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open letter: Strategies for Hearts and Minds the Public

An open letter to Dissent activists in Edinburgh and Scotland
Please forward to Scottish dissenters

I think it is high time to take action to publicly defend ourselves against the stigmatisation that is occurring in Scotland and the UK. We have read in the press in recent weeks that the police have been inside the Scottish Parliament building to show videos of Genoa and rioting to Members of the Scottish Parliament. Of course, the police are largely doing this so that the government will support their requests to waive normal civil rights and give them « special powers » to deal with protestors (generally meaning the right to arrest people for no reason and often ending up with the freedom to beat people and then charge them with assaulting an officer.)

In 2001 the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi used his media empire and police to stigmatise those that would protest against the G8 in Genoa. Using an age old formula of whipping up fear of chaos and violence, he created an environment in which the police were able to get away with beating even the most non-violent of protesters, some of which were put into a coma as they were beaten while sleeping at the Diaz School.

Even though many of the protesters who were jailed and sometimes beaten in prison may not have wanted to deal with the media or the police or government beforehand, the fact is that many of them are still dealing with them today, almost four years after. I heard the story of one friend recently who was beaten in the Diaz school, and she is spending lots of her time fundraising to pay her costs to continually go back to Genoa to testify against cops that beat her. These activists are now doing their best to use the mainstream media in an effort raise public sentiment and to place pressure on the courts to find guilty nearly 40 cops being charged with brutality and other various offences.

Let's not wait until after the G8 at Gleneagles to explain ourselves to the courts, the judges, the police, the media and the people. Let's act now todefend ourselves before the police and tabloids whip up fear and turn the public against us. I think that if we don't act now then our case to win the « hearts and minds of the people » will be lost long before we get to Gleneagles.

I would kindly urge our dissenting colleagues in Edinburgh and elsewhere in Scotland to act sooner rather than later to publicly counter this police and media offensive against us. It could be easily found out which parliament committees the police have spoken to, and to ask for the equal opportunity to address these committees as well. If they deny us the opportunity to reply to accusations about us from the police, than we can call a press conference in front of the parliament to say that they refused to meet with us. This outcome could even be all the better to bring attention to our position that we just want to be heard.

Our goal is to win the public of Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK, and the rest of the world over to our position. Let's not let the Scottish police and UK tabloids take away this opportunity before we even get to July.

I'd be happy to help with planning if anyone is interested and I can be of assistance.

In solidarity,

newsresist g8 2005www.agp.org