FREE SPACE – OR BARRIERS AND CONTROL?

As Sheffield Anarchists, we're here today to support Residents Against
Station Closure and their fight against East Midlands Trains closing off
access to our station. We support RASC because the arguments they make are
true: this will make access much harder for disabled people and those with
young children, as well as closing off a vital route for local residents and
workers. But as anarchists, we also think that this is a bigger issue than
just ticket barriers.

Over the last few years, we've seen public spaces in Sheffield grow more and
more closed off and regulated. As the old city centre is torn down to make
way for new glossy corporate investments, any hint of individuality has to
be driven out. The eviction of the Matilda Social Centre, and other, more
short-lived attempts to set up social centres, are just one example of this.
We've also seen an increase in CCTV, in “community support officers” who
harass bored teenagers in an attempt to distract attention from the fact
that they don't actually have any real powers to fight crime, and other
similar forms of control. And this isn't just a local issue: the
government's plans for ID cards and national databases show the kind of
total power over our lives they hope to get – if we'll let them.

This certainly isn't just a government problem – as these tickets barriers
show, big companies are equally keen to crack down on our freedom of
movement and access to public space, especially if there's a chance they'll
make a bit of money out of it. Sheffield Anarchist Federation want to help
win the fight against ticket barriers, but we also want to see it as the
start of a much wider campaign for free spaces and freedom of movement.

If you'd like to get involved and discuss how we can take the fight for free
space forward, contact:
sheffield@af-north.org http://www.yorks-afed.org/
For the official campaign against station closures, see: rasc2008@live.com
http://rasc-sheffield.com/

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