Liverpool Antifascists statement on the #UKriots
The BNP, unsurprisingly, have been calling the disturbances “race riots” and blaming “multiculturalism,” as well as claiming that leader Nick Griffin predicted them three years ago. The EDL, whilst making a point of not blaming Islam, have claimed that the police are neutered by “political correctness” and have urged their supporters to have “a strong physical presence” on the streets against the looters.
Liverpool Antifascists refutes the idea that this unrest has anything to do with multiculturalism. The original riot in Tottenham was a response to riot police attacking a 16 year old girl at a peaceful vigil for Mark Duggan, shot dead two nights before. Those taking part in the riots have included people of all races. In Toxteth, it was Turkish and Kurdish people who mobilised on the streets to defend their community against looting. County Road in Liverpool, where a pub was reportedly fire-bombed, and Bootle, where a JCB was stolen and rode into a Post Office, are majority white areas. Clearly, if there are sides in the disorder, they cannot be delineated on the basis of race.
As to the riots themselves, Liverpool Antifascists cannot condemn those who have had enough of being pushed around by the police and decided to fight back. Mark Duggan’s death, and the assault of a young girl, were clearly just the latest incidences of a police force which has been able to kill, beat, corral, suppress, and harass with impunity for many years, and it was almost inevitable that people would react eventually.
However, as supporters of working class unity and solidarity, we likewise cannot condone the muggings, vandalism, and violence that has been inflicted on other working class people as the disorder spread. It says something for the deterioration of class consciousness in Britain over the last thirty years that an unrest that began as a reaction to police brutality has seen students mugged, people cowering in their homes as their cars were burnt out, and shops with people’s homes above them ravaged by flames. We welcome the sight of working people banding together to see off this threat just as surely as other threats that have come our way such as fascism.
Liverpool Antifascists are proud to say that our members have been amongst those both challenging violence against others of our class and watching out for police brutality against youth on the streets.
As to the EDL, claiming to be wardens and defenders of the community, we would ask why “members organising themselves in … Liverpool” have been reported as throwing around racial abuse on Smithdown Road. Whilst the national leadership say they stand united with “all decent people, be they black, white, Christian, Sikh, Jewish or Muslim,” the Liverpool Division posts on Facebook that “Multiculturisim has FAILED” and “WE WARNED YOU MINORITIES WOULD DO THIS!” They tell us that “the BNP warned us years ago,” because “This is all just a snapshot of what England would be like if it was an Islamic state.” Behind the official statements, the far-right are singing from the same hymn sheet.
We urge people not to fall for the divisive message of the BNP and EDL, just as we oppose the government’s call for more authoritarian and vicious policing. Instead, working class communities need to stand together against all attackers – whether they be fascists, a police force hell-bent on violence, or looters and arsonists.