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!

London march in solidarity with refugees - 12 September 2015

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London RCG branches joined the 'Solidarity with Refugees' march in central London on Saturday 12 September. We marched with the Asylum Clinic from West London, and the Focus E15 housing campaign from East London. Assembled behind a banner which read: 'Fight Britain's racist immigration laws!' we made clear that any movement which fights in solidarity with refugees must also fight British imperialism and its racist state. Our militant and lively contingent operated an open mic for all to speak out about the crisis and how we can build a movement in this country against racism and imperialism.

Read more analysis on the refugee/migrant crisis: http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/britain/fight-racism/4065-fr050717

Join us to discuss these issues at our upcoming film showing and discussion:

Resistance at the Border  - ‘Europe or Die’

Wednesday 7 October, 7pm

The Apple Tree,

45 Mount Pleasant,

Clerkenwell Rd, London. WC1X 0AE

Freedom for migrant! Justice for refugees! Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

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Focus E15 campaigners violently assaulted at ‘family fun day’ as Mayor of Newham looks on

On Sunday 12 July supporters of the Focus E15 campaign for decent housing, including RCG comrades, were subject to intimidation and harrassment by members of the Labour council, by private security firm APS and the police, when they attended the ‘Mayor’s Newham Show’ at East Ham’s Central Park (supposedly a family fun day) to distribute materials exposing the social cleansing being conducted by Newham’s Labour council.

At last year’s show the Labour Mayor, Robin Wales, physically attacked and swore at campaigners (see FRFI 243) and was eventually found guilty of breaching Newham council’s own code of conduct.

This year, upon arrival at the park, campaigners were searched, resulting in a banner, some leaflets and Robin Wales masks confiscated. They were followed around by both plainclothes and uniformed security guards and volunteers for the event, including Labour councillors.

At the appearance of the Mayor, who is on upwards of £80,000 basic pay for his role in the social cleansing of Newham, campaigners began chanting ‘Robin Wales, get out, we know what you’re all about…’ and displayed placards highlighting the homelessness in the borough and Robin Wales’s role in the sell-off of social housing in the interests of private capital.

In response, APS security guards were set on the campaigners. Several FE15 supporters were violently ejected from the event by a large group of private security guards who taunted and swore at them; one male comrade was dropped on his neck and a female comrade was manhandled and left with two damaged fingers. Several campaigners were left covered in deep marks and bruises, including fingernail marks, as the police looking on passively.

Among the police officers present was one who had been involved in the unlawful arrest of campaigner Jasmin Stone at Focus E15’s ‘Jane Come Home action’. That incident was clearly politically targeted and the collusion of the council is indisputable.

Having been evicted from the Mayor’s Show, campaigners, some still dressed in ‘Mayoral’ costumes, put up banners and placards and continued to distribute leaflets to people in the streets and talk with them about how to solve their housing problems and what the council has been doing to cause them. Robin Wales mask ‘selfie sticks’ were handed out, encouraging people to photograph themselves and post online with the hashtag #ImRobinNewham. However, people who took the leaflets and then entered the park for what was supposed to be a family fun day, were intimidated by security guards who, without any justification, confiscated the leaflets and other materials from them.

The campaign continues to fight on against this opportunist Labour council’s social cleansing. We will not be intimidated by their violence and harassment as we continue to build resistance to austerity, evictions and home losses.

Agitate! Educate! Organise!

Decent housing for all!

Join the Focus E15 campaign on our stall outside Wilkinson’s on the Broadway in Stratford every Saturday, 12-2pm.

Facebook: Focus E15 Mothers

East London RCG

ALSO SEE: A report of South London RCG’s visit to the Labour Mayor at Lewisham People’s Day, holding him to account for his council’s social cleansing policies: http://southlondonrcg.tumblr.com/post/123889330675/so-we-went-to-visit-the-mayor

Lewisham protest demands housing for Sandra, housing for all!

Protesting against Lewisham Council's housing policy

Supporters of south London Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG), People Before Profit (PBP), Focus E15, and supporters from various organisations including south-east London People's Assembly and Left Unity gathered outside Lewisham Council offices today together with Sandra, a Catford resident who has been homeless since last year.

Sandra, who has health issues (including diabetes, back problems, high blood pressure), has been living on the floor at the flat of her daughter (who has five children, two with severe disabilities). 

Sandra also has been forced to stay with a friend who has a one bedroom flat and a baby (and sleep on the sofa). 

This is not sustainable or acceptable. Sandra’s life is paying the cost of Lewisham’s poor housing policy.

Sandra, accompanied by the two RCG and PBP supporters, was stopped at the council’s door and refused entry by private security. This is unlawful. 

Lewisham Council then called the police on Sandra – this is what British ‘democracy’ looks like!

Sandra was initially prevented from getting in

Team Leader at Housing Options Alex Clarke told Sandra they refuse to deal with single persons - instead fobbing them off SHIP (see below) where people are processed and either deemed ‘worthy’ of the few flats Lewisham bother making available, or they are left on to the streets with no further support. 

Around 30 protesters joined Sandra to protest outside, using the sound system to demand Lewisham Council rehouse Sandra immediately. There was massive support from passers by and local people!

A meeting then took place at the Single Homeless Intervention and Prevention (SHIP) building across the road, where council worker John Barker explained to Sandra and two supporters, that he ‘could make no promises’ and explained the slim chances Sandra had of getting any real support from the council. 

The council can not even provide a list of local estate agents which will take on Housing Benefit claimants. 

John refused to discuss ‘politics’ when dealing with Sandra’s homelessness, but often cited political reasons (the cuts) to refuse Sandra support. 

This leaves people like Sandra with no where to turn. 

John Barker admitted three people have died this year due to poverty and housing issues. 

Does Lewisham Council have blood on their hands? We can only let readers decide that…

If Lewisham Council can not resolve the housing crisis they should get out of the way and let the people of Lewisham work it out. We have the answer - BUILD COUNCIL HOMES not private bourgeois flats to sell off to the rich. 

Sandra is just another unwanted statistic to Lewisham Council’s little housing ‘problem’:

  • 17,000 on the council waiting list – no real plan to address this issue.
  • Thousands homeless, with evictions increasing due to benefit cuts and rent hikes.
  • Lack of council houses means 600 in B&Bs costing the council (i.e. everyone) £2m per year.

Sandra’s application for homelessness in 2015 was deemed ‘unsuccessful’ – Sandra’s health issues being completely ignored on the application itself. This is how thousands end up with no where to live, neglected even by their own ‘elected representatives’.

The RCG will be back with Sandra, and others. We have secured a further meeting with the council to discuss Sandra’s case. We will support Sandra in her fight to obtain secure housing

Sandra will apply for homelessness support again at Lewisham council and we will continue to demand the council support Sandra in finding a accommodation amongst the Lewisham estate agents who say ‘No DSS’ (no Housing Benefit applicants) - which is discrimination.

The RCG seek housing for all. Housing is a human right, here to stay, here to fight! If you would like to join us come to:

Lewisham Housing Action Group, Thursday 26 June, 730pm at Catford Constitutional Club (side door), The Broadway, SE64DP.

ALL WELCOME

Jasmin for Focus E15 speaking about housing

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