“They come at us because we’re strong.” Statement on police harassment and abuse of an antifascist

Life can be a funny thing. There are things that have happened to me in my life that I have told myself not to tell a soul about because they just won’t believe me. But this needs to be told.

Since December 8th 2017 I have had to ask myself time and time again “is it me or is it them?” “Is this happening to me?”, which usually means checking myself and reminding myself that going out and being involved with “this sort of thing” (in my case anti fascism) is going to draw a little attention from the state. Part and parcel right? Rough with the smooth?

Personally, I think too many of us take police abuses of power and outright Orwellian surveillance tactics as a given. I can’t help but wonder how many people have had similar experiences to what I’ve gone through and just not said anything.

I’ve been an antifascist for a few years now and have supported actions locally and around the UK with a lot of spirit, heart and out and out determination. I don’t think that’s ever likely to change.

If you’re someone who moves in the same sort of circles as I do  you’ll know that Avon and Somerset in particular have never had any love for anyone they deem to be part of the anarchist movement. They have never had any love for people of colour either. I fall into both of those demographics.

I was arrested in September last year in Bristol on a counter demo against the fascist front group “Gays against Sharia”, along with another 4 counter protestors who were charged with “assault PC” and “obstruction.” It was my second arrest in the city, the first being on an illegal squat eviction where again I was charged with “assault” on the say so of lying bailiffs. That case was later dropped. The cops told me I “looked like a gangster” that day. That’s a new one on me but in hindsight it speaks volumes.

Unfortunately for me (and being honest it’s currently adding more fuel to the fire) the second time around I was found guilty of assault PC. Initially 3 of us were on trial but the other’s charges were dropped. I’ve never been an angel having been in and out of trouble with the law when I was younger but this was the first time I’d been charged and convicted with something I knew that I hadn’t done.

In fact, I’d spent well over 12 years with no arrests or contact with the police at all. This doesn’t mean I can’t be a free thinker and want a better world. And it doesn’t mean I can’t take a stand against injustice. When it comes to neo nazis and assorted racists in particular, you should absolutely be “anti” that.

I’m currently fighting to get my conviction overturned. I think that is one of the reasons that I’ve started to get so much attention, harassment and outright bullying which could easily be deemed as stalking from the police.

Over the past 6 months or so this has taken varying forms including social media monitoring and hacking, attempts to follow me home at night, undercover officers following me into pubs, seemingly constant monitoring by plain clothes officers around my local area with the support of area cars and vans. This has even extended to Bristol city centre with targeted blaring sirens and use of full beam headlights in broad day light.

It seems that certain elements of the local community have also been involved with tails, garbled shouted abuse and aggressive horn beeps (also used by undercover officers) designed to intimidate me. At times I’ve reacted, never with force but out of sheer frustration  by shouting back.

When it comes to local engagement I put this mainly down to good old fashioned British racism. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was far right involvement too. The state and fascists often work hand in hand and it’s no secret about the level of bigotry and general racism within the force.

I live close to the melting pot of culture that is Easton but my current home is primarily white working to middle class. Most people who live here are friendly but the few wronguns do rear their heads from time to time. Luckily, I have a lot of friends and know I am never alone.

Having researched some of this and avoiding paranoia as much as possible, I discovered that “police stalking” tactics have long been used off the record in the UK and beyond. All of the above are intimidation tactics and nothing more. I class it as authoritarian bullying.

It all really started on December the 8th 2017 (my birthday ). I was in the city centre. As well as being on bail I was pursuing a claim against the police for wrongful arrest on the squat eviction I mentioned earlier.

Living some way away from most of my friends, I think, made it easier for me to be targeted by the CID officers I now know as part of a special investigations unit (Operation Rhone) tasked with harassment or “investigation” of activists classed as “anarchists”. This unit was headed by Andy Bevan and led by officers such as Matt Ford  with a reputation for harassment of activists.

