Monday, 1 October 2012

Public Meeting: We Are Norwich

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 @ 19:30

The Main Hall, the Vauxhall Centre
Johnson Place

Speakers to include:
Martin Smith (Unite against Fascism)

A speaker from Chapelfield Mosque

A speaker from Norfolk Black History Month

Other local and national speakers TBC


  1. Why has Martin Smith, a man convicted of assaulting a police officer, been invited to an anti-violence group?

  2. There is this article:
    PCS leader blasts Martin Smith verdict as ‘travesty of justice’

    Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the civil servants’ PCS union has condemned a magistrates court verdict against UAF officer Martin Smith.

    Martin, who is also national coordinator of Love Music Hate Racism, was arrested at last year’s protest against BNP leader Nick Griffin’s appearance on the BBC Question Time programme. Magistrates today convicted him of assault on a police officer on the word of a single police officer, despite the lack of evidence against him. He has been sentenced to a 12-month community order, with 80 hours’ unpaid work, and has been fined £450.

    Mark, who spoke in support of Martin at a rally outside the court, issued an immediate rejoinder after the verdict. He said:

    "I am shocked at the verdict delivered in a magistrates court today, in the absence of any evidence, that Martin Smith, national co-ordinator of Love Music Hate Racism, was guilty of assault on a police officer at the demonstration outside of the BBC on 22 October 2009, against Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time.

    "Martin was present at a perfectly legitimate protest against the BBC for giving airspace to a fascist and racist organisation and their repugnant views.

    "The sentence of 80 hours’ community service that has been handed to Martin is a travesty of justice.

    "There is a danger that verdicts such as these provide encouragement for the abhorrent views of racist and fascist organisations and therefore it is crucial that across the labour movement we stand united in our condemnation of it.

    "At PCS we will re-double our efforts to campaign against the far right, including organisations such as the BNP and English Defence League and we will continue to support Martin and other anti fascist campaigners when they are treated in such an unjust, outrageous way.

    "PCS will work with UAF and LMHR to fight the far right wherever we can and also to highlight the unequal way in which anti-fascist campaigners and activists are treated in comparison with racist and fascist thugs."

  3. According to one report he appealed the ruling. That was back in 2010 and I can't find any evidence of him being cleared, so I'm guessing the appeal was overturned.

    We Are Norwich really should think twice about letting this man into their meeting.

  4. None of us know what really happened between the policeman and Martin Smith; whatever it was it could not have been THAT bad.
    In any case apparently he did his 80 hours community service, so that should be the end of it.
    Or do you think that minor crimes committed in the heat of the moment, if indeed this happened, can never be forgiven and must always be used against a person?

  5. Depends how you define a minor crime - according to PC Liung, Smith kicked him in the genitals. These are supposed to be peaceful demonstrations, so what heat-of-the-moment situation would lead to someone kicking a policeman in the groin?

    Even if you want to give Smith the benefit of the doubt and say that he was wrongfully convicted, I'm still not seeing the advantages of his being at this meeting. As far as I know (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) he doesn't live in Norwich, so the only reason for his presence seems to be his connection with UAF - which, given that organisation's support for extremist elements and generally embarrassing behaviour, is hardly a point in his favour.

  6. Yes, the steering committee of We Are Norwich is planning peaceful resistence to the EDL march.

    Mr Smith seems to be in a good position to advise how to avoid making the mistake he made in the past, if indeed he did as you describe (which he steadfastedly denies).

    If memory serves he has visited Norwich before in his capacity as national organiser of Love Music, Hate Racism, an experience which is another valuable asset to the steering committee of We Are Norwich.

    Any more gripes?

  7. The 24th of October is another two weeks away, two weeks in which the word could be spread that there will be a (peaceful!) counter-demonstration on the 10th of November. The body that has arrogated to itself the responsibility for organising the response of Norwich to the EDL visit seems to have a rather leisurely attitude to the challenge it has taken on. Can you suggest any reason why someone should not promptly create a Facebook event to publicise the counter-demonstration? It needn't specify details immediately, but just publicise the fact that a counter-demonstration will occur on the 10th of November in the city centre, details closer to the day. At the moment the official group isn't working, and the one unofficial group I've been able to find isn't even giving the correct date.

    I'll concede there may be some fantastic reason not to do this, but I have to say I can't think what it might be. I'm willing to be dissuaded, but I'm not willing to see my city shamed by institutional inertia, so I'll wait 48 hours then take any silence as consent to the above described course of action.

  8. What a load of bollock's the Edl are not coming to Norwich Against Norwich Muslim Community,Typitical UAF Scare mongering.See you at your meeting.

  9. James, there was an outreach stall on the Haymarket just last Saturday, did you not see the notice? Another is planned for next Saturday on Magdelene Street.
    In the meantime We Are Norwich is busy negotiating with the police and local authorities, ensuring that our counter demonstration will be lawful, organised and safe for everyone, and has called a public meeting on October 24.

  10. Barbara, city centre stalls relying on blind luck in attracting the notice of passersby, at a single location, on busy shopping days are hardly the most effective means of publicising an event in the age of social media. Neither is this public meeting, which, once again, is barely being publicised in a way most people will notice. As things currently stand I expect the public meeting (and the planned counter demonstration) will largely be attended by members of We Are Norwich's component groups, and not the large numbers of people that could easily be mobilised if this issue was approached with any sense of urgency. Most people don't read the local papers for the sensible reason they're generally quite dull, consequently most people remain unaware, at present, that the EDL are even coming to Norwich. Almost everyone I've spoken to about this has been determined to demonstrate on the tenth (I emphasise peacefully, I don't know anyone who would debate that priority), only no means are being provided for us to organise ourselves or to spread the word.

    We Are Norwich seems to have no corporate online presence, beyond an evidently defunct Facebook group, leaving concerned citizens only able to attempt to address them via this blog, on which responses to questions have been marred by intemperate sarcasm and a "run along and wait till we tell you what to do" attitude.

    So I ask again, can you martial any argument against using social media to begin publicising the fact that 1) the EDL are planning to march in Norwich and 2) a counter-demonstration is being planned. It can be stated upfront that details on the exact nature of the counter-demonstration will only follow after We Are Norwich have finalised them with the police. Networks take time to grow, and the sooner we start spreading the word, the more people will be there on the 10th. Also, since you are already drumming up publicity using an "outreach" stall, what possible harm could accrue from using additional media to increase numbers?

    - James.

  11. Hi, James, I contacted some of We Are Norwich steering committee last night after reading this and their reply is my latest blog.
    This blog is not interactive enough, really, and sorry if my previous replies have seemed so sarky.
    The interest and goodwill of all of us hoping to make up a huge counter demo is essential. We agree on that, at least.