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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 June 2020

Black Lives Matter: more youth protests take aim at capitalism

Tens of thousands joined a second week of Black Lives Matter protests across Britain. Here we carry short excerpts from speeches and reports from demonstrations. Other areas where the Socialist Party participated include London, Liverpool, Hull, Worcester, Northampton, Doncaster, Chelmsford, Brighton, Stafford, York, Cleethorpes, Darlington and Nuneaton...
London, photo Mary Finch

London, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

London: "We need to link up with the workers"

My name's Isai. I'm from the Socialist Party. And we have been on every single big demonstration that has taken place on Black Lives Matter. And I'll tell you something. It's not an accident that it's taking place now. This is not the first time that an unarmed black person has been killed by the police.

But it's happening during the pandemic, which has exposed the class inequalities that exist within this system.

We - of all colours - are oppressed, as the working class, by the people who are making the profits from this system.

On the buses, it was the workers who got organised to close the front doors. On the tube, it was RMT union members who got organised to protect those workers.

How do we smash racism? To smash racism, we need to smash capitalism! And you know what? The young people who are out on the streets are out to fight for jobs, homes and services for every single one of us.

And we say that we need to link up with the workers. We say it's us, organised - workers and young people together - who can smash this system, and fight for socialism...

Isai Priya, London

Hull: "While we're fighting each other, the bosses make their billions"

My name is Matt. I'm proud to be a trade unionist and a socialist. And I'm proud to be a nurse as well.

I'm proud to work in the NHS. I'm proud to work alongside Kenyans, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, and people from all over the world.

I also speak as a socialist. And some of the greatest socialists in history were the black socialists in America in the Civil Rights movement. People like Malcolm X, who saw quite clearly that "you cannot have capitalism without racism."

It is ingrained in a system that pits people against each other. It divides us. On black versus white. Man versus woman. Straight versus LGBTQ.

All the while we're fighting each other on those issues, the bosses and those at the top, like the Trumps of the world, make their billions and laugh at us squabbling over the scraps.

I'm proud to say I'm a member of the Socialist Party. I believe that socialism is the answer to our problems. A system that gives everyone a house. Everyone a job. Everyone food in their bellies, money in their pockets. End poverty - and end the competition for resources...

Matt Whale, Hull

Leeds: I want to join the Socialists!

There was a palpable sense of anger and optimism at the thousands-strong protest in Leeds on Sunday 14 June - largely young, diverse and working-class. The Socialist Party was very well received.

We sold 55 copies of the Socialist, received well over £100 in donations to our fighting fund, and took details of 20 new people interested in joining the Socialist Party. The first person I approached with the Socialist said: "Oh, you're the Socialist Party, right? I want to join!"

The Labour council and Extinction Rebellion had both warned against going to the demo - not that this stopped the thousands of young, working-class people from attending. It is vital to practise pandemic safety - masks, gloves and hand sanitiser were all used. But we must not discourage young people from fighting for their rights.

Leeds Trades Union Council and Leeds Socialist Party organised stewarding to encourage social distancing and protect against the far right. The beer-soaked far-right protest was contained down the road by police, and succeeded only in embarrassing itself.

James Ellis

Huddersfield: queues to hear from Socialists

"This was amazing. I've never been on a protest like this in Huddersfield before" said one young protester at the protest on Saturday 13 June. Even the police gave an estimate of 1,500 people marching from St George's Square.

The crowd seemed to grow and grow. As we reached Greenhead Park, people were leaning out of their windows to offer support. Hundreds took our leaflets, and 30 bought a copy of the Socialist newspaper.

One of them was an older black man who told us he had been treasurer of a Labour Party Young Socialists branch in the 1970s. They'd played a key role in driving the National Front out of Bradford.

A young woman nearby overheard the conversation and asked "what does socialism mean?" After we answered, she told us "I agree with that!" The former Young Socialist gave us a further donation to "keep up the good work!"

Another young lad on the march told us he was a Trotskyist. He bought a copy of the Socialist and gave us his contact details. Later he came to our stall in the park and took leaflets to give out.

The Socialist Party stall was mobbed by young people wanting to get involved in the party. Queues formed as groups of young people waited for others to finish speaking to us.