In fact, it was Matt Ford and his colleague who approached me that day in December 2017. I had just walked past a Palestinian demo in town where I’d said hello to demonstrators to show some solidarity for a good cause. It was near St Nick’s market that the first plain clothes officer attempted contact; “Alright! Long time no see!” he smiled at me, looking like an average Christmas shopper.

I smiled back  unsure of who he was, replying “Alright? Where do I know you from?” The cop’s face changed quite quickly, “And where do I know YOU from?” You could sense his hostility. The change in manner was quickly followed with “I’m a policeman!”. Within a second, Matt Ford appeared and with dramatic effect added “And so am I!”

At this point a little unnerved but pretty pissed off, I said “I don’t talk to police mate! No comment.” The first officer tried to engage with me again and it was at that point I walked away, answering “No comment! Just fuck off!” I walked off quickly and was pleased if not a little surprised to see that they didn’t follow.

My solicitors advised me to be mindful that the cops were watching me. Fast forward to now, I’ve been told by Netpol and other comrades that sometimes the state and its minions like to apply pressure on people like me. I think they were trying to get me to be an informer. The apparent vendetta against me over the past 6 months or so may not just be fuelled by me taking a stand and fighting back against unjust convictions but also by refusing to play their game. Here’s the thing.

I will never play the game of scum like them.This is why I began to record my experiences of surveillance in a diary that I am currently still updating. I do my best to keep the emotions out and record the facts. There is currently over 6 months of information including dates, people, vehicle registrations and everything I need to prove what has been happening to me. I have many photos too.

When I moved house I thought it all might get better, but sadly things didn’t stop. They only became worse. A few months back I put in a subject access / freedom of information request to Avon and Somerset police. I still currently don’t know the level of monitoring of my mobile phone despite asking for this info. Either way, I am sure it is one way they have been tracking my movements.

There was no information given on surveillance operations or technology used against me but instead we’re currently in hiatus with the usual “Neither confirm nor deny” response. Having checked the police website there doesn’t seem to be anything major happening in my local area to warrant the amount of times I have been tailed by vehicles or undercover officers.

Regardless of how I feel about the cops I accept that under this current system they are there, although the more they harass me the less inclined I feel to recognize their authority. I have never trusted them and I am never going to. They routinely abuse their power, serve the rich, victimise the poor and target people of colour. I can never respect people like that.

Since we began my appeal process against an unjust conviction, surveillance quickly escalated into harassment and out and out stalking by Avon and Somerset police. It also seems that when travelling to London with my job I have found myself tailed from one area to another.

In the build up to my appeal these intimidation tactics escalated and I feel ultimately the goal was to force me to drop the appeal and any further legal action or at the very least unnerve me enough to mess up in court.

Speaking as an antifascist what has happened to me over the past 6 months has been done to give the impression of an all seeing, all knowing Orwellian eye of authority that has its minions where ever I go. At it’s very core it’s authoritarian and fascist.

Just recently a comrade suggested considering the wider implications of what has happened to me and how it affects not just myself but all of us. The saying an injury to one is an injury to all is something that rings true, and I’ve learnt that I haven’t been the first activist in Bristol to be targeted and will no doubt not be the last.

What is clear, is that there is a deep -rooted stench of authoritarianism and fascism within the police force that needs to be challenged as well as the police as an authority themselves.

The fact that some officers feel that they are able to arrange “extra judicial punishment” without accountability and ‘off the record’ speaks volumes about the level of corruption within the police force today. Regardless of how you feel about the police it becomes apparent when assessing a situation such as this that people who seem to think that they can engage in a  vendetta against individuals or movements should never have been given the reins of power or authority in the first place.

When considering the treatment of people of colour by the police the situation becomes even more concerning when considering the actions of the state and it’s targeting of activists. For some in uniform being a “good citizen” means being white.

To these people we are always the enemy and a problem to be addressed rather than a member of society that should be respected. When we’re considered to be a political dissident, activist or anyone the status quo considers a threat our struggles become intensified.

