Below is a statement from BAMN’s sister organization in Britain, the Movement for Justice.
‘When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty and shoot people dead while refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up and express their anger and frustration if you refuse to hear their cries. A riot is the language of the unheard.” —- Dr. Martin Luther King, December, 1963
- Shut down all of London. Take our fight to central London. Extend the youth actions across the country. All charges must be dropped.
- Restore EMA, reverse the fee hikes, end the attack on Britain’s social welfare system – restore the all the services and educational programmes that are being cut. Stop the privatisation and cut-backs to the NHS.
- Defeat the racist policing and scapegoating policies of the government. No more stop and search. A police badge is not a license to kill. Jail the killer police officers.
- Create independent community tribunals to investigate and tell the truth on the police killings.
- Stop the deportation of asylum seekers, amnesty for all immigrants & asylum seekers living in Britain, end the racist immigration policies.
- Build the new independent youth-led integrated movement. Build the New Britain –multiracial, equal & integrated.
- Stop the racist EDL marching in Tower Hamlets on 3rd September.
- Join Movement for Justice to make victory possible.
The scandal-ridden Tory/ Lib Dem Government and its corrupt, super-rich backers are responsible for every broken window, burned-out building, overturned bus and person injured in the youth rebellion that is rocking London and spreading to other cities. The fierce unleashing of youth anger was bound to occur when the Government got away with eliminating EMA and other vital education and social welfare programmes, destroying what is left of a social safety net, and doing nothing to end the record levels of youth unemployment.
The Government’s racist policy of increasing police brutality, stop & search and other repressive measures against black, Asian and other minority communities was certain to reach a boiling point and then explode. The Tories and LibDems worship the dog-eat-dog, ‘anything goes’, free market ideology that promotes the right of every individual to enrich themselves by any means and without regard for the social consequences of their actions – but when desperate youths in some of the most discriminated-against communities apply the same methods they are condemned and slandered by Prime Minister Cameron and his cynical, hypocritical political and media backers.
In the words of Malcolm X, the current youth rebellion is nothing more than the “chickens coming home to roost.”
Movement For Justice – the Leadership that will Always Speak and Fight for the Oppressed
The Movement for Justice, Britain’s leading anti-racist, integrated, youth-led civil rights organization stands with the youth. They are our people. The Labour Party has abandoned any pretext of fighting for the poor, working class, and specially oppressed black, Asian, Muslim and immigrant communities. In Parliament, Labour MP’s have allowed the cuts to go through with little more than a whimper. Local Labour Councils have instituted the cuts in their own boroughs against their own people without putting up any kind of a fight. The kind of local Council campaigns of resistance to cuts that were popularised by sections of the Labour Left in the early 1980s don’t exist anywhere now.
The Labour Party has either signed onto or taken no action against the growing institutional racism and the scapegoating of immigrant communities. Not a single “progressive” or “socialist” mainstream leader in Britain – no politician, including those associated with far left political organisations, or the Labour Party, or the establishment Asian and black community leaders, have even got angry and denounced the sub-human conditions we are supposed to passively accept or the second class treatment of our communities and demanded that the poor be given the basic necessities of life and be treated like human beings.
When Parliament was recalled on 11th January the main thrust of Labour’s argument was to demand more money and power for the police, not the restoration of EMA or the reversal of the Tory/Lib Dem cuts. Last October, November and December liberal politicians and journalists were rightly sympathetic to the student activists who introduced the tactics of militant mass action to the movement to stop the cuts and save the social welfare state; now those same politicians and journalists are hysterically condemning and vilifying young poor people who are standing up and fighting for the same aims and utilising many of the same tactics. Racist and elitist fear of and contempt for the poor oozes through every sentence of all the media reports, which are uniformly committed to dishonest and biased coverage of the events.
When the oppressed are first rising up and demanding that their needs and their humanity are acknowledged and addressed, they are going to do so in an imperfect way. The Movement for Justice is the voice of those youth. We exist to articulate the demands that the youth are implicitly fighting for in a political programme, and to teach the youth who want to fight how they can win.
Like Martin Luther King, we carry their feelings of indignation and rage in our hearts and minds, and are never scared to speak the plain truth about racism and poverty, or to expose the hypocrisy of the rich and powerful who demand that more and more of the nation’s wealth go to them instead of to the poor, and then express horror at the actions of poor, black and Asian youth. Movement For Justice’s job is not to ignore or glorify the excesses and mistakes made during the youth uprising, but rather to reach out to the best, most serious and most inspired leaders of the actions and develop their political understanding so that they can help us build and lead a powerful integrated, youth-led civil rights movement that can win and defend lasting gains and shift the balance of power to favour the oppressed.
Movement For Justice is the only leadership prepared to tell the plain truth about racism, to fight for the interests of all the poor and oppressed and treat with the contempt it deserves the cynical self-serving “economic recovery” policies of the government, which are nothing more than schemes on how to steal more from the poor to give to the rich. We know that relying on the existing politicians, religious or community leaders is a dead end. We are committed to building the new independent, mass, integrated youth-led movement, born in the students’ actions of last autumn and continuing now in the streets of London, because this is the only strategy that can win. The aim of our new civil rights movement is to make a new Britain, a society where all of us will be treated as equal, given the dignity and respect we deserve, able to exercise the same rights as every other member of the society, never treated as invisible again.
Nothing else that has occurred in the last thirty years has shaken the Government more, or placed the issues of racism, poverty, youth rights and the aspirations of Britain’s minority and immigrant communities so prominently at the centre of the nation’s political agenda.
