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  • Writer's pictureIWW Ireland

IWW: Drop the Charges on BLM Protesters Now!

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Derry Branch have issued a press statement following Saturday 6th June Black Lives Matter solidarity actions in both Derry and Belfast, defending the right to protest and calling for all charges to be immediately dropped.

Following the peaceful event on Saturday 6th June it was estimated that four times as many fines and notices were issued out at the Derry Black Lives Matter protest than compared to the one held in Belfast as police representatives released figures.

Within the past number of days it has been confirmed that the PSNI issued over 56 fines for breaches of Regulations 3,4,6 or 7 of the current Coronavirus Health Protection Regulations and one fine for a breach of Regulation 5.

In Belfast 10 fines and one Community Resolution Notice (CRN) were issued for breaches of Regulations 3,4,6 or 7 and one fine and two CRNs for breaches of Regulation 5.

Over one thousand people attended the Black Lives Matter events in Belfast and Derry on Saturday June 6. In Derry protesters gathering for the event within Guildhall Square were racially profiled and singled out for harassment by the PSNI. The event organisers and those helping to set up PPE stalls for the public in advance, and those holding placards were also targeted prior to the event getting under way citing the coronavirus regulations which ban the gathering of more than six people.

It has now been confirmed that several roads leading to city centre were also subjected to a number of checkpoints by the police who questioned the motives of car occupants as to their reasons for travelling to the city centre. It is believed that several cars were turned away.

A spokesperson for the IWW Branch in Derry said, “Well before the event got underway it was clear the police presence within the city centre was completely over the top. Young black activists as well as the organisers were singled out long before the event actually started. Young people holding placards or banners were also targeted in what could only be described as clear police intimidation. This was at a time before the event got under way, when those in attendance were safely practicing social distancing and wearing protective face masks.

“What happened on the streets of Derry and Belfast on Saturday 6th June was nothing more than a deliberate attack upon each and everyone of our civil rights, the right to protest and to freedom of assembly. This was entirely instigated by each of the established political parties through the ‘Unity of Propose’ group who deliberately rushed through an amendment to regulations which was then carried out by their enforcers, the PSNI. That same evening in Derry, one of the organisers was targeted at their home in a racist and intimidatory way by the police as part of an attempt to have a perfectly peaceful march called off.

“It is hard to comprehend that in a city which is accredited to being the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement in Ireland, that the right to free assembly and protest was effectively threaten, harassed and intimidated in 2020 in the hope that it would have been prevented from going ahead. Thankfully this was not the case and the people of this city and Belfast stood their ground.

“We have to remember that these solidarity actions came about following the brutal murder of George Floyd, an innocent black man by the hands of the police in Minneapolis. Those who attended solidarity actions in both cities were effectively criminalised for standing up in international solidarity with George Floyd, his family and the ongoing Black Lives Matter struggle.

“The Industrial Workers of the World condemn the actions of the police on Saturday 6th June for the harassment and intimidation of peaceful protesters in both Belfast and Derry and demand that all prosecutions, fines and cautions issued to be immediately dropped.”

For anyone subjected to fines being imposed on them during the #BLMBELFAST2020, you are asked to please keep your paperwork & contact Phoenix Law (Belfast) urgently for free advice. Telephone: 02890328383 #BlackLivesMattters

A fund has been set up by Alliance for Choice to help cover any fines charges as a result of BLM gatherings in both Belfast and Derry. You can donate to this at the following link here


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