Thursday, October 27, 2005


IMC Bristol: Criminal Hypocrisy

Bristol Indymedia has issued a 'Public Statement' which appeared on their front page for a couple of days, concerning the servers which were seized earlier in the year (past reports here and here. The whole incident has now escalated into physical attacks and threats against former Indymedia members, but more on that later.

According to the statement:
"This case has serious and fundamental implications for the whole Indymedia network. The reason is that police charged the individual from the collective with 'Incitement to cause criminal damage' after an article posted on the open newswire apparently urged others to damage cars, despite the fact that the article was removed under Bristol Indymedia guidelines within 24 hours."
Not quite. The offending post was not in fact removed from Bristol Indymedia "within 24 hours" and remained visible on the newswire (via the front page) for a few days. Secondly, and more importantly, it wasn't "removed" at all, rather "hidden" (see here ) meaning it was still publicly available, merely not via the front page, however available to anyone who wished to find it.

Furthermore, the article wasn't problematic because it "urged others to damage cars" as suggested by the statement. In fact, the article was posted by someone claiming to have actually dropped rocks on a moving train (a potentially fatal stunt) and encouraging others to perform the same potentially fatal activity.

Two whoppers. Not bad for the first two paragraphs. It continues:
It is clear that the police were, through using this charge, claiming that the Indymedia volunteer was somehow 'responsible' for the content of the article because it was 'published on Indymedia': meaning that anyone who volunteers (or has any connection) with an Indymedia site can be personally held responsible for anything that anyone posts on the newswire."
The Indymedia volunteer who was arrested, had the offending server in his home. It is fairly obvious why the Police may have associated the two.

As for the other question of liability, at some point, perhaps someone on Indymedia should accept some.

It goes on:
"The police response of seizing a server is completely out of proportion to the situation, especially as the Bristol Indymedia collective had agreed to discuss the matter with police. In fact it was the police who called off the meeting at the last minute. The next thing the collective knew was the server being taken and an individual arrested."
Excuse me? Indymedia would co-operate with the police? Sure. This after previous and ongoing statements that they do not log (collect) IP addresses however even if they did, would "never" give these to the police. What co-operation were they likely to extend? Besides perhaps a cup of tea. It's sheer speculation and does not justify bitterness towards the Police who looked elsewhere in their investigation. But here comes the sermon:
Through this extreme action, which brought the whole Bristol Indymedia news service offline, the police made a direct attack at the very principle of open posting and free media.
No they didn't. They attempted to locate and hopefully prosecute someone who acted in a criminal and completely irresponsible manner.
We cannot let this precedent be set, and we cannot allow this to become a tool used against Indymedia anywhere, anytime: for the sake of keeping Bristol Indymedia available to the public, and that of the whole Indymedia project worldwide
In other words: "We demand the right to incite people to drop rocks on moving trains". Sorry. There is an old Libertarian expression "The right to swing your fist stops at my nose" which applies in cases of freedom of speech versus criminal incitement (or simply abundant stupidity). See here for an academic discussion of this issue.

Mark Watson (AKA Zaskar) previously reported here has become the victim of an intimidatory campaign against him, presumably based on his co-operation with police regarding Indymedia's involvement in the above incident.

In a dicussion on another Bristol forum, he has reported receiving threats at home and had his name spraypainted on a nearby building. While he and the Police are taking the matter seriously (and should) his response and the accompanying video of it was priceless.

Sorry if I change the issue, but no doubt Melbourne IMC is most funny (please, read all coments on this thread)

Anna (Denmark)
Why this link above is not coming?
Try once again.

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