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Home | 15th December 1995 | Issue 53Recycle The Empties





Brixton erupted into riots on Wednesday night as a demonstration against another black death in police custody was attacked by police. As we go to press our correspondent in Brixton describes the atmosphere as "still very tense and very angry". Heavily tooled-up police - some with guns - are continuing to maintain a heavy presence on the streets of Brixton, furious at this outburst of anger at police racism against black people in custody - and on the streets.

The flame that sparked the rioting was a demonstration protesting about the death of Wayne Douglas - found dead in Brixton police station half an hour after being arrested during a burglary. Police used long batons 'to protect themselves' against Wayne - not the first time the use of long batons have led to death. In an incident showing "an uncanny coincidence", Bryan Douglas was killed by long batons in May of this year. Operation Eagle-Eye has meant that stop and search is so widespread that one black man commented "It's like cleaning your teeth, it happens every day."

The amount of black people dying in custody has risen dramatically over the last three months. In October Raja Khan was found hanging in Mount Prison, Dennis Stevens was 'found dead' in a 'special cell' at Dartmoor Prison wearing a restraining body belt and Brian Augustine was found hanging in Pentonville Prison. November saw Kenneth Severin dead on the medical wing at Belmarsh Prison. On 5th December Wayne Douglas was found dead in a Brixton Police station and on the following day Alton Manning was found dead in Redditch (privatised) Prison.

Since 1991 a total of 42 black people have died in custody compared with 75 for the previous 21 years. According to Jenny Bourne of the Institute of Race Relations, "Families are repeatedly complaining about unexplained bruising on the body of their deceased relatives and the lack of cooperation when they try to find out how someone died".

Eye-witness accounts from Brixton say the police presence at the demonstration was "Incredibly heavy-handed". Laura, a resident of Brixton for seven years, told SchNEWS, "Local people are not only pissed off with the death of Wayne Douglas but the whole gentrification of Brixton. Council houses and houses occupied by squatters are being sold off and local pubs like the Atlantic, traditionally run by black people, was opened last week by yuppies as 'The Dog Star'. In anger this was smashed, looted and burnt out. The £33 million City Challenge development including CCTV is only of benefit to big business not local stallholders."

Joyce, another local resident told us, "People were putting up barricades. There were hundreds of people involved, mostly young black and white people and they were local, they weren't outsiders. This was a combination of black people dying in police custody and the way Brixton is at the moment. The place is being yuppified with City Challenge while unemployed centres, adventure playgrounds and libraries are getting shut."

As usual, Paul Condon, chief of the Met, blamed a "Small minority of thugs and criminals" for the rioting - refusing to acknowledge the reality of widespread disgust at police racism. In fact, the only 'outside agitators' and 'small minority of thugs and criminals' roaming the streets of Brixton on Wednesday night were Paul Condon's employees, the police. As one eye witness told the SchNEWS, "The people involved were mainly young - black and white - and local. It's hardly surprising. Youth unemployment in Brixton is enormous and the police just hassle you all the time, especially if you're black. This was people saying enough's enough".

* Meanwhile in north London, riot police illegally and violently evicted homeless people occupying the Greenwood Housing Action Zone next to the Rainbow Centre on Wednesday morning. The cops initially broke into the wrong building, a learning difficulties centre next door More info next week. Support is wanted - phone 0181 444 2581 or 0378 636254.

crap arrests of the week

A woman with bail conditions banning her from a quarter of a mile radius of Dover docks organised a Children in Need sponsored bail break was nicked. Dressed as a panto horse they arrived at the docks where police asked them to "disrobe." Taking no notice she was nicked with her bail ban expanded to three miles! Neigh!

Michael Lippett, 18, was unlucky enough to be arrested for criminal damage while he was under arrested for biting the handcuffs he was wearing because they were hurting him! Michael was fined £56 at Tewkesbury Magistrate Court - that'll teach him to bite the hand that 'cuffs him.


