Burn Up, Don’t Burn Out: Mental Health and Freedom.

Last week, I documented the events at Warwick Uni and the police brutality that followed a peaceful sit in. This week, as a continuation of those events I want to try to present an understanding of how these attacks are made to deter us, not only through fear but through trauma and helplessness.

 

Every activist is at some point in their trials made acutely aware of burn out; the moment at which the fight to change society infringes on your own mental health. Recently, I’ve been experiencing that tension. It is, with little exaggeration, a process of consumption. You balance between the urge to continue the fight and the separate urges that you turn inwards against yourself.

This morning I went to see the doctor. Since my arrest at the Warwick demo, I have seen an increase in anxiety, I’ve been suicidal and I’ve struggled to maintain a serious balance in my relationships. I shake and sweat at night and I dream about losing my sight through violent means. He changed my meds and sent me on my way. Continue reading

The uncovering of the Barcelona 4-F case

CW: police brutality, racism, suicide

 

On the 4th of February 2006 a squat party taking place in the centre of Barcelona attracted police attention, who stood outside requesting IDs, in a similar fashion as the Met would stop and search in London. What would seem like a relatively common interaction between squatters and coppers became one of the worst cases of police brutality and cover-up in Spain’s recent history. During the squat party there were nine arrests. The next day the then-Mayor of Barcelona, Joan Clos, stated to the press that a police officer had been wounded by a plant pot thrown from the balcony of the building. The police officer ended up tetraplegic. The version of events changed a few days later to say the officer had been wounded by a stone thrown outside of the squat, which suited the narrative to charge Rodrigo Lanza, a young Chilean, and two others. Patricia Heras was cycling that night and had an accident in a different area. She was taken by ambulance to the same hospital as the police officer. Due to her appearance – punk/squatter – she was also charged with assaulting a police officer and throwing a fence at him.During the trial two police officers, Victor Bayona and Bakari Samyang, testified against the defendants. Up to four forensic specialists contradicted the police’s version, saying it was impossible that a stone thrown from that angle would have caused the injuries to the police officer. The ambulance driver also testified that Patricia Heras had a cycling accident in a different location far from the squat. Continue reading

Queer arrest, detainment, solidarity and struggle

This was originally posted on the Warwick for Free Education blog who are currently occupy their university for free education and in protest at the brutal treatment they faced at the hands of the police and university staff last week.

 

It’s been an eventful three weeks. On November 19th I was at the Free Education demonstration in London, organised by NCAFC and I got violently arrested for ‘affray’. On November 26th I helped to orchestrate a successful occupation of the Aston Webb building on University of Birmingham campus, which was evicted by over forty police officers and I was chased down and detained by police officers who stopped and searched me, eventually releasing me after taking down my details. On December 3rd I went to help my comrades in Warwick peacefully occupy the Senate House and have a discussion about free education; police burst in and violently attacked, tackled, pepper sprayed and threatened us with tasers, three of my close friends were arrested. Continue reading

We Demand Order

The chaos surrounds us and is sedimented in our culture. The mob rules and we have seemingly no option but to work with them and for them. Our choices are so narrow that they support the very people that harm us. Most people don’t even notice anymore. Most people think that the thugs are a legitimate force to keep order, rather than the hired toughs of illegitimate rulers.

The chaos works beautifully by giving the illusion of order, efficiency and justice. So even though the rich are looting and beating and imprisoning us we look at the system and we respect their laws and their order. When we get a pathetic pay rise we thank them because they have the power to give us less. When they promote a gobshite and they become our boss we respect the decision, or at least enough to get on with life. When a prince gets married and then has a baby we thank God that the hierarchy will continue because it is permanent and therefore solid and it therefore represents history and by definition our future. Continue reading

Visualising the West Bank Wall

The separation barrier (or the Wall) which surrounds much of the West Bank is one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen, not for good reason. In a sense I knew what to prepare myself for as I had seen many pictures taken of it from the comfort of my home country. But the reality of it was quite overwhelming. When I drove from occupied East Jerusalem on 6th August 2014 into the West Bank for the first time I glimpsed the Wall in the distance, stretching as far as the eye could see. This long, grey, cement wall only a spec on the horizon initially, drawing closer to us. The concrete wall is 8 metres high. The West Bank has been occupied by Israel since 1967 and Palestinians living there have been subjected to Israeli military law ever since. The Israeli authorities began to build the barrier/wall around the West Bank in 2000. It is now twice as long as the Berlin Wall was stretching for 712 kilometres in September 2014[1]. It is still under construction by the Israeli authorities and there are a number of gaps. This separation barrier is comprised of tall concrete walls, electric fences and other barriers. The very existence of the barrier is contrary to the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the Wall in 2004[2].

