During our occupation of the Aylesbury Estate we were generally quite good at avoiding the police. A hundred riot cops failed to end the occupation in February and, at the beginning of April, we tore down the fence around the demolition zone before they even got into their gear. But some of us were arrested. We were charged with criminal trespass, with assault and with criminal damage. People everywhere always need to defend themselves against police attacks, and acts of solidarity against the police have become the particular focus of events in South London recently.
During ‘Reclaim Brixton’ protesters blocked the roads, danced in the street and stormed the town hall and police station. They smashed the windows of Foxtons and of Barnardos – the charity which runs the government’s detention centre for migrant children. They fought with riot police when they tried to make arrests. Then, in East Street on 21 June, a crowd blockaded an immigration raid and fought the riot cops who came to support it. They attempting to free the person who was detained. They let down the tires of the vans and broke their windows, pelted them with eggs, vegetables, bricks and whatever they found on the street. The Home Office got their prisoner in the end, but there is no way they can fight solidarity of this intensity every time they want to catch one person.
Other acts of solidarity followed. People were charged with criminal damage and ‘violent disorder’ over what happened in Brixton and East Street and the police have let it be known that they are still looking for others. After the arrests on East Street there was a protest during which Walworth police station was covered with banners, its waiting room was taken over with a sound system and dancing and with dumped rubbish. The party let the arrested know they were not alone. And it showed the police their repression would not go unchallenged.
People also continued to go back to East Street to distribute posters and flyers about immigration raids and police repression. They shared legal information and talked with people, celebrating what happened and affirming the need to keep fighting. On East Street people are building the connections to defend each other even more effectively.
Any struggle which really confronts violence and impoverishment will have to defend itself against the police. So we need all these kinds of solidarity. We need solidarity that responds immediately in a moment of attack, solidarity that is the ability to prevent arrests from even taking place. We need messages of solidarity that let people know they will be supported if they get arrested and that deter the police who know we will fight back. And we need solidarity that is the connections between people, the preparedness to give and take support, which allows us to grow stronger.