The Acorn is an info bulletin produced by our friends at Winter Oak, which we are sharing on this site. The Anarchist Action Network is not responsible for the content.
In this issue:
- Tear gas and water cannon
- What is Elbit scared of?
- Reclaiming the fields
- Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge
- EDL fascists target Brighton
Tear gas, water cannon and “flashball” rubber bullets have been fired at people protesting against police violence and against the destruction of the countryside brought about by the system the cops brutally defend.
Bank and shop windows were smashed and there were dozens of arrests in two cities on different parts of France on Saturday February 21.
The clashes were the latest episode in a growing wave of resistance in France against totalitarian capitalism and its environmentally-destructive infrastructure.
Two simultaneous protests were staged in Nantes and Toulouse, reflecting the struggle against the proposed new airport for Nantes and outrage at the murder by police of Rémi Fraisse, a student at Toulouse University.
The young environmentalist was killed by a grenade fired at his back at point-blank range by gendarmes during protests against a proposed new dam at Sivens near Le Testet in the south of France.
The call-out for the resistance in the two cities was “against the concreting of our countryside and the militarisation of our towns”.
The concreting of the countryside threatens to become even worse, with the French state confirming it will be pushing ahead with the airport at Notre-Dame-Des-Landes, protected by the long-established ZAD protest camp.
And, of course, the militarisation of the towns was in evidence at the protests, with the police as usual claiming they had been “forced” to deploy their frightening armoury against dissidents because a bit of paint had been lobbed in their general direction.
The French media reported that the notoriously violent CRS riot cops even attacked journalists with their batons.
Various video reports can be seen here:
Activists successfully shut down an arms company in Kent on Tuesday February 17.
They struck under cover of darkness, at 5am, at the premises of Instro Precision near Broadstairs, to protest against its sales to both Israel and Afghanistan. Four people took the roof with banners to shut the factory down, with ten more on the ground, one of whom locked herself to the front gate. See the video in this successful appeal for financial support.
Instro is owned by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, which makes drones that are used to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Optical and camera systems like those made at the Instro factory are also supplied by Elbit for use in drones flown over Afghanistan, as well as in Israel’s apartheid wall.
A wide range of groups came together to make the blockade happen, including: Brighton BDS, Brighton Palestine Action, Smash EDO, Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network, East Kent CAAT and Swansea Action for Palestine.
The occupiers stayed in place for nearly 13 hours and decided to leave after having shut the firm down for the whole working day. Kent Police put out a statement describing the protest as “lawful” and nobody was arrested, let alone charged.
Good news – but why would the authorities, presumably with the tacit backing of the firm affected, decide to take no legal action against people blockading a factory?
The answer can probably be found in the story of a previous factory occupation near Birmingham, in August 2014, when activists closed down another Elbit subsidiary, UAV Engines Limited, for two days at the height of Israel’s summer military assault on Gaza.
After putting the factory out of business for two days, all activists were removed by police, arrested, charged with aggravated trespass and taken to court for preliminary hearings. However, all these charges were suddenly dropped at the end of January this year, a week before the case was due to go to trial.
It seems the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had to pull out at the last minute because company managers mysteriously decided to go back on previous commitments to testify against the nine.
Said a statement from London Palestine Action: “The decision taken by the CPS to drop charges against us shows us that either Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both.”
* Corporate Watch have published a briefing called Gaza: Life Beneath the Drones.
Reclaim the Fields are holding a day of learning and network-building in Wales on Saturday March 7.
The event at the Red and Black Umbrella at 57-58 Clifton Street, Cardiff, will be built around the topics of growing projects, access to land and food sovereignty.
An article on Reclaim the Fields by Ed Hamer in The Land magazine says: “Taking its name from the road protest collective which swept the UK in the early 1990s, the movement intends to employ the same creative mix of political lobbying, networking and direct action in its objective to get the 21st century peasantry back onto the land.
“Just as the climate change debate has inspired a new generation to push the environment onto the political agenda, those of us who feel particularly passionate about food and farming have the potential to do the same for agriculture.”
On its website, Reclaim the Fields describes itself as a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume control over food production.
It adds: “We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs-oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.”
Reclaim the Fields emerged in March 2011 from a small gathering at Grow Heathrow, a land squat set up to resist the expansion of Heathrow Airport.
RTF also supports the policies of Via Campesina, an international movement founded in 1993 by farmers’ organizations from Europe, Latin America, Asia, North America and Africa, which currently has its HQ in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Nothing is to be allowed to stand in the way of the fracking industry and the authorities will do all they can to clear its path.
As we reported in Issue 2 of The Acorn, the new Infrastructure Act is designed to allow corporate interests to trample all over communities and the environment.
One small example of the way the authorities will bend over backwards for the extreme energy business comes from the West Sussex countryside between Wisborough Green and Kirdford.
