Protests at Barton Moss fracking site, Kedem Jewellery on King Street and Manchester Pride may seem to have little in common beyond seeing angry campaigners calling for change.
Yet one Manchester grassroots group has been present at all three – providing ‘Legal Observers’ as support towards social struggles.
Green and Black Cross’ main mission is to provide aid and solidarity to back independent social struggles throughout the UK.
The offer free legal advice, training in how to protest within the law, ‘Legal Observers’ to document the protest and provide advice on scene as to what the protesters can and can’t do.
And now comrades of the grassroots project’s Manchester branch are offering to train up more activists so that they know their rights and how to protest effectively, within the law.
GBC asks: “Have you ever been at a demo, near a line of police, and witnessed the police do something you’re pretty sure they’re not supposed to do?”
If you’re an activist and have been faced with this question the September session could inform you on what to do and how you can help.
The group offer legal support, either through support for defendants or their Legal Observer and Know Your Rights training programmes.
The Manchester branch are to unite at Oldham Street’s Green Fish Resource Centre for a legal advice boot camp on September 27.
The course, which will take place between 12:30-17:30, will cover police tactics, stop and search law and procedure, how to support arrests, police ranks and command structure, supporting direction action and how to best legally support activists and nail the inappropriate policing afterwards.
While the focus is now on advice and training, GBC are still willing to mobilise the troops for bigger demonstrations.
They offer everything from a legal support hotline and legal observers on the streets to action medics and a kitchen team to smuggle snacks behind police lines.
They said: “Our emphasis on support is to allow the potential for further rebellion, for people to rise up and in doing so take control of the direction of their lives.”
Reinforcements have been sent out to help thousands of people from many backgrounds in their rebellions and protests, including the Gaza demonstrations on King Street and Manchester Pride.
While on King Street, GBC were keen to remind their comrades of their rights on social media, saying: “Police are giving out written Section 14 seems to be a targeted operation, you DO NOT have to accept the written S14.”
Shortly followed by they tweeted this picture:
Your friendly blue bibbed PLO (evidence gatherer) undated red command on Intel he gained from speaking to protestors pic.twitter.com/OUkDrCIRvJ
— Green & Black Cross (@GBCMANCHESTER) August 23, 2014
The independent organisation was founded in 2010 to provide legal support for protests against the government’s wave of massive spending cuts.
They recently achieved an iconic victory against one of the police officers involved in ‘maintaining the peace’ at a UK Uncut demonstration in London.
The group offered support during protesters bid to exercise what they saw as their ‘right of way’ during Manchester Pride, and their Legal Observers can be clearly seen in the video footage below.
Geoff Stafford, co-founder of protest group Facts About Manchester Pride, said: “In general I think [the group] is a great idea, because I went to an event where there was no media documentation from the year before, no photo, no media and it was almost as though it didn’t happen.
“Some people get focused on doing a protest and holding an event and there is no one there to taking a record of what happened so I do think it’s a good thing and independent observers can be helpful, especially at times if there are legal issues.
“People will try and rewrite history but with video you can see what happened.”
The project takes inspiration from the Anarchist Black Cross and from the diverse skills and infrastructure built up over the last decade by elements of the environmental movement, such as The Camp for Climate Action.
If you’d like to get involved, attend a training session or just find out more visit http://greenandblackcross.org/
GBC legal observers assist in apology from Met police great read by our friends at Netpol https://t.co/4uBv30Y3u8
— Green & Black Cross (@GBCMANCHESTER) August 27, 2014
Image courtesy of SalfordGuy69 via YouTubem, with thanks.