Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Police attempt to harrass benefit gigs in South London

FITwatch report that police officers visited two South London venues in dubious circumstances last weekend:

'On Saturday 23rd of April and Sunday 24th of April, the Metropolitan Police attempted to harass and intimidate the management of two established and fully licensed venues with intelligence gathering - or 'fishing' - exercises. The two venues, both in the Borough of Lambeth in South London, were set to host benefit parties for FITwatch and London Student Solidarity Campaign respectively.

Management at Brixton's 'Jamm' were puzzled to find Police officers arrive on Saturday 23rd April asking questions about a FITwatch benefit that they had branded an 'illegal rave'. Management soon set them straight, though - reminding them that it was a perfectly legitimate and legal venue... On Sunday 23rd of April, management at 'The Grosvenor' in Stockwell were quizzed by Police about an upcoming benefit party on Mayday (Sunday May 1st) as a fundraiser for the London Student Solidarity Campaign - who are a self-organised group of arrestees and defendants from the student demonstrations of late last year. The officers in question also seized posters for the event' (full story here).

The event at Jamm went ahead, featuring Alabama 3, and hopefully the Stockwell event will too. Both venues have a long history of hosting various benefit gigs over many years. I remember going to Poll Tax Prisoners and Irish Republican benefits at the former when it was the Old White Horse twenty years ago. The Grosvenor is south London punk central, hosting the ScumFest punk festival among many other events. It is a worrying development that the police seem to adopting the time-discredited technique of a 'quiet word' with the management to discourage such events. Given the influence that the police have on whether venues get their licenses, this kind of approach can be - and is designed to be - very intimidating.

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