Fight political policing and defend the right to protest. On 22 February 2013, during a peaceful anti-cuts protest in Glasgow city centre Dominic O’Hara was arrested for using a megaphone under Section 54 of the Civic Government of Scotland Act (1982). …

Walton Pantland Europe, UK, UK unions, Unite,

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Fight political policing and defend the right to protest.

On 22 February 2013, during a peaceful anti-cuts protest in Glasgow city centre Dominic O’Hara was arrested for using a megaphone under Section 54 of the Civic Government of Scotland Act (1982). Daniel McGarrel was arrested for allegedly attempting to free a person in custody. At court, 10 months after the arrests, the Procurator Fiscal conceded that the original arrests were unlawful and all charges of resisting arrest, police obstruction and attempts to liberate a prisoner from custody were dropped before the trial. However, in a quite incredible decision, the Crown Office decided to pursue prosecution of Dominic for use of a megaphone under the 1982 Act. Maximum penalty for this is a £50 fine, yet to date the case has, we estimate, cost £7,000.

This ‘megaphone’ case is a sign of the times we are living in, and is only one in a long line of police attacks on peaceful protestors over the last three years. The Glasgow Defence Campaign (GDC) was established to oppose this political policing. Our work aims to offer practical, emotional and political support to all those being criminalised for defending our democratic rights in the struggle against the cuts in Glasgow and across the UK.

Following the collapse of the original charges Dominic told the GDC: ‘The key question here is freedom of speech for everyone who is trying to organise against the cuts and welfare reform. It’s a fight we can’t lose.’ Daniel added: ‘That the Crown didn’t abandon the megaphone case shows that this is clearly political. The dropping of the charges against myself shows the importance of fighting political charges with a political defence.  I’d like to thank the GDC and supporters who have stood with us throughout the last twelve months.’

We urge you to show your support and solidarity with Dominic and all those across the country who are facing such criminalisation and demand that the Lord Advocate intervenes and drops the outstanding charge in the interests of justice. We do not believe it is in the public interest to criminalise young people who participate in peaceful protest against the cuts in social welfare. It is vital that all progressive thinkers unite to stop this attack on the right protest. 

You can support GDC by:

  • Joining us on Tuesday 4 March, 10.15am  at the Court Picket,  Glasgow Sheriff Court. 1 Carlton Place. Trial begins 11am in court 19 (open to the public).
  • Demand the charge be dropped! Send us a statement of support and solidarity and publish it on your blog or website. Read the statement of solidarity from the renowned writer and working class activist James Kelman on our website. We commend Kelman’s consistent and principled stand on this question and urge others to follow his lead.
  • Become a member of GDC. You can support the vital work of GDC by becoming a member of the organisation or sending us a donation (Download Membership Form).

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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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