Welcome to the latest round up of grassroots news from Oxford. It's proven to be another busy month for activists and campaigners in Oxford. Local, national, and international attention has focused on our little city somewhere between London and the Midlands.
Is that a truncheon, or are you just pleased to see me?
By far the biggest story of the month goes to Ratcliffe-on-Soar activists, some of whom were from Oxford. Early in the month, 18 activists were found guilty of 'conspiring to commit aggregated trespass in the largest pre-emptive police raid in the UK. The defendants pleaded guilty on the basis that they were attempting to prevent a bigger crime from happening (due to the effect of climate change). Despite the judge referring to the accused as ‘honest’, ‘dedicated’, ‘committed’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘caring’, sentences from a £1,000 fine to conditional discharges were handed down.
This was just the start of the story. It later emerged that one of the 114 arrested at Ratcliffe-on-Soar was an undercover copper - Mark Stone, and he was not alone. [Ed - it was here on Indymedia first]. Faced with evidence for the defence (that the police have still not be willing to provide), the trial of a further six activists alleged to be involved in the Ratcliffe-on-Soar incident collapsed. The prosecution decided to offer no evidence. One of the defendants gave his story on Oxford Indymedia.
Many questions from the case remain. Not least: why are the police spending £150,000 per year per undercover officer to spy on a movement that has, for the last 10 years, been completely peaceful; why do undercover officers seem to feel the need to form sexual and emotional relationships to get the information they need; who has authorised these types of covert action - who is accountable?
Important questions, but let's not forget what the 114 were trying to do - stop climate change. So it was good to see people from Oxford keeping up the fight against the Canadian Tar Sands.
Peace & Prison
This month saw the imprisonment of peace activist Chris Coles. In September 2009, Chris allegedly sprayed ‘Build Peace Not War Machines’ and “Stop this Bloody Business” in paint across the entrance to the DSEi fair (Defence & Security Equipment International). Chris refused to pay over £1,500 in fines for his actions, and was imprisoned for 30 days. Chris has since been released.
The deepest cut
Wherever I lay my hat …
It seems that the squat on Turl Street has been closed down. Few details (other than the linked story) are available.
But there's a new project, NAMSTE, to help asylum seekers with no home to go to. Help if you can.
Don't hate the media. Be the media.
The stories here are based on the Oxford Indymedia Newswire. This is an open publishing platform where you set the news agenda. Please contribute by putting your stories on the newswire. We've even put up a video to tell you how to do this - so there's no excuse!