More signatures added to call for Edd to be reinstated

More people have signed the call for Edd to be reinstated, including leaders of the Labour movement. We continue to gather signatories to the statement which you can read here.

New signatories:

John McDonnell MP

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary

Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary

Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary

Billy Hayes, CWU General Secratary

Diane Holland, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary

Simon Weller, ASLEF (train drivers’) National Organiser

Ian Hodson, BFAWU (bakers’) President

Janine Booth, London Transport representative on RMT national executive, former NUS Women’s Officer

Birmingham Against the Cuts

York Stop the Cuts

Ruby Hirsch, NUS NEC

Fiona Edwards, Student Broad Left

Ed Maltby, Workers Liberty Students

Kingsley Abrams, Unite executive and Labour councillor in Lambeth

J Darlington, Unite British Aerospace

Tony Woodhouse, Chair of Unite Executive

Alicia McCluskey, Unite

Elaine Jones, Wirral Trades Council Vice-Chair

Rhiannon Lowton, Liverpool Hope University SU Mature Students Officer

Lani Baird, President Aberdeen College

Birmingham Green Party

Paul Brandon, National Secretary, Right to Work

Mark Campbell, UCU National Executive Commitee

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Call for Edd to be re-instated signed by over 40 Sabbatical Officers

Below is a letter signed by over 40 sabbatical officers from across the country protesting against activist Edd Bauer’s arrest and suspension from his role as VP for Education at Birmingham Guild of Students.

Edd Bauer has been unilaterally suspended from his post by staff members at his students’ union.

For more information, see this statement made by Edd yesterday

Edd Bauer, vice-president for education at The University of Birmingham Guild of Students, was arrested on 16th September after unfurling a banner that protested against university fees and education cuts, at the start of the Liberal Democrat party conference.

Edd Bauer was held in Aston Police station over the weekend and from Monday the 19th of September until Monday the 26th of September in Winson Green Prison. The arrest and detention for a minor act of civil disobedience was widely criticized as repressive crimalisation of peaceful protest, especially as Edd Bauer pleaded “not guilty”.

Bauer received solidarity from many quarters including local Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming who spoke in support of his bail application in court. John Hemming said: “Whilst I do not believe he should have put the banner there in the first place, the protest was peaceful and placid and I think it is dis-proportionate to keep him in prison any longer.”

The Birmingham University and College Union passed a motion in support of Edward Bauer. The National Union of Students intervened to help push for his release from jail. A letter signed by a number of high profile figures was published in the Guardian on Sunday 25th September, opposing the criminalisation of his peaceful protest.

Despite the wide ranging public support, the ongoing trial and his pledge of not guilty, the University of Birmingham Guild of Students – without any consultation with the Guild’s democratic bodies- has suspended Edward Bauer from his role as Vice President Education “indefinitely” and with “immediate effect”.

We call on the Guild of Students’ mangers to respect democracy in the students’ union and allow Edd Bauer to continue in work until the matter has been investigated and discussed at either a union general meeting or a student union council with all the information at hand. We do not consider any disciplinary valid unless it is done democratically by students at either a UGM or Student Union Council.

Signed:

Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary

John McDonnell MP

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary PCS

Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary

Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU

Diane Holland, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary

Ruby Hirsch, NUS NEC

Vicki Baars, NUS LGBT Officer

Kanja I Sesay, NUS Black Students Officer

Matt Bond, NUS Disabled Students NEC

Michael Chessum, NUS NEC and NCAFC

Kingsley Abrams, Unite executive and Labour councillor in Lambeth

J Darlington, Unite British Aerospace

Simon Weller, ASLEF (Train Drivers’) National Organiser

Ian Hodson, BFAWU (Bakers’) President

Tony Woodhouse, Chair of Unite Executive

Manoj Kerai, Welfare and Diversity Officer Goldsmiths Students’ Union

Dan Risdale, Vice President Education and Welfare York St John Students’ Union

Stanley Ellerby-English Activities and Development Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Ben Jackson, Education Officer, Leeds University Union

