October 2008


On Thursday 23rd October, I attended the Nottingham Crown Court to hear the appeal against conviction of Henry Twigger.

On the 6th April 2008, Henry had initially painted graffiti on the Army Careers Office at the Victoria Centre, in Milton Street, Nottingham. He did so while wearing a hi-vis vest and was unmasked.

His choice of slogans included “War 4 Oil” & “Terrorists join here” on the front of the building in red paint. Since the place was last painted and decorated, CCTV equipment had been prominently installed and is capable of viewing the entire frontage. Having finished the job, and a policeman already dispatched to look into it; our hero greets the constable with a pot of red paint and a brush and invites him to view the handywork. He is arrested for criminal damage and dragged off in chains to the Bridewell Police Station.

Now, from the outset here, it is obvious that he done it, and he wasn’t sorry. Henry, a former Territorial Army Soldier says his objective was to warn the passing public and new recruits in particular about the illegal nature of the current military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the 17th July Henry was before the beak at Nottingham Magistrates Court, were he was found guilty of Criminal Damage and sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge. Additionally, Henry had been directed to pay £200 compensation for the damage done to the Recruitment Office. At the time, he said he wouldn’t be paying because: “I don’t give money to terrorist organisations” 🙂

Stop the War Activist in Nottingham Magistrates Court
http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/07/404021.html

Thursday’s hearing was about appealing this conviction. Appearing before Recorder WJH Harbage QC in the Crown Courts. Henry’s main plan was to point to the ‘lawful excuse’ provided for in 5.2.B. of the Criminal Damage Act 1971. http://tinyurl.com/56m264

The idea, as it is contained within a number of pieces of law, is to claim necessity or committing a crime to prevent a greater one. [see Kingsnorth & Ratcliffe power station cases] . Further, a person / fireman smashing down a door in order save a person from burning building, should not be convicted of criminal damage to the door. He said, “in this case, preventing a much greater crime that of illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Further the misleading information given by recruiting offices to recruits”.

He was a bit handicapped from the start, being unrepresented. He had a witness that he proposed to call for expert views but the first part of the case was about the ineligibility of him to be an ‘expert witness’. Also, they had not submitted a report to the court 7 days before as required. He was not academic or professionally qualified. However, as Henry points out, there are few in this field that are. Mr Chris Coverdale from the Campaign to Make Wars History had turned out to assist Henry, but his evidence was disallowed.

Henry outlines his case to the court: In a civilised society the citizen has a duty to make a public stand and to bring to attention of the public, the crimes and war crimes of genocide and murder. These crimes are committed by the government, ministers and officers. By their actions, whether they know it or not, they are in support of these heinous crimes. His citizens duty was thus to inform recruits of these matters. He did so in full view and with no intention to hide his actions. Henry goes on to tell the court of magnitude of deaths and injuries sustained. A few times during his explanation, the judge holds his speech, informs him the witness box is not a soapbox, and calls him back to the criminal damages act!

Mr Timothy Achurch for the prosecution questions if this was in fact an action designed to inform the public, or, simply straight vandalism. He fails to see how the paint and graffiti are necessary in the protection of property.

In judgement, Recorder Harbage dismisses the appeal.

There is no lawful excuse in his actions. He agrees with Mr Achurch that he fails to see how the paint and graffiti are necessary in the protection of property. Further, he states that the wars are not wars of aggression.

He does not doubt his sincerity but Henry Twiggers actions were not within the defence provided for with section 5.2.B of the Criminal Damage Act 1971. There simply was not the immediate need, say described in the example of breaking down a door to rescue from fire. His actions were far more removed and there was no lawful excuse. It was in fact, he said, no more than a publicity stunt. Appeal dismissed.

Mr Achurch asks for £335 costs. Judge orders cost paid within 28 days and that the original magistrates courts sentence of 12 months conditional discharge stands. There was of course the original £200 compensation to clean off his handwork. Henry says he still can’t pay that because it ‘aids and abets’ the system he’s protesting about.

Treaty between the United States and other Powers providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/kbpact.htm

Kellogg-Briand Pact: an international treaty providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kellogg-Briand_Pact

The Campaign to Make Wars History
http://www.makewarshistory.org.uk

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On visiting this afternoon, we asked staff about the rumours that we had heard about closure. It turns out it had been an intense week at the Chase Neighbourhood Centre in St.Anns.