What has been happening to myself in comparison to what happens to others on a daily, monthly and yearly basis is a small drop in the ocean but has been enough to raise alarm bells within my circles of friends and comrades.

My experiences of the police at their very worst will differ greatly from the next person but with solidarity and mutual aid we can support each other spread the word and work together to expose those who should never have been given the tools or the power to target and harass people for their political beliefs and desire to do the right thing.

It is an invasion and abuse of our privacy, of our civil rights and our liberty and our freedom to be ourselves. Not every person who encounters people who bend the law to suit their collective will are going to want to speak out. Not every person will want to take a stand but the more we do the more empowering it is for them and a reminder that they will never be alone.

The state will always look for ways to disrupt us in our fights against various injustices. They apply pressure to break us and to drive us away from the movements and circles we move in. Activists can be approached after pressure has been exerted to see if they will grass on their comrades.

The past 6 plus months has showed me the true cowardice of school yard bullies in uniform. It makes me smile to know how afraid they are of people like me. Attempts to drive me away from my friends and comrades have failed. Attempts to disrupt my life have failed. I already see the cracks in them but there are no cracks in me.

I’m more anti surveillance and anti-state than I ever have been and am currently researching how communities have fought back against police surveillance. For me, I will carry on with life as normal. I would like to say I’ll learn to forgive but we never forgive and we never ever forget.

It’s clear to me now that they come at us because we are strong. Thanks to my friends and comrades and family for all the support over the past 6 months. You’ve been there when I’ve needed you most and you are all amazing. I’ll keep fighting the good fight. Here’s to a better world.

 

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Inside Britain’s Close Supervision Centres: Info Night

What: Bristol ABC is hosting ex-prisoner, Kyle Major, to speak at an event in September with the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee. It is about his experiences in a Close Supervision Centre; one of Britain’s highest security prisons.

Trigger warning: This talk will share experiences of abuse, assault, trauma and medical neglect in the prison system.

Where: Hydra Books, 34 Old Market St, Bristol BS2 0EZ

When: Thursday 20th September 2018 7pm

 

Week Of Solidarity With Anarchist Prisoners 23rd-30th August

To start off the Week Of Solidarity With Anarchist Prisoners (23rd-30th August) we bring you this fun evening of Poetry Music and Information on Prisoner solidarity and how you can join in and prepare actions of support. At Hydra Bookshop 34 Old Market Street, BS2 0EZ Bristol, UK.

This is a good opportunity to meet others and throw ideas around about upcoming actions you could do in solidarity with Anarchist prisoners!

With music from GINS
http://www.georgiebiggin.com/

&

Poetry from T. S Idiot

https://tomstockley.weebly.com/

This event if free, but we hope to also make it a fundraiser for prison abolition projects and the International anarchist defense fund, so donations are very welcome!

website for Afund: https://afund.antirep.net
website for Week Of Solidarity With Anarchist Prisoners: https://solidarity.international/poster evento

 

Link to Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/445522069184739/

ACTION ALERT! Write to IPP Taylor

IPP prisoner Taylor has been moved to segregation unit in HMP Downview.

Segregation units seriously impact the mental health of prisoners, with 23 hours out of every 24 spent in solitary confinement. It is widely known that segregation increases the rates of depression and risk of self-harm for people.

Taylor has a long history of self-harm in prison. IPP sentencing doesn’t give prisoners a release date, this combined with the ongoing neglect, abuse, transphobia and general trauma of the prison system has slowly destroyed Taylor’s mental health.

We are calling out to everyone to offer their solidarity and end the isolation by writing to Taylor now at this address:

Claire Taylor A7974AX
HMP Downview
Sutton Lane
Sutton
Surrey
SM2 5PD
Taylor is a Trans Masculine prisoner in a women’s prison, Taylor loves animals. They used to rescue dogs on the out, and especially loves staffies. They love the ocean and grew up by the sea. They also love tattoos and piercings. WRITE TO TAYLOR.jpg
You can also email them via the email a prisoner service: http://emailaprisoner.com/
For more about their background and case see: http://smashipp.noflag.org.uk/action-alert-support-claire/

Victory On The 44th Day Of Hunger Strike!