To make gains from this stage of the action we must act quickly. Thousands of black youth and large numbers of white youth who took to the streets and expressed their anger and sense of injustice against the police and the symbols of wealth; they experienced the feeling of power, defiance and freedom. Now the continuous media assault and uniform disapproval of the authority figures they encounter will lower the confidence of the youth in their own ability to fight and win. While the memories of what they did will persist, the feelings of power, freedom, joy, and hope, which were real and are real, will fade or be forgotten.
The consciousness of thousands more youth and older people who feel that this new movement is theirs because of their sympathy and solidarity with those who did act also needs to be organised and drawn in into the movement in an active way. The best and angriest youth of other oppressed communities who might not have been directly involved, especially Asian, Muslim and immigrant youth who have been urged by their community leaders to put up with all kinds of indignities and discrimination, will have their moment to stand up and defend their dignity and equality on 3rd September. On 3rd September, when the racist, far rightwing anti-Muslim English Defense League (EDL) tries to march in Tower Hamlets, the Muslim and other youth who did not act this week will have their moment to stand up and defend their dignity and equality.
Bring Down the Government
We must use this moment of mass struggle as an opportunity to advance the building of the new, independent, youth-led, integrated civil rights movement that we need to make Britain a nation that is united on a basis of equality and respect and dedicated to meeting the needs of all its members, a society that expresses our real commitment to each other. Our strategy for changing Britain is to continue building our new movement and our most important, immediate aim must be to bring down the Government. We can achieve this goal.
Shutting Down London is the best tactic available to our young movement, to create the kind of political crisis needed to remove the Government. We are doing this to some extent already but we must raise the level of our struggle and refine our tactics in order to win. We are stopping ‘business as usual’ through the actions we are taking in our communities.
However, we can immeasurably strengthen our movement by taking our fight to the doorsteps of our oppressors – to central London. The City, Westminster and the West End are the base of the banks and the super-wealthy business community, the Government, the political parties, Parliament and Scotland Yard. We would do well to bring the fury we have expressed in our own communities to the heart of the nation’s capital.
The Poll Tax riots that occurred across the country 20 years ago culminated in a massive action that took over central London. The poll tax action in London was loosely organised and coordinated by leaders who emerged through the action. We can pull off what those youth achieved, even with our lack of formal leadership. We must make it our aim to do so.
Build a united movement of the oppressed
Divisions on racial, ethnic and religious lines do exist in our movement and in the action on the streets – not as much as the media make out, but they are still dangerous; they demean our struggle and play into the hands of our enemies.
‘Divide and conquer’ is the most effective tactic that the rich and powerful have to prevent us from winning big and lasting victories. The Movement for Justice resolutely opposes any attacks on Mosques and on specific communities based on the race or religion of those communities. Unity of the oppressed in the fight for equality is the key to victory. Joint struggle is the most effective way to overcome the prejudice, fear and mistrust that a racist system has instilled in too many of our brothers and sisters. At the same time we must recognise that many of the youth who advocate attacks on mosques or youth-on-youth violence are police agents, criminals or provocateurs linked to the police or to racist groups; we must expel such people from our movement.
Mass action to stop the EDL in Tower Hamlets: 3rd September
One danger in this situation is that the fascist groups of the far-right like the BNP and especially the English Defence League (EDL) use the hysteria whipped up by the media and politicians to build their racist street army as a physical threat to our communities and our struggle for justice and equality. This possibility was seen in recent days when the BNP and the EDL mobilised in Eltham to defend a majority white community that was never threatened with attack by anyone, and also in Tower Hamlets, when an unidentified group tried to attack Muslims leaving the East London Mosque on Whitechapel Road on 9th August.
The next essential step in building our movement will come in Tower Hamlets on 3rd September. On that day the EDL plans to hold a national anti-Muslim demonstration. Its focus on anti-Muslim prejudice is a tactic to make racism and anti-immigrant policies more widely accepted, and to create and foster divisions between different ethnic and religious groups. The EDL describes this demonstration as the event that all their other actions have been a preparation for. If they get away with this it will obviously be a major threat to the Muslim community in east London and nationally, but it will also be a major setback to the fight for equality by all black and Asian people, other ethnic minorities, migrant workers and asylum seekers. The EDL must be kept out of Tower Hamlets or driven out, by united mass action on the streets.
In the summer of 2009 determined action by Muslim youth twice drove the EDL out of Birmingham; when the EDL tried to demonstrate against a mosque in Harrow in September 2009 2000 youth, mostly school and college students – Muslim and non—Muslim, black, Asian and white took over the town centre and the handful of demoralised EDL-ers who turned up never got anywhere near their ‘target’.
Since then conservative community and mosque leaders, local councillors and MPs, and the police have collaborated to stop black and Asian youth confronting the racists. The main, majority white ‘anti-fascist’ organisations have held dead-end rallies or ‘festivals’ well away from the EDL demonstrations. As a result the racists thugs have become more confident and aggressive and their demonstrations have got bigger.
Tower Hamlets on 3rd September is where and when this must change. Asian youth in east London must reject the advice of community leaders to ‘stay off the streets’. Everyone who has been part of the actions following the 5th August, everyone who has been moved by this expression of the anger of the oppressed, and everyone who is sincere when they say that looting is unproductive and that we need more effective ways of fighting for justice has to be in Tower Hamlets on that day, taking over the streets and delivering a decisive and demoralizing defeat to the EDL.
To win, and to sustain our victories, we must build the Movement for Justice. Seeing the present spontaneous character of our struggle as the model for our movement will mean that any gains we win today can be easily taken back tomorrow. Movement for Justice exists to develop the best leaders of our still young movement into a tightly coordinated, politically conscious leadership that speaks to and for the oppressed and understands the necessity of building the movement on an independent basis. We urge all of those who want to fight to win to join us.