The Palestine protest in Edinburgh that stopped cops taking activist Willie Black

Around 400 people showed up at a recent demonstration in Edinburgh for Palestine which marched to a rally in Bristo Square. There it was announced that protester and activist Willie Black would be charged with “organising an illegal procession”.

Before the cops could take him to the police station, protesters quickly surrounded the van. Activists took part from Edinburgh university’s Justice for Palestine Society, Stop the War, the Socialist Worker Student Society (SWSS) and Jewish student group Kehillah, which stands in solidarity with Palestine. The crowd tripled in size from 50 to 150 demonstrators as the standoff went on.

In a flagrant attack on our right to assembly and using disgusting intimidatory tactics, this was met by a force of no fewer than 35 officers, eight police vans, and three patrol cars. 

Riot cops attempted on multiple occasions to shove the crowd out of the way of the van. It seemed to many of us that they particularly  targeted women and minority demonstrators. 

Their efforts backfired as even more people chose to sit and block the van’s path. In the end, after two hours, they were forced to release Willie. 

He left a quote for Socialist Worker, saying, “The blockade tactic adopted achieves victories, both in Glasgow where protesters stopped Home Office vans on a deportation raid in 2021, and here. When people mobilise there is a different outcome to what the authorities expect.”

Let there be no illusions that this is how the state will treat pro-Palestine protests moving forward. 

We must be ready to face this incoming escalation as the state continues to crack down on the right to free speech and the right to protest.

Palestinian wins Glasgow university rector election

British-Palestinian Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah has won the election for rector of Glasgow university with 80 percent of the vote.

He stood on a platform of opposing the war in Gaza, divesting the university from the arms trade, connecting with universities in Palestine and more.

Abu-Sittah said, “Glasgow, as a city, stood up to Margaret Thatcher. The University of Glasgow voted for Winnie Mandela as rector in the 1980s, in the darkest moments of apartheid when it had the complete support of the British government and the US government.

“Glasgow university took a principled stand then, and I think for this new generation Palestine is the anti-apartheid struggle.”

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