Vera Baird QC was elected to the position of Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner on 16th November 2012. The Home Office states that the role involves holding the Chief Constable to account for ‘the running of their force.’ The Newcastle 14 Defence Campaign calls on supporters to contact Vera Baird and demand that the investigation is dropped, no charges are brought against the 14, and that no further anti-fascists activists are criminalised.
- Send Vera Baird an email or letter. Writing your own email is encouraged but see below for a model letter, and email addresses.
- Phone Vera Baird’s PCC office on 01912 219800.
- Tweet Vera Baird @northumbriapcc, @verabaird – #Newcastle14
- Sign the 38 Degrees Petition: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/defend-the-newcastle-14-no-to-political-policing
- Join the N14 demonstration, outside Haymarket Metro, Saturday 15th June 12-2pm.
Model Letter to Vera Baird (Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner)
Send to: Northumbria PCC Office: email@example.com
Dear Vera Baird,
I am writing to bring to your attention the alarming case of the Newcastle 14, fourteen anti-fascist activists who were arrested shortly before the racist ‘English Defence League’ (EDL) march on Saturday 25th May. These fourteen activists were peacefully advertising the ‘Newcastle Unites’ counter demonstration at Newcastle’s Haymarket when they were surrounded and arrested on suspicion of ‘Conspiracy to commit violent disorder’. All of the arrested had their houses raided and their phones and laptops seized. This has seriously affected the exams, employment, and living situation of the fourteen, with one defendant evicted from her property. The youngest person arrested was only 15. There was no conspiracy and no reason to expect violence from these anti-fascists. Many EDL supporters however, were free to throw fireworks and bottles throughout the afternoon without fear of arrest.
The arrests of the Newcastle 14 were clearly politically motivated and I call on you to use your power as Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner to demand:
– that the investigation is dropped and that no charges are brought against the 14.
– that all seized property is promptly returned
There is worrying evidence that the ‘Newcastle Unites against the EDL’ group were complicit in these arrests to silence political criticism on the march, with Labour councillor Dipu Ahad threatening on Facebook prior to the march that anti-fascists would be reported to the police. As this comes following the arrest of anti-cuts activist Michael ‘Don’ Macdonald in February at the request of Labour council leader Nick Forbes it appears that there is a wider evidence of local Labour politicians using the police as a political tool to silence dissenting voices. I encourage you to formally support the campaign and to ensure that there is no further criminalisation of anti-fascists as people continue to mobilise to oppose the rising threat of far-right groups such as the EDL.
If anti-fascists activists are targeted by the police whilst EDL members are free to commit real violence, what hope does Newcastle have in facing the rising tide of racism?
More information, including the online petition, can be found at: https://defencecampaign.wordpress.com
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Download the model letter as a word document.