Solidarity with anarchist prisoner Emma Sheppard

Anarchist prisoner, Emma Sheppard was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment on Tuesday 24th February 2015 at Bristol Crown Court for committing “Criminal damage recklessly endangering life”. Emma, with an accomplice, brought three police cars to a juddering halt on New Year’s Eve 2014 in Bristol by puncturing their tyres with a stinger device made of plywood and nails.

Sheppard’s conviction is the first following an arrest by detectives from Avon and Somerset Police’s Operation Rhone, consisting of a permanent team of 10 detectives, which is investigating more than 100 attacks on establishment targets including police stations, banks and politicians’ cars by suspected anarchists. As well as finding and arresting suspects, the aims of this operation include gathering intelligence on “the threat from domestic extremism” and to “maintain public confidence”.

A £10,000 reward has been offered over one well-known Bristol anarchist, Huw “Badger” Norfolk. Badger is wanted for two specific actions – a vandalism attack on the offices of the Bristol Post in 2011, during the time of widespread rioting across England and an arson attack on a phone mast in 2013 that cut off television, radio and mobile phone signals to thousands of homes and businesses. No evidence is cited for either and Norfolk’s whereabouts have been unknown to the police since 2011.

It is clear the police know nothing. Police have lashed out at anyone they think could be intimidated, or entrapped. There’ve been numerous arrests leading to extended police bail, and even taggings, with at least 6 since June 2014, but no convictions; searches of homes & vehicles; visits to homes & workplaces for a ‘chat’; phonecalls to private mobile numbers; harassment of individuals’ current & former partners; stops at airports; endless requests that people snitch; and no doubt countless incidences of covert surveillance. All to no avail, and at huge cost.

So why the wall of silence, and why the lack of police success? On the one hand they are harassing people – anarchists & radicals involved in public activity, musicians, and mere acquaintances – who clearly know nothing at all. On the other hand, the reality is that large numbers of people have a complete distrust of, and hatred for, the police. Whatever personal views people have on the validity of actions by ‘persons unknown’, they won’t be co-operating with the police – they are the enemy, the heavy-handed arm of the state, and they have a long list of previous. Hence the many who supported a public ‘Statement against police harassment’. In addition to the timeline, Bristol ABC has published advice for people facing police harassment, and helped those who contacted us to get together and plan a response.

Emma’s imprisonment and police intimidation in the form of Operation Rhone highlight the need for organisations of support like ABC. As anarchists, our path brings us fundamentally in opposition with the State and its organs of control, and we must be ready to support our comrades in struggle, inside and outside the prison walls. However many of us they may lock up, the struggle continues.

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