Osman Evcan gained the victory from the determined struggle which he put
his life against the state inside the thick walls of prison which he is
enclosed. Osman , got everything he demanded through this hard period
without surrendering to the state.

Evcan has been taken from the one-person cell, where he has been kept
for two years, to another room and has been allowed to use his right to
do sports and engage in conversation. Evcan will also be provided with a
vegan menu.

He fainted yesterday and was taken to the medical room. After Evcan
rejected treatment at the medical room, his requests were accepted by
the prison administration.

Osman Evcan ended his indefinite hunger strike which took 44 days
against intimidation, torture and extermination politics against
prisoners and again he proved us that how he is right about his call to
raise struggle. He continued his resistance resolutely by choosing to
die with honor is the only reason why he’s demands are excepted.
He is grateful to everyone who have held demonstrations, spoken up, and
support for Osman Evcan’s cause. Osman Evcan is now trying to get over
the adverse effects of the hunger strike process, and his present health
condition is fine. We will share the message from Osman Evcan soon.

With anarchist solidarity

ABC İstanbul

Show solidarity with Osman, and the struggle inside, write to him at:

Osman Evcan

Kocaeli 1 Nolu F Tipi Cezaevi
A-7-21
Kandıra Kocaeli

Turkey

vegan-sb

https://abcistanbul.org/2018/05/08/victory-on-the-44-day-of-hunger-strike/

In the Wars, With the Prison System

Since 2012 I have been seriously harassed and stalked by the (ministry of justice) it all started when I was accepted into the (CSC) system (close supervision centres) within the high security prison estate for an alleged allegation of assault witch I was later exonerated of.

I was not in prison for a violent crime defined by law, I was in prison for (blackmail x 2) and revived 9 years reduced to a six years on appeal

I spent over 19 months within this system and believe me now I have never experienced so much abuse, corruption, sick and evil treatment of people in my whole life.

I suffered abuse at the hands of these so called professionals I can assure you now that system is another way for the prison service to extort the British tax payers and the government of money. They breed violence and encourage it they target prisoners and inflict psychological abuse upon them in some circumstances leading to self-mutilation, also warehousing mentally ill patients to increase the budgets from the government as well as physical and sexual abuse they are predators trust me.

In May 2011 a prison officer named Mark Gilbert attacked me it was unprovoked on camera with 3 other officers and they subjected me to a brutal, violent and sexual assault Gilbert only being the sexual predator. This complaint was investigated by the prisons and probation ombudsman and upheld Mark Gilbert is referenced in this report which is a legal document please remember this is the victims account for legal reasons.

The prison failed to involve the police however I did write to the (IPCC) and complained about Thames valley police not investigating a crime I complained about who then did a turnaround & recorded my complaint as of date nobody has still been to take a statement or investigate the crime which was on camera clearly protecting this animal who needs to be locked away he also resigned before the disciplinary hearing could take place evading capture from both the prison service and the police.

This is criminal and was condoned and supported by the prison service. The reports witch evidence what I am stating can be obtained from either (MOJUK) or (FRFI) I believe they will be uploaded on line for all to read.

I suffered a number of attacks by these officers and witnessed a significant amount of assaults on others within that system which needs shutting down it does absolutely nothing but breed more violence how many successes it has had!

Since all of this I have had nothing but stalking, harassment, targeting and abuse by the (prison service), (probation service) (NHS) as well as the police trying to abuse processes in order to try and put me in prison.

