Report back from DtRtP Conference

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Defend the Right to Protest Conference –

DtRtP would like to thank everyone who came along to our second national conference on the weekend. For those who missed it video recordings of the opening and final plenary can be viewed here https://bambuser.com/v/4047306 and closing plenary:http://bambuser.com/v/4048062 (thanks to occupy London) Recordings of many of the workshops will be available soon.

policingausterity

Several hundred people attended with representatives from many supporting campaigns, trade unions and organisations to discuss both the repression and violence of the police and the state but also how we can fight and overcome these attacks together.

 

Many speakers identified the intensification of policing tactics being used against protesters from kettling to mass arrests and excessive charging as part of a strategy designed to deter and weaken resistance at a time of unprecedented cuts and austerity. Building a united and effective response is therefore essential not only to defend those arrested but also to make it harder to use these methods against future protests be they demonstrations, strikes, occupations or other forms of direct action.

Defend Alfie Meadows sticker

Such solidarity was central to the fight for justice for Alfie Meadows who was almost killed by police during the student protests in autumn 2010 and was finally acquitted of violent disorder earlier this year following a two year struggle. He talked about the strength he drew from  the support he received from thousands of students, trade unionists, public figures and campaigns and the need to build the same kind of support behind other criminalised protesters and victims of police violence and racism. See video clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-thKCQLzwg

alfiemeadows

This must include the many families who have lost loved ones to deaths in custody including Carol Duggan, Janet Alder, Susan Alexander & Marci Rigg and other groups such as the Hillsborough Justice and Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign who talked at the conference about the immense struggle they face in seeking to hold the state to account for the most appalling abuses.

justice4mark

Cuts to legal aid were also identified as part of the wider assault on the welfare state which is designed to make it even harder to challenge state abuses and unpopular government policies and the need to get behind the a campaign to stop further cuts and reverse those have already been implemented. See the workshop here: http://bambuser.com/v/4047457

legal aid

Throughout the day people also talked about the need to be part of ongoing protest against cuts, privatisation, racism and inequality-be it up and coming strikes in our universities and the fire service, marching against the EDL or the many local campaigns against the bedroom tax, service closures and cuts.

 

The conference underlined the importance of continuing to build a national campaign that is able to build widespread support behind all those victimized or criminalised by the police whether on protests or in other contexts from stop and search to deaths in police custody.

cops

Coming out of the conference we are encouraging anyone who wants to get involved to come along to our planning meeting on Monday 18th November, 6-8pm at ULU, Malet Street.  There is also a Legal Observer Training session by GBC on 23rd October at ULU, 1-6pm. 

Please email info@defendtherighttoprotest.org if you can make either of these events.

 

It you support the work we do please also make a donation if you can. As a grass roots campaign, we are completely reliant on donations and contributions from individuals and supporting unions. To make a one of donation click here: http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/donate/To make a regular donation click here: http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/subscribe/

 

Coming out of the conference, we are calling on everyone to do what they can to support a number of major campaigns these include:

Key initiatives coming out of the day included:

·         Justice for Mark Duggan campaign. The inquest into Mark’s death is ongoing at the Royal Courts of Justice. We ask everyone to show their support for Mark’s family in their fight for justice. Things you can do include: Signing the online petition. Attending the public gallery in the court. Inviting someone to speak about the campaign to your campus or union. Passing a motion in support of the campaign and making a donation. Materials for these will be available shortly.

Listen to Carol Duggan speaking at the conference here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kKnahNhE3Q

defence campaigns

·         Building support for defendants who have been arrested, charged or imprisoned as a result of protest, including Trenton Oldfield (https://www.facebook.com/events/562353533817807/ now facing deportation after a protest against inequality, anti-fascist protesters arrested on the Tower Hamlets demonstration against the EDL in September and the protest against the BNP outside parliament in June, (https://www.facebook.com/events/1415253768704601/)  anti-fracking protesters arrested at Balcombe and the 5 Sussex university students still facing charges relating to the anti-privatisation campaign (http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/new-support-sussex-campaign-against-privatisation-against-protest-ban-criminalisation/)

 

·         Supporting the ongoing campaign against legal aid cuts See http://www.savelegalaid.co.uk/justicealliance and http://www.younglegalaidlawyers.org/news

 

Defend the Right to Protest is a broad campaign supported by NUT, PCS, CWU, UCU, NUS and many other groups, family & justice campaigns which seeks to build maximum unity against the criminalisation or protest and in support of others seeking justice against police violence and racism. See: http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/campaign-statement/ A central theme at the conference was the need to build a united response against attempts to divide us from one another be it racism, sexism or other forms of prejudice, discrimination and scapegoating. DtRtP seeks to actively build that unity and promote those values in the movement, including working with justice, anti-racist, anti-cuts, feminist, trade union, LGBT or disability rights activists, groups and campaigns- organizing around these issues.

 

We were very pleased at the range of people and organisations that participated in the conference –and want to build on this by supporting their work, sharing ideas, taking common initiatives.

 

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