems, mad bikes the like of which have to be seen to be believed. It was massive, and it happened again on Friday April 29. At least 500 cyclists, rollerbladers and skateboards joined the 11th Annivesary in London [photos 1, 2, 3, report]. There will also critical masses in Glasgow, Liverpool and Nottingham [photos] - and probably other cities around the country as well.
On Saturday 30th April there was a successful mass "against climate change, pollution and the G8" in Worthing, Sussex. Meanwhile, in Sheffield on June 11th and the 15th there are more rides to coincide with an anti-war demo and the G8 meeting of Justice and Interior Ministers in Sheffield taking place 15th/17th.
Update 28/04/05: BP tree sit enters third day. Support requested throughout the day, and a noise demo has been called for today at 4pm
According to the UN, climate change kills 150,000 people every year. Tony Blair has described the threat as the gravest we face, but does nothing to address the issue. In an attempt to put climate change and energy policy on the public agenda, tuesday saw not one but two actions.
Four women and four men scaled the Deputy Prime Minsiter house in Hull at dawn, erecting solar panels. A banner read, 'Hi, 2 Jags! Hit targets not voters'. Their statement said that John Prescott's is putting Britain's climate change targets at risk by failing to make UK homes more energy efficient.
"The Deputy PM's got a reputation for straight-talking, but since the election kicked off we've heard barely a squeak about climate change from big hitters like him... Whoever wins on May 5th needs to get serious about energy efficiency.", said one of the protesters from the roof.
Meanwhile in London, protesters from London Rising Tide climbed two huge trees opposite the head office of British Petroleum in St James Square. They unfurled a huge banner reading 'BP fuels climate chaos' while others leafleted passers-by, BP workers and member of the press. Earlier this month, the BP AGM was targetted by the 'Greenwash Guerrillas'.
Tuesdays actions coincided with BP announcing record profits (£1.3m per hour this quarter) as they reap the rewards of surging oil prices since the invasion of Iraq. Some of the protesters stayed up the trees overnight and greeted workers as they arrived in the morning.
A delegation of 30 workers traveled some 1,200 kilometers to manifest their determination to defend the factory at all costs. Inside the courthouse a small delegation of workers presented a petition with thousands of signatures from all over the world in support of the workers of Zanon who have set an example that workers can produce and manage even better without a boss or owner.Read more...
Over 90% of the people arrested have since be found to have commited no crime. Police video 'evidence' presented in court by the prosecution was proved to have been doctored in at least one case. You can read the transcripts of the Democracy Now! interviews about this story that aired last week or check out the whole show as audio or video.
While the availability of cheap video technology has led to an increase in the amount of video being presented as powerful evidence in court. Police in this country are clearly targetting 'unsympathetic journalists' in an attempt to both stifle any publicity given to protests and avoid public scrutiny of their own actions. In a recent example, a freelance journalist was arrested just minutes after filming an arrest that occured during a protest outside a meeting of G8 environment ministers taking place in London. It was reported afterwards that the police kept the footage and the camera but typically, the charges have since been dropped.
In the raid on the Diaz school over 90 people were arrested. At least 62 people suffered injuries after police savagely beat people, some still in their sleeping bags - 31 people were taken to hospital, three of them in a critical state. Some are still receiving medical treatment.
Almost four years after the raid various high ranking police officers stand accused of fabricating evidence (eg planting molotov cocktails) and trying to cover up the responsibility for the attack. Many of the police who took part in the raid are still not identified since they wore masks and no identification numbers.
The trial is expected to resume later towards the end of the summer.Meanwhile the trial of officres accussed of torture at Bolzaneto detneion centre, were those arrested were taken, continues.
With the latest G8 Summit due in July this year in Scotland, civil liberties groups will be watching the behaviour of the authorities very closely indeed.
