UK: Freedom Press re-opens after arson attack

From Spitalfields Life:

Last Friday at 5:30am, CCTV at the Whitechapel Gallery recorded two men break the metal shutter next door at The Freedom Press in Angel Alley and pour a flammable liquid inside, before setting it alight and leaving in a waiting car. Although the attack was premeditated, it came out of the blue and at present there is no confirmation of who was responsible. Yet the target is one with a powerful resonance as Britain’s oldest radical bookshop and the historic focus for free thought in the East End.

The Freedom Press was founded in 1886 by Peter Kropotkin, the Russian revolutionary, and Charlotte Wilson, the well-to-do British anarchist who resigned from the Fabian Society when she and William Morris were dissatisfied with the direction it was taking.

Freedom, the anarchist newspaper first published by Kropotkin and Wilson, is still produced from Whitechapel with every issue containing this policy statement, “Anarchists work towards a society of mutual aid and voluntary co-operation. We reject all government and economic repression. This newspaper, published continuously since 1936, exists to explain anarchism more widely and show that only in an anarchist society can human freedom thrive.” Hardly the provocation to such violence as was enacted last week.

Curious to see the damage for myself and discover the outcome of the attack, I walked down Brick Lane to visit Angel Alley. Entering the blackened bookshop where the bitter smell of the smoke prevailed, I climbed up to the first floor and discovered Max Reeves of The Freedom Press opening charred archive boxes. “Once the embers had died down, we put out a call to have a clear-up on Sunday and well over a hundred people from the local community turned up,” he explained to me,“We carried the books out and cleaned up the shop.”

Max believes the attack came from members of a far-right minority. “It’s not the first time we have been targeted by fascists, in 1993 a neo-Nazi group fire-bombed the shop,” he revealed, “It might be disheartening, if it were not for the flood of well-wishing and offers of help we have received from all over the world. Disparate groups in the radical hinterland have laid aside their differences and come together in solidarity.”

Nobody was injured in the attack and, although smoke permeated everywhere, only a portion of the building was damaged. Salvaged books have been stacked on the top floor while the burnt ones were piled out in Angel Alley as rubbish, where people quickly began to collect them as souvenirs. “It’s symbolic, it’s a proper Nazi book burning and each of the damaged books has now become a cherished artifact.” Max asserted, holding up a blackened paperback with a flourish, “This is a copy of William Blake burnt by fascists.”

“If the intention was to further divide people, this attack failed because it has achieved the opposite.” he assured me with unassailable confidence. The Freedom Press bookshop reopens for business today.

United Kingdom: Statement from Cardiff Anarchist Network on infiltration

From the Cardiff Anarchist Network:

Statement on the infiltration by Mark ‘Marco’ Jacobs

For four years the Cardiff Anarchist Network (CAN) was infiltrated by an undercover police officer we knew as ‘Marco’.  During that time we believe he had a number of key objectives – to gather intelligence and disrupt the activities of CAN; to use the reputation and trust CAN had built up to infiltrate other groups, including a European network of activists; and to stop CAN functioning as a coherent group.

By 2009 suspicions had built up, but Marco had so effectively messed up relationships and trust within the group, that we were not properly sharing or voicing our suspicions.  In the autumn of 2009 he hosted a ‘goodbye’ dinner for the group, and announced he was leaving for a job in Corfu.  After he left, texts and postcards arrived for some weeks, but then suddenly dried up, without explanation. His British mobile number was not recognised on dialling it and the Greek mobile number he had been using after he left barred incoming calls and texts went undelivered. His social network pages became untouched.  Suspicions crystallised, but by now he had completely disappeared.

People who had been associated with CAN and the other groups he had become a part of in Cardiff, such as No Borders and Gwent Anarchists, tried to make it known within activist circles that the man we knew as Marco was an undercover cop.  But without definite proof we were urged not to make unfounded allegations.

It was only when news broke on Mark Kennedy and Lynn Watson that there seemed an opportunity to establish the truth for certain.  Following our leads, on the 14th January 2011 the Guardian obtained confirmation that he was indeed a serving police officer.  We don’t know exactly how this was done, but believe that confirmation came directly from ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers.  We were not comfortable relying on the mainstream media in this way, but all our previous attempts to properly establish who he was had come to nothing.

