Since October 2021 anarchist Toby Shone has been held in prison, often in conditions reserved for terrorists.
Toby is due for release in December, but his troubles will be far from over..
On Sunday evening, a small group gathered in the city centre to show solidarity with Toby and to raise awareness of his story with a march through the streets dressed in Halloween costumes.
The Monster March was organised by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a union organising across all industries, students, the unemployed and prisoners.
Bristol branch secretary, Seb, said: ‘When the state comes and tries to persecute prisoners like Toby Shone, or when the government puts down attacks on the union movement…when they come after any of the members of the working class we do what we can in solidarity with them, and to build strong community sand connections and to make their struggle our struggle.’
He continued: ‘The scariest thing for the state is when people come together, they show solidarity. They show solidarity across differences. When people stand together. When people fight for each other’s rights, fight for something better, and we begin to collectivise our struggles.
‘That’s why tonight is a Monster March. Because that’s what we’re here to do, to scare the system.’
In November 2020 Toby was arrested from his home in the Forest of Dean as part of international policing effort Operation Adream. Accused of running 325.nostate.net, a website publishing details of direct actions, Toby was charged under the Terrorism Act and the website was taken down.
At trial in October 2021 the prosecution offered no evidence to the terrorism charge and a not guilty verdict was subsequently recorded. Toby was however sentenced for three years and nine months on drug offences, spending time at HMP Horfield in Bristol before being moved to HMP Parc in Bridgend.
Notwithstanding the not guilty verdict, counter-terrorism police applied for a serious crime prevention order (SCPO), a measure usually reserved for those convicted of trafficking or firearms offences, or serious fraud.
A High Court judge refused the SCPO at a hearing at Bristol Crown Court in May.
During his prison time, supporters say Toby has been held in solitary confinement, treatment again usually reserved for those convicted of far more serious crimes.
Upon release he will have to attend mandatory psychiatric treatment, which supporters say is a consequence of his refusal to give up his anarchist beliefs. His probation team allegedly contains members of counter-terrorism police.
Toby’s supporters see his treatment as the thin end of a wedge being pushed by the government to shut down any criticism of present systems, especially capitalism, and to repress alternative lifestyles.
In an interview Toby gave to The Canary last May, he said: ‘The implications of this case do not only concern anarchists, who have been under the microscope for some time, but anyone who is living in alternative way with their ideas or their actions, collective or not.
‘Anyone who essentially wants to see actual social, political or environmental change will at some point put that into practice. And the state has prepared prisons for you.’
Supporters can write to Toby at the following address: Toby Shone A7645EP, HM Prison Parc, Heol Hobcyn John, Coity, Bridgend CF35 6AP.
Feature image: Kamui Oshino.
Did you go this protest? What did you think? Let us know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.