Dear SchNEWS,

I am coming to the end of my sentence and due for release on 27th December. I just want to thank everybody at SchNEWS for your constant support throughout this 6 month long bad trip. It was lovely receiving the beautiful card that you sent me back in July with all the messages of support - it cheered me up when I was really down.

I've had unbelievable support thanks to you putting my name out in your excellent newsletter. It helped me to get through this traumatic experience.

Keep up the good work, I have so much respect for your hard work and dedication. Thank you again, love Mark**********

Yeah, we know most of you will think Christmas is crap but please send some cards to prisoners to let them know they're not forgotten. It means a lot.**********

STUART EDWARDS PB1864 18 months for alleged damage to a road construction site Stanford Prison, Church Rd., East Church, Sheerness, Kent, ME12 4AA

TREFOR HARRIS FH1875 affray at the CJB Hyde Park riot HMP Brixton. Jebb Ave., Brixton, London, SW2 5XF.

KARL ANACOURA RN0599, SANJIV KARIA RN0598, RUSSELL WILD RN097, PAUL GAY RN0593, GARY HAYNES RN0591, MARK GAY RN0594 all residing at HMP Elmley, Church Rd., East Church, Sheerness, Kent, ME12 4AY.

JOHN MCFEELY (H Wing, RN0596) HMP Lindholme, Bawtry Road, Hatfield Woodhouse, Doncaster, DN7 6EE

STEVEN KEELY (RN0318) CHARLES RYDER (RN0595) HMP Aldington, Ashford, Kent, TN25 7BQ. All inside after being stitched up for the anti-BNP Welling demonstration. REMEMBER: Write to a prisoner - not your M.P.

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Florence - Magic RoundaboutBINGO!

Labelled as "one of the most bizarre conferences held in Brighton" last weekend saw the doors of the old Top Rank Bingo Hall flung open for a Justice? organised National Direct Action Conference. Nearly 600 people (CCTV provided police estimates!) schemed, swapped ideas and watched Conscious Cinema as bemused Christmas shoppers trundled by outside.

Opening the conference, Colin from Justice? explained that throughout the world millions of people, mainly poor, were involved in direct action against environmental destruction and attacks on people's rights. Those involved in direct action in Britain are part of a worldwide movement for the planet's future - from Whatley Quarry to Ogoniland, from France to Newbury. Given that a third of people in Britain live in poverty and are offered nothing by a corrupt parliamentary system the direct action movement could grow enormously if it builds more links with those most under attack - unemployed youth, people living in run-down estates, refugees - in their struggles against injustice. Then we could really shake things up for the politicians who are quite happy to see poverty grow, our rights diminish and the world destroyed as long as big business keeps making big profits.

The conference organised workshops on dealing with the media, Non Violent Direct Action, prisoner support, road protests and loads more. Most important of all, people got to talk to others from around the country, plot actions for the coming year and learn how to organise more effectively.
Following on from the day and continuing in the great tradition of party and protest the former theatre saw 2,000 people partying until 10 o'clock on Sunday morning.

"Everyone involved in Saturday's Conference and party did it for free. There was security, fire extinguishers, clear fire exits and free water. For a small donation everyone had a storming party that went on all night".

After people spent all day Sunday cleaning, leaving the Bingo Hall better than we found it, it was infuriating to find the Argus printing a picture proclaiming "The message and the mess: the aftermath of the Justice? Conference". We replied "The photograph was like going to the Goldstone ground after a big match, taking a snap of empty terraces and saying "Look - people have dropped litter" before anyone could clear up! And graffiti? Well, I'm sure the children who did some rather nice artwork in the crèche, wouldn't be too happy with that description."

The fact that a squat as well-run and enjoyable for thousands as the Justice? conference was can be attacked by the press doesn't surprise us - the mainstream media usually lines up with the politicians (CJA) and the police (evictions) in attacking people who take over empty buildings and put them to good use. If you want proof of the hypocrisy of it all just keep an eye out over the next week or so for those very same papers crying crocodile tears over the plight of the homeless at Christmas - while quite happily putting the boot into anyone who actually does anything to sort out homelessness by squatting properties let to rot by tax-dodging businesses.

Kamikaze! 106.6FM
Radio is our bomb


"You keep banging on about dirty squatters - what about obscene landlords who leave buildings to rot?"
In Brighton squatters have started feeling the full force of the new laws. After recent reports of the Nunnery squat and a Grade One listed Church being trashed by a party, the local paper has been printing inaccurate and bigoted attacks on squatters. Squatting is really about - people tatting unused buildings and turning them into useful places where people can organise constructively in the face of a society that doesn't give a toss about homelessness or the lives of most people.

"Brighton Council saw fit to evict eight of us from Richmond Parade, a row of shops that have been empty for nearly three years. The court summons came, an affidavit was sworn and despite the occupiers showing that Brighton Council could not even prove they owned the place the council got their way. The occupiers were granted a "mercy" period of three weeks whilst they looked for somewhere else to go and whilst no one likes to be evicted it was felt that some small victory had been achieved. This was not to be. One week later a 24 hour eviction came."

The list of properties occupied by squatters, evicted then left empty is long. Justice?'s first community action centre, the Courthouse, a Grade II listed building with water pouring thru the roof, is still home to one security guard and a dog. Empty for over a year now it will soon be in such a mess it will have to be knocked down and a tidy packet made by greedy developers. Brighton Councils' old Housing Advice Centre stands empty seven months on since eviction. Even the Bingo hall, which according to Group 4 is costing £5,000 a week to be kept empty, has water leaking thru the roof.

According to figures released from the Empty Homes Agency last month there are around 700,000 empty properties in the country. Since April there have been a thousand repossessions a week! The worst landlord is HM Government with 17,000 empty properties, mainly Ministry of Defence. "Filling the MoD 300 empty homes in Plymouth could solve homelessness in the town at a stroke."

Meanwhile the Living Over the Shop housing consultancy in York estimates that half a million new homes could be created on the empty floors above shops - 250,000 in London alone.

Paul, a squatter told SchNEWS: "Shelter estimate there are a staggering 1.9 million people homeless. With so many empty properties lying empty today the quick and easy DiY solution is to squat."

The new anti-squatting laws in the Criminal Justice Act are making things a lot harder. If you walked into a court today you might come across a little leaflet "Squatters - A Quick and Easy Solution" But despite the hassles, squatting is still legal. If you are faced with eviction DON'T PANIC and DON'T admit defeat. The new laws can create as much hassle for the landlords as they try and make it for you. Here are some organisations that can help:

Justice? Produce SchLETS , a non-comprehensive list of empty properties in Brighton 01273 685913

Homeless Information Project (HIP) lots of good info on the new law as well as organising regular events 0171 277 7639

Advisory Service for Squatters excellent people on the case giving advice about legal and practical aspects of squatting. They have a new Squatters Handbook out soon. 0171 359 8814

Web site:

and Finally

This is a blagging plea: We know people are skint which is why everything we do is free or as cheap as possible. But people with attitudes thinking we owe them something piss us right off. Three banners went walking on Saturday night, banners people have spent a lot of time and money making so the parties look the part. Look, we're all in the same boat - wise up and stop nicking off yer own. What with the huge Bob banner that was nicked from outside the Courthouse and the SchNEWS one gone missing at the Concorde we're offering a banner amnesty - drop 'em off at the New Ken, no questions. And please think a bit more next time.

Because of donations raised on Saturday Justice? can now buy a vehicle. Hurray!


The SchNEWS warns all readers not to attend any illegal gatherings or take part in any criminal activities. Always stay within the law. In fact please just sit in, watch tv and go on endless Xmas shopping sprees filling your house and lives with endless consumer crap... you will then feel content. Honest.

Subscribe! Keep SchNEWS free! Just send 1st class stamps (eg 20 for next 20 issues) or donations (payable to Justice?). Mark 'Original' if you plan to copy: SchNEWS c/o on-the-fiddle PO Box 2600 Brighton East Sussex BN2 2DX. Tel: (01273) 685913.

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Milli-tant striking out for Magpies - finishing early


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