As part of the warm up for a forthcoming music track / compilation CD, involving some Famous Musicians, in support of Gary McKinnon's legal fight against extradition to the USA, there will be a live "sing in" tomorrow at the US Embassy in London, starting at 11am.
You can download the backing track and the lyrics to "Chicago / We can change the world", which have been re-written by Gary's mother, Janis Sharp, with the permission of Graham Nash.
See the previous blog entry David Gilmour to sing on "Chicago" protest song in support of Gary McKinnon for the lyrics.
We are under no illusions that President Barack Obama will be allowed within earshot of any members of the British public during his G20 summit visit, but there will be people in his entourage of advisors, who might be reminded of their own Chicago community politics background.
Hopefully there will be some mainstream media coverage, especially as tomorrow is also the United Nations World Autism Awareness Day.
Date: Thursday 2nd April 2009
Embassy of the United States of America,
24 Grosvenor Square
Media contacts: email info@FreeGary.org.uk for contact names and mobile phone numbers etc.
Some advice about demonstrations in central London -
N.B. the section on taking photos, where the law has recently been changed since the last public demonstration of support for Gary McKinnon:
Amateur and even professional press photographers are all too frequently illegally harassed by jobsworth public officials and security guards, partly as a result of the Home Office's "climate of fear" anti-terrorism propaganda.
There are no laws which prevent you taking photos at the demonstration (ideally, if it is to have any effect, the mainstream media should be present), and the US Embassy is not anything special as a building, except that it is the sovereign territory of our major ally.
Unfortunately, now, unlike the previous demonstrations in support of Gary McKinnon, there is now a new law in force, which has amended the Terrorism Act 2000, to make it a serious criminal offence (10 years in prison) for "eliciting, or attempting to elicit information", which might, at some time in the future, be of some use, to some unspecified terrorist, somewhere in the world. This applies to current or former, Police Constables (but not Police Community Support Officers - PCSOs) , and to members of the armed services, or the intelligence agencies. How you are actually meant to know who is a former member of the UK intelligence agencies, is a mystery.
This draconian power applies to taking photographs of Police Constables anywhere (even when they are at home), but obviously, also when they are on duty at a demonstration.
No Police Community Support Officer or private security guard or any US Embassy staff (outside of the Embassy grounds) has any power to seize your camera or mobile camera phone.
Even if you are arrested, the Police Constables (not PCSOs or private security guards who have no powers of arrest) have no power to delete digital photos etc. even if they have seized your camera or mobile phone, since that would be tampering with evidence.
Conversely, there are no laws to prevent the Police or security guards from taking photos or video of you, either.
Terrorism Stop and Search harassment
All of London within the M25 orbital motorway appears to be an area, designated in secret, where Police constables in uniform (and Police Community Support Officers in uniform, but only under the direct supervision of a Police Constable, not on their own), can conduct Terrorism Act 2000 section 44 stops and searches, without reasonable suspicion.
The US Embassy is one of the top terrorist targets in Europe, let alone the UK, and so it does have armed Police guards.
The Metropolitan Police Constables in Uniform (not any plain clothes police) can stop you and search you, supposedly for weapons or explosives or anything that might be used for terrorism (i.e. just about anything). Despite tens of thousands of such stops and searches, they have never caught a real terrorist as a result.
If you are stopped and searched under normal Police powers, where there is some "reasonable suspicion", then you do have to give your name and address. If you refuse to do so on the street, then you will be dragged back to a Police station for fingerprint etc. checks on your identity
If you are stopped and searched under Terrorism Act section 44, without reasonable suspicion, then you do not have to give your name and address.
You have to be given a Stop and Search form, stating where, when, and by whom you have been stopped, and under what law. However, if you do not demand one, then you will not necessarily be given such a form.
What the Police and PCSOs often try to do, during such searches, is to copy, or at least rifle through, any wallet or notebook or mobile phone address books, credit cards etc. which you might have on your person, so do not bring private stuff with you on such a demonstration.
What to bring on a demonstration
- A sense of humour.
- Several friends and supporters.
- Press and Broadcast journalists and reporters.
- Posters, banners, leaflets, petitions etc.
- If you smoke, something to collect and extinguish your cigarette butts in - Westminster Council bylaws and Government Anti-social behaviour laws and policies, could allow various public officials to slap you with a £60 Fixed Penalty Notice for littering if you throw you cigarette butt onto the ground.
- Something (non-alcoholic) to drink and eat etc.
- An umbrella (this is London).
- Cameras and video recorders
- Spare batteries and USB or other memory devices for digital cameras and mobile phone cameras.
- Contact details of firms of legal solicitors who deal with human rights issues and arrests at demonstrations e.g. Bindmans - telephone: 020 7833 4433 or Kaim Todner - telephone: 020 7353 6660 (Gary McKinnon's solicitors)
- N.B. Unlike the demonstration at the Home Office, loudspeakers / loud hailers etc. are not banned in Grosvenor Square. (non-amplified megaphones are not banned in either place) - some of Gary's supporters have loud enough voices not to actually require megaphones !
What NOT to bring to a demonstration
- Alcohol - even Police Community Support Officers now have powers to confiscate alcohol within a Dispersal Zone. All of the London boroughs of Westminster and Camden are now such Dispersal Zones.
- Being seen to be drinking alcohol on Transport for London Tubes or Buses is also now banned.
- Illegal drugs - obviously.
- Personal address and contact books or Mobile Phones or Personal Digital Assistants containing contact names, addresses, email, phone etc. details - jobsworth PCSOs and Police constables often attempt to rifle through these, during "stops and searches", even when they often have no proper legal power to do so.
- If you must bring your normal mobile phone with you, then you should set a security PIN code, for both for the power on and keyboard locks, which might prevent arbitrary snooping, but which will not, of course, prevent forensic examination of the phone if you are arrested.