Disclaimer: while we have absolute solidarity with Francis Fernie and share in calls for his release, he is not part of York Anarchists and never has been. We are not aware of his particular political leanings and support him purely as a fellow protestor. It is unfortunate that such a disclaimer is even needed, but in light of media scaremongering over 26th March and the role of supposed “anarchist thugs” it was felt necessary to make the situation clear.
Never let it be said that we at York Anarchists underestimate the value of education. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite; a decent hardback copy of, say, Stuart Christie’s Granny Made Me An Anarchist is not only educational but provides a handy form of self-defence*, should the need arise.
(* A note to any police reading: this is what we in anarchist circles refer to as “humour”. A two-by-four is much more efficient.)
With that in mind, we’d appreciate it if our adoring masses could take part in the following quiz. To make matters easier, we’ll make it multiple choice. Pick the odd one out:
- Detaining schoolchildren in the street for seven hours in the middle of winter;
- Yanking a man with cerebral palsy out of his wheelchair and dragging him across the road;
- Beating a student protestor to the point he needed brain surgery; or
- Throwing two sticks.
If you picked the last option you’d be right – since that’s the one that resulted in jail time. Twelve months, to be precise, in a trial that the judge admitted was as much about sending a message as anything else:
The judge said the right to peaceful demonstration was a “hallmark” of this country’s democracy, but added: “The courts have a duty not only to punish those who inflict violence or acts of fear on the public or inflict violence on the police, but also to deter others from behaving in such a way.”
The media, as ever, has used this as an opportunity to divide us against one another; the “good protestors” (passive, law-abiding, obeying police and stewards) versus the “bad protestors” (everyone else). While recognising the value of internal debate and disagreement within our movements, we reject the placing of demonstrators into such simplistic categories. These “troublemakers” are the same people who organise protests, write articles and take part in social movements alongside others of various political persuasions. Similarly, mainstream movements, however publicly “nice” they may seem, contain a radical element more often than not. Whatever one may think of acts of property damage, disruption, and – yes – acts of minor violence, these pale in comparison to the destruction we face at the hands of our supposedly accountable representatives in Westminster. Those who would strip us of our healthcare, education, benefits and services, while maintaining the fallacy that we are “all in this together”.
Details of this case are still coming out. But we can say with confidence that twelve months for two sticks is, to say the least, a little over the top. Already a Facebook group has been set up to support Francis, and as soon as details are available for how to get in touch, write letters and show other forms of support they will be made available both here and elsewhere.
For now, love, rage and solidarity,