report & pics on holloway prisoner solidarity demoTagged as: noise prison prisoners protest solidarity
up to 100 people took part in tonight's new year's eve solidarity noise protest at holloway women's prison and young offenders' unit. their aim was to highlight the recent spate of draconian sentencing on protesters and others, and to contrast the injustice that police and bankers are allowed to go free despite committing much greater crimes.
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at 4pm a small crowd began to grow outside the prison gates in north london. their large banners and bicycle sound system gathered interest and the occasional hoot from passing vehicles, and there were leaflets for pedestrians. as the crowd grew to a few dozen, a police van arrived. it was difficult to hear the cops over the megaphone chants and music, but they were asking who was the organiser. it seemed either the organisers didn't hear, or hadn't turned up, because no-one answered. the cops shrugged, got back in the van, and drove off.
by now there were close to a hundred people and they set off into the grounds of the prison and round to the military style back gates.
from there, we could see prisoners at the windows, and we heard them shouting and asking us to raise the banners higher so that they could see them. this got a huge cheer.
after a while, police arrived with a prison guard, but again got nowhere asking to speak to organisers, and once again left.
a few people took to the open mic. one was the mother of student zenon mitchell, who is serving a 15 month sentence for throwing a flimsy stick and an empty can at heavily protected riot police. another was a campaigner for mumia abu-jamal (held on philadelphia's death row for more than 15 years despite international cries for a retrial www.freemumia.com). it was also good to hear from a trade union activist, who talked about the government attacks on workers, and the chilling effect that political sentencing was designed to have on the right to protest.
speakers, rappers and poets highlighted the political and class aspects of imprisonment, pointing out that the murderers of mark duggan, ian tomlinson and smiley culture are still free, that the bankers responsible for the financial terrorism that has devastated our public services are still getting huge bonuses, while those affected by the cuts are repressed and criminalised for protesting this unjustice.
after the open mic, there was another half hour of noise protest. the sound system, whistles, pots and pans, and the rather noisy high wire fences (when struck), all added to the cacophony.
at 6 the group decided to leave together just as police returned once more to check the scene.
the protest was supported by 'defend the right to protest' (www.defendtherighttoprotest.org) and the legal defence monitoring group (www.ldmg.org.uk). 'defend the right to protest' were also publicising their 'twin with an imprisoned protester' campaign, which encourages individuals, students unions, and trade unions, to build public pressure for their release, and provide support to their family and friends.
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