Protests in the streets, in the fields and on the rooftops (Direct Action News, 16 to 22 Jan 2023)

  1. German police evict the last people resisting a new coal mine
  2. Public sector strike action continues across England and Wales
  3. Cops kill forest defender in Atlanta, USA
  4. Palestine Action smash Leonardo arms factory in Edinburgh
  5. Anti-pension reform protests break out across France
  6. Thousands turn out to Dartmoor for land justice protest
  7. Armed police raid properties associated with hunting

German police evict the last people resisting a new coal mine

Police evicted the final two people resisting a new coal mine in the German village of Lutzerath on 16 January. It came after some scenes of spectacular aggression and violence by the police. The two protesters, nicknamed Pinky and Brain, had dug themselves into a 13-foot tunnel under the village.

A solidarity action saw Ende Galende shut down an open coal mine in Inden on 17 January.

Public sector strike action continues across England and Wales

On 16 January, members of the National Education Union (NEU) voted to strike after the government continued refusing to negotiate with the union. Following the ballot result, an NEU press release said it is taking action “in pursuance of a fully-funded, above inflation pay rise”. The first day of strikes, which will affect state schools nationally, will take place on 1 February. Further regional strikes will then take place over February and March. A full list of when and where the strikes will take place is on the NEU website.

The NEU vote came just days before a two-day nursing strike by members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The RCN made history in December 2022 by engaging in strike action for the first time since it was founded. However, the government once again failed to engage in negotiations, so the RCN started a second round of strikes on 18 January. The union has promised to engage in further strike action in February if the government continues looking away.

Like teachers, nurses are striking over a decade of pay cuts during an unprecedented upshot in the cost of living. It has led to both sectors losing staff, failing to attract new workers, and those that remain often struggling to survive.

These, of course, occur as part of a much larger wave of strikes across the UK. Please check out Strike Map to see its full scope and find strikes taking place near you.

Cops kill forest defender in Atlanta, USA

Defend the Atlanta Forest said on 18 January that “Police killed a forest defender today”. It later named him as Manuel Teran, or Tortuguita.

The group shares news and views from people attempting to prevent the building of a police training facility in the Weelaunee Forest located in south-east Atlanta. The facility, which defenders have dubbed Cop City, would erase 381 acres of forest and include an entire ‘mock city’ within its grounds.

Five people defending the forest were arrested in December 2022 and face charges of domestic terrorism. However, the movement has remained defiant and continues to occupy the area, sometimes engaging in confrontational actions such as vehicle arson in its defence.

US-based news media reported that the 18 January incident also resulted in the hospitalisation of a police officer. However, activitists on the ground said the officer was hospitalised as a result of “friendly fire”.

Following the murder of Tortuguita, police charged a further seven forest defenders with terrorism charges on 20 January.

Memorial protests for Tortuguita took place on 21 January in several cities across the so-called USA. Atlanta in particular went hard, with videos showing a police car that had been set alight and attacks on the downtown police station.

Palestine Action smash Leonardo arms factory in Edinburgh

Early on 19 January, people acting under the banner of Palestine Action Scotland scaled and damaged a weapons production facility in Edinburgh. The parent Palestine Action group tweeted that three of its members had:

[occupied] the roof, tearing the site to pieces & halting its production of Israeli F-35 combat aircraft laser targeting systems

Police brought down and arrested the trio late in the afternoon of the same day. One of the people involved, Ludovico, said in a message posted by Palestine Action that he took action to show that “we will not be complicit with the genocide of the Palestinian people”.

On 20 January, the group claimed the occupation cost Leonardo “millions of pounds in losses”. It is also asking for donations to help further its work.

Anti-pension reform protests break out across France

France’s national sport of mass protest kicked off its 2023 season with crowds opposing government attempts to raise the national pension age from 62 to 64. BBC News reported that the French interior ministry estimated “more than a million” people took to the streets. This included 80,000 people in Paris and protests in a further 200 cities.

The government’s ‘reforms’ face widespread opposition not only on the streets but also from unions and political parties. Al Jazeera reported that 12 of France’s largest unions jointly opposed the plans, leading the call-out to hit the streets. As a result, much of the country’s public services including transport and education ground to a halt.

There were, of course, some scenes of ‘riot porn’ including tear gassing, police aggression, and protesters fighting back. Most sections of the demonstrations remained relatively calm, though.

Thousands turn out to Dartmoor for land justice protest

Following a high court decision to stop people wild camping on Dartmoor, land justice campaign group Right to Roam called for people to take to the moors on 21 January. It estimated that more than 3000 people showed up for the event, describing it as “one of the largest land justice protests in British history”.

On the same day, the Guardian revealed that Dartmoor landowner Alexander Darwall – who had brought the original case to stop wild camping – was releasing pheasants next to a special area of conservation. He does this in contravention of Natural England guidelines, and in contrast to his claims of stopping wild camping in order to benefit conservation on the moor.

Armed police raid properties associated with hunting

ITV News reported on 22 January that the RSPCA along with armed police in Kent, Sussex, Thames Valley and Norfolk raided properties connected with hunting, including hunt kennels. The raids took place on 18 January. Twenty two dogs were seized and six people arrested. Reporter Rupert Evelyn tweeted that mobile phones were also seized. ITV News described it as the:

largest ever criminal investigation in the UK associated with fox hunting and focused on animal welfare

Police arrests are, of course, the opposite of direct action. However, the raid comes after decades of direct action by hunt saboteurs. Hunt sabotage groups are also widely celebrating the raids.

Featured image via Palestine Action Scotland/Twitter