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

London protest against Macron's "global security" law

Over 100 people protested in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 29/11/20 against the new "global security" law being pushed by President Macron in France. The demonstration followed on a protest of tens of thousands in Paris on 28/11/20, and many others in other cities. The law contains a clause to ban the taking and distribution of pictures of police activity if that is judged to prejudice the "physical or psychic integrity" of the cops. It has gone through the lower house of the French Parliament, but not yet the upper house, and following protests Macron says he will consider amendments. The...

Thirteen murdered working-class women

The death of the killer of thirteen women has elicited an apology from the police for the methods and the language they used during their investigation. The role of the press and they way that they portrayed the victims has also come in for some heavy criticism. Which is right. When you hear their language in the context of today, it is shocking. But in the context of the time it was happening, the police and press fitted right in with the culture that affected all women. Those who had the advantage of class and money had at least some protection from the effect of sexist attitudes on their...

Defend the right to protest

The civil rights group Liberty has reported that in the legislation for the new lockdown (5 November to 2 December), the Tories have quietly deleted the exception previously made, in the ban on public gatherings, for political protests done with due care. On 6 November, some 200 people were arrested on an anti-lockdown demonstration in London. The Netherlands, for example, explicitly makes political protests the one high-profile exception to its second-lockdown ban on public gatherings. The right to protest (with due care) is an essential service. However, the government has conceded on picket...

Nigeria: police killings spark protests

Ejike Ikezuagu and Princess Dandison were among the organisers of the End SARS UK march in London on 24 October (protesters pictured above). They spoke to Sacha Ismail from Solidarity. Since it was created in 1992 SARS [the Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit] has targeted young people. In Nigeria the youth face a very bad situation; people leave education but there are no jobs. Instead of helping them, the government treats them as yahoos or scammers or criminals. When they see young people with a car or nice clothes or even a nice hairstyle, they will question them, demand to know their...

Start of a new fightback in Labour?

After a parliamentary rebellion over the Tories’ Overseas Operations bill, the Labour leadership has faced a larger one, in parliament and outside, over its failure to oppose the “Spycops Bill”. Where the Overseas Operations Bill seeks to ease human rights abuses by British forces abroad, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill would allow undercover police and other agents inside Britain to commit crimes in the course of their work. Murder, torture and sexual violence are not ruled out, and the frameworks to authorise criminal activity are very widely drawn. Given the...

Free Assange!

The judge in the court case over the US government’s attempt to extradite Julian Assange to the USA for trial on his WikiLeaks work has said she will deliver a verdict on 4 January after hearing evidence for the last month. That is unlikely to be the end of it, because either Assange or the US government will probably appeal. The labour movement should demand that Assange is released and not extradited. His health is suffering in jail, where he has been held since April 2019. Assange has done much to discredit himself with the left: his evasion of rape charges brought by two Swedish women, his...

A win for Osime Brown

On 7 October, Osime Brown, a young man jailed under “joint enterprise” law, will return to his family home on his release from prison, rather than being taken to an immigration detention centre. This win follows many street and online protests demanding his freedom. But Osime’s fight is still on: the order to deport him to Jamaica (which he left at the age of 4, and where has no support network) still stands. No date has been announced, but Osime still has this threat looming. Campaigners are running a “Twitter storm” on 6 October, and ask supporters to keep signing and sharing the petition...

Rail workers say: Black Lives Matter!

Off The Rails supports the global protests against police brutality and racism.

The issues raised by the protests are not just problems in the USA. They affect us too. Britain has its own history of police violence against people of colour, with campaigns like the United Families and Friends...

New protests for Breonna Taylor

On 23 September it was announced that a grand jury in the US state of Kentucky had indicted only one of the three police officers — Brett Hankinson, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — involved in the murder of healthworker Breonna Taylor in March. And, surreally, Hankinson was indicted not for shooting Taylor but for firing at a neighbouring home. Protests demanding justice have flared across the country. Mattingly wrote that “I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night”… The “legal, moral and ethical thing” was spraying 32 bullets into Taylor’s home, in response to a...

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