Reports: Diaz Victims Group Statement
Amnesty International Statement Re Genoa Police Trials
Genoa G8 Trials: Laptop Seizure And Punishment | (2)
Inhuman And Degrading Treatment" Of Bolzaneto G8 Detainees
Links: Genoa Supporto Legale (en) | Italy Indymedia Genoa Pages | Genoa Justice Campaign | The Committee for Truth and Justice for Genoa
Indymedia 2001 Coverage:
Indymedia Genoa Newsblast - IMC Compilation Reports: one | two
IMC UK Genoa 2001 Timeline | Genoa Features
See also: PGA reports page | PGA pictures page | Collected Reports (various sources) | Horrific Raid at GSF / IMC Account
Mainstream Press: Guardian: Now, the reckoning | Guardian (AP): G8 Protesters Were Abused
See also: UK G8: Cases dropped against G8 arrestees
UK, 2 April 2005. For the first time, a wide coalition of groups participated in a UK-wide, decentralised, but synchronised action day for a radical and uncompromising "no" to immigration controls, following a call for a European day of action for free movement and the right to stay.
People in Birmingham [pic], London, Manchester [call|pics|report], Glasgow, Nottingham [call|occupation|pics 1|2], Oxford and Canterbury were out in the streets simultaneously and made clear that they don't think what the Tories think.
For the first time, people with very different political cultures had mobilised together for free movement: the National Coalition of Anti-deportation Campaigns and the campaigns against detention centers along with committees to defend asylum seekers, migrant and refugee support and community groups, black and asian groups, direct action groups, trade unions, noborder activists and people from social centres.
In Europe, demos and actions were announced in 41 cities and 11 countries. They included the occupation of a detention centre in Barcelona and the occupation of the IOM-offices in Paris [more links]. In Ireland, a demo welcomed back Olunkunle Eluhanle from Nigeria.
The day of action, first agreed at the European Social Forum in London last year, is seen as a contribution to the European landscape of rebellion against migration management. Activists regard it as closely connected to the Euromayday initiatives, thereby linking issues of migration and work.
Meanwhile the Scottish Executive has given the green light to the controversial £500 million M74 in east Glasgow. This is particularly significant becasue the M74 approval goes directly against the findings of a Public Inquiry Report published in March 2004. The 188-page report of the public inquiry savaged the scheme, criticising both the plan and much of the transport policy that lay behind it. The report was written by Richard Hickman CBE - one of the Executive’s own most senior and respected planners. The motorway he concluded should not be built as it would have potentially devastating effects on the local and wider economy, the local community, and would be of little actual benefit.
The announcement of the approval going against the public enquiry has drawn a storm of protest - with groups looking at legal challenges and activists gearing up for a massive campaign of direct action to oppose the motorway. Joint Action against the M74 (JAM74) a campaign network opposed to the M74 motorway has launched a beat the bulldozers pledge. Will Jess, Chair of JAM74 said “The Executive and the City Council have condemned Glaswegians to a legacy of air pollution and chromium contamination."
Comparisons are already being drawn with the M77 campaign, which saw thousands of protesters occupying trees in Pollok in 1994 and 1995. The M74 will be a six-lane motorway on concrete stilts cutting into the Glasgow - so not many trees this time, however campaigners point to the M11 protests in London as a model for how house occupations can be used to obstruct road building.
The next JAM74 meetings are 5 + 19 April, 7:30pm, Govanhill Community Centre, Daisy St, Glasgow.
Also see Road Alert Website | Road Rage Links | SchNEWS on New Roads
On 25th March, Smash Edo, Bombs out of Brighton and 14 individuals were issued with intended injunctions under the 1997 Harassment Act, to be heard in the High Court on April 14th.
The law was first introduced to protect people from stalkers but was then used against anti-vivisection groups.. This is the first time it has been used against an anti-war or anti-arms trade group.
“SmashEdo” aims to shut down EDO MBM using awareness-raising and Non-Violent Direct Action tactics.”
On March 21st, as part of an International Day of Action Against the Arms Trade - called at the 'Destroy the Arms Trade' session at Beyond ESF to coincide with the second anniversary of the start of the second war on Iraq, groups and individuals took part in a number of actions against companies involved in the arms trade.
The compensation claims were brough by Lois Austin and Geoffrey Saxby who were caught by the police action in surrounding thousands of protestors - their lawyer argued that detaining people for a short while might be justified in certain circumstances, but that holding people for over seven hours was illegal imprisonment.
After a two week court case, on Wednesday 23rd March, Mr Justice Tugendhat said the Metropolitan Police were "duty bound" to impose an absolute cordon to prevent violence and the risk of injury to persons and property. He said the case was about the right to liberty and public order "and not about freedom of speech or freedom of assembly", adding that if water and toilets had been provided, "they would have been used as weapons against the police by a minority of the crowd".