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Whose University? Police brutality used during a peaceful protest at Warwick Uni.

On Wednesday 3rd December, students making up the contingent of Warwick For Free Education (@warwickfreeed) amassed a crowd of 30-40 students outside of the Arts Centre as a means of rallying for the abolition of tuition fees, education cuts and student debt in order to compel more students to attend the regional demo on Saturday 6th December in Birmingham.

After a few speeches and a surprise banner drop reading ‘FREE EDUCATION NOW!’ over the side of the Arts Centre, an excited group of students decided that on this day of action, where legitimate occupations and reclamation of university spaces across the UK had occurred, that we would try to take the ground floor of Senate House. There was a brief attempt at security trying to refuse our entry, in which they illegally manhandled us, but with them being outnumbered we easily made our way through. This needs to be a point of focus. No security guard was assaulted or harmed on entry. A couple of protesters were bruised in the process. We have asked for the CCTV footage to be released. Continue reading

Eagle Spits Interview

Eagle Spits is probably not his birth name but does seem to suit a character who nearly 40 years after his initial involvement in punk is still going strong- still angry, hopeful, humourous, militating for change. After meeting in the summer and then going along to a ‘Punk 4 The Homeless’ gig I asked Eagle if he would mind answering a few questions…

Q, When did you start to self identify as a punk? What was it that attracted you, what did punk mean to you then-and what does it mean now?

It all began when I was 14 which was 38 years ago. I had heard about punk rock, the mass hysteria it had caused in the media. How it was rebellious, anti authoritarian, disgusting and something to be stayed away from. I was intrigued. At the same time I was searching for an identity. I was a troublesome kid and although I didn’t realize it back then I had blanked the whole of my childhood out due to being sexually abused (all that stuff came flooding back when I was 27. I had started my mental health nurse training, was in a classroom learning about sexual abuse issues..zap, there it was) so I was really lost with no sense of self and no roots. Then one day I walked into the living room and The Stranglers were on TOTP. They blew me away, the energy, power, freshness. I had never heard anything like it. I went out and bought the ‘No More Heroes’ single (much to my parents disgust) then a couple more singles and The Clash first album. First band I got to see were Sham 69 (at Cambridge Corn Exchange) which turned out to be a blood bath with the National Front kicking the crap out of everybody. Then me and my mates got nicked back at the railway station because some skinheads came in and smashed the waiting room up. We spent the night in the cells and the cops gave us a lift home the next morning because they realized we were innocent (sitting in a cell for something I hadn’t done) and we were just kids. I had loads of great times at punk gigs but there was always violence due to the Far Right. One of those great experiences was when my school thought it would be funny to send this young punk to a posh hotel in Peterborough, The Bull, but it back fired because The Clash (my all time fave band) booked in, befriended me and my friends and took us to the sound check where we spent lots of quality time partying with them and The Slits. Obviously the punk scene helped me to form a political awareness (although the Left in the form of the WRP and Far Right in the form of the NF tried to hijack things). When I was sixteen Crass brought out ‘The Feeding of the 5000′, which I thought was the funniest thing I had ever heard until I realized they were being serious, and the anarcho punk thing started. I had considered my self to be an anarchist for about 3 years but that scene helped me on my way. So I was involved in the punk scene early on but have often found it a bit naff and hypocritical over the years. Loads of the bands were signing to major labels, obviously The Clash and The Pistols but even those who should have known better; Chumbawamba, New Model Army and Blaggers ITA signing to EMI (probably the biggest arms dealers in the world still, for fuck’s sake). So yes I am still involved in the punk scene but one which has a DIY, fuck corporate bollocks attitude. The punk scene can be very narrow minded with people struggling with stuff which doesn’t fit the genre, which most of the stuff I tend to be involved with doesn’t. So yes I am a punk if punk is an attitude but no if its someone who just consumes generic, unchallenging crap. I still comfortably sport a bright coloured mowhawk but I am not interested in bands who just want to be rock stars. I am still naive enough to want to change the world and despite it’s problems believe the punk scene can be a major part of that.