Much of the good works being conducted there are drawing to a close. Over 30 redundancies, notified at very short notice. Some paid positions and many volunteers. It is uncertain how this came to be, but we hope to provide a little more in-depth reporting of the background to this situation shortly. In the meantime however, suffice to say that urgent help is asked for and needed. It is an iconic building, there in the centre of the community at Robin Hood Chase.

One of the first projects down was the Youth Inclusion Project. An inspiration to those challenged by education, lack of employment opportunities and lack of self-esteem.

Awat Aziz from St.Ann’s said: “I joined the YIP in 2003 and learned how to make cloths, which lead to a voluntary job at Urban Fashion http://www.urbanfashionhouse.co.uk. “I’m running my own business now making tee-shirts. Before I went to the YIP I didn’t know anything about fashion, but now I am able to make my own clothes. I also learned computing”.

Some went on from the advantages that such projects give them, to become a mentor to help and inspire other youngsters. It is obvious when this happens that the whole community can only benefit. It is apparent the projects like YIP are so important in engaging with young people when they have more limited educational opportunities and if they have been excluded.

In addition to youth projects, it is the whole community who are about to suffer with this loss. Mother and baby groups, social groups where people can gather and share their experience, isolation for many is about to get more extreme. There is / was a large computing suite, this being so useful to get folks more skilled and hence employable. It seems such community provision has been so much more effective than anything the job centre had been able to offer to the unemployed.

In an area of deprivation, it was great to see efforts of so many people to engage and assist each other in life in general. A sense of community, ownership and sharing of problems and assets obviously follows from such a space.

I am sure that the lack of funding and support being offered to such community enterprises is very shortsighted and will inevitably result alienation, increased health costs, social exclusions in many forms and in increased policing costs. Thus in due time, you can expect demand for increasing funding from those authorities to cope with the fallout.

This is just one project in just one estate in one city. With the financial stuff the news is currently full of, I think we may expect this story to be repeated widely. Hold on to your hat, things are falling apart.

A slide show I made showing some of the artwork there:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=TXbrivtLeiA

*****

More info from:

The Case Neighbourhood Centre
Robin Hood Chase
Nottingham
Nottinghamshire
NG3 4EZ

Tel: 0115 950 6867

Building Info: http://www.segalselfbuild.co.uk/projects/chase.html

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Press Freedom: "Collateral Damage" //…", posted with vodpod

After the Gen Sec of the NUJ, Jeremy dear wrote to the Home Sec …. and she replied saying policeman could restrict photography under some circumstances, I made freedom of information act enquiries of all uk police forces. I have collated them all since application in July and needless to say, I’m disappointed with the spread of responses.

Collected, they weigh in as 10.4Mb in a .PDF I guess anyone wanting this, or there local individual force reply, email me and will send you.

Further to this, the British Journal of Photography will be doing a splash about all this in the next issue [next Wednesday]. There is however, now an online ‘interim’ item at:

Exclusive: UK police forces unaware of agreed press guidelines

http://www.bjp-online.com/public/showPage.html?page=821193

Have sent London headless house the collected .PDF replies. Also given to my local Nottingham branch, after raising all this again on Monday.

I’d done this lot, in the light of the Home Secretaries letter stating: “Smith confirmed that there are no legal restrictions on the work that photographers and journalists can do in public, but added that local chief constables were allowed to restrict or monitor photography in certain circumstances.”

With this in mind, I made a further set of Freedom of Information Act enquiries of all police forces. My object was firstly to test this and to enquire of those individual police forces, the restrictions the Home Sec describes. But secondly, I think the differences in the replies, the lack of consistency, is just as large as before the guidelines were more widely adopted. I think they illustrate the need for a more proactive response in their dissemination. I hope this research strengths our case for action. Jeremy will be meeting Vernon Coaker, the shiny new home office minister, after the latest reshuffle.

I think in a democratic society like ours (??) the more senior police managers can only agree with us, that it is not an offence to take photographs in a public place and to pursue stories of public interest. Hence, I guess, we will find little opposition in agreeing the guidance with them. You will know that the real problems begin with the lower ranks.

Since my own arrest for obstruction, my adventures continue with a situation at least once a week.

You may know that on the Nottinghamshire Police Guidelines cover, it says: “Guidelines for police and media at incidents”.

On several occasions, I have been told that, “ah mate, no, it’s not an incident, it’s a scene!!”. For this to have happened several times, clearly there have been some watchroom conversations about it all, and to think up devices. Then, at a couple of criminal justice events, I found myself in conversation with middle rank Inspectors and Chief Inspectors who knew nothing of the issue of these guidelines locally. They were to have been widely distributed within the force after agreement.