Alex Peters-Day, General Secretary, LSE Students’ Union

James Haywood, President, Goldsmiths Students’ Union

Bob Sutton, Liverpool Guild of Students

Maev McDaid, Liverpool Guild of Students

Ruth Brewer, Liverpool Guild of Students

Zahid Raja, NUS Wales NEC

Andrew Tindall, Aberystwyth Students Against Cuts

Clare Solomon, Counterfire

Mike Williamson, Edinburgh University Students’ Association

Sean Rillo Razcka, Vice President, University of London Union

Kelley Temple, NUS Scotland Women’s Officer

Mark Bergfeld, National Union of Students NEC

Arianna Tassinari, Co-President Welfare and Education, SOAS SU

Jade Baker, NUS Women’s Committee

Emma Kerry, NUS LGBT Committee

Alusine Alpha, Union Secretary Treasurer, University of Bradford Student Union

Izzy John, Welfare Officer, Warwick SU

Leo Boe, President, Warwick SU

Chris Luck, Democracy Officer, Warwick SU

Matthew Rogers, Societies Officer, Warwick SU

Sean Ruston, Education Officer, Warwick SU

Hannah Dee, Defend the Right to Protest

Joshi Sachdeo, Vice-Chair Birkbeck SU Executive Committee

Kai Weston, NUS LGBT Committee

James McAsh. NCAFC, Edinburgh

Daniel Lemberger Cooper, President Royal Holloway Students’ Union

Fionnuala McGoldrick, NUS LGBT Committee

Sarah Kerton, Postgraduate and Mature Students’ Officer, UMSU

Sam O’Connor, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Mark Campbell, UCU National Executive Committee

Paul Brandon, Right to Work

Birmingham Green Party

Birmingham Against the Cuts

Janine Booth, RMT

Joe Kelly, NUS LGBT Committee

Liam McNulty, Cambridge Defend Education

Morgan Wild, Cambridge University Students Union (CUSU) Education Officer

Ruth Graham, CUSU Women’s Officer

Taz Rasul, CUSU Access and Funding Officer

Hannah Paterson, Welfare Officer, UMSU

Oeiisha Williams, Education Officer, Birmingham City University Students’ Union

Lukas Slothuus – Community and Welfare Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Dante Micheaux, NUS NEC

Beth Evans, NUS LGBT Committee

York Stop the Cuts

Fiona Edwards, Student Broad Left

Ed Maltby, Workers Liberty Students

Alicia McCluskey, Unite

Elaine Jones, Wirral Trades Council Vice-Chair

Rhiannon Lowton, Liverpool Hope University SU Mature Students Officer

Lani Baird, President Aberdeen College

Josefine Bjorkqvist, Education and Employability Officer, Aberdeen Students’ Union

Jon Narcross, Education Officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Harry Horton, Finance Officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Nabil Alizai, Activities Officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Sarah Charlesworth, Women’s Officer, Sheffield Students’ Union
Sign the petition calling for a democratic vote here

Statement from Edd regarding his suspension from work today

Thanks so much to everyone who showed their solidarity and support for me over the last week, hearing you all on the street outside, your chanting filling the court room, was one of the most moving moments of my life.

But, unfortunately not everyone has shown solidarity to me. I came back to work this morning at the guild of students to find I have been suspended. This is a undemocratic suspension and I will continue with my work campaigning to defend education at the University of Birmingham, which continues to face grave difficulties .

The current suspension against me has been called undemocratically and unjustly before any investigation has taken place. It currently “indefinitely” bans me from using my work phone, e-mails or even entering the guild of student premises.

However, it is important we don’t lose sight of what really matters; not me keeping my job but carrying on campaigning and representing students in matters concerning their education. Being suspended massively undermines my ability to fulfil the pledges that I was elected on; ensuring that the guild organises for the NUS backed national demo on November the 9th, building the postgraduate association, reforming and empowering the student representative system.

I’m still a student at the University of Birmingham and I will continue to campaign for these causes and believe that students coming together to campaign and reform collectively are infinitely more powerful than one sabbatical officer in office can ever achieve alone.

I will willingly submit to any vote of no confidence in student council. I’ll only stop campaigning and fighting if I’m removed by the same democratic structures that put me in place.

We have let democracy in the guild slide out of the hands of students and currently the appointed; majority non- student trustee board can remove me without any vote at guild council and the current investigation against me will be reported to the trustee board not guild council for a decision.

There are three fights we now face. Firstly, the on-going campaign to defend education against fees and cuts. Secondly, the battle to democratise the guild of students and put decision making powers back into the hands of the student body. Thirdly, the battle to ensure that the decision whether I should be commended and kept on or condemned and removed is made by students at the first guild council of term, not by the unelected and unaccountable trustee board.

