Star date: 22nd October 2016


Campaigners waved banners, played music and chanted outside Strangeways Prison last night to draw attention to the plight of `political prisoner’ Chris Blaine, who was sentenced to eight weeks in jail for the `crime’ of staging a rooftop protest against homelessness and asking to discuss the issue with Manchester Council Leader, Richard Leese.

The protest was joined by the No New Prisons campaign, against the building of jails which, they argue, will be used as private workhouses.

Campaigners waving placards and banners reading `Homes Not Cells’, `Free All Political Prisoners’ and `Homelessness is a Result of Bad Policies Not Bad People’, staged a protest outside Stangeways Prison last night, alerting passers-by and drivers on Bury New Road to the plight of Chris Blaine.

Chris, from Salford, was jailed for two months after staging a rooftop protest at the Ducie Bridge pub during the eviction of homeless people by the Co-op and NOMA. Chris stayed on the roof of the pub for a full day, demanding to discuss the homeless issue with Manchester Council Leader Richard Leese. When he came down he was arrested and subsequently sentenced for obstructing court officers (see previous Salford Star articles – click here and click here).

“The focus is on Chris tonight, mainly to give him a bit of a morale boost, to show that he might be inside but we’ve not forgotten what he’s done” said Danny Jones from Manchester Activist Network “I was shocked and don’t understand the two month sentence. But Chris was more than happy to go to prison for what he believes in, and if that means that more people become aware of the issues through him being in prison and these little events we are staging outside the prison, then he’ll be happy.”

On the protest were musicians who played music for Chris, and the campaign group No New Prisons, which believes the new `super prisons’ being proposed will merely be private workhouses for cheap labour.

“Their campaign is ours, and ours is theirs” explained Danny “If we had homes and support workers we wouldn’t need to put people in prison who haven’t really committed crimes.”