The following invitation has been sent today:
To: Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird; Newcastle City Council Leader Nick Forbes; Elswick Councillor Dipu Ahad
From: Newcastle 14 Defence Campaign
Dear Commissioner Baird, Councillor Forbes and Councillor Ahad,
On Saturday 25 May 14 anti-racist protestors, including supporters of FRFI (Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!) and other anti-racists, were arrested prior to the Newcastle Unites against the EDL demonstration. Police stated that the organisers of Newcastle Unites had told them FRFI were not welcome on the march. When FRFI said they considered they had every right to join a public demonstration, they were arrested and are currently on bail.
We would like to invite you to join us at the Newcastle 14 Defence Campaign rally on Saturday 20 July, at 3pm outside Market Street Police Station. At the rally representatives from the campaign will present you with a petition, signed by over 1000 Newcastle citizens, calling for no charges to be brought against the Newcastle 14 and an end to the political policing we have witnessed in Newcastle in recent months.
We are calling on the three individuals named above to attend because:
Councillor Ahad is the main figurehead of Newcastle Unites. On 7 May he stood and watched as three FRFI supporters were threatened, assaulted and thrown out of the building when they tried to join a Newcastle Unites organising meeting. The reason given for their exclusion was that they had heckled another Labour politician, MP Grahame Morris, when he spoke on the platform at May Day 2012, because he had voted in favour of the assault on Libya that claimed 60,000 lives. Councillor Ahad told FRFI supporters he would only support their involvement if they agreed not to mention state racism, and issued a public statement on Facebook threatening to call the police on committed anti-fascists. We hold him responsible for the arrests.
Council Leader Nick Forbes is the leader of the council Dipu Ahad is part of and has also had the police protect him from criticism for the devastating £100 million cuts he and other Labour councillors are inflicting on Newcastle. After another FRFI supporter, Michael ‘Don’ MacDonald, verbally challenged Councillor Forbes when 1,500 people marched through Newcastle on 16 February 2013, police came to Don’s home in the middle of the night and arrested him on spurious allegations of threatening behaviour, which were dropped before they even made it to court.
Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is responsible for strategic policing issues, and during her election campaign committed to oppose political policing. The arrests of Don MacDonald and the Newcastle 14 are part of a pattern of political policing to protect Labour politicians from criticism, a strategic matter for the Police and Crime Commissioner as well as the councillors concerned.
We call on you to attend the rally on 20 July at 3pm outside Market Street Police Station to receive the petitions, and look forward to your reply.
Newcastle 14 Defence Campaign