Fighting government corruption, from root to branch (Direct Action News, 27 February to 5 March 2023)

Felled trees in Wellingborough
  1. Tree-sitters stop felling work in Wellingborough
  2. Tens of thousands take to the streets of Tel Aviv against increasing government autocracy
  3. Anti-fascism in the UK!
  4. Hunt sabs protest Wiltshire Police corruption

Tree-sitters stop felling work in Wellingborough

On 28 February, human rights lawyer and ecological activist Paul Powlesland climbed a tree set for what he described as an ‘illegal felling’. The lime tree, located in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, is one of “more than 50” the local council wants to remove in order to build a dual carriageway.

As Powlesland explained on Twitter, Wellingborough locals opposing the tree felling approached him for advice over the council’s claim that the trees were exempt from a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). However, he said:

Looking at all of the available documents, my clear conclusion was that the exemptions to the TPO regs didn’t apply & therefore felling the trees with TPOs would be illegal

The lawyer, based in London, visited the trees himself and experienced first-hand police officers using aggravated trespass powers to move people on. As a result:

I had a choice: to allow these beautiful trees to be illegally & unnecessarily felled, or to climb one of them to prevent the illegality. Before I knew it, I was scrambling up the tree & seeing the perplexed expression of the police far below me

He remained up there until the end of the day. When he descended, police arrested him, then bailed him on condition not to climb any tree in Northamptonshire. Extinction Rebellion protesters then climbed the same trees the following day.

Following these protests, the housing development company appears to have temporarily stopped felling work.


Tens of thousands take to the streets of Tel Aviv against increasing government autocracy

On 4 March, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest new legislation that would strengthen the Israeli government’s grip on the State. Reuters reported that:

Proponents say the Supreme Court needs to be reined in from overreaching into the political sphere. Critics say the plan will weaken the courts, endanger civil liberties and harm the economy along with ties with Western allies.

It’s clear from the strong turnout in the streets, though, that many in Tel Aviv are concerned about government overreach through the new laws. Video on social media shows protesters occupying city streets, taking over motorways, and bringing down police barricades.

The protests are the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations against the law that began in January. However, 4 March’s turnout was particularly big because just a few days earlier, on 1 March, police used stun grenades while trying to disperse a march in the capital city. Immediately preceding the deployment of stun grenades, Israel’s security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had described protesters as “anarchists”.

Anti-fascism in the UK!

Also on 4 March, Kent Anti-Racism Network led a counter-demo in Dover against a march opposing the RNLI’s rescuing of refugees from the English Channel. According to Brighton Antifascists, who were present in the seaside town, the far-right protest lasted little more than an hour, with both sides comprising approximately 80 people. It appears the day went off relatively calmly.

The far-right presence in Dover comes on the back of protests across England organised by en vogue nationalist group Patriotic Alternative outside of hotels housing refugees, some of which Phoenix Media has previously covered. The Observer said on 5 March that leaders of Britain’s 13 largest unions had described the UK government as “complicit” in these attacks by playing the “mood music” to the wave of racist, nationalist discontent through rhetoric and policy.

Of course, that’s not the end of it. Anti-Fascist Network has shared a number of demos over the upcoming week that aim to oppose and disarm nationalist protests across the UK. They include Dulwich on 10 March, and Manchester and Cannock on 11 March.

Hunt sabs protest Wiltshire Police corruption

Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs led a demonstration against Wiltshire Police on 5 March. Approximately 200 people turned out, including other sabs as well as members of the public. The protest was called following the appointment of Cheryl Knight to the police force’s rural crime team. Knight is a member of the Avon Vale Hunt, the same hunt that was recently exposed for digging out a badger sett and hunting a fox on camera – and which Wiltshire Police’s rural crime team is investigating.

Featured image via Paul Powlesland/Twitter