• On 9th March, six activists from Palestine Action were arrested for “possession of articles to cause criminal damage”.
• Two of the six activists were, shockingly, refused bail and remanded in custody.
• After six days on Hunger Strike in prison, ‘Bradley’ was released on Monday 15th.
• ‘Bradley’, one of the two activists remanded, had only been above ground for less than two weeks. Previously, they had famously spent 31 days underground during the Euston tunnel eviction, protesting against HS2 and the climate and ecological emergency.
• Animal Rebellion today (Tuesday 16th March) launched a solidarity action, spray-painting fake blood onto a UK manufacturing plant of Elbit, who supply weapons and surveillance to the Israeli army.
• HS2 Rebellion and Animal Rebellion unite in solidarity with Palestine Action to question the actions and proportionality of the police and the legal system in this matter.
• The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is being pushed through Parliament this week. The government plans to curb all rights to protest in the UK, including increasing the maximum penalty for criminal damage from 3 months to 10 years.
The government has said they are planning to make significant changes to the law with the new bill, which will restrict the right to protest when lockdown restrictions ease. These changes are an unnecessary attack on the freedom to protest.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published a report last week assessing how effectively the police deal with protests:
“The police’s response to protests needs to strike a better balance between the rights of protesters and the rights of local residents, businesses, and those who hold opposing views, a new report has said.” (HMICFRS)
The six activists from Palestine Action were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning for allegedly carrying items which may be used for criminal damage.
The activists were sent to Wolverhampton Magistrates Court after being refused police bail and kept inside for 35 hours. During this time, their homes were raided by police. Four of the six activists were then released.
However, ’Bradley’ was held on remand in HMP Foston Hall Derby Prison, awaiting an appeal. In protest against the actions of the State in this matter, ‘Bradley’ spent the past six days in jail on Hunger Strike. Yesterday, following their appeal, they were released on bail.
The second Palestine Action activist is still being held at HM Prison Birmingham until their appeal hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court this morning, 16th March.
HS2 Rebellion and Animal Rebellion join Palestine Action in solidarity to accuse the police and the court involved of a wholly disproportionate response in arresting and remanding the peaceful protesters accused of possession of articles to cause criminal damage.
We call on the police and courts to acknowledge our human right to peacefully protest. And to protect that public right over and above the vested interests of private companies, who are profiting from investing in death.
The activists are involved in an ongoing campaign against Elbit, a firm responsible for war crimes in Gaza and for exporting killer drones to oppressive regimes across the globe.
Today (16th March), Animal Rebellion took part in a solidarity action, spray-painting Elbit’s UK manufacturing plant with fake blood to symbolise the death and misery caused by their weapons. Animal Rebellion opposes an economy based on occupation, devastation and war. Protesters are currently on the roof of Elite KL (a subsidiary of Elbit), which has caused Elbit to shut their facility.
A spokesperson for the Animal Rebellion action said, “Sometimes there are issues that unite all those building a better world. Protecting the right to protest is one of them!”2mElbit Systems is Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer and provides the Israeli military with over 80% of its drone fleet, including the Hermes 450 and 900. These drones were used extensively in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in 2014, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed.
Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals calling for Elbit Systems to be shut down and for the British government to end its complicity in Israeli apartheid.
Commenting on the decision to send the two activists to prison, a spokesperson for Palestine Action said:
“The UK government, its courts and its police, continue to do nothing to stop Israel’s largest private arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems, from developing weapons tested upon children and refugees in occupied Palestine. Instead, choosing to harass, detain and incarcerate those who challenge and resist their crimes against humanity. It is therefore our moral duty to use our privilege and to join the growing struggle fighting to end this complicity between Britain and Israel’s Apartheid regime.
We call on all people of conscience to join our struggle against this ongoing, murderous complicity, to join the fight to Shut Elbit Down and end all complicity between Britain and Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.” Huda Ammori
A spokesperson from HS2 Rebellion explained why they are in solidarity with Palestine Action:
“It was no surprise to me that two of the six in this action are also from the Stop HS2 campaign. Essentially, what all of our campaigns share in common is empathy and prioritising life over death. That is why we support Palestine Action and our two comrades who have been unjustly imprisoned.
We have to continue to peacefully protest for cultural and systemic change to happen, no matter how draconian the laws become. We must continue to take action until the lives and wellbeing of all people, and all life on this planet, are prioritised above profit.
If the UK fails to address this urgent fundamental issue, we risk mass death and societal collapse in our lifetime. World war is on the horizon for us all if we don’t choose to realign our priorities in every decision making process.” Swan, 38 – HS2 Rebellion
Bradley, is a dedicated animal and climate justice activist as part of Animal Rebellion. A spokesperson from the group said:
“The right to protest is part of the history of our country. Without nonviolent protest we wouldn’t have achieved votes for women, seen the beginning of the end of segregation or seen people around the world rise up against oppressive regimes.
Today, people like those currently being held in prison, stand up for the rights of humans and animals and for the future of our country and this world. Our government is failing us by standing in the way of justice and progress.
What kind of message are the police and this country sending by telling future generations that standing up for what you believe in, showing empathy for others and believing in a world built on fairness and freedom, will get you thrown in prison?” Harley Mcdonald-Eckersall, 23 – Animal Rebellion spokesperson