There are around 150 other claims by people held by the police operation which were depending on the test case outcome. The two are now set to take the case to appeal.
Civil Liberties organisations fear the judgement will encourage the police to use similar methods in the future, specifically at the G8 Summit in Scotland this July. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "Today's judgment should alarm anyone who believes in the right to protest or that people should not be detained en masse like cattle."
See: High Court Outcome Report | Trial Report | Report and Mayday 2001 Pictures | Red Pepper Interview with Case Witness
For original 2001 coverage of the Mayday Protests see:
Indymedia Reports | Indymedia Timeline | Schnews | Undercurrents | Urban 75
On Saturday 19th March in London, a massive protest took place, passing by the US Embassy where members of the Military Families Against the War laid a coffin to remember the 100,000 plus dead caused by the war. Organisers claimed up to 200,000 people had marched through the streets of London. [see Short report | Statement to Blair + Bush | Policing Pictures | Anti-war Demo Pics | Samba Protest Pics | Creative Protest Images | Stop the War Demo Pics | Troops Out Images | Portrait Pictures | OutRage! Protest | Samba Surveillance | Policing Pictures + Report | US Embassy Pics | Assorted Protest Pictures | Picture Story | Placard-spotting Pics + Report | Summer of Dissent | Video Clips]
March 19th also marked the start of 'Counter Terror: Build Justice' - an International Month Of Peace Action.
The "Troops Home" demonstration was organised by the Stop The War Coalition, CND and the Muslim Association of Great Britain, and followed several days of activities at a Peace Camp set up in Trafalgar Square [see pics 1 | 2].
Protests also took place in Glasgow, Scotland with around 2000 people demonstrating [see pics and reports 1 | 2] and Dublin in Ireland [see pics and reports 1 | 2 | 3].
Over 50,000 people marched in Brussels against the new EU Bolkestein Directive, proposed new attacks on public services, and labour reforms in a European Action Day that took place just days before the EU summit. There were also anti-war protests in Athens (2, 3, video) Barcelona, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy (2), Melbourne (2), Poland (2, 3, 4, 5), Sydney, Johannesburg and many other cities.
Protests also took place in across across the US. See major feature report for San Francisco where over 10,00 people took to the streets - see also New York ( Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Video: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ) , Chicago (Photos: 1 | 2 Video: 1 ), and Fayetteville, North Carolina ( Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 ) .
Thousands also took to the streets in Portland (Photos), smaller towns in Oregon ( Photos: 1 | 2 ), Las Vegas ( Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 ), Baltimore (Photos: 1) , St. Paul ( Photos: 1 ) , Boston (Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ), Houston ( Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 ), Madison ( Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 Video: 1 ), Nashville ( Photos: 1 ), Miami ( Video: 1 ) Atlanta ( Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 Video: 1 ) , Pittsburgh (Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 ), Champaign Illinois ( Photos: 1 ), Cleveland ( Photos: 1 ) , and Milwaukee. Elsewhere in California, thousands took to the streets of Los Angeles (Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 ) and many people from all over the Central Valley gathered in Fresno for "the Rally in the Valley" (Photos: 1 | 2 Video: 1 | 2 ). There was a protest in San Diego (Photos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ) and in Eureka, thousands braved the rain to demand an end to the occupation of Iraq and the immediate withdrawal of US troops (Photos). On Friday, there was a protest in Reedley (Photos)
The Sun started a campaign on Wednesday the 9th of March to "stop (the) Gypsy invasion". One front page was followed by another, which claimed mass popular support for their racist ramblings. By the second day the Daily Mail had caught up on this incursion onto their own home ground and come out with their own headline.
Previous coverage:  [2 | 3| 4 | 5 | 6] Recently activists from Cambridge have been involved in supporting the traveller commnity in Cottenham, where settlements are threatened by eviction. See reports [1 | 2] One site, Paynes lane has already been evicted. See photos 
Derby G8 Protests Go Ahead Amidst Massive Policing Operation
March 17th: Despite extraordinary measures approved by the Home Secretary to Ban all Marches in Derby [see pics of orders] and set up exclusion zones, the Derby G8 protests went ahead. A Critical Mass bicycle protest took place in the morning with around 40 people taking part - police arrested 12 cyclists [see pics], who were released on bail that night, however their bicycles have been kept 'as evidence'. Later amidst a militarised Derby with riot police [pics] stationed across the city, and several police surveillance units filming protestors, around 100 people gathered in the Town Square to protest against the G8.
