Tottenham marches for unity
Photo report by Peter Arkell
“Give Our Kids a Future” was the call on the main banner at the head of a 1000-strong march through Hackney and Tottenham in North London on Saturday in response to the riots and the arrests of 2,000 youth in London.
Children headed off the demonstration, organised by North London Unity Assembly in an attempt to build a united response to both the riots and the causes of despair and frustration that can result in riots.
The marchers called for a culture of valuing, rather than demonising, young and unemployed people and for support for those affected by the rioting, including the immediate re-housing of those made homeless and grants for small businesses affected. Demands included a community-led regeneration of damaged areas and a reversal of all cuts to youth services and other public services in the boroughs. There were calls for a community enquiry into policing methods in the boroughs, an end to discriminatory stop and search and the provision of legal support for all those arrested by the police.
The march, which was called only days earlier, opposed the punitive approach of the Coalition government. “While the shooting of Mark Duggan provided the trigger, against a background of aggressive policing, especially towards ethnic minorities, the root causes are deeper,” the organisers said in their statement.
“Our communities have been blighted by high levels of deprivation, poverty and lack of opportunity for decades. Inequality is growing and recent funding cuts to local services, particularly youth facilities, along with rising unemployment and cuts to EMA have exacerbated the conditions in which sections of frustrated young people turned to rioting.”
At the close of the march, Mark Barrett of the Peoples Assembly Network called for a national day of action and communities everywhere to rise up against “a higher enemy than simply the police”.
Reporting on the demonstration, Spanish newspaper El Mundo, said that the grievances which found expression in the riots, were not only about cuts and social cohesion but about political representation. As in Spain, people feel they are part of a system in which they have no voice where politicians do not represent them.
The demonstration was supported by a wide range of local and national organisations including the Labour Representation Committee, Haringay Alliance for Public Services, the Hackney Alliance to Defend Public Services, Day-Mer (Turkish and Kurdistan Community Centre), Alevi Cultural Centre, NLCH (North London Community Centre) and many others.
Turkish community groups issued strong statements after the demonstrations opposing attempts to divide Turkish and Kurdish youth and the black community.
14 August 2011