South London Anti-Fascists at Lewisham People’s Day
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.