See: Breaking News Reports from Derby M17 Protests
Pics: Bush + Blair Pied + General Photos
Pics: G8: Derby M17 Picture Collection
Pics: Derby Photo Report PtII
Friends of the Earth Interview at Derby M17
In the run up to the this summer's July G8 Summit in Gleneagles (Scotland), ministers from the eight more powerul economies have been holding 'mini-summits' around the country.
14-15th March: Coinciding with the International Energy and Environment Ministers' Roundtable meeting in London (see DEFRA link) a Climate Change Noise Protest was held on Tuesday 15th. Amidst heavy police security there were two arrests - including one person who was filming and whose film was seized. See Reports 1 | 2 | 3 and Pictures.
11th March: While the Employment Ministers of the G8 nations were meeting in London, activists staged a protest outside the Department of Trade and Industry and other locations [see report and pics 1 | 2 | 3]. Also see www.nodeal.org.uk for background and press release.
On Monday an Alternative Summit for Climate Justice called Moving Beyond the Greenwash was also held in London.
Other planned G8 Ministerial meetings include the G8 Finance Ministers in London (June 10-11th), the G8 Justice & Interior Ministers in Sheffield (June 16-17th), and the G8 Pre-Summit Foreign Ministers meeting in London (23rd June). For more protests and events follow the 'read more' link...
After resisting three eviction attempts [video] [pics] the Collective have agreed to move on to pastures new on the condition that the building be returned to social use by the council. The Collective felt, along with local people, that the building should not be left empty again. Birmingham City Council has finally arranged for the RITE Project (which works with young people excluded from the education system) to use the building until 2006. The building is then due to be demolished, pending a public enquiry, as part of the controversial Bristol Road expansion. The Collective are keen to point out that the social use of the building would not be on the council agenda if they had not taken Direct Action, highlighting the misuse of public buildings by local authorities.
Meanwhile the fight in London to return St. George's Theatre in Tuffnel Park to community use contines [see Latest Updates].
See also Indymedia Free Spaces Section
Campaigners are demanding that Sainsburys honour their undertaking to stop marketing dairy products from animals reared on genetically modified soya and maize. Currently the use of animal feed is keeping GM in the food chain despite overwhelming opposition from consumers. Sainsburys have also been heavily criticised for driving down prices for dairy farmers who are demanding a fair price for GM free milk.
A few days later, on Thursday 3rd March, around 25 camapigners also shut down the Sainsbury's depot in Haydock, Merseyside [report | pics]. People blockaded the depot by d-locking themselves to gates and blocking the main gate with a vehicle that others then locked themselves too. The blockade lasted for around two and a half hours before specialist police units cut people free.
The actions followed multiple blockades and actions against Sainsbruy's last year - See [Feature from July 04] and previous blockade of Merseyside depot [1 | 2].
On Wednesday 23 February, hundreds of people also took part in a mass lobby outside parliament [report and pics] to demand the right to choose GM-free food, as well as strict laws to prevent GM contamination and make companies liable for any contamination that does occur. While nearly two thirds of people in the UK want tough laws to prevent GM contamination, the Government is apparently planning a legal framework that would allow widespread contamination. A roving bus load of cows also visited supermarkets around Cardiff, awarding the worst offenders with the "Greenpeace Cowpat Award for Supporting GM milk".
See also: Corporate Watch Farm report (pdf) |Genetics Action Sainsubry's briefing (pdf)| Biotech IMC
At the end of Fashion Week in Milan, anti-precarity activists pulled off an ambitious spoof against the fashion industry and the mainstream media. The scene was set earlier in the week when protesters targeted the a cat walk show by Prada and issued a statement that there would be further protests and that the fashion show by the controversial japanese designer Serpica Naro. On Thursday another show was disrupted when eight women breached security and took over the cat walk and issued further statements over the microphone before being kicked out. Milans police contacted the press agent of Serpica Naro and warned them of the threats being made to disrupt her show which was schedualed to take place on saturday evening. The media ran a few stories and the agent for Serpica Naro was interviewed about the prospect of protests by anti-precarity activists.