2009 has been a year of turmoil, the crisis in capitalism has caused unemployment to sore, with both families and individuals striving to survive. Society has been transmogrified with a spate of protests, and the voting in of extreme-right parties in the European Elections. Yet the difficulties in Glasgow have been manifold with 13 Primary Schools and 12 Nurseries being considered for closure. Whilst capitalism struggles on, the parents of Glasgow school children have been acting, re-occupying Wyndford Primary School on the 29th of June.
Whenever an organisation decides to occupy a building as a means of protest it is never long before a private security firm and the police are called in to ‘deal’ with the situation, their ‘objective’ to protect the public, the occupants and the building. Despite this the police are likely to leave, hassling the protesters to only a small extent, allowing the security firm to begin running operations. The firm has one objective; to wear down the occupants thus making it more likely for them to abandon their protest; this will aid the company by giving it a reputation for its effectiveness helping it to amass a greater amount of work. At no point are the interests of the public, the building or the occupants taken into mind.
This scenario is no different to the current occupation at Wyndford Primary School, where the security’s tactics have led to the creation of a Fascist Microcosm, in which the occupants’ basic human rights have been stripped away. What has manifested is the antithesis of our governments’ so called liberal ethos. The Security has ensured that geographic mobility is a thing of the past, nobody can enter the school grounds and once one has left there is no return, the only movement being for the collection of food parcels or to have a quiet cigarette. The ability to move around freely allows us to indulge in our basic rights, to practice a religion, to work, to see our children and so on, without freedom of movement the people within the occupation are stripped (though maybe willingly) of these rights. The occupants have become pseudo-slaves.
Surveillance is also being used at the occupation, so that criminal activity can be caught on film. Yet the public’s money is ill spent, as any damage done to the building is merely superficial for the council plans to demolish it. There is also little risk to public or occupant safety as the general feeling in the Maryhill area is one of support for a justified occupation. Surveillance instead acts to remove any sense of privacy the occupants may have, preventing any escalation in the protest in an attempt to criminalise it.
The limited access to the occupation means that one can only speculate on the other tactics that security is using, but from personal experience (occupying a building at the University of St Andrews in an attempt to stop the University’s discriminative policies towards Palestine), it will not be mere guess-work. It is likely that the security will be carrying out ‘safety checks’ where they will inspect the building during hours of sleep, checking that no property is being damaged regardless of the fact that the property is being demolished by the council. This disrupts the protesters sleep patterns making morale easier to destroy. In the St Andrews Occupation they even resorted to an early morning fire drill. They may also attempt to instate other useless rules, such as keeping the building clean with the removal of footwear, as well as constant reminders that the floor needs to be vacuumed etc. Yet these rules only act to motivate the occupiers further and compliance with them would do very little to distort or crush the occupants aims.
Nonetheless it is easy to forget that the security firm’s draconian ruling within the Wyndford Occupation stems directly from the council, in fact it seems that the Security are held quite highly in the minds of the occupants, probably because they offer extra company and on the basis that they are ‘only doing their jobs’. The St Andrews Occupation had a similar feeling; rightly we blamed the University for the Policies the security employed, as the Wyndford Occupiers rightly blame the council. The council has even pursued its folly without the use of puppets, cutting the water supply on the fourth day of the occupation, council workers deceived the occupants by stating they were there to ‘check out a gas leak’. Water is inherent to human survival and therefore this is the most outrageous step so far and a blatant attempt to force the occupiers out. The occupants will now need to rely on a greater amount of handouts and the lack of running water will cause hygiene levels to decrease.
However it would be too simplistic to state that the Wyndford Occupation is doomed due to the council’s onslaught of deception, rotten tactics and their brutal dismissal of human rights. Both the council and the security have not considered the possibility that an occupation is the modern day equivalent of taking up arms or even martyrdom; it indeed seems to be the ultimate manifestation of the occupant’s beliefs. They have also dismissed the fact that the Glasgow Save Our Schools Campaign has been a prime factor in rebuilding the Wyndford community, social cohesion is at an all time high, and this is unlikely to be quelled overnight. When ‘dancing on a volcano’ one finds that the politics of hope are amidst their neighbours, it would take an earth shattering blow to move the parents on the Wyndford Estate from their cause.
By James Morris