Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/209/8542
YRE Campaign Against The Fascists In Oldham
FOLLOWING LAST weekend's events in Oldham, Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) has continued its anti-racist work in the area.
By Robin, Manchester YRE and Socialist Party
YRE members maintained their close dialogue with people met through previous work. After the first night of rioting, we talked to young Asians in the Glodwick area who told us how events had developed.
Overall, there was a sense that the community had succeeded in defending their families and the area. Significantly, we met a community leader who clearly has respect from local youth.
On the following day, YRE members went back and assessed the mood after a second night of violence.
Many young Asians had suffered at the heavy hands of the riot police - many of which had been drafted in from other areas to 'contain' the violence.
After visiting the Glodwick area again and the Bangladeshi Westwood area, we learned that hostility to community leaders in both areas is increasing amongst the younger generations. Rifts are appearing between the youth and the older community leaders many of whom struck 'bargains' with the police.
Policing in Oldham has been under close scrutiny both before and after last weekend's events and following Home Secretary Jack Straw's ban on political marches.
Hostility to police methods are rife not only in Oldham's communities.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), has, for example, significantly criticised the policing methods employed. It revealed that the Greater Manchester Fire Brigade are afraid of being labelled as 'forces of oppression'.
Fire engines are stationed in Oldham alongside riot police and six more are in the neighbouring Chadderton area. Bob Pounder, FBU secretary said: "There should be a definite demarcation between us and the police because people think we are part of this kind of oppression".
At present, the police are using surveillance equipment to monitor the movement of those living in Asian areas and in the town centre.
Outbreaks of violence have been occurring throughout the week. Pubs in the mainly Asian Werneth area have been attacked and the house of Councillor Riaz Ahmed (tipped to be the first Asian mayor of Oldham) has been firebombed.
The YRE have had a good response campaigning against racism and for jobs and facilities for the area and we are aiming to build a YRE branch.
One of the campaigns is to re-open the trades council unemployed centre, which was closed after Oldham council cut the funding.
We have also been campaigning amongst the taxi drivers who have been striking recently against the racial abuse they are often subjected to.
Only mass opposition, organised together by anti-racists, trade unionists, socialists and local communities will ensure a lasting defeat for the Nazis.
In The Socialist 9 June 2001: