may-dayThe 1st of May has been celebrated across the world as International Workers Day since the execution of four anarchist migrant workers in Chicago in 1886 in the fight for the eight-hour working day. Since the late 19th century Mayday has been a focal point for workers of all countries to stand united against the repression of capitalism and the state. In the aftermath of the repressive policing of the G20 protests  in London last month that led to the death of Ian Tomlinson, this year’s Mayday protests in Cardiff took place outside Cardiff Central Police Station to show the opposition to the increasing criminalisation of public protest.

No Borders South Wales activists were in attendance to show solidarity with fellow protesters and register our opposition to repressive police tactics at all forms of public demonstrations.cosmobehind The protest was good natured and lively, with lots of music and singing. Campaigners from a multitude of Anarchist, Socialist and other radical activist groups joined together behind South Wales Anarchists‘ impressive banners to show their opposition to the draconian levels of political policing that has become the norm at any event in the UK that expresses dissent.

Since their embarrassment at the G20 summit, the Police have taken a much more ‘hands off’ approach to protests; at this mobilisation outside the main police station in the capital we only saw one officer. However, this is far from the norm. At our regular protests outside the UK Border Agency offices at 31-33 Newport Road, we are often met with five or six police officers. Though these officers do not tend to intervene, it is unacceptable that small numbers of people engaged in nothing more than handing out leaflets and displaying banners in a public space should be subject to such scrutiny. The officers are always in place well before we arrive and do not leave until everyone is gone. They spend most of their time chatting to security guards, though they often come over to remind us they have ‘their eye on’ us. On some occasions seasoned campaigners known to individual officers in the ‘Public Order Team’ have been singled out for personal derogatory comments often by officers who are neglecting to display their identification numbers. At other locations where we have held protests the police reaction has been even worse.

We demand the freedom to assembly and protest without the dispropotionate presence of police. The invasive tactics of ‘Forward Intelligence Teams‘ and ‘Evidence Gathering Teams’ who aggressively film and photograph people who are committing no crime and following them after events are long over, is completely unacceptable. This hightened level of social control over dissent is a hallmark of a repressive undemocratic society where anyone opposing the government of the day is criminalised.