Organise against state racism

After brexist

As an initial reaction to the police killings of black people in the US, but also in response to state racism and violence in Britain, a wave of anti-racist protest took place across Britain in July. Most of the demonstrations were led by working class black people, who brought city centres to a standstill and protested outside police stations, law courts and the offices of the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission. When 18-year-old Mzee Mohammed died in police custody in Liverpool on 14 July, this movement was ready to respond, and on 16 July more than a thousand people took to the streets of Liverpool. In Manchester, a longstanding black activist told FRFI, following a Black Lives Matter march in the city: ‘The last time I saw Moss Side like this was 1981’ – a time of widespread radical politics and uprisings led by black sections of the working class. Tom Vickers reports.

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Immigration raids in London and Lancashire      

The introduction of the Immigration Act 2016 has seen a wave of immigration raids across the country, with restaurants in particular targeted for 'illegal' workers. On 4 July in London, at a dozen branches of the luxury burger chain Byron, workers were summoned by management to bogus early morning training meetings. UK border agents then burst into the rooms, shouting 'Nobody move, this is immigration!' UKBA later confirmed that 35 nationals from Brazil, Nepal, Egypt and Albania had been arrested and faced deportation. One worker, who has now been deported, told the Guardian: 'I feel so bad... I worked hard, I paid taxes and Byron did this to us. It is immoral. They were happy to employ me for years doing really hard work that no British person would do.' Protests against this despicable collaboration between Byron management and UKBA have been taking place, with one in London on Monday 1 August closing down two branches. Another will be taking place in Edinburgh on Friday 5 August, called by the Migrants Solidarity Network, from 17:30 at Byron Burgers on North Bridge.  

On 9 July, Mognies, a popular Indian takeaway in Lancaster was raided by immigration police. Three members of staff were arrested and taken into the van. This follows raids across Lancashire in the first few months of this year. In February, three Bangladesh men were arrested at Indian restaurants in Clevelys and Fleetwood. Both restaurants were threatened with fines of up to £20,000 per worker. Karen McDonough, of Lancashire Immigration Enforcement, stated: ‘The message to businesses in Blackpool using illegal labour is clear… Our dedicated specialist teams will catch you’. The same month a Chinese man was detained after a raid on a takeaway in Chorley. There were three raids in Preston in April, and four arrests. All three businesses were again threatened with heavy fines. In June, six migrants were detained at an Indian restaurant in Lancaster and the owners face a raft of charges for employing 'illegal' workers.

Fight the racist Immigration Act! No raids! No deportations!

Lee Whear

Racism and poverty in Britain

Yarls Wood Immigration Removal Centre

Some have seen the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London as a victory against racism – The Guardian claimed: ‘His election shows British Muslims they can succeed against the odds’. The defeat of Zac Goldsmith’s racist election campaign is welcome, but what does the election of London’s first Muslim Mayor mean for the majority of Muslims, ethnic minorities and migrants in Britain? Tom Vickers reports.

We are witnessing a rapid rise in state-driven racism, with thousands locked up in immigration detention, tens of thousands of deportations every year, routine workplace immigration raids, ID checks at London tube stations and ever more punitive surveillance and restrictions on access to services and state support for anybody suspected of being a migrant. On 14 May the 2016 Immigration Act became law, further intensifying this attack.

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35th anniversary of the Black People’s Day of Action

OBPDA 1981

‘We had to disrupt British society; that was absolutely clear.’

2 March 2016 marked the 35th anniversary of one of the most significant political demonstrations in 20th century British history, and one which deserves to be better remembered. Around 20,000 people marched across London to protest against the racist murder of 13 young black people in the New Cross fire six weeks earlier. The Black People’s Day of Action brought large parts of the capital to a standstill and marked a turning point in the struggle of black people against the racist institutions of the British state, laying the ground for the uprisings in Brixton, Liverpool 8, Moss Side and other inner city areas, which were to follow in the months and years ahead. FRFI took part in the demonstration and we wrote at the time that:

...the March was a fine example to the working class. It put to shame the so-called revolutionaries of the petit-bourgeois left who allow the police to play havoc with their demonstrations, arrest and beat people willy-nilly and do nothing about it. This demonstration showed that the vanguard forces of the British revolution are the black youth who will fearlessly take on and do battle with the forces of the state. In doing so they are showing the rest of the working class the only way forward in the struggle against oppression.’ (FRFI 9 – March/April 1981)

New Cross fire

On 18 January 1981, 13 young black people died in a fire started deliberately at a birthday party on 439 New Cross Road, South London. It marked the bleakest moment in a decade of extreme violence directed at the black community both by the state and by fascist thugs. The political class and the media stoked a climate of racism in which horrific levels of brutality, including murder, became routine. The incidence of racist attacks was closely related to government and media-inspired resentment against immigration; of the 64 racist murders between 1970 and 1986, 50 occurred in the five years – 1976 and 1978-81 – when immigration scares ‘reached fever pitch.’[i]

The New Cross fire occurred in the context of racist arson attacks across South London. Both the Moonshot youth club in New Cross and the Albany centre in Deptford had been burnt out by fascists in the preceding years; in 1971, three petrol bombs had been thrown into an African-Caribbean party in Ladywell. The immediate response of the police was to arrest eight members of the Black Unity and Freedom Party on their way home from visiting victims in Lewisham hospital.

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Calais - Migrants fight for their lives

Thousands of destitute migrants including unaccompanied children are being forced to live in barbaric conditions in ‘the Jungle’, the makeshift campsite in Calais. They are faced with increasing repression from the French authorities. Most recently, demands have been made for all structures within 100 metres of a nearby motorway embankment to be vacated and moved or demolished. On 18 January, bulldozers were brought in, clearing the area. Many residents are anxious that these evictions won’t stop at the 100-metre mark, estimated to include approximately 20% of the camp, and the homes of 1,500 people. Amy Marineau reports.

Faking compassion, the French authorities set up a ‘container camp’ (shipping containers) to house the people displaced by the evictions. The camp is prison-like – surrounded by barbed wire, requiring a fingerprint scan to leave or enter. These evictions also disrupt the communities which have developed among the refugees. Many migrants are concerned that, if they are moved to this container camp, their options for residence would be restricted and they would perhaps be allowed refuge only in France.

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