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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2021

Dea-John Reid murder: Jobs, homes and services, not racism

Birmingham residents assemble in solidarity with Dea-John's family and friends, photo Kris O'Sullivan

Birmingham residents assemble in solidarity with Dea-John's family and friends, photo Kris O'Sullivan   (Click to enlarge)

Birmingham Socialist Party members

14 year-old Dea-John Reid was tragically murdered on the streets of Kingstanding, Birmingham, on the evening of 31 May.

Reports from witnesses to the horrific murder made it clear from the beginning that this was a racist murder. Witnesses reported the boy being chased and subjected to racist abuse before being stabbed.

Disgracefully, but unsurprisingly, West Midlands Police denied and attempted to play down the racist motive for Dea-John's murder, only admitting on the evening of 2 June what locals had been reporting all along: that racism had sparked this tragic sequence of events.

A man in his 30s has now been charged with murder, while another remains in custody along with a 14 year old boy. Three others arrested in connection with the killing have now been released.

The actions of West Midlands Police in relation to this case, and in previous incidents involving the deaths of black men in custody, show that we can't trust an unaccountable police force to investigate Dea-John's murder, including possible racist motives.

We need an independent investigation involving elected members of the local community in Kingstanding and North Birmingham, including trade union reps, particularly those involved in working with young and vulnerable people in schools and social services.

Such an inquiry could not just begin to establish the real circumstances of this murder, but also the social problems which provide the backdrop to this latest outrage. 41.6% of children in Birmingham are living in poverty (the highest rate outside of London), 9.8% of people are unemployed with many tens of thousands more in precarious work, and 55,400 are currently on furlough wondering if they'll have a job to go back to.

Along with the relatively well-paid, secure jobs that have been lost from the city due to the decline of manufacturing, the social ties of working-class communities in Birmingham have been further hit by a decade of cuts to public services, largely administered by the Labour council. Among the 12,000 jobs axed by Birmingham City Council since 2010 will have been many community and youth workers who would have previously helped young people find a positive future away from street crimes and violence.

Rather than build a campaign to win funding from Westminster for expanded public services that could prevent crime, Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster's response is to call for a sticking plaster of 450 extra police officers.

But if these officers are not democratically accountable to the communities they police, if they continue to use discriminatory stop-and-search policies focused on black and Asian young people, this could serve to heighten tensions rather than ease them.

Divisive politics

We need to campaign against the divisive politics which turn migrants and black and Asian people into scapegoats for the conditions faced by young and working-class people. We reject this. These conditions are the result of the profit and greed of capitalism.

It's vital that trade unions and democratically run residents' and community associations work to ensure that any tensions created by this shocking murder are channelled in the direction of campaigning for young people's future. To demand better jobs, homes and public services, and avoid a repeat of the riots which followed the murder of Mark Duggan at the hands of the police in 2011.

The Socialist Party is fighting to build a mass united movement that can smash racism and the class inequality that together press on the necks of young people.

Leaving the power to run society in the hands of the existing rulers, the big-business boss class, condemns us to having to keep fighting racism. Mass united working-class action and organisation, united around a programme of anti-racism and anti-capitalism, to fight for socialism with the working class democratically running society, is necessary.


Community shows solidarity

Sunday 6 June saw a huge cross-community turnout of Brummies including black, brown and white working-class youth to give condolences and solidarity to Dea-John's family.

An extremely charged atmosphere of anger, sadness and a real desire to tackle racism head on from the grassroots level. There was no real faith or trust in the police or the political establishment to carry out this crucial task.

Dozens and dozens of attendees approached members of Birmingham Socialist Party asking to take leaflets and about organising anti-racist and working-class campaigns. We need to make our streets safe for all kids, but also offer a real future for the next generation of decent jobs, homes, education and fully funded public services.

Kris O'Sullivan

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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.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 9 June 2021:


News

G7 tax deal won't challenge corporate power

Dea-John Reid murder: Jobs, homes and services, not racism

Tory school catch-up plan: Fight for the funding our schools and colleges need

Post-Brexit trade deals: Workers' mobilisation needed to stop corporate extortion

G7 green hypocrisy

New book - coming soon: The Struggle for World Socialism

G7 Can't solve poverty, Covid and climate change - join the struggle for Socialism


What we think

Tory splits and infighting growing


NHS

'Let's fight to win on NHS pay and funding'

We're building for 3 July NHS protests


Workplace news

Goodlord striker speaks out: How we unionised and fought the bosses

Revolt against 'social partnership' at Wales Trades Union Congress 2021

Douwe Egberts workers strike against pay cuts of up to 12,000 a year

London workers prepare to fight Khan's transport cuts

If unions give a lead, workers are fully prepared to fight and win victories

Fight for a socialist leadership in PCS, build a fighting, democratic union!

Workplace news in brief


Lessons from history

The 1971 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders occupation and work-in


Campaigns news

Cladding safety: Protests demand developers and government pay

"Rights are won not given" - London refugee wins housing debt campaign

Hundreds march to scrap Silvertown Tunnel project

Shame on Clarion - another exploitative landlord


Israel/Palestine

Palestinian self-determination - is the solution one state or two?


Readers' opinion

TV review: Mrs Thatcher vs the miners

Readers' Opinion


 

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