April 26, 2012

Seen a Palestine flag? Call the police!

Here's a self-explanatory report in a newish blog called Inside Left - The OFFICIAL anti-Olympics blog, produced by Gareth Edwards:

I wouldn't normally blog about work related stuff, but since this video has achieved mini-viral status I thought I'd let people know the story behind it.

After the Israeli air attacks on Gaza in December 2008 / January 2009 the people at my workplace all agreed that we should use our window on Fawcett Road to show our outrage - and our solidarity with the Palestinian people. In the grand scheme of things it's not exactly the greatest act of resistance, but no matter how small a gesture, it felt that we were at least doing something.

The window remained unchanged from the picture above until May 2010 when Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla of ships carrying aid to Palestine, gunning down nine activists in the process. At that point we added the words "ISRAEL = TERROR STATE" at the bottom of the window display. It wasn't long before we had a visit from the local Community Wardens - old bill wannabes - demanding to know when we planned on removing the protest as they feared it might be contentious. We explained, patiently and at great length, that this was a legitimate political comment, proven by recent Israeli actions. We assured them that it was in no way a comment on a particular faith and pointed out that a number of us had spent years actively fighting racism and fascism in the city. Not surprisingly we refused to remove either the flags or the words from the window.

By September we were visited by another police officer - the one in the video - who opened his "little chat" with the fantastic "I have to acknowledge that my knowledge of this is... quite limited"! Indeed. Perhaps this explains why he didn't feel like sticking around to debate the issue. His comment that they had received two complaints, "One from a Jewish woman, and one from a member of the public" was as absurd as it was, I believe, untrue. Can you be a Jewish woman and not a member of the public?

The whole sorry saga came to a head last year when two uniformed officers came to our door, threatening us with arrest unless we took down the 'offensive' material.
If, like me, you love a happy ending, please read on....

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