For the first time South London Anti-Fascists decided to take a stall at Lewisham People’s Day, the community festival of the London borough of Lewisham. An estimated 20,000 visited over the course of the day, helped in no small part by the weather.
We were delighted with the response to the stall and spoke to a number of people from varied backgrounds, including young people directly affected by stop and search as well as teachers and youth workers concerned about those they work with and care for. One particularly encouraging exchange was with a teacher from a local secondary school who was keen to take a large quantity of stop and search know your rights cards produced by Newham Monitoring Project back to her school for the new term. We hope to have contact with the school in the future and to do all we can to help with these sorts of enquiries. In another case, a coach from a youth Basketball team approached the stall - again with great interest in the stop and search materials. He told us how his players regularly encounter police stop and account and stop and search at 5 am as they make their way to training. It is unfortunately something that has become a daily nuisance in their lives.
It wasn’t just the information on stop and search that peaked people’s interest however; a large number of people read the posters from the Anti-Raids Network that were at the front of our stall. Many expressed their surprise at the rights people actually have when approached by UKBA/Immigration Enforcement Officers.The stall seemed to attract more people towards the end of the afternoon as the demographic of the crowd became younger and was a good lesson for us for future years, of which we hope there will be many. The increased interest in our stall towards the end of the day also seemed to be influenced by word of mouth as enthusiastic members of the public approached us to find out more or tell us of other community events that we should attend.
Saturday was a decent success and something that all those present agreed to do far more of in the future. Spreading information into the local community is certainly a priority and this felt like a really good way of doing this. It is also important to acknowledge organisations that provided materials used on the day including the Anti-Raids Network, Newham Monitoring Project, London Campaign Against Police and State Violence and Freedom Bookshop. The high quality of the resources we were able to distribute was a massive reason for the success we enjoyed.
From our friends in the North: London Antifascists
London Anti Fascists are organising to oppose the fascist South East Alliance march in Cricklewood on the 14th June. The south east alliance are a rag tag bunch of racists and fascists who contain ex-BNP and EDL members, and have a history of violent and racist behaviour.
They are coming to protest against the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt who have their offices in Cricklewood.
While we have no time for the reactionary and right wing ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, they are not the ones intending to march down our streets shouting racist abuse at any one they see as different, be they Black, Asian, Muslim or Irish.
We oppose both the racism of these neo-fascist groups trying to divide our community and the institutional racism of the state and police in NW London.
Join us on the streets to show Cricklewood unites against racist bigots.
See the Rogue’s gallery of SEA dickheads here: http://londonantifascists.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/revealed-the-gang-of-racists-and-fascist-thugs-that-are-attending-the-south-east-alliance-march-in-cricklewood/
Lambeth College UCU are on an indefinite strike over the management trying to impose new contracts which would drastically increase working hours and duties, cut holiday and sick pay, and worsen other working
conditions. Hackney Community College are balloting for strike over yet
another round of redundancies. Several other further education colleges
in London are preparing for industrial disputes.
Cuts to funding for those colleges are seriously affecting their ability to serve communities in which they are based. Especially in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision one can see who is the most affected by those changes. The recipients of basic English classes are mostly migrants, often refuges from countries ravaged by war or poverty; Eritrea, Congo, Somalia or Kosovo to name a few. Those classes are increasingly replaced with short courses which students are forced by Job Centre Plus (JCP) to attend. Their benefits can be cut if they turn up late even once.
Opposition to those changes has been strong from the beginning; from the teachers through the Action for ESOL campaign and from the campaigners against cuts to welfare. The attack on working conditions of teachers and the imposition of benefit sanctions through JCP courses are strongly connected.
On one hand, teachers refuse to participate in the sanctions regime both collectively and individually. On the other hand, this refusal can be detrimental to their ability to take action; striking workers are allowing and not trying to stop JCP classes from continuing to take place in Lambeth College, as they understand the severe consequences they would face. The attack on working conditions is as much about the cuts as it is about disciplining the workforce, creating conditions where they can’t refuse to teach courses they morally object to.
The most dangerous form of racism is the structural racism of the state.
It takes many forms: growth the detention regime, increase of racial
harassment from the border agency and the police but also attack on the living conditions of multi-ethnic working class communities. Cuts to
further education and especially ESOL teaching are a part of that. The
struggle of workers in those colleges should be actively supported by
anti-fascists. Hackney College teachers are holding a demo against cuts
this Saturday 7th June at 12PM. Lambeth College are on strike every
weekday and need support on pickets on all their sites in Brixton,
Clapham and Vauxhall.