I’ve found myself in a position where I’m suffering significant & severe levels of corruption and I don’t seem to be getting any help I have been suffering with a very bad injury to my left foot and ankle now since (2013) I am being constantly denied medical care and treatment I am genuinely suffering in pain and discomfort in a bad way I cannot walk on my foot it’s that bad.

But this is taking place in my opinion because my solicitor has lodged a personal Injury claim against the (MOJ) for creating the injury it’s my belief that the (NHS) who’s in big business with the (high security prison estate) who controls the (high secure mental hospitals) is being influenced by the (MOJ) into covering up the true extent of my injury so the (MOJ) doesn’t have to pay for the damages it’s very sick evil and depraved staff have created (March 2017) (HMP Doncaster) I was attacked again unprovoked on (CCTV) by a prison officer Dan Greggory who is referenced in the internal report completely by the prison who was subsequently dismissed from the prison service it’s needs to be recognised the management were professional in this respect.

I was then sent to (HMP Lindholme) where after 8 days of my arrival I was assaulted by another prison officer on camera again unprovoked the (police prisons investigations team for South Yorkshire) investigated and failed to submit the evidence to the (CPS) for a charging decision they basically covered up a crime to protect the officer.

Whilst the investigation was on going I was transferred to (HMP Wealstun) were six officer greeted me upon my arrival it needs to be noted I arrived in a wheelchair due to my foot being so bad I was then told by (six prison officers including to senior managers) to get out of the wheelchair

I was going to the segregation I explained I could only walk a short distance aided with a crutch long term I had to use a wheelchair for mobilizing I was told no you can walk you’re going to the segregation I said could I please speak to health care as I could point them in the direction of the information which would outline my injures I was told no you can’t I said I need to speak to healthcare before I could say another word literally six officers attacked me dragged me out of the wheelchair smashing my head off the floor then kneeing me and punching me at no point was I resisting I was the picked up in midair above the heads and carried to the segregation and put in a cell around ten minutes later four different officers came into the cell not small guys they surrounded me and said we want your trainers.

I explained I needed to see healthcare I had just been assaulted also that my trainers were prescribed medically I was told give us your trainers before I could even finish asking for healthcare again they assaulted me again punching and kneeing one officer tried to break my back with some (UFC) body slam I was then stripped naked and they left the cell.

I was in a cell with no toilet, sink or bed just four walls and a floor it I went to the corner of the cell to empty my bowels. Whilst in the corner naked knelt down the officers tried to come back into the cell again. So I threatened them so they would leave the cell in fear for my life genuinely.

After ten minutes or so five officers came running through the cell door without warning with a (shield and helmets) into an empty cell with no moveable objects and just a naked man they rammed me into the corner and beat me severely, fractured my ribs and smashed my head off the floor I was dragged around into another cell and then had some six foot eighteen stone meat head kneel down on my back and try his hardest to try and snap my shoulder blade off my body by prizing it out and pushing my shoulder in he then started to push his fingers into the back of my ear with real force trying to stop me breathing they then ran out of the cell and left me naked with no food or medical assistance or pain relief that’s (“3” assaults in one hour) a human body is not designed to take that much trauma.

5 days later when all the bruising and spelling went down I was taken to (Harrogate and district hospital) were I was told my (ribs were fractured) and my (rotator cuff in my shoulder was broken) as well as further trauma to my (back), (foot and ankle) leaving me unable to walk and in a lot of pain all the prison staff did was provoke and abuse me.

A few weeks later I was transferred to HMP Moorland early December with six outstanding hospital appointments which I had in print black and white. I was kept at HMP Moorland until April the 20th, on my release I was not allowed to attend one hospital appointment. TI’m told it’s been assessed and I no longer fit the criteria for those appointments, they just disappeared. Basically it’s just more criminality and corruption to cover over my injures and protect the animals, bullies and predators the created them.

I am wheelchair bound cannot stand and suffer in agony with my shoulder as well as a lump on my spine it makes me sick. How is it that this treatment of a human being is allowed to happen in a country that values humanity and human rights.

