News Shorts & Other Busyness
Squall 8, Autumn 1994, pg. 5.
On August 1st, a protest against the CJB and the waste of empty properties in Oxford was brutally suppressed by an ‘out of control’ Thames Valley police.
Local people had occupied a disused cinema and the empty East Avenue House in an attempt to reclaim them for use as a community centre and as housing, and so asserted their right to peaceful occupation. They had only been there for 24 hours when police in riot gear smashed their way in and arrested the 6 people inside, as well as 3 bystanders outside. A neighbour photographing the raid was also assaulted.
The police claimed they were told there had been a ‘break-in’, even though they had visited the property the previous night and had been informed of its legal squatted status. The occupiers had also informed the local media of the situation.
Around 50 supporters of those arrested then occupied the lobby of St. Aldgate’s police station, demanding the 9 people be released. Officers then turned a fire extinguisher on them and forced them outside, where they were charged by another 30 cops in riot gear! There was no advance warning issued to the crowd, and people were clubbed to the ground before they could get away. Another eight were arrested.
Due to the fact that a Small World video team were present, pictures of police brutality were beamed to millions of homes via BBC South East, Central and Sky TV. A public meeting called two days later was well-attended and a fund was set up to help pay for any ensuing fines. A week later a demonstration also attracted 200 people to the town centre. Although the police did all they could to disrupt the demo they were unable to do much with so many Saturday shoppers watching.
For an update and news of future actions in the Oxford area contact Oxford Freedom Network, Box A, 111 Magdalen Rd, Oxford, OX4 1RQ.
For more articles about the Criminal Justice Act and Public Order Act 1994 - covering the build-up, the resistance, the consequences, plus commentary of discussions in the House of Commons about it click here.