Marco worked on us (not with us) for four years.  He developed strong personal relationships and some of us feel an enormous personal betrayal.  But he also deliberately and systematically set out to damage a movement, and we think it is important that knowledge of what he did, and how he did it, is shared and discussed as widely as possible.
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UK: Third undercover police spy unmasked as scale of network emerges

Marc JacobsFrom the Guardian:

The unprecedented scale of undercover operations used by police to monitor Britain’s political protest movements was laid bare tonight after a third police spy was identified by the Guardian.

News of the existence of the 44-year-old male officer, who was involved in a sexual relationship while undercover, comes as regulators prepare two separate official inquiries into the activities of this hitherto secret police surveillance network.

The latest officer, whose identity has been withheld amid fears for his safety in other criminal operations, worked for four years undercover with an anarchist group in Cardiff.
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London: Student rebel undergoes brain surgery after beating from police

Police beating studentsA student was rushed to hospital for emergency brain surgery after he was allegedly hit with a police truncheon during last night’s tuition fees protest.

Alfie Meadows, 20, developed bleeding on his brain when he was hit as he tried leave the ‘kettling’ area outside Westminster Abbey, his mother said.

The Middlesex University student fell unconscious on the way to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where he underwent a three-hour operation to save his life.

He was one of 44 people, including six police officers, treated in hospital after London’s most violent night of student rioting over fees.

A further 14 people were treated by paramedics at the scene.

Alfie’s mother, Susan Meadows, 55, an English literature lecturer at Roehampton University, said her son had described the blow to his head as ‘the hugest he had ever felt’.

‘Basically he had a stroke last night,’ she said. ‘He couldn’t speak or move his hand.

‘The surface wound wasn’t very big but three hours after the blow, he suffered bleeding to the brain,’ she said.

‘He survived the operation and he’s in the recovery room.

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England: Police order shutdown of FitWatch website

From Infoshop News:

The metropolitan police forced the closure of anti-police blog after it published advice for protesters involved in last weeks’ student protests.

The order to shut down the site was sent by Detective Inspector Will Hodgson to fitwatch’s hosts,, claiming that it was attempting to ‘pervert the cause of justice’ by presenting advice to those who may have been involved in last weeks occupation of Millbank, which has already led to more than fifty arrests, and campaigns by newspapers such as the Telegraph to shop students who were involved.

The US based hosting company appears to have shut down the site almost immediately, effective for 12 months, despite having only received an e-mail (to our knowledge there was no court order, and no legal action has been taken against the site’s owners).
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London, UK: Cops get away with murder at 2009 G20


“After 16 months of waiting, to hear nothing is being done is a complete joke. Today they gave us no hope. This experience has broken our family apart. The DPP has told us there was an unlawful act, yet no charges are to be brought. This is no justice – everyone has failed us.” – Ian Tomlinson’s son Paul King

SchNEWS | Friday 23rd July 2010 | Issue 732

Ian Tomlinson, a 47-year-old news-vendor, was killed at the G20 protests in April 2009 (SchNEWS 672). His family have waited until now to find out what action the justice system was going to take. The Director of Public Prosecution Keir Starmer stated yesterday (22nd) that there would be. er. no charges brought against any police officers involved in the death of Ian Tomlinson. This astonishingly barefaced whitewash prompted the director of INQUEST Deborah Coles to say, “The eyes of the world will be looking on with incredulity as yet again a police officer is not facing any criminal charges after what is one of the most clear-cut and graphic examples of police violence that has led to death. This decision is a shameful indictment of the way police criminality is investigated and demonstrates a culture of impunity when police officers break the law. It follows a pattern of cases that reveal an unwillingness to treat deaths arising from the use of force by police as potential homicides.”
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UK: Suspect charged in Brandon factory arson

BBC news 25 February 2010

An 18-year-old from Norfolk has been charged with an arson attack on a plastics factory in Suffolk.

About 50 firefighters were needed at Chase Plastics, London Road Industrial Estate, in Brandon, on Saturday.

David Allison, 18, from Peppers Close in Weeting, Norfolk, has been charged with arson and will appear before Bury Magistrates’ Court later.

Two males, a 15-year-old from Brandon and 18-year-old from Thetford have been released on police bail.