Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
In the aftermath of the riot in Tottenham, and with the violence on the Narrow Way, we call on the youth of Hackney to show restraint and urge you not to get caught up in rioting.
We ask this because a riot is not good for you and it is not good for our community.
We know your anger:
at the lack of education, training or jobs in the borough
at the slim life chances that are afforded you;
at the police who so often fail to protect young people, but who appear relentless in their determination to ensure that you ‘know your place’.
In a society that chooses not to respect you, participating in a riot can appear like an act of rebellion and a response to a complex series of problems: giving the police a hard time for once, and adopting the stereotypes of recklessness, criminality and brutality with which you are so often labelled.
However, a riot destroys what little we have in terms of our community assets, it also places the rioters, as well as bystanders at great risk.
The use of petrol bombs and the burning of buildings is not only devastatingly destructive to the institutions and businesses in our community. It puts peoples lives at risk. In Handsworth in 1985, two people died when trapped in their flat above a shop, in 2005 a similar tragedy occurred in the Lozells district of Birmingham. On Saturday night in Tottenham families with children had to flee through a burning building to escape.
Burning, destruction, and putting the lives of members of our community at risk is not the way to express your legitimate anger at being left behind in the boom years and expected to pay with your future when the economy crashed. You are capable of more imaginative and more effective ways of demanding economic and social justice.
You may feel that in the aftermath of a number of high profile deaths particularly from the black community in police custody, a riot is inevitable. But a riot is the response of those who have no alternative channel for their anger. In America, following the assassination of Martin Luther King, the black ghettos erupted. Yet, where the Black Panther Party organised, the most militant of black radical organisations, they called on the community not to riot, but to organise for justice. We urge you to do the same.
Finally, please consider the risks you are exposing yourself to. The police are sophisticated in tracking down rioters. CCTV cameras mean that you can be tracked; covering your face simply won’t protect you. The maximum prison terms for rioting is ten years and it is unusual for sentences for riot to be any less than five years. Even lesser offences of violent disorder receive very stiff penalties from the courts.
It is not just the risk of imprisonment: in 1981 during the Toxteth riot the police used vehicles driven at high speed into crowds to disperse them. One young man, not even involved in the disturbance, was killed when he did not move fast enough.
In this statement we have not joined the long list of politicians and police officers who race to condemn rioters, as if their own policies and failings were not a major ingredient in the toxic mix that creates the context in which riots occur. We have not pretended that you are ‘outsiders’ but have spoken to you as members of our community, who we want to remain in our community. Please do not let your anger blind you to the madness that is rioting.
This statement was put out today by Hackney Unites.
We work ourselves into the ground for little economic benefit. It's high time to for a change, writes Aidan Harper.
Deregulation and tax loopholes are justified by saying that they 'protect growth'. But really, they just protect the wealthy, writes James Fox
Inequality is often treated as a law of nature - but really, it's the result of conscious political choices. It's time to choose equality, writes the IPPR's Carys Roberts.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright