Protestors came out in support of a man who was violently attacked by police in Harlesden, and called for a fightback against racism in society
The people of North West London and beyond turned out in Harlesden, to protest police violence against the black community, both historically, and in response to the incident the week before, where a young black man was held down by 8 police officers in the street.
Videos of the incident, taken by bystanders, quickly went viral, as people on social media decried the excessive use of force, and showed their support for the young man and his family.
Far too often these crimes result in the death of black people, as with Rashan Charles and Edson da Costa, who died last year. After a report this week indicating the huge rise in the police’s use of force in the last year, London residents have come out to say that enough is enough. The damning report told of force being used on suspects 270 times a day, with an uptick of 79% in the last year.
Meeting outside the New Atlas Cafe, where the recent incident occurred, the protest, held on the eve of 9 October, also took the form of a vigil, in remembrance of all those killed by police violence. But there was very much a focus on the present, where speakers demanded justice for the young man who is being held for a minor drugs offence.
Along with the local community, there were activists from Stand up to Racism, Labour, Momentum and a variety of campaign groups. The mother of the young man that was attacked spoke of her ongoing fight against racism, and how she felt that this kind of thing felt almost inevitable. She also sincerely thanked those who had come out for the protest.
Those speaking on the open mic called for a wide campaign to bring together communities and the different campaigning groups, demanding a change in policing techniques, and an end to the demonisation and mistreatment of black communities. They also spoke of the rise in hate crimes over the last few months and years, but also of the fightback that has ensued.
The massive increase in stop and search at Notting Hill Festival this year, along with the ramping up of the hostile environment, and a Tory Conference in the last month that called for greater powers for stop and search without the need for reasonable suspicion, are part of a wider authoritarian push from Theresa May’s government, which flows directly from her previous role as Home Secretary. This while the far right are on the rise in Britain and abroad.
Looking forward, the fightback against institutional racism, and far right organisation must be broad and rooted if it is going to be able to take on the task of pushing back against racism in our society. The demonstration called for 17 November against racism and fascism can be the start of that campaign, along with the counter-protest against a far right organised march this weekend, on 13 October. Let’s make sure we get everyone we know on them, build them as big as possible, and make it clear that we won’t stand for this any longer.
Solidarity with the black community in Harlesden, and all those affected by racist attacks in this city and across the world.
Counterfire is holding a meeting to discuss how to tackle the far right and racism in society on Thursday 11th October. At this meeting we will also be organising activity to build for the demonstration on 17 November. Please come along and get involved.
Cameron Panting was formerly National Organiser for Counterfire. He is active within the People's Assembly and Stop The War.
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