A more common reaction though, when police are trying to prevent pictures being taken or I’m being hassled about my presence, is simply to push them back at me, without reading them or acknowledgement. Thus to plead continued ignorance of their provisions. Basically they just don’t care. Down here on the street, nothing has changed, all is the same as ever.

There is now another level of policing, non-warranted officers, wardens etc …. I have to say that they are even less clued-up, than the average policemen and these can be even more officious, and lack understanding of their powers.

John Toner was interviewed for this piece, you might find interesting:

http://current.com/items/88856223_you_can_t_picture_this

Since they do lack such understanding, I have asked locally if the wardens have been issued with the guidelines. I have been told that it was not relevant to do so and was not appropriate. Well, in the light of experience, I think it is.

You may also know that when we negotiated the Nottinghamshire Guidelines locally, I had made freedom of information act enquiries of all police forces, asking about their treatment of photographers at situations. It was the differences of reply that leads us to suppose that national guidance is required.

I think experience has shown though, that even if all is taken nationally, there is no consequence for them being ignored by police, and so they are. They do not form part of police operational orders. I know only to well of what happens to us if we are accused of breaking these guidance’s, we get arrested and convicted. I understand Roy Mincoff , Legal Officer with the NUJ was taking steps to see if these guidelines provisions could be included in the police and criminal evidence act. As far as I can see, this is the only way that the police will respect them, that if by ignoring them, that they break the law themselves.

In a written answer to Conservative Shadow Attorney General Domininc Grieve, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith yesterday [14th October 2008] stated that new guidance would be issued to police in November regarding s.44 searches of photographers:-

Terrorism: Stop and Search
Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance her Department has given to the police on the exercise of their power under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to stop and search those taking photographs in public places. [219421
]acqui Smith: Guidance on stop and search powers under section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 was issued by the Home Office in Home Office Circular 038/2004 on 1 July 2004 covering the authorisations for the use of the power.
Operational guidance on the use of section 44 stop and search powers was issued by the National Policing Improvement Agency and the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2006.
Following a commitment given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in October 2007, the operational guidance issued to the police on section 44 is currently being reviewed by the Home Office, the police, community groups and other stakeholders. The National Police Improvement Agency will issue revised guidance to all police forces in November. This will cover the taking of photographs in public places, although the general position is that there is no legal restriction on photography in such places.

Riseup Radio is a community based podcast from Nottingham, UK. Reports on stuff that didn’t make other local media, music from local artists and bands and chatting about stuff that matters. We’re currently working on a monthly show, downloadable from the first day of each month. Download, listen, distribute, comment and contribute!

New shows are published on the 1st day of every month.

Like with most of the media we’re involved with here …. it is produced by a bunch of people involved in their community, concerned about issues, and trying to get and improve skills to be effective as they go along…….

In addition to the monthly podcast, you may also know of the series of ‘Sumac Debates’ that they have been recorded. The second of which will be on Mon 20 Oct @ 7.00pm.

If you think this work is worthwhile and you would like to contribute, Riseup Radio folks will be holding a ‘Skillshare’ session at the Sumac Centre on Saturday 1st November. 11.00am – 5.00pm >  It is hoped to get more technically competent, to include a wider variety of folks and thus cover more issues effectivly.  Please come.

I offer these notes – you might find helpful as a general sketch.

I think the notes might also help in adding more audio to Indymedia Newswire Reports. We don’t have to save it all up for a monthly show. Sometimes it is helpful to be more immediate as with any newswire item.

************

Riseup Radio :: Some thoughts and considerations on use, progress and ambitions.

Competence in making a set of recordings and then, the editing and producing a ‘show’ from them.

* Intro

For some years now, there have been a few groups producing podcasts here in Nottingham.  NotinNottingham [1], Leftlion [2], etc have been making shows that are primarily entertainments, based on the local music scene, social matters, gigs and youth based issues, providing the main subject matter. Student orgs and bands etc have also found the format useful and entertaining. A common factor though is that they are mostly devoid of an issue based content.

I first suggested the notion of a podcast, presented and contributed to from people concerned with the ‘issues’ we regularly deal with. At the ‘ASBO’ community squat in Radford, I found many of the issues of concern, regularly being discussed in the course of normal conversation, but not formally in interview, as this would have scared many off. Further, there was a music room with a variety of instruments, both electronic and acoustic, and a number of computers with audio software already installed.