In July 2014 an application by fracking firm Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration was refused by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee at a meeting in Horsham.
One of the cited reasons for the refusal was “unsafe” road access for the fracking traffic. Committee chair Heidi Brunsdon admitted: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance.”
One of the biggest issues involved Boxal Bridge, a beautiful rural structure dating from the 1850s, which was clearly too narrow to cope with hundreds of fracking lorries.
But where there’s a will there’s a way – and West Sussex County Council has helpfully come up with a plan to get rid of this particular obstacle to the path of ecocidal profiteering.
Two months after refusing Celtique’s plans, it commissioned a “feasibility study” on Boxal Bridge and of the six options recommended it chose number six – to demolish the bridge and build a two-lane crossing suitable for heavy industrial traffic.
This was despite the two local parish councils of Kirdford and Wisborough Green, and many local residents, opposing the demolition.
Once again, here is capitalism showing itself in physical form – as the infrastructure of the cancerous growth known as industrial civilisation.
A petition has been set up to demand that the bridge is not demolished.
Anti-fascists in Brighton are preparing for action after notorious extreme-right group the EDL announced plans for a march through the Sussex city on Saturday April 18 2015.
It was looking like being a quieter April than usual for Brighton, after the racists of the March for England announced they would be heading to Blackpool instead.
Previous years have seen dramatic scenes on the streets, with police attacking and arresting numerous anti-racist protesters in order to try to clear a way for the dwindling fascist contingent.
In recent years, mobile steel barriers have been used by the authorities to create a sterile area near the seafront where the nazis can parade away from the hostility of the Brighton public.
News that the EDL is stepping into the breach left by their friends in the MFE will come as a surprise to many – the EDL usually hangs its protests on the excuse of opposing “islamification” of certain areas.
Rather than merely diverting popular dissatisfaction with the capitalist system against minority scapegoats, the EDL here seems to be fulfilling the other classic fascist function of physically threatening radical opponents of the capitalist system.
Anti-racist website EDL News reports: “Due to the fact that there is not a large Muslim population in Brighton, it is thought that the demo has been called to confront what they see as a left wing city who do not put up with their politics of racism and division.”
To confirm this, it shows a screenshot from a social media conversation between EDL supporters, one of whom declares that “its time the left wing gets whats coming to them”.
With local anti-fascists already spreading the word about their intentions, the EDL may once again find it difficult to turn its belligerent online boasting into reality on the streets.
Land activists at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean are this week facing eviction. For the last two and a half years, they have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm, but a local millionaire property developer has other ideas and filed a claim for possession of the land. Said an update posted on the activists’ website on Thursday February 26: “News just received, Judge Harrington has ruled in favour of Brian Bennett for possession of Yorkley Court. We have 24 hours’ notice for the farmhouse, 3 days for the back field and the area surrounding the farmhouse, and 14 days for the bottom strip. Support will be appreciated during this stressful time, materials, bodies, hearts, minds and all. Keep an eye out for updates and ways to help.”
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The theft of a local Sussex beach by a private company has been upheld by the legal authorities. Locals have been trying to stop Newhaven Port and Properties from excluding the public from West Beach, a sandy spot traditionally used and loved by townsfolk. But their latest attempt failed on Wednesday February 24) after the Supreme Court said the area could not after all be registered as a village green, overturning a decision by the Appeal Court in March 2013. NPP has now announced plans to expand its operations into part of Tide Mills beach. Newhaven mayor Judith Ost told local press: “The Supreme Court has today found that the beach has been used by local people for generations by permission of the port authority – and we see no reason why local people cannot continue to do so.” Warned Nicola Hodgson of the Open Spaces Society: “This judgment comes on top of the pernicious change in English law, the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, which outlaws applications to register greens where land is threatened with development. With the courts and parliament working against us, the future of our precious open spaces is increasingly perilous.”
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The interface between anarchism and art is explored in Herbert Read: Art and Idealism by Michael Paraskos. Reviewer Paul Cudenec says the book “makes no futile attempt to flatten out Read’s work and life in order to make it fit into some pre-determined category” and encourages readers “to step off the well-trod road of narrow thinking and forge their own path of empowering intellectual discovery”. Full article at https://network23.org/paulcudenec
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Some basic tips for community campaigning have been set out by local anarchist website The Hereford Heckler,which started life in early 2008, originally as the bimonthly paper of Hereford Solidarity League. The Heckler stresses: “Remember: If you are going to do community organising, do it in your own area; don’t be a missionary!”
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Acorn quote: “Faith in the fundamental goodness of man; humility in the presence of natural laws; reason and mutual aid – these are the qualities that can save us. But they must be unified and vitalized by an insurrectionary passion, a flame in which all virtues are tempered and clarified, and brought to their most effective strength”. Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Anarchism.
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