Reports and Campaigns
Reports and campaigns:
Leicester: Police undermined opposition to racist march
Leicester Socialist Party
On 11 June, the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) held a well-attended meeting in Leicester introducing their report on the (mis)policing when the far-right English Defence League (EDL) marched through the city on 4 February.
Most Labour politicians were absent. The next day however, Labour mayor Sir Peter Soulsby told the Leicester Mercury: "Netpol don't speak for any local people I know." Soulsby was the man who rewarded the EDL for previous displays of extreme violence by letting them march though the city centre.
Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon boasted: "There were no arrests made as a direct result of the marches and no damage to property..." No mention was made of peaceful counter-protesters being beaten by the police with batons, or of a police dog ripping into human flesh. Damage to humans seems of less concern for him than damage to property!
The EDL were allowed freedom of the city while the police harassed Leicester people, physically stopping them moving around their city.
As the Netpol report makes clear: "The police were perceived as imposing a form of 'lockdown' as they effectively designated the entire city centre a 'no-go zone' for Muslim youth." So while the EDL were encouraged to express their racist, anti-Islamic "freedom of speech," every effort was made by the police and council to ensure that their opponents did not have the same opportunity.
20,000 leaflets were distributed in Leicester to "dissuade local people from engaging with or taking part in lawful marches and assemblies". Distributed "to all households of school age children" in Leicester these leaflets "gave a strong impression that attendance at this event could result in some form of police or criminal record."
Disturbingly, Netpol observed that the leaflet jointly written by the police and council reported: "There may be people who will try to get you involved in the event on 4 February. They are doing this for themselves, not for you."
Netpol notes that council funding was also used to initiate events to distract youth from participating in counter EDL demonstrations. These concerted efforts to undermine political organising against the EDL is damning.
The Socialist Party believes we need genuine democratic control over the police by local communities.
This could prevent examples of policing that favours racist organisations and harasses local people, especially black and Asian youth. We also need a new working class party to challenge politicians such as Leicester's Labour mayor, who colludes with such policies.