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Feed the World? The Myth of Food Scarcity and the Evil of Profit Starvation

Thirty years after the original release of Band Aid’s ‘Do they Know It’s Christmas Time’, poverty and famine still continues to reduce the quality of life within over-exploited countries globally. What’s most offensive about white saviourdom in the context of these feel good sing-alongs is the lack of critical analysis that is necessary to understand why an entire populace can live under the brutality of starvation in a world that throws away three times the amount of food it would take to feed all 7 billion of us, daily. Instead of buying into the encouragement of the western working class to give away their pennies to ‘feed the world’, we should be questioning why exactly that world is not fed.  And for that there is only one answer: Capitalism survives on the myth of artificial scarcity.

Artificial scarcity, most familiar in the West, is the program of austerity that keeps wages low, prices high and bellies empty. It cites that resources are limited, that there is not enough energy or homes or jobs or food to go around. This is a myth, one perpetuated in order to sustain capitalism and drive profit up whilst letting people starve both at home and abroad. While the majority of us go hungry, tighten our belts, lose our jobs and have our homes repossessed there are many within the wealthy elite who survive beautifully. Their wealth is amassed through our labour and even our unemployment. The withholding of goods drives up competition and convinces workers that it is natural to destroy each other in order to survive. This is the inherent crisis in capitalism. In order to survive one must consume. In order to consume one must directly or indirectly limit another’s ability to survive. So, we appease our guilt with charity Christmas songs but don’t realise that we as workers and consumers perpetuate this poverty while the rich grow more powerful utilising a regime of profit starvation. Continue reading

Penny Mordaunt vs The FBU

On Sunday the boss’ tabloids were all over the same story. The Mail On Sunday even ran it on the front page. Apparently Tory minister Penny Mordaunt wasted parliamentary time and everyone’s taxes by giving a bogus speech for the sole purpose of saying the word ‘cock’ a few times. This to win a bet with her officer chums in the royal navy (she is a reservist). The fact that this contemptible piece of ruling class slime is happy to flaunt her privilege, by turning our excuse for democracy into a sideshow for her chinless mates, does not come as a surprise.

However Ms Mordaunt found herself in far deeper water last week for reasons that the mainstream media would rather not report. But we are happy to.

In her role as ‘Fire Minister’ she has presided over the destruction of Fire Fighters pensions and cuts to the service that have seen both its employees and the public put a t risk. In numerical terms that is 5,000 jobs lost and 40 fire stations closed since 2010. Unsurprisingly, she is hated by the rank & file of the Fire and Rescue service. So positive coverage for her in this role is hard to come by. Her spin-doctors probably thought that opening a brand new £4million fire station in South London was safe bet? Not so.

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From The Land Of Proudhon – The Battles of the ZADists

Thom Holterman writes on the emerging zadist movement and the battles it is waging with the state and capitalism.

Zadist

The French language has a new word: zadist. It comes from the abbreviation ZAD, Zone à Défendre, “Zone to defend”. Officially ZAD refers to a French legal instrument that is used to create big construction works, such as building an airport or a project for a high speed  train line. These kind of projects inevitably cause considerable damage to the environment and that’s exactly what a zadist would like to prevent by his or her opposition: defending the zone from destruction.

 

The movement is broader than environmental activism alone. This mainly concerns the projects for which huge costs are incurred for the benefit of relatively few people, and in particular, the transnational real estate and construction companies that are making huge profits. A well-known French exampleis the (new) airport to be built in the surroundings of Nantes (Notre-Dame-Des-Landes). The construction of an HSL connection and a super highway are also planned upon the construction of the airport. Such projects are against the zadists’ principles of an anti-hierarchical society  and have therefore become sites of struggle. Continue reading