Myself and friends will be door knocking and petitioning all week organising campaigns to 1, defend the university against cuts 2, democratise the guild of students, every night. Join us, sign up to the phone tree, text “no fees” to 07988056967
We are meeting next Monday at 5pm in the Nuffield Learning Centre (R28 on campus map) to discuss the continued campaigning. Please spread the word.

—————-

Please support Edd by signing this petition calling for his reinstatement

You can also keep in touch with campaigning on campus by joining the Stop Fees and Cuts Birmingham Facebook Group

Ed Bauer bailed after 10 days in prison

Ed has been bailed by Birmingham Magistrates and released after 10 days in prison! Thankyou to everyone for your support and all those who attended the solidarity demonstration today! We are still very hacked off about the dis-proportionate and politicised use of criminal justice powers against Ed and now his rather harsh bail conditions. Hopefully the courts will see sense and drop the ridiculous case against all three banner droppers.

Speaking in support of his bail application in court John Hemming MP, a local Liberal Democrat member of parliament for Birmingham Yardley, said:
“Whilst I do not believe he should have put the banner there in the first place, the protest was peaceful and placid and I think it is dis-proportionate to keep him in prison any longer.”

Outside the court over 70 people attended a ‘solidarity’ demonstration. They chanted “free ed bauer” pretty loudly, which could be heard within the court room as the hearing started. Claire Lister, a student at Birmingham University attending the demonstration, said:
“I came here to show my support for Ed being granted bail today. I’m very happy that the magistrate has seen that he is not a danger to the public and there would be no reason to continue his imprisonment for what was basically peaceful protest against the government. He is an important member of the University community and has a lot of support amongst students and staff for the stand he has taken defending our education.”

Michael Chessum, a member of the National Executive Committee of the National Union of Students, commenting on the days events said:
“It is a farce that Ed Bauer has spent over a week in prison for a banner drop, and this can be seen as part of a broader attempt, along with kettles and political charges, to muzzle and intimidate student protest. We are determined not to allow this to stop us from fighting for the right to an education and for a better society.”

There is a press release here:
There are some great pictures of the solidarity demo here (thanks Jon!)

Letter to Guardian: Arrest Threatens Right to Protest

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/25/protest-students-higher-education

Edd Bauer, vice-president for education at Birmingham Guild of Students and well-known anti-cuts activist, was arrested on 16 September for suspending a banner protesting against university fees and education cuts above a public highway during the Lib Dem party conference. He was refused bail and has been held in Winson Green prison since last Monday. His detention for a minor act of civil disobedience represents yet another attempt to criminalise peaceful protest and to dissuade other young people from taking part in movements to defend education, services and jobs. At a time when prison governors are complaining that they cannot cope with the huge increase in custodial sentences after the disturbances of the summer, what purpose is served by locking up Edd Bauer?

If the objective is to frighten others, Edd’s detention has enraged and mobilised a new layer of young protesters. If the plan is to “take out” key individuals to disrupt protest movements, the result has been to give a new set of activists a crash-course in campaigning against injustice. Edd Bauer will appear in Birmingham magistrate’s court on 26 September at 3pm. We call for his release – and the right to hang our banners in peaceful protest whenever and wherever we choose.

Prof Gargi Bhattacharyya UCU NEC

Clare Short

John Smith General secretary, Musicians Union

Michael Rosen

Paul McNab Public Interest Lawyers

Mark Thomas

Michael Chessum NUS NEC and NCACF

Prof Bill Bowring

Dr Sue Blackwell Birmingham UCU

Zita Holbourne Co-chair BARAC

Daniel Guedalla Birnberg Peirce

Leslie Manasseh Deputy general secretary, Connect

Prof Alex Miller

Manuela da Costa-Fernandes NUJ Black Members Council

Prof Avtar Brah

Lorna Campbell PCS

Prof John Gabriel

Wilf Sullivan TUC

Bethany Shiner Stop Kettling Our Kids

Dr David Bailey Birmingham UCU

Dotun Alade-Odumosu GMB

Dr Sarah Amsler Campaign to Defend the Public University

Mohammad Taj Unite

Prof Les Back

Freddie Brown Prospect

Winston Phillips Bectu

NUS NEC Call for Ed’s immediate release

Every member of the National Union Of Students Executive Committee has signed a letter calling for Ed’s immediate release. The signatories are:

