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As London Explodes in Riots, There Is a Context That Can't Be Ignored
Since the coalition came to power just over a year ago, the country has seen multiple student protests, occupations of dozens of universities, several strikes, a half-a-million-strong trade union march and now unrest on the streets of the capital (preceded by clashes with Bristol police in Stokes Croft earlier in the year). Each of these events was sparked by a different cause, yet all take place against a backdrop of brutal cuts and enforced austerity measures. The government knows very well that it is taking a gamble, and that its policies run the risk of sparking mass unrest on a scale we haven't seen since the early 1980s. With people taking to the streets of Tottenham, Edmonton, Brixton and elsewhere over the past few nights, we could be about to see the government enter a sustained and serious losing streak.
The policies of the past year may have clarified the division between the entitled and the dispossessed in extreme terms, but the context for social unrest cuts much deeper. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan last Thursday, where it appears, contrary to initial accounts, that only police bullets were fired, is another tragic event in a longer history of the Metropolitan police's treatment of ordinary Londoners, especially those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and the singling out of specific areas and individuals for monitoring, stop and search and daily harassment.
One journalist wrote that he was surprised how many people in Tottenham knew of and were critical of the IPCC, but there should be nothing surprising about this. When you look at the figures for deaths in police custody (at least 333 since 1998 and not a single conviction of any police officer for any of them), then the IPCC and the courts are seen by many, quite reasonably, to be protecting the police rather than the people.
Combine understandable suspicion of and resentment towards the police based on experience and memory with high poverty and large unemployment and the reasons why people are taking to the streets become clear. (Haringey, the borough that includes Tottenham, has thefourth highest level of child poverty in London and an unemployment rate of 8.8%, double the national average, with one vacancy for every 54 seeking work in the borough.)
Those condemning the events of the past couple of nights in north London and elsewhere would do well to take a step back and consider the bigger picture: a country in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, where consumerism predicated on personal debt has been pushed for years as the solution to a faltering economy, and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country.
SisMarpessa wrote 647 Days Ago (neutral)0
Statement of the PASCF on the London Uprisings
In solidarity with the family and friends of our son Mark Duggan
The PASCF extends our deepest sympathy and forthright solidarity to the family and friends of our son Mark Duggan. Between 6.15pm and 6.41pm on Thursday 4th August 2011 our 29 year old son Mark was shot dead by London Metropolitan Police gunmen in Tottenham Hale North London.
Coming two weekends before our Marcus Garvey African Family Day with its theme of African Youth Thirty Years On: State Destruction or Self-Liberation, the Tottenham Uprising of 6-7th August 2011 confirms something that was never in doubt: the capacity of our African Youth (and our wider African community) militantly to resist injustice and oppression.
Contextualising the current uprising
There is a rising amount of injustice and oppression around at the moment. The racist ruling class is making working people (Africans especially) pay for the destructive structure and operation of a capitalism increasingly dominated by finance capital. This system commoditises everything (including nothing) in pursuit of super profits. When this blows up in its face with bogus AAA instruments proving to be what they always were - worthless - it is the capitalist state that 'saves' the finance sector and the economy as a whole. It has to do so by printing and borrowing money.
Ideologically right wing capitalists then attack the state for being too large and too debt-burdened. They demand 'cuts' to 'save the nation and posterity.' Poor people pay. The objective noose around the neck of capitalism tightens. The right wing demands tax cuts for the rich. The banks, for their part, as part of 'rebuilding their balance sheets' virtually refuse to lend or lend at interest rates of way above that at which they borrow. The banks pay next to nothing on savings. The finance houses (banks by another name) make super profit by attacking money (the national currencies of all nation-states are commodities that are not just traded but attacked for profits).
This completely irrational aspect of the system cannot be curbed because finance capital is king. And so the crisis deepens. The USA and the EU/Euro Zone and the UK (Sterling) are in trouble. So is Japan (its industrial production-based miracle has run its course). So too is China, the leading lender into this system and itself a social powder keg. The question there is: can a Communist/(Stalinist) party structure successfully manage a corrupt capitalist economy in which workers are exploited in myriad un/traditional ways? Those (like Ghaddafi) who dare to propose currency (absolutely not system) alternatives get targeted for murder/regime change. Well serious!
State oppression brings people’s resistance
Injustice and oppression reign on the streets of the UK (and elsewhere) as well. The Metropolitan Police is not only in bed with the corporate criminals like News International, taking bribes left right and centre. It also has its officers killing, humiliating and criminalising Africans. If they can get away with shooting our sons Derrick Bennett, Azelle Rodney and a Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes (shot some 7/8 or more times in the head in public) why not the killing of Smiley Culture (What were handcuff marks doing on his wrists if he stabbed himself to death using a knife with body-penetrating force?) and why not Mark Duggan on Thursday 4th August. Eye witnesses say Mark was shot dead by armed police after being 'subdued' and fully under their control. The bullet he is alleged to have fired is now being said to have come from a police issued firearm. It is now officially admitted that the media facilitated the police in the telling their usual lies that Mark had shot one of them before himself being shot dead. If Mark's unlawful killing was fuel, the open assault upon a young African sister towards the end of a peaceful demonstration was more fuel, and lighted match.
On top of that, we have a national DNA data base with African people massively over-represented on it! We have Joint Enterprise Statute, dangerous in conception being abused by the police, the state prosecution services and the courts! The Police are in Schools - taking names and information, managing the long-term criminalization of another generation of an entire community as they participate in process of rampant exclusion and false charging of African Youth!
Perhaps more than ever and disproportionately at the expense of African people, the police are dealing in drugs and facilitating gangs of many sorts! The police are abusing stop and Search powers exploiting fears about gun and knife crime in trying to justify this humiliating outrage?
Late on Saturday 6th August PASCF members witnessed a search on Railton Road, Brixton (Starting point of the Brixton Uprising of 1981 provoked by the Swamp 81 stop and search Operation!) The victim of that search was an African who appeared well into middle age. One of the police men doing the search had on surgical gloves and only barely avoided stripping the man, so invasive was he. Our member asked that policeman if, having found no evidence of a crime, he had ever had reasonable grounds for suspecting the African and as he walked off he said the African man would tell us what it was about. The poor victim had no idea what the search had been about. He had been asked for a search and had felt obliged to say 'yes'.
On 8th August the Hackney part of the ongoing Uprising followed immediately upon precisely one of these lawless fishing exhibition type searches by Metropolitan Policemen.
Youth are the spark of the revolution
Of course the struggle continues with London in flames. So far our children are rising up in Tottenham, Enfield, Islington, Waltham Forest, Walthamstow, Wood Green, Camden, Harlesden, Shepards Bush, Ealing, Queensway, Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, Chelsea, Hounslow, Croydon, Brixton, Loughborough Junction, Crystal Palace, Tooting, Streatham, Clapham, Merton, Camberwell, Peckham, Lewisham, Catford, Lee, Blackheath, Woolwich, Surrey Quays, Old Kent Road, Tower Bridge, Bromley, East Dulwich, Ilford, Chingford, Dalston, Hackney, Canning town, East Ham, Barking, Isle of Dogs, Oxford Circus, Bristol, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Surrey and Suffolk. In addition to militarily defeating the British police force, they summoned Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Home secretary, the Mayor of London and other officials all of whom were on holiday.
Not only do our young people presently have the capitalist state on the run but they are demonstrating its logistical limitations for all who have eyes to see. The political pity is that Marx’s working class/proletariat - theoretically history’s appointed "grave diggers of capitalism" - is visible only as one source, along with Black Members of Parliament, of scared, inane and reactionary comments about the spreading Uprising.
11th August 20111 point