Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…

24 12 2009

Every now and then you do something, experience something or meet someone who reminds you what you stand for.  This happened too me recently when I met a African-Swedish man who told me his story while rolling a cigarette.

As it turns out, this man (who I shall call ‘Dave’) had come over from Sweden with a friend, intending to buy a bus to live in, while travelling up and down the East Coast.  As we’re talking, Dave tells me that he’d recently been busted in a nightclub with drugs that amounted to two bottles of acid, some mescaline and a bag of weed.  The police had confiscated Dave’s passport, and he was waiting to sit trial in about Mid-January.

Normally, most would hear these details, tune out and say, ‘well he deserved whatever he gets…’  But let us delve a little deeper.

The police, bless their souls, are apparently doing their best to charge him with every offence possible.  This includes both Trafficking and possession.  As it turns out, Dave had already done one month in prison — most people, if they haven’t written him off already, will have now done so.

Dave goes on to tell me, sincerely, how much he doesn’t want to go back to prison.  He explains that during his month-long stay, he was placed in a cell with a man who had killed two people.  A murderer.

Then, to make matters worse, lawyers and police have been trying to tell him that he is an addict.  He then points out an irony — there is more heroin and meth available on the inside than there was ever available to anyone on the outside.  In Dave’s own words, ‘if you weren’t an addict going in, there’s a good chance you’ll be an addict coming out.’

Dave tells me that if this had happened in Europe, he’d probably just have been fined.  But we in Australia seem to be a little more vindictive than our Old World counterparts.

The police require Dave to stay at a fixed location.  He cannot live on the bus that he had paid a lot of money for.  Instead he has to stay at a hostel.  Additionally, Dave told me that he’s had to pay up to $10,000 in lawyers fees, and his parents have had to fly out from Sweden in order to sit at his trial.

I ask you, where is the real crime?  For what purpose have we gone ruined Dave’s live?  For wanting to alter his consciousness with chemical substances.  The horror!

So let’s take a step back and assess the situation.  You have a man, a foreigner, arrested and charged with possession and trafficking offences (where, depending on the amount you’re caught with, it is automatically assumed you were trying to sell them to people, even if you weren’t).  If convicted, he is a criminal.  An evil person on par with murderers and rapists.  He will be put in prison and forced to associate with hardened criminals.

In essence, parliament has made a law forbidding a thing which has no, real, inherent criminality attached to it — people have been trying to alter their consciousness for centuries.  Big whoop.  Instead, for reasons such as ‘safeguarding the morals of the community’, ‘keeping our kids safe and free from drugs’, oh, and my personal favourite, ‘protecting the individual from themselves’, the Australian legal system looks set to lock Dave up, expose him to elements of criminality that Dave had no previous association with, as well as the hardest drugs in great quantities, for a long period of time.  And people ask why so many convicted criminals ‘re-offend’.

Ask yourself, for a moment, is this just?  Are you really happy with a person’s life being destroyed over something so ‘criminal’?

But then, ‘It is the law.  He should have known and has to face the consequences.  That’ll teach him.’

Care of LibCom news

7 12 2009

Riots and police brutality on first day of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder anniversary

Riots have broken out in Athens and Salonica during the first day of A. Grigoropoulos murder anniversary with police demonstrating extreme brutality leaving two people seriously wounded by a motorised charge on the Athens march.

Police brutality during the marches to comemmorate the first anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder surpassed any limit today, in a coordinated operation of barbarity and crude violence against protesters across greece. Under socialist orders police violence has left dozens of people wounded.

In Athens the protest march called at 13:00 in Propylea was attacked by riot police forces before even starting. Protesters fought back erecting flaming barricades and forcing the police to retreat with use of rocks. Protesters also occupied the rectorial headquarters of the University of Athens in Propylea, lowering the greek flag and flying a black flag in its place. The march continued to Omonoia square where more clashes took place and several shops were destroyed -one consumed in flames. At Syntagma square motorised police forces (Delta team) charged the march from Ermou street. After the charge the Delta-team thugs dismounted and threw rocks at the protesters. As a cause of the police orgy in violence, an elderly member of the Worker’s Revolutionary Party-Trotskyist (EEK) has been reported to be in serious condition due to head injuries: Ms Koutsoumbou, a veteran prisoner of the anti-dictatorship struggle, was hit by a Delta force motorbike during the mounted charge on the crowd. According to Savas Michail, leading member of EEK and major radical philosopher, Ms Koutsoumbou is in intensive care having received far worse hits than during her tortures by the colonels’ junta. One more man has been hospitalised with serious injuries. At the time 60 people are reported detained.

In Salonica the 3,000 strong protest march turned violent when riot police attacked it without any provocation with tear gas and blast grenades. Clashes ensued along the main avenue of the city. The police surrounded some 200 protesters outside the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, but were liberated by the rest of the march. The previous night the police broke the university asylum in the Salonica Polytechnic arresting 8 people who the authorities claim had attacked the International Expo with molotov cocktails. The march in Salonica has not been concluded at the time of writing and the situation is particularly tense as the protesters are returning to the main avenue to protest against police brutality.

In Larissa the protest march proceeded through the main streets of the city smashing CCTV cameras, coming under attack by riot police forces. The protesters errected barricades and engaged the cops with stones and other projectiles.

There is little information about the course of the marches in other greek cities.

At the same time, the 21 people arrested in the anarchist social centre Resalto last night have been charged under the notorious anti-terrorist law for construction and distribution of explosives (beer bottles and two bottles of heating oil).

The protest marches for the 1st anniversary of Alexandros Grigoropoulos murder by cops will continue on Monday, while at 21:00 on Sunday there will be a memorial demo at the spot of his shooting in Exarcheia.

Originally posted here.


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