The notion appeared strange to many, that their private conversations would be interesting to anyone else, further, people then stressed about what format, questions and the intensity of material to be discussed. You see when you are surrounded by people already involved in ‘stuff’, it becomes harder to think of a casual listener actually being interested in what your saying. However, I have heard a number of formats now from around the UK and quite a few yanks as well, where a group of friends / activists simply converse with each other on a range of issues, perhaps someone might have entered the room with a few bullet-points on paper and thus to facilitate and bring the conversation back to the point, now and again:-)

A microphone placed in the centre of the room when in a ‘social situation’ is soon forgotten. Perhaps if a little flush that week, the occasional crate of beer brought in might help.  It is thus obvious that people who are generally intimidated by the idea of interview soon ‘open out / up’ and have as much to say as others. The object is to get material out in the community so that these conversations become infectious and that they are continued in other social settings.  It is from these further discussions that we might then expect ‘action’ to take place and yet more people involved.

I personally, and over time, think I have learned more from friends and social sets in such conversations than I have from formal discussion on a range of issues. I think it is a great method to educate and inform and if someone occasionally strums a guitar, plays a flute, piano, bongo or triangle every so often, then great.

* Mic

Technically this might be more difficult to accomplish than planting a mic in front of someone and dealing with a ‘single source’.  Care would need to be taken in ‘equalising’ levels from various parts of the room. Also, it probable that with these conversational methods, you would end up with yards of material. There is no doubt that it is harder work to edit down, than the more formal interview. But I do like the impression of spontaneity that can be achieved.  It is then to be decided if it would be appropriate to ‘stream’ it live, to add more sound inputs to create a mix, or, to spend time cutting and re-editing to produce a show of a specific length. This of course could also be live, or, more commonly produced as a podcast MP3.

* Style

At the moment Riseup Radio is presented as a monthly 1 Hour + show, prepared for the first of the month. Additional ‘special shows’ have been prepared on separate issues aside from the main routine.  Depending on the number of events and people involved, it might be that more regular 30 min shows or weekly 20 minute ones might be more appropriate.  Basically, assessments need to be made as to what is less work for most effect and what people want to do.

The format Riseup Radio is currently produced in is a number of issues are selected either from individual’s preferences or an assessment made of the current issues going past on the Indymedia Newswire.  A roving reporter then sets out to interview folks who have to do with the issue. You might also consider asking people, generally, on their reaction to issues, they not directly connected with.  In both these circumstances, it is quite important to ask ‘open questions’ Say: “what do you think of the price of tomatoes”? As opposed to the more closed: “Isn’t it awful how expensive tomatoes are? The later ‘closed’ question is likely to result in just a yes or no answer.  The object is thus to get the interviewee to tell you more about ‘it’ and to expand, rather than imposing the interviewers thoughts on it all. With a number of interviews ‘bagged’,  back at base it is defiantly easier to produce a coherent show than the ‘social setup’ I described above.

* Tech

In both cases, a bit of practice is required in getting a recording of reasonable volume. Most equipment records to auto-levels.  Thus the only adjustment possible is to position the mic so as to get the main speakers heard clearly. If there is background noise, say on a demo, traffic on the street, or, it’s windy outside, you have to place the mic closer to the subject, but too close and you can hear puffs of breath and this is as bad.  If it is windy, then some mics have a ‘foam cover’.  Failing this a woolly glove finger or sock does seem to take the wind noise out, while still admitting sound. These are the most elementary precaution to take since to the listener, it really is so distracting and they will loose the sense of what’s being said.

Having got these ‘raw’ recordings, usually on a digital device, they are copied onto a computer. It is however, sometimes forgotten that you can plug a mic directly in the sound card of a PC or laptop, and using the really basic software like “Sound Recorder” supplied with Windows operating system, you can make perfectly good recordings.

Sometimes files are either copied / converted as large .WAV files or the more compressed MP3.  A routine of cutting pasting and editing can then be done in programs such as Soundforge, Nero, Audacity and others.

Having got a selection of ‘elements’, you need nothing more than use the same software to lay them end-to-end, speech and music in the order you decided and save to a resultant file. This is then a ‘show’. Quite good enough for some.

A more polished refinement is by the use of software like Ableton Live, Cubase etc. These enable you take the same elements but to overlap and mix them together to give a better sense of continuity.  It is a really steep learning curve to use these programs but like most software, you might only need to know how to perform a few regular routines to get some serviceable results. The programs allow you to ‘export’ an MP3 at different bit rates. This is a representation of the amount of quality available on the recording as balanced against the file size required to achieve it. Bare in mind what is it for! Is it for streaming, a link from a website, or upload to an existing setup like Indymedia? Will your average listener have a fast or very slow connection to the interweb? Is there a maximum file size beyond which it won’t fit?  For Indymedia on individual postings it’s 20Mb for example.

