Toxteth community expresses anger at EDL/BNP March through their community

Toxteth community expresses anger at EDL/BNP March through their community

 
Members of the South Central Active Forum held emergency meetings with high ranking members of Merseyside Police on Monday 23rd July to discuss their anger at the EDL/BNP Marching through Toxteth on Saturday 21st July.The Group, which is the successor to Toxteth Against the Riots (TAR) made representations on behalf of local residents who complained vociferously about the intense intimidation they felt, by seeing the right wing groups in their community as they tried to highjack a March against racism and fascism organised by Liverpool Irish Patriots Republican Flute Band, in commemoration of local Trade Unionist James Larkin.Group Chair Tracey Gore, CEO of Steve Biko Housing Association, said, “I was quite disturbed by the fact that South Central Active Forum was not informed by the Police of the imminent presence of the EDL/BNP, particularly as we met with the Police on Monday 16th July to discuss issues relating to the community. The entire March should have been cancelled or diverted away from Toxteth and members of the community are quite rightly angry”.

Other members of South Central Active Forum present at the meeting were former Principal of Liverpool Community College Wally Brown, and Youth Activist Ben Osu.

Wally Brown, who was Chairman of the Merseyside Community Relations Council at the time of the 1981 Toxteth Riots said, “After all the hard work we have done to improve communication with the Police we are disappointed that we were not made aware of the impending threat in order that we could have prepared to make our community safe from racist threats.”

Merseyside Police informed the Group that they had completed a Community Impact Assessment on the potential dangers relating to the March and had contacted members of the community. They apologised that South Central Active Forum was not included in those communications and accepted there are lessons to be learned from that lack of communication to this specific group and that extensive consultation will be conducted with local communities prior to approving future Marches. In addition Merseyside Police promised to prepare a draft protocol, in association with South Central Active Forum, to better manage similar matters in the future. They will also feedback to the Force’s Gold Command our concerns and issues.

Tracey Gore continued, “I informed the Police that members of the community were subjected to racist abuse by the EDL/BNP and that the community believed that the Police and Liverpool City Council actually approved the extreme groups to March through the area, and took no action against racist behaviour”.

However it is important to note that the Police responded by stating categorically that it was not an EDL sanctioned March. Rather large banners made it clear that the March was actually against racism and fascism that attracted counter-demonstration from the EDL/BNP.

In respect of local arrests the Police reported that the vast majority were for members of the far right groups, as they had a policy of targeting the ring leaders. However the Police officers would have arrested anyone who they believed had committed public order offences, even though their record showed only a small amount of local people were arrested.

Tracey Gore concluded, “I asked the Police for confirmation of the specific number of arrests and how many were actually charged. We made it clear to them that, as a result of that March, local people had been drawn into something not of their making, and we didn’t want them to be criminalised for it.”

From Click Liverpool 27.07.12. Rerport by Marielle Roux

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