First victory for Govanhill Defence Campaign
On Saturday 14 August, the Govanhill Defence Campaign (GDC) won its first victory for democratic rights and against police harassment of progressive campaigns in Govanhill. The necessity and possibility of standing up to the bullying tactics of Strathclyde police was demonstrated on the streets. The first time since the GDC was established that stalls were held in Govanhill, no activists were charged and no material was seized, despite the presence of police.
Stalls from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and the Glasgow Solidarity Network, as well as local residents and other supporters set-up outside Lidl on Victoria Road, distributing literature against police harassment, the government’s attacks on working-class communities and meetings for the local solidarity network. The previous week, this simple, legal act was met with the deployment of six officers and a CCTV van to wrongfully charge FRFI activists with ‘illegal street trading’ and seize 27 copies of an anti-racist newspaper.
This Saturday, a meatwagon with three officers and a Chief Inspector, arrived to the stalls within half an hour. However, this time, there was no claim that activists were breaking any laws. No-one was charged, no material was seized. The Chief Inspector had the cheek to ask if we had received any “hassle”. After loitering around in front of the stalls for 15 minutes, the officers left and activists continued speaking to local residents and building support for their campaigns.
The Govanhill Defence Campaign is clear. Recent events are clearly political in nature and can only be fought through a political battle on the streets. The police are now aware that their harassment will be met with organised, public opposition and now have to think carefully about whether or not to pursue their current course. It is not the law which changed from the previous Saturday. It is the establishment of the GDC which has made the difference.
The next period will undoubtedly see resistance arising from working-class areas to the devastating attacks planned on communities across the city. As the Save Our Pool campaign in Govanhill showed back in 2001, the police will be in the front line of suppressing this resistance. The GDC will continue fighting for the democratic right of all political and local community groups to build organisation on the streets, whatever the opinion of the police and their political masters.