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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 August 2010

Birmingham: Community says 'No' to racist spy cameras

On 3 August an overwhelming majority of participants in a public meeting of over 300 people condemned the installation of a network of police spy cameras around two predominantly Muslim suburbs of Birmingham. The cameras were secretly installed to track the number plates of cars coming in and out of Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath as part of the government's anti-terrorism strategy - known in Birmingham as Project Champion.

Tom Bower, Birmingham Socialist Party

Campaigners have condemned this racist project, which stigmatises the entire Muslim community.

The public meeting was called by the West Midlands Police Authority in response to an outpouring of anger from the local community. The representatives of the Authority faced a hostile audience that almost universally denounced the cameras. Audience members also condemned the 'independent' review of Project Champion, which is being led by the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police - hardly an impartial figure!

By the end of the meeting the police could have been in no doubt about the message from the community, and the chief constable of West Midlands police sought to mollify the audience with assurances that the cameras had been switched off and that plans for removal were being considered. There was some scepticism from the audience about these assurances and we shall see if the chief constable's words are matched by actions.

Local people will not be fobbed off and will keep campaigning until every spy camera has been removed.

The Socialist Party in Birmingham stands shoulder-to-shoulder with those campaigning against the spy cameras, as well as calling for maximum working class unity in the struggle against Islamophobia, racism and imperialism.

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