On 20 July supporters of the Newcastle 14 Defence Campaign organised a defiant march through Newcastle city centre to protest against the arrests of 14 anti-fascists prior to the Newcastle Unites march on 25 May (see the campaign’s statement on the arrests for more details).
The demonstrators assembled at Haymarket, where the arrests had taken place, and set off down Northumberland Street, accompanied by music from a mobile sound system, and carrying banners saying ‘March Against Political Policing, Defend the Newcastle 14, Defend the Right to Challenge Racism’ and depicting activists being gagged with police tape.
Some chants on the march were directed towards the Northumbria Police Commissioner: ‘Vera Baird, hear us say: political policing, no way!’ Others – which had been thought up for use on the Newcastle Unites anti-EDL march – highlighted the EDL’s support for the British government’s warmongering foreign policy: ‘EDL, British state: United in their racist hate! They support the war in Gaza, we support the Intifada!’
The march ended at Market Street police station, where a lively open mic rally took place. Meanwhile, a few campaign supporters entered the police station, where they found that Vera Baird, who we had asked to meet with us, had failed to show up. Nevertheless, the rally persuaded Police Inspector Brotherton to come outside and accept petitions on her behalf.
The Newcastle 14 have still not been charged with anything but most of the items of property that were taken from them at the time of their arrests have not been returned.
Our next protest will be an all-day picket of Etal lane police station on 7 August, when those who were arrested have to report to answer police bail.
Fight political policing! Defend the right to fight racism and fascism! Support the Newcastle 14! Get involved, join the campaign!