BY TIM RIGBY
MANCHESTER, England - Frontline Books, one of the main outlets for socialist and anarchist literature here, was recently raided by the cops. The attack was carried out by four detectives, one from Manchester and three from Southampton, 300 miles away in the south of England. The search warrant had been drawn up in Southampton two days before the raid.
The warrant stated the police had pow-ers to search for articles and records connected with two anarchist periodicals - Scumbusters and Green Anarchist - and also "any other material inciting acts of arson/criminal damage." Green Anarchist is a periodical carried by many radical book shops around Britain.
Frontline is described by Neil Swannick, one of the members of the co-operative which runs the shop, as stocking "20,000 books, with subjects ranging from children's books through to alternative health, with a wide spectrum of political books in between." The shop is one of the main carriers of Pathfinder books in the Manchester area.
Swannick informed the Guardian that not only did the police take issues of newspapers and the Scum Directory, thought to contain the names and addresses of directors of companies involved in road building and animal experiments, but also details of people who had written to the Green Anarchist post office box, held by Frontline Books.
The shop stocks several dozen left-wing periodicals. Swannick informed this reporter that the shop also provides a box number service for 70 organizations and campaigns, including the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in Manchester and groups involved in Irish solidarity.
"They went through our anarchist books section, looking at books on the Angry Brigade and the Red Army Faction, groups which haven't functioned since the 60s or 70s," Swannick told the Guardian. "They said they were investigating anything to do with direct action."
Two book shops in Oxford had previously been raided by the police in March 1995 supposedly to investigate firebombing attacks attributed to animal rights activists.
Frontline Books supporters have publicized and condemned the attack as widely as possible, "which limits the ability of police forces to walk into book shops and seize whatever they want," said Swannick.
Reports of the police action at Frontline Books were carried on local television and radio, in the Manchester Evening News, and in the Guardian and the Observer, two national newspapers. An editorial protesting the raid, written by Swannick, appeared in City Life, a widely circulated Manchester periodical.
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