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New Prevention of Terrorism Act Imminent
A30 Group Responds With, Er, a Mass Beatles Impersonation…?
from firstname.lastname@example.org 1st April 2000
(Also see: An activist's guide to the Terrorism Bill)
Press release from the A30 group follows:
By now you will probably be aware that the government is in the final stages of implementing a new Prevention of Terrorism Act. You may have also heard about an event called A30 (so called because it’s happening on April 30th). This message is being circulated by the event organisers, to explain what we're about and invite you to come along.
Contents of this email (in order): What is the A30 event? (and what it isn't)
A few of us have got together to plan a humourous jibe at the seriously-disturbing new bill and at the same time bring together a load of disparate groups who will need to work together if we are to survive and ultimately defeat/repeal this new legislation. Clearly the coming together of squatters, ravers, environmentalists etc over the Criminal Justice Act was just the beginning. We are inviting a huge range of groups and individuals as well as some well-known political campaigners past and present to attend. The central focus of April 30th will be one huge outdoor group photograph of all the people present.
This is not a press stunt. We will not be pandering to the media. Neither the photographer - a campaigner herself - nor the well-respected political collage artist who we're asking to do the photo are journalists. This event is for us.
The photograph will take the form of a 'Class of 2000-style' school photograph, similar to the Beatles' record album cover Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Activists from other countries, whose British supporters will be branded terrorists by their own government, as well as British historical figures, will be represented by cardboard cut-outs!
Also, we are asking everyone to come dressed as if for their favourite type of direct action. For some this will mean 'come as you are', but for others it will mean climbing harnesses or animal masks, hiking boots or decontamination suits, tunnelling gear or 'national dress'. You may want to bring an appropriate prop such as your bike, tools, placards, banners, blockading equipment, a musical instrument...
(2) Who is organising it?
The A30 Group is a loose collection of environmental direct activists. We have been involved in grassroots campaigns against road-building, genetic engineering, the animal-abuse industry and the anti-CJA campaigns. We are not aligned with any political party or other organisation. We are all volunteers who are somehow funding A30 ourselves, with the help of some personal donations from friends. Although the majority of the groundwork for A30 has already been done, new input and offers of help are always welcome.
(3) Details of the day
Place and Time: Meet in Highbury Fields park, Highbury, London N5 at 2pm. The nearest tube is Highbury and Islington.
Duration: We expect the setting up and taking of the photo to take no more than one hour. The time around that can be used to network - it should be easy to spot who's who! The A30 event has been timed to coincide with the MayDay 2000 conference, which is happening throughout the bank holiday weekend just 15 minutes walk from Highbury Fields. Come and do both!
Photo details: We will provide a professional photographer and the resulting picture should be reproduced in lots of publications, so you can easily get a copy. We will also post it on our website, with a key to the cardboard cut-outs and campaigns represented. If you want you or your campaigns details publicised in that key you can approach us on the day, or in advance (details below)
This is NOT a press call. There will be a press statement, so it is likely the media will be turning up, but we won't be doing anything special for them. As usual, if you are uncomfortable with having a journalist in your face, you have the right to say so. By attending the event, you are only consenting to be part of the official "school photo" - and then only if you choose to get in the frame and strike a pose!
Special needs: Please let us know if you need special help with getting to the park.
- This all sounds a bit bizarre! If we are all going to be terrorists then shouldn't we be hiding our identities?
Well you could come in disguise or stay out of the actual photo. Or to be totally safe, change your name, have plastic surgery and flee the country. Joking aside, a government that wishes to destroy a political movement must first render the individuals anonymous. So we are all caught between a rock and a hard place: campaign as we want or be forced underground. A30 is obviously aimed at those who wish to continue their activities in the open, regardless of the bill. We hope you will join us.
This isn't going to stop the bill, is it?
Probably not. The bill is in the Lords at the moment and there has been little opposition to its passage, so far. We all have a lot of work ahead of us - think of A30 as a first step.
Why pander to the mainstream media's desire for 'spectacular' images at all?
This is not for them, it's for us. It's a celebration of our history, of who we are, a reminder of our combined strength and potential. Make the event what you want it to be - a reunion, a networking session, a chance to pay respect/share solidarity with past/current political movements, a piece of political art. A brief but passionate hour to remember as we continue the fight.
Why call it the A30 Event?
Apart from the obvious calendar reference, it is also referring to our anti-road building roots - the A30 Devon road protest was the first to fight a privately built & operated road. The A30 group are launching a pledge to defy the government's proposed new road-building programme, in spite of the new bill - for more information on this, see the website (address below). Although the name follows in the tradition of recent international days of protest, A30 is not an action.
(5) A bit of a rant about the bill
Our shared history of public dissent –
Freedoms are very rarely granted to a people; they are more often than not fought for. Activists, protesters, strikers and campaigners, indeed anyone who ever shoved against the brickwall of the status quo will tell you this. Action and confrontation in the streets and workplace is not the unacceptable face of politics, as many a government would have us believe. It is the lifeblood. Suffragettes committed criminal damage, ramblers trespassed, environmentalists pull up crops, hunts get sabbed, demonstrations, strikes and street parties are being turned into riots by police forces all the time.
The government claims that its new prevention of terrorism powers will not curb legitimate political action. It will merely clamp down on extremely violent agitators, a minority. This is nonsense. Who decides what is legitimate? Any tea-party can be made to look like a conspiratorial and riotous mob when you have an army of spin doctors on the payroll. MI5 have got to justify their enormous budget somehow.
There is no evidence to suggest that the new act will be implemented any differently to the old one in terms of civil liberties. The Irish experience shows all to well the intrusion, intimidation and violence metered out to families and communities in the name of the PTA. No-one who demonstrates, with any degree of success against anything, is safe. This is not scare-mongering. Read the Bill (web address below).
Obviously we have to wait and see how it is implemented, but we all know how hard it is to repeal even the most outrageous laws. Clause 28 and lowering the age of consent for gay men are two very timely examples. How many people suffer while the government rolls over to protect its minority of reactionary voters? At the end of the day this is a rushed and badly-worded bill, the barely hidden agenda of which is to divide and rule any dissenting communities. It seeks to punish political activity on grounds of motive, turn even more demonstrators into political prisoners, curb the freedom of expression, association and liberty of the Press... the list goes on.
(6) How to get in touch and find out more
The A30 group
General enquiries address: A30 Group
255 Wilmslow Road
Manchester M14 5LW
Email us at: email@example.com
For links to related terrorism bill groups, including more info and updates on the bill itself, checkout the links on our website: http://drink.to/dissent
Mayday 2000 festival of resistance: 020 8374 5027
More: An activist's guide to the Terrorism Bill
Terrorism bill becomes law.
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