Liam Burns NUS President, Dannie Grufferty NUS VP Soc & Cit, Ed Marsh, Mark Bergfeld, Daniel Stevens, Alan Baily, Bicki Baars, Michael Chessum, George Charouis, Pete Mercer, Graeme Kirkpatrick, Kelly Tempe, Robin Parker, Aaron Kiely, Matt Bond, Joshi Sachdeo, Kanja Sesay, Ruby Hirsch, Shane Mann, Toni Pearce, Joe Oliver, Matt East, Josh Rowlands, Usman Ali, Adrianne Peltz, Rachel Mattey, Lauren Crowly, Estelle Hart, Luke Young, Daniel Stevens, Fiona Wood, Mateuse Wysock.

We are pleased that so many prominent student leaders are supporting Ed, and recognising the injustice of his imprisonment.

Solidarity.

Free Ed Bauer Solidarity Demo

Ed’s next bail hearing is on Monday 26th September, by which time , he will have spent 10 days in prison before trial for peacefully protesting.
We are holding a solidarity demonstration outside the Magistrates court to show our support for the individual and our disgust at the decision to remand a peaceful protester in custody.
From 3pm, outside the Magistrates court, Corporation Street, Birmingham, B4 6QA

If you are coming, please attend on our facebook event, and invite your friends to let them know about it.

Please join us, or if you can’t come to Birmingham post messages of solidarity and support here and we will pass them on to Ed.

About the Case

On Friday 16th September, 3 student activists dropped a banner reading “Traitors Not Welcome, Hate Clegg Love NCAFC” for the opening of the Liberal Democrat 2011 conference.

NCAFC is the National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts: www.anticuts.com

All 3 activists were arrested and held in police cells over the weekend, charged with road traffic offences.

At their bail hearing on Monday 19th, the prosecution alleged that debris fell from the banner, causing a danger to road users, but also stated that no damage or injury was caused. The defendents denied the claim that they caused any danger to road users, and pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution asked for bail to be denied to all 3 activists because they believe them to be members of the group NCAFC, because of the Liberal Democrat conference and in the case of Ed, because of a previous conviction for aggravated trespass in relation to Kingsnorth Climate Camp, and because he is currently on bail for being part of the sit-in at Fortnum and Mason, where the senior police officer on site described the protesters as “Non-violent” and “Sensible”. It is of course worth noting that of the 145 original arrestees in that case, 6 were not charged and 109 have had charges dropped, and the remaining defendents have all pleaded not guilty, and are yet to be convicted of breaking the law.

Ed did not break any bail conditions – the only conditions of bail were to stay out of London for the Royal Wedding (and Ed did not go to the Royal Wedding, thus upholding his bail condition), and to attend court.

The other two activists who have clean records were released on bail, with conditions to keep them out of the city centre of Birmingham, as defined by the inner ring road. Ed however was remanded in custody, with a further bail hearing set for the following Monday (26th), meaning he will have spent at least 10 days in custody without trial.

In considering her verdict, the district judge specifically ruled out the existence of the conference in her decision making. The judge said that she could not be satisfied that Ed would not committ further offences if released on bail.

Since this offence, and the other unproven offence and conviction all relate to previous protests, we can only interpret this as meaning that she felt that Ed would peacefully protest again if he was not imprisoned, and that she feels it is the courts job to prevent protest by locking people up before it is shown that they have even broken the law.

The decision to hold the activists over the weekend was in itself overly heavy policing of what is a very tame form of protest, but the decision of a court to remand someone on custody – and remember this means that Ed has not had a trial yet and has not been found to have broken any laws – is almost unbelievable.

It raises the general issue of the use of the Criminal Justice system to clamp down on political dissent. This happened because the police keep dragging peaceful protesters to court, in this case almost certainly motivated by preventing embarrassing scenes at the Liberal Democrat conference, which is not the job of the courts. Remand is entirely disproportionate given that it is highly unlikely that either action, even if proven, would result in a custodial sentence.

Email: BannerDropsAreNotACrime@riseup.net
Facebook: Banner Drops Are Not A Crime
Twitter: @BannerNotACrime