The week before my release the prison told me a special van would pick me up to take me to the hostel probation have put me in due to me being wheelchair bound, I said fine they told me this 3 times. On the day of my release I get pushed to reception, whilst being processed I was asked how I would be getting to the hostel. I said the prison had sorted it as far as I was aware of. They told me nobody had arranged this and I had to make my own way back. I said how is that possible I cannot walk I am awaiting a social care assessment. They said it’s not our problem once you go out of those gates we don’t care. I said can you ring me a taxi, they told me no, you can go round the corner to the shop it’s five minutes down the road. I said what is this you know I can’t walk you’ve just provided a carer for the last 3 months it’s not our problem if been told by the governor to push you out and leave you.

That’s exactly what they did how evil. I had to with one leg and one arm push myself up a little hill and then down the road suffering in pain they had the cheek to laugh at me struggling until a maintenance man working on the road helped me I then got in a wheelchair friendly taxi and took to the train station where the (virgin train staff) really helped me very nice and decent people witch needs to be recognised.

I then got a taxi at the other end to the probation hostel once I got to the hostel I had the same reception as the leaving from prison no help and told we are not here to push you around you will have to get residents to help you I’m basically being isolated and left to suffer with no help it’s just corruption and abuse of somebody who’s vulnerable and disabled.

Everything I’m stating can be checked factually against evidence (paperwork) witch I have copies of all my complaints to (NHS England) & other (healthcare providers) I can prove corruption and criminality by legal and supposedly professional government bodies. The assault is currently being investigated by the (prisons and probation ombudsman) and again as of yet no police have been to see me.

The corruption is clearly going to quiet a senior level because I have all my complaints (prison) (NHS) (probation) & (police) what you are reading is real and does not contain any lies. I am suffering serious levels of abuse (real abuse) my health is really bad I cannot walk. Please spread this story and article to spread awareness and expose these corrupt and criminal animals so they cannot carry on targeting and abusing people such as myself.

You probably read articles from people such a Kevan Thakrar, Ross McPherson and George Black let me tell you now if spent time with all 3 of these people and they are receiving the same levels of abuse as me just in different ways I can promise you that I witnessed it first-hand but all they are doing is picking certain individuals it’s very weird and strange.

Thank you for taking your time to read this it’s very much appreciated #spreadthestory.

Letter from Sven from Prison

Dear friends,

First of all, I want to thank everyone for all the support I’ve received so far since I got sentenced in January. It is a great feeling to finally get on with my life after having to wait 6 years, although I’m in prison I try to make the best of it.

All the post I receive really makes my day and keeps me connected to the outside. I’ve still got a big pile of letters to reply to, so be patient if you haven’t heard back yet. I’m keeping my days organised and busy. I do art classes four days a week. And I’m really enjoying learning to draw and paint. The rest of my time I spend reading, replying to letters, doing in-cell workouts, yoga and meditation. They run a weekly yoga class in prison which is great. Last week, I finally received all my course material for my permaculture distance learning course. So I’m excited to start studying as well. I feel so incredibly grateful for the people who joined the fundraiser for my course. A huge thank you to everyone

I’ve just applied to volunteer for the Shannon Trust and help other prisoners with reading and writing difficulties. I hope I can make some difference for other people in here. Before going to prison, I decided to make my time as productive as possible. I feel like I am slowly getting used to the prison life and learn how I can make the best of it.

What I’ve written so far sounds all positive and great, but it is important to realise that prison is a horrible and grim place to be. People fight or stab each other and there is lots of self-harm going on. Drugs are normal in prison and I don’t believe prison is doing any good for most people on the in and outside.

I can feel vulnerable and scared in prison at times. But my amazing support network keeps me strong and positive, especially at times when things aren’t easy. I love you all so much, whether it’s my amazing and caring partner, or all my other family, friends and other people supporting me (despite not knowing me personally). You really are the best!

Take care everyone and keep smiling!

Sven