For a guide on quality for your exported MP3, you might be guided thus:

320 – 256 KBPS is CD quality
128 KBPS is like FM Radio
64 – 55 KBPS is similar to AM Radio

KBPS = kilobits per second.

* Mobiles & telephones

Without realising it, most people carry a recording device around with them most of the time. The mobile cell phone.  These, and the network providers they are connected to, are many and varied in their capabilities and you need to practice and talk to your network to see what is possible.

With your basic mobile you can sometimes select that you want to make a ‘memo’. This will then record a short note, directly on your phone. Some providers allow you to make a memo to your voicemail answerphone. A main problem is that many phones only allow you to record in their very compress ‘proprietary’ format, most commonly .aac .aif & .amr [3] . While a bit scary at first, I found that by starting from the phone manufactures website, you can frequently find their own software to convert these to the more usual .mp3 or .wav.

Some sites do already accept these mobile files and it is particularly useful in transmitting live, from the street or demo. It is currently a deficiency in Indymedia that the system does not recognise these files, but we are on the case!

You might also discover that you can assign your own number on a speed-dial. Hence, when you ring yourself up by simply pressing one button, you’re engaged! However, in many setups, being engaged means you are put straight through to your voicemail.  This of course, could be very useful in making covert recordings.

If in the course of your day, a policeman, security guard, company goon, bus conductor …  whatever, exceeds their authority or is rude to you, it might make suitable material [and evidence] for your show. Officers on finding a phone on you, do not instantly think of them being recorders / recording. In the past, I have been at some risk of violence, when an officer has discovered recording equipment on me, and realised what he has just said to me. Nowadays though, If they realise that information has already been transmitted, then they are out of their depth.

For an inspiring example check out what a sixteen year-old in London, managed to do.  The recording he made cost the officer his job [4] .  I was impressed.

Also, don’t forget the ordinary telephone. You can buy a telephone recorder, which is just a mic on a suction cup, which you stick on the back of the receiver and a jack you just plug into a recorder.  Don’t do it, they’re crap!  Much better are the ones that you plug into the telephone wall socket directly, [the phone itself then being plugged into the back of this socket].  Again, these generally have a 3.5mm jack output, and again can be plugged into any recording device, or the mic socket of your computer.  Telephone interviews are under represented on many reports [outside of the mainstream media] and I would like to see more folks give it a go. Very green – saves on travelling costs 🙂

* Rules

I guess there are not many ‘rules’ of composition of what makes a show more listenable. [well, not any that I know about anyway]. The test is do you get the info across to your audience in a concise and entertaining way? The best way of checking this is to just do it! Then, listen to friends opinions that you’ve practiced on, and wider audience reaction and amend what you do next time. To be a perfectionist stops so many people even starting.  It is so much better to give something a go and learn on the job.

Next step is to get an audience. Eventually you’ll want to know about subscribing to RSS feeds and the like, but all that is for another paper. …….

____________

Notes

[1]  NottinNottingham  http://www.notinnotts.libsyn.com
Podcast for Nottingham: A group of Nottingham residents have set up their own podcast to promote the art and culture within the city.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nottingham/content/articles/2006/12/13/tom_whalley_podcast_feature.shtml

[2]  LeftLion Radio http://www.leftlion.co.uk/articles.cfm/author/radio

[3]  Audio File Types – File extensions used for audio files http://www.fileinfo.net/filetypes/audio

[4]  Racist abuse PC could be sacked within weeks – Independent 20 May 2005
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/racist-abuse-pc-could-be-sacked-within-weeks-491318.html
Met race row after arrest recording –Guardian 20 May 2005
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/may/20/race.ukcrime

*****

Riseup! Radio
e-mail: riseupradio@indymedia.org
Homepage: http://riseupradio.wordpress.com

Nottinghamshire Indymedia    http://notts.indymedia.org.uk

UK Indymedia             http://www.indymedia.org.uk

Skillshare sessions will be held at: Sumac Centre.
245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham, NG7 6HX
Ph: 0845 458 9595 / 0115 960 8254 http://www.sumac.org.uk

Sorry for the lack of postings lately, so much to do, so little time 🙂

But you’ll see have still been active on stuff

Please check out my ‘Collected’ Indymedia Postings at:

http://tinyurl.com/ynttvo