Civil liberties, justice, crime

Labour's martyrs: the story of Sacco and Vanzetti

Workers' Liberty 3/53, published as a pull-out in Solidarity 397. The story of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, told by James P Cannon and Max Shachtman, who were leading activists in the defence campaign. Click to download as pdf

Joint enterprise: unjust and racist

British courts' application of "joint enterprise" is unjust, and criminalises black and working-class youth. "Joint enterprise" is a common-law doctrine that allows courts to convict not only the person who carried out a crime, but others who helped them to do it. In principle, that sounds reasonable. But since 1984, British courts have used it to convict people who they think knew the crime was going to happen, even if they did not help carry it out. That has led to a string of unjust convictions, with some people given life sentences in prison simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong...

Can we still protest? Should we still protest?

In Solidarity 562 we carried an article clarifying the law around protest. Despite the threats the police made to organisers of a 5 September trans rights protest (which led to it being cancelled), protesting was still legal. Then on 9 September Boris Johnson announced that further restrictions would be made so that no more than six people are allowed to gather socially. The change came into force on Monday 14 September. At the time of the announcement NHS campaigners were busy organising protests for 12 September, and were reassured that the new changes would not have taken effect by then...

"This attack on capitalism"

As I write on 7 September, Extinction Rebellion (XR) UK’s latest rebellion has just finished its first week, with a few days still to come. Every day, in many locations across the country, hundreds of protesters have turned out for often bold actions to urge action on the climate crises. XR has rightly denounced serious and increasing police repression. Hundreds have been arrested, including mass arrests following kettling. Protestors have been taking Covid-safety seriously, yet the police have threatened them, including those wearing face-masks, with fines using Coronavirus police powers...

Stand firm for right to protest!

On 5 September, a trans rights protest (see here) scheduled for Parliament Square, London, was cancelled by its organisers because the police threatened them with mass arrests. The organisers wrote: “On 3 September we liaised with the Metropolitan Police and they assured us, after the news of Piers Corbyn’s arrest [on 29 August, at a Trafalgar Square anti-virus-precautions protest] that there would be no risk of arrests or fines because our protest posed no risk of danger. “[Then] on 4 September the police called us and informed us that there is a likelihood that us, any participants, stewards...

Stop this deportation!

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Home Office on Friday 4 September to demand that Osime Brown not be deported to Jamaica. Led by Osime’s family, the protest was supported by Autistic Inclusive Meets (AIM), Neurodivergent Labour (NDL) and RMT’s London Transport Regional Council. Osime’s mother, sister and stepfather told how he had been imprisoned under “joint enterprise” law simply for being present when a mobile phone was stolen, and that an order has been issued to deport him when he is released next month. The family left Jamaica when Osime was four years old; he has no knowledge...

Trumpism in vilgilante mode

It was only a matter of time before a white supremacist vigilante murdered opponents of Donald Trump. The surprise was that it hadn’t happened sooner. There will be more of this in the run-up to the Presidential election. This fresh outrage in the Wisconsin town of Kenosha followed days of protest after local police shot unarmed black man Jacob Blake seven times in the back. 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse (above, left), a keen attender of Trump rallies, answered the call of a vigilante website and his mother drove him and his illegally owned AR-15 rifle twenty miles across the state line to...

Stop the Met's criminalisation of strikes

Striking security guards, members of the UVW union, were legally striking and picketing at St George’s, University of London, on 13 January 2020. Police threatened the striking workers and union officials with mass arrest under Section 119 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Franck Magennis, UVW barrister and trade union official, was arrested and handcuffed in mid-conversation with a police officer as he enquired into the legality of the threatened arrests. As a result, the picket-line fell apart. This is part of a series of attacks by the Met Police on trade unionists. UVW’s...

Stand with Hong Kong!

Over mid-July, Hong Kong has been in a stand-off. The Chinese regime’s National Security Law (NSL) is now in force in Hong Kong. Its powers far exceed the Extradition Bill that was thrown out last autumn after street protests. Yet radicals in the democratic camp won the unofficial primaries in which over 600,000 Hong Kong people took part. Those who won say they will resist the NSL. So far, despite threats, the democratic candidates have not been arrested, nor have they been barred from standing in September’s elections. That was the background to the online rally of Labour Movement Solidarity...

The New Jim Crow

Police violence in the USA is only a shore of a whole continent of racial oppression and marginalisation, so Michelle Alexander argues in her 2010 book, now a “classic”, The New Jim Crow. Alexander is a civil rights lawyer by trade. Chunks of the book are lawyerly, dissecting a string of Supreme Court rulings. She says herself that she wouldn’t have got to a “fancy law school” without affirmative action rules. Her punchline, though, is that racial oppression is knitted into a larger system of social inequality, and measures which create a bigger black middle class aren’t enough. “Piecemeal...

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