Support Lambeth College Strike also by:
- Going to the Fundraiser at the Bread & Roses in Clapham tonight at 7:30pm. FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1420328904920210/
- Sign their petition: https://www.ucu.org.uk/defendlambethucu
- Donate to the campaign: http://lambethcollegestrike.wordpress.com/support-us/donations/
"On 25 June 1940 Udham Singh was hanged. At a meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society and the East India Association at Caxton Hall, London, He had shot dead Sir Michael O’Dwyer, who (as the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab) had presided over the massacre of unarmed peasants and workers at…
Today is the local and European elections. It is also the first year anniversary of Lee Rigby’s murder, a personal tragedy and a sickening public spectacle which triggered a wave of reactionary Islamophobic violence across the country.
On the day of the killing, Theresa May, the Home Secretary described it as "an attack on everyone in the United Kingdom," and this nationalist positioning set the tone for the events that followed. Hours later, that evening Yaxley-Lennon aka “Tommy Robinson” led a boozy mob of white men in balaclavas bringing anger and violence in Woolwich indiscriminately directed at Muslim and Black communities.
From Woolwich to Walsall, there was a sharp increase in vandalism, graffiti, arson and bomb attacks against Mosques and Islamic centres. Also there were many reported direct attacks on Muslims in public and at their homes, could be plainly observed.
Despite a racially-motivated murder and over a dozen attempted maiming of Muslims and people of colour targeted by white far-right groups and individuals, there were no COBRA meetings, no comparable announcements or calls for monitoring white communities in which these “extremists” reside. The message was clear; we could all consider ourselves victims of Lee Rigby’s murder but Muslims were to suffer on their own. We contrast the detailed coverage of the trial of the attackers, with the limited discussion on claims that one of the attackers was radicalised by MI5-approved rape and torture in Kenya.
South London Anti-Fascists reached out to the local Muslim community through mosques and schools and invited members to our meetings, we stood with marginalised communities, and we did not predicate our support on the bogus idea of national unity. We mobilised against the EDL and the BNP to some considerable cost - the Metropolitan Police adopted a tactic of mass arrests of hundreds of anti-fascist activists and bystanders imposed restrictive bail conditions on hundreds of people at a time.
We stopped splinter groups like South East Alliance and confronted Union of British Fascists along the way. By the year’s end Yaxley-Lennon saw that the EDL and its tactics were a dead end and made the pragmatic choice to move to a more “respectable” politics, styling himself as an “anti extremist”. We believe he had merely recognised that the State was better at promoting his hateful ideology than his amateurish street movement had been.
The recent predominance of anti-immigrant propaganda by UKIP indicates that while anti-fascism is necessary it is also insufficient. There is some technical dispute as to the degree to which UKIP can be considered fascist but, interesting though the exercise may be for some, we will not let such concerns limit our response. UKIP represent an increasingly populist demand to blame immigration and immigrants for a decline in living standards and welfare provision. UKIP are anti-gay, anti-women and anti-migrant, and the environment that has made their message appealing is at the fault of the established parties. Fascism breeds due to the economic and social policies of the Liberals that preceded them.
We believe that the Immigration Bill of 2014 is more of a threat to immigrants than symbolic power of UKIP topping the EU poll. While idiots like Britain First are emboldened to try to harass Muslim worshippers in East London, only to be stopped by parking ticket inspectors, the Coalition Government with Labour Party support are on track to legalise racist discrimination in housing, and in the NHS. Landlords will be able to decline migrants and people of colour on the basis that they do not want to risk renting to illegal immigrants, pregnant women of colour have already reported being asked for their passport when going into NHS hospitals. This will only increase after the law is passed. It allows for citizens to have their citizenship revoked, this will be used on British Muslims no doubt for future drone strikes.
Meanwhile hunger strikes have been staged across the country in immigration detention centres; Isa Muaza starved himself into blindness in a desperate bid to avoid deportation. Earlier this year, an elderly detained Canadian man was found dead in handcuffs, these are but some of the few horrendous events and conditions that exist in these prisons.
The UK Border Force have been harassing multicultural communities both unlawfully and aggressively in an attempt to produce the "hostile environment" Theresa May promised. In our analysis, the State is a much bigger threat and generator of popular racism, so we need to organise locally and with a long-term mindset. If our groups are white English then we should organise there to resist racist ideas from gaining ground. In black communities, we should follow the lead of black members and community contacts to find out how we can aid their resistance to racist oppression.
While the militant anti-fascist movement has had some successes, we need to evaluate why our anti-fascism isn’t always anti-racist and anti-sexist. We as a group do not pretend to have the answers but we are prepared to ask difficult questions about why and how we as a movement exclude and ignore white superiority and male chauvinism in our own structures.
We can and should work towards building a consistent anti-racist and anti-fascist presence in the local areas we operate. Without working relationships with significant local institutions and community groups, we remain parachuting adventurists who may irritate and be condemned by the very working class communities we claim to be working in solidarity with.
Against oppression from the street to the state, and remembering those who have suffered violence brought about by a system that encourages it.