“Our support, love and sympathies are with Charlie, his closest friends and his family. The sit-in at Cambridge University in Winter last year was part of a wave of dissent and action by a generation of students and their supporters across the UK; we are proud that Charlie was there, that he brought his humour, energy and enthusiasm to that period of our lives”
ON THE INCARCERATION OF CHARLIE GILMOUR
THERE IS A TRADITION of protesters being imprisoned. It is not a tradition anyone would want to be a part of. The state, reveling in its supposed duty to protect and punish, uses some of its foulest tools to silence dissent, bring fear to the streets and curb any effective protest. Charlie Gilmour is the latest victim of this strategy.
Integrated into a machine which produces only fear, our support, love and sympathies are with Charlie, his closest friends and his family. The sit-in at Cambridge University in Winter last year was part of a wave of dissent and action by a generation of students and their supporters across the UK; we are proud that Charlie was there, that he brought his humour, energy and enthusiasm to that period of our lives.
The last ten months have been a political awakening for many, and an awakening for even our most reactionary institutions that movements from below can be powerful and bring them to account. To do this, we have relied on a vast range of tactics: legal challenges, media campaigns, sit-ins, blockades, occupations, street protests. We know that we are dependent on scores of previous political acts and traditions, and also that we have so very far to go in order to achieve any of our disparate goals. Nevertheless, we are proud of what we have accomplished in such a short period of time, and of all the acts we have committed together.
In response, the government, the police and the judiciary have collaborated in a patent act of political policing. Twelve months for throwing a placard stick; 16 months for chucking a bin, acts in which no one was hurt, in which no one has even claimed to have been hurt. This is all not new: 2 years for throwing plastic bottles handed down to Gaza protesters in 2009; antifascists from Bradford given 2001 – we all have our own stories. But the sentencing here is especially harsh. The Garden House protesters, the last student backlash in Cambridge, received sentences of substantially less time. The current government seems set on reigning the harshest austerity plans in living memory, a level of austerity policing to match.
We recognise that the incarceration of these young people is an act of political imprisonment and that with these actions, the state displays the hollow tokenism of the ‘right to peaceful protest’. For these reasons we hope that Charlie, Frankie, Edward, all those already imprisoned today and those others who will also be taken from us for the time being, find each other in their incarceration, and that they will accept our support and love over the coming years.