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.
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns