January 2012 – Traveller Solidarity Network Bulletin
Here are some updates from the Traveller Solidarity Network. As always, we welcome new people to get involved! This email should contain different opportunities to find out more about TSN and get stuck in.
There has been a lot in the news about a recent government decision to fund hundreds of Traveller sites “in order to avoid a repeat of Dale Farm (Independent article here). Our experiences of the government’s support of the brutal eviction – including providing the funding for the extremely violent policing – means that we don’t have a lot of faith in the government’s intentions or actions, and no sites have yet been approved on the local level. Though this could be a positive step, much of the money had been agreed or accounted for previously, and even if all the sites were actually built, it would hardly scratch the surface of the under-provision of sites.
In the bulletin:
UPCOMING TSN EVENTS
-TSN National Meeting – 25 February – Cambridge
-Info Tour- March 2012 – A Town Near You!
-London TSN Meeting – 19 February
-Outreach Working Group meeting – soon!
-Write a letter of support for the Dale Farm Residents’ Association planning permission appeal
UPDATES FROM WORKING GROUPS
-Legal working group: get involved, ongoing actions against the police, court support needed
-Fightback – take action against nasties
-Traveller Liaison: visit to Romany community in Meriden, callout for help with info-tour
-Update from Dale Farm
-Holocaust Memorial Day, 29 January
-London No Borders Convergence, 13-18 February
-South London Anti-Fascists AGM, 25 January
>>> UPCOMING TSN EVENTS
=== Traveller Solidarity Network National Meeting
The next national meeting for the TSN will be in Cambridge on Saturday 25 February.
We will be discussing important things like what to plan for Roma Nation Day on April 8th, and continued work with the communities we have been in contact with. Stay tuned for an agenda and timings. Please submit agenda items and proposals to tsn-internal [at] noflag.org.uk.
It will be followed on Sunday by an action debrief from Dale Farm for people who were involved in the eviction resistance. For more info about that, contact tsn-internal [at] noflag.org.uk.
=== Traveller Solidarity Info Tour
The Traveller Solidarity Network is organising a UK-wide speaker tour throughout the month of March. Twenty-five cities will be hosting TSN activists and Travellers at info-nights geared towards linking up those who want to support Travellers with local Traveller communities to discuss where the fight for Travellers’ rights is heading in the future.
A list of confirmed dates and locations can be found here:
=== London TSN Meeting
19th February, 1-3pm
Freedom Bookshop, Autonomy Room, Whitechapel
London TSN meets every six weeks or so to discuss what we can do as a London group to take action on Gypsy Roma and Traveller rights. At our next meeting we will be talking about taking action against anti-Roma racism in London, and liaising with London Traveller communities. All welcome- come along!
=== TSN Cambridge
Cambridge Traveller Solidarity are doing a lot of exciting work with the Smithy Fen Traveller Site in Cambridgeshire. If you are based in Cambridge and would like to get involved, contact tsn-cambs [at] riseup.net for more info.
=== Outreach Working Group meeting
Outreach plans to have a meeting in London soon. Contact tsn-outreach [at] noflag.org.uk to find out more, or to request leaflets or advice on how to start a local group from scratch.
>>> URGENT ACTION
=== Support the Dale Farm Resident’s Association – Mary Flynn Appeal Letter writing campaign:
Mary Flynn is an Irish Traveller from Dale Farm who is appealing the refusal of planning permission for her plot. Mary’s appeal would be helped by supporters and residents of Dale Farm sending letters, so TSN is calling for people to write in support.
We need help on this – there has been an organised letter writing campaign against this appeal and the NIMBYs are out-numbering us at the moment. If you were staying at Dale Farm between August and September 2011 then you are a statutory party and your reply would be especially useful, but anyone who cares about this is eligible to write a letter.
See the TSN website for more information and spread this call-out through your networks, please.
>>>UPDATES FROM WORKING GROUPS
=== Update from Legal Working Group
The Legal working group have had a busy month with teams working on:
- Defamation and misuse of private info claims/ other media abuses
- Arrestee Support, reviewing evidence and court support
- Actions against the police
- Personal injury claims
- Property damage complaints and claims
- Freedom of information requests
- Training and good practice guides to help others upskill
- Support for Mary Flynn Appeal
There’s lots of work still to do and we would welcome new members. Because we are working with sensitive data though, we do ask that people attend either a national or regional meeting first, before joining this group.
— Actions against the police – callout to Dale Farm residents and supporters
If you think you may have a complaint against the police, the legal team are happy to talk to you, talk you through taking action against them and put you in touch with a good solicitor who wants to take them on.
This is a good idea because – it makes the police look bad, they have to pay us lots of compensation, and in theory if they get sued enough times it might make them think twice about how they act! So please do come forward!
Things that you can sue them for are a lot smaller than you think, and can be as little as police pushing you or touching you unnecessarily, being rude or aggressive, abusing their power (which can cover a lot of things) as well as false imprisonment and other things for those arrested.
Contact tsn-legal [at] noflag.org.uk
— Court Support – January 27th, Basildon Crown
One of our supporters facing serious charges arising out of the Dale Farm action is in Basildon Crown Court on 27th January. Come along to show solidarity; let’s see if we can fill the public gallery! Contact tsn-legal [at] noflag.org.uk for more info.
=== Update from Fightback Working Group
In the fight against racist organisations and institutions profiteering from the state-sponsored ethnic cleansing of Dale Farm; the fightback group have now compiled a comprensive targets list available in the “Direct Action” section of the TSN website (travellersolidarity.org), and are encouraging all affinity groups, local groups, and individuals, to plan, formulate and enact their own actions with the diversity of tactics avaliable to them…. We are also putting a callout for all those who take actions against these or other anti-Traveller institutions to send us their press releases at tsn-fightback [at] noflag.org.uk so they can be publicised anonymously. We are also currently working on compiling a bailiff watch list (along the same lines as fit watch) and appeal to anyone with photos, names, or other details of bailiffs involved to our email address.
=== Update from Traveller Liaison Working Group
Among other visits, a group of us visited the Hillside Park Romany Gypsy site in the village of Meriden, near Birmingham. The community is facing eviction and has a racist anti-Traveller camp stationed permanently outside. We had a long chat with Jim, a resident who is committed to fighting for their rights and who is really enthusiastic about working together with TSN. There will be another visit to the site on Tuesday 24th January to help residents with letter writing, make banners for a demonstration we are helping organise in the first week of February and to make a short film to publicise the goings on. If you live near Birmingham or Coventry check www.travellersolidarity.org for details of the demonstration, or contact tsn-travellerliaison [at] noflag.org.uk
We are compiling a list of Traveller contacts that should enable more visits to local sites in your area. Again, email us if you are interested in linking up with Travellers in your area and we will provide resources if needed to facilitate this.
=== Info Tour
The organising for the info tour is going well, but we’re having some problems making activist contacts in a few cities, and it’s good to have people on the ground getting stuff going. If anyone has any contacts who would be up for helping with stuff and getting involved in organising the meetings, or even just suggesting venues and postering, in the following towns, would be great:
email tsn-info [at] lists.noflag.org.uk or chat to anyone in the group.
=== Update from Dale Farm
Hundreds of Dale Farm residents are encamped along the sides of the private road leading into the estate. They have been there since the police-led clearance operation last October. But now they are working to get back their old homes.
Most of those homes are out of reach behind huge mounds of earth and trenches, left there by Basildon Borough Council to obstruct any attempt at repossession. The policy of ethnic-cleansing has so far cost millions of pounds. The Council boasts it has another two million to waste on further harassment of “unauthorized” Gypsy and Traveller communities in the district.
On Beauty Drive, three properties with residential planning permission could be re-occupied. What has prevented this is the malicious destruction of the road and right of way, and the trenching of hard-standing needed for the caravans. Cess-tanks have been broken, and water and electricity supplies ruptured.
Much of the eviction clearance has been declared illegal, leading to a mounting number of compensation claims against Basildon. In addition, the police face personal injury and other claims due to their use of 50,000-volt Taser stun -guns and other high-handed action employed to quell resistance. In coming weeks a test-case planning apppeal will be heard for 27 Beauty Drive, home of widow Mary Flynn. During February she also expects a hearing in the High Court that will determine whether nearly 40 families who turned down houses and council flats should be provided culturally appropriate caravan pitches instead.
Since the Dale Farm eviction, opposition to anti-Gypsy racism has been on the rise. Groups in several countries are calling for co-ordinated protests across Europe to mark the 40th Roma Nation Day on 8 April. The website will be up and running soon at www.romanationday.org – check for an updated list of planned protests, both national and international, and get in contact if you’d like to help plan something in your area.
>>> OTHER EVENTS
=== Holocaust Memorial Event
29th January 2012, 3-6pm
10 Harmony Hall, Truro Road, Walthamstow, E17 7BY,
Hosted by Amnesty International Waltham Forest and Waltham Forest UAF. Speakers include Roma Activists from Hungary and the Czech Republic.
=== London No Borders Convergence
London, 13-18 February
The No Borders Convergence will include seminars and workshops on a wide range of topics, from immigration detention and forcible deportations, EU immigration policies and its border agency (Frontex), through institutional racism and social services provision, the exploitation of migrant workers and students, to No Border camps, radical solidarity, direct action and much more.However, we don’t want to just talk; we hope that during this week people will also get together to plan and take action against various aspects of the border regime in London and the surrounding areas.
The aim is to get together to share our knowledge and experiences in relation to people’s freedom of movement and the restrictions on it, and to share skills, network, strategise and take action. We seek to create a temporary space for the production of counter-narratives and practices to the very idea of governing people’s movement through border controls.
=== South London Anti-Fascists Group Annual General Meeting 2012
Wednesday 25th January 2012, 7pm – 9pm
The Bread and Roses Pub, 68 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ
The British National Party may be imploding but they achieved 5% at the last GLA elections. At this meeting we will elect our officers and decide if we should broaden our focus to community organising. We’ll also discuss the new British Freedom Party how to tackle the English Defence League. Following the conviction of two of Stephen Lawrence’s murderers, there is a lot to reflect on at this year’s AGM. Speakers confirmed: Dr Jane Holgate – Co-founder of Hackney Unites, Paul Stott – Anti-Fascist Activist & Academic, Performance by The Ruby Kid. Find the event on Facebook