Focus E15 March Against Evictions - We will not be cleansed! We will not be silenced!

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The Revolutionary Communist Group joined the Focus E15 campaign on the streets of Stratford, east London, on Saturday 19 September, for the March against Evictions, marking the second anniversary of the campaign. The RCG banner read ‘Housing is a right, not a privilege!’ - and that is the message that the march put across as around 700 people joined the march from Stratford Park to the Carpenters Estate.

At the rally before the march, members of the campaign told the crowd about the reality of the housing crisis for working class people - Ibtisam and Fathiya, residents of Focus E15 hostel where the campaign began, facing eviction by 30 November when East Thames Housing Association and Newham council wash their hands of the hostel's supported living scheme. Fathiya, due to have her baby in the next week, was sent to view a property in Southend. She said no as her support is in Newham. Now she is not sure what future awaits her and her new baby. Ghassem from the Asylum Clinic spoke about the racism and discrimination in housing facing migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.The speakers were rounded off by a comrade from the RCG who spoke of the role of the organisation in Focus E15 campaign, and the role communists must play in making the links between the vicious policies of Labour in Newham and the bigger picture of capitalism and imperialism, austerity at home and wars and plunder abroad.

Marching alongside Focus E15 and RCG/FRFI banners, were people, placards and banners from Eviction Resistance Network, Boleyn Development 100, Action East End, Clapton Ultras, Class War, TUSC, Left Unity, SWP, Newham Green Party, Lesbian and Gay Men Support the Miners, Sisters Uncut, Eirigi, Class War, National Campaign against Fees and Cuts, Advisory Service for Squatters, Friends of the Joiners Arms, London Teachers Housing Campaign, Lewisham People Before Profit, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, Grenfell Action Group, Architects for Social Housing, Radical Housing Network, East London Radical Assembly, Feminist Fightback, Digs, Sweets Way and the Aylesbury, Take Back the City, Young GMB, Streets Kitchen, Newham Monitoring Project and wonderful drummers who kept the chanters in rhythm.

Estate agents Foxtons represent gentrification and are known for their high rents and high letting fees and aggressive punitive attitude towards tenants. They are legitimate targets of the housing movement and as the march passed the Stratford branch, marchers,led by Class War comrades, entered the shop and staged a short occupation.

The march ended at the Carpenters Estate, the site of the Open House occupation one year before. Three of the original mothers from Focus E15 hostel who started the campaign - Sam, Jasmin and Tresha -  spoke. Jasmin contributed on behalf of the RCG talking about the issue of housing in the context of the war on the working class and cuts in education and health and linking the fightback here to the international struggle for socialism. Balloons were released to represent the 50,000 families who have been moved out of borough and out of the city in the last three years.

For Stratford, the Olympic legacy is luxury apartments for the rich and social cleansing for the poor, while the Carpenters Estate has over 400 empty homes that the council have decanted families from over the last ten years and now leave empty. Robin Wales, Labour Mayor of Newham, recently asked for £10,000 more on his pension, while he and the Labour council, continue to ship people out of the borough and ask the electorate to help decide where to cut £50m from public services over the next year. The campaign has a lot of work to do!

Join our comrades on the streets every week with the Focus E15 campaign, Saturdays 12-2pm on the Broadway, Stratford E15, outside Wilkinson’s for the lively campaign stall.

No to social cleansing!