Non-Stop News and Picketers News

Throughout the Non-Stop Picket, City Group produced a number of publications aimed both at its members and the general public.  From the start of the Picket, City Group’s main publication was Non-Stop News.  In the spring and summer of 1986, the early months of the Picket, this newsletter was produced on a (nearly) weekly basis.  These early issues were two or four pages in length.  As the Picket progressed, Non-Stop News was published less frequently but grew in length and quality.  The newsletter was sold to members of the public who stopped to sign the petition to free Nelson Mandela on the Picket (and other City Group events).  It contained a mixture of news and analysis of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, as well as reporting events on the Non-Stop Picket.  It was a useful tool for promoting the politics of City Group and for recruiting new members.

In addition to this outward-looking publication, as Non-Stop News became less frequent, City Group also produced Picketers News.  Unlike the high-quality printed editions of Non-Stop News, this was a two-page photocopied internal bulletin distributed on the Picket to active supporters. The first issue was produced in May 1988 and production continued until 1991 (after the end of the Non-Stop Picket, when City Group was still protesting outside the South African Embassy each weekend).

Mike Russell, 'Picketer of the Week', 22 July 1988 (Source: Picketers News)

Picketers News served to educate and motivate City Group members.  It contained some analysis of events in South Africa – helping to provide picketers with news, information and arguments with which to engage members of the public on the Picket.  It contained reports on City Group actions and promoted internal meetings, training and work sessions. 

In a nod to more tabloid styles of journalism, and as a means of motivating activists, most editions of Picketers News featured a ‘Picketer of the Week’.  In the edition published for the 22 July 1988, the Picketer of the Week was Mike Russell.  Mike regularly travelled from Bradford to London to participate in the Picket for blocks of time.  He was one of the Black activists who was particularly targeted by the police for harassment.  On this occasion, he was named ‘picketer of the week’  for winning a court case in which he had been accused of two counts of police assault whilst chairing a rally on the Picket.

This same issue of Picketers News contained a report of action taken by a City Group member, Naomi Freeman, who had thrown red paint over the doors of the South African Airways offices in Oxford Circus in broad daylight (to the reported spontaneous applause of lunchtime shoppers).  Naomi claimed,

“I used red paint because I couldn’t afford a bazooka!”  

Around this time, several early issues of Picketers News also contained reports of direct actions carried out by ‘Chuck Paint’ of ‘Red Reprisal’ – a pseudonym used by several City Group supporters when carrying out clandestine night-time sabotage with red paint, paint stripper and other materials against Embassy property or corporations that invested in apartheid.

Alongside these official City Group publications, the Revolutionary Communist Group distributed their own bulletin on the Picket most weeks.  This offered their own anti-imperialist analysis of events in South Africa and sought to build their milieu of supporters within City Group.

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About Gavin Brown

Lecturer in Human Geography University of Leicester
This entry was posted in Archival research and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Non-Stop News and Picketers News

  1. Pingback: Obstructing the highway from inside a building | Non-Stop Against Apartheid

  2. Pingback: Picketers of the Week | Non-Stop Against Apartheid

  3. Pingback: A (guerrilla) ‘geography project’ for South African Women’s Day | Non-Stop Against Apartheid

  4. Pingback: A parcel from Cape Town (and a letter from Robben Island) | Non-Stop Against Apartheid

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