Iain Dalton

Wales: racism isn't random

Port Talbot, photo Gareth Bromhall

Port Talbot, photo Gareth Bromhall   (Click to enlarge)

Demonstrations were thousands strong in Newport on Thursday 11 June, and there smaller protests in Cardiff (twice), Barry, Port Talbot and Pontypridd over the weekend of 13-14 June. There were also actions in Brecon, Monmouth, Caernarfon and Chepstow.

100 people expressed interest in coming to Socialist Party meetings in Newport, and hundreds bought the Socialist newspaper over the week.

The Socialist Party's Mariam Kamish, secretary of Caerphilly Trade Union Council, was received to rapturous applause in Newport. She said: "Racism isn't random: it's a tool in the hands of the exploiters. It divides and weakens us all and makes working-class black people even more exploitable, even easier to stick in crap jobs, in crap wages, and in bad housing...

"Get involved in the fight to change society. We want a genuine, democratic, socialist society, where everyone has a voice, where everyone can breathe."

Ross Saunders

Newcastle: far right outnumbered

Newcastle, photo Nick Fray

Newcastle, photo Nick Fray   (Click to enlarge)

Up to 500 were at the Newcastle protest on Saturday 13 June. Many were playing music, singing and dancing, and the Socialist Party was out in full force.

The Socialist Party's speaker quoted Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton: "We're going to fight racism with solidarity... We're not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism - we're going to fight capitalism with socialism!" Our speech was met with a lot of applause. Our leaflets were very popular.

The far right spread the lie that protesters were there to topple Grey's Monument or desecrate war graves. This was nonsense. Grey's Monument is a 130-foot stone column and there are no war graves in Newcastle city centre.

But as a result, up to 200 people, including some from the far right, gathered around Grey's Monument. The only desecration, however, was the broken bottles and empty cans from far-right thugs there to get drunk and abuse anti-racist protesters.

The police had deployed around 100 officers including riot police, cavalry and dog handlers. Far-right drunks launched beer bottles and flares at the anti-racist protest.

Oisin Gourley and Elaine Brunskill

Reading: justice means jobs and homes

Forbury Gardens in Reading was full on Saturday 13 June. We walked through the crowd talking to every group of people.

All wanted to discuss 'what next'. They wanted justice, and agreed that justice means an end to police brutality as well as jobs, homes, decent pay, a fully funded NHS, and safety at work for everyone.

The Socialist Party stall was swamped with people queuing to make donations and take away as many leaflets, posters and copies of the Socialist as possible.

Josh Asker

Richmond, North Yorkshire: racists ignored

Local young people organised this 300-strong demonstration on Sunday 14 June. The Socialist Party was the only political organisation present and we ran out of our supply of leaflets.

Despite the poor showing in London the day before, about 100 older far-right demonstrators turned out and occupied the steps of the town square’s monument. Locals stated that many were from other towns. They occupied the town square and tried to disrupt the protest with racist chants, but were mostly ignored.

Alan Docherty

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 17 June 2020:


What we think

Which way forward for Black Lives Matter protests?

Oppose racist symbols and the racist system


News

Capitalism = inequality. Fight for socialism!

Black Lives Matter: more youth protests take aim at capitalism

Contact tracing fiasco: You can't believe a word the government tells us


Youth

Youth without a future: fight for jobs and homes - fight for socialism!


Workplace news

Resist relaxation of Sunday trading laws

Debenham's protests: Workers must not pay price of Covid-19

Battle with BT management needed to win real pay rise


Schools

Tories retreat on free school meals

Parents' protests against Welsh schools reopening

Cumbria: Teachers, parents and socialists fight reckless school reopening


Reviews

Tears and anger over the treatment of the Windrush generation

Film: Da 5 Bloods - entertaining but politically constrained


Campaigns and party news

Why we joined the Socialist Party

20 days. One town. Four domestic violence murders.

Fight for a socialist future!


Lessons from history

Reform or revolt? How was the slave trade abolished?


Scotland

Scotland and coronavirus - a catalogue of government failure


Readers' opinion

Three years on: No justice for Grenfell, no peace from BLM

Two-metre rule under 'review' - Another case of profit before safety

The Socialist inbox


 

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