Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/403/4875
Jean Charles de Menezes: Angry marchers demand justice
AFTER THE killing of Jean Charles de Menezes on 22 July, Stop the War Coalition (STWC) called a peace vigil. Around 400 people gathered outside Stockwell tube to protest; the local Brazilian and Portuguese community was angry.
Rob Macdonald, Lambeth
After the speeches from church leaders, RMT etc. local people called an impromptu march to Parliament. A very angry march then passed through South Lambeth Road where there are many shops run by Portuguese speakers.
It swelled to 700 people with chants of "the people united will never be defeated" and "no shoot to kill" and other anti-war chants until the police stopped the demo at Vauxhall Bridge. There was a call for a further protest on 29 July at 6pm at Stockwell tube.
This protest confirms the Socialist Party's position that there should have been an organised demonstration over the issue with friends, family and the local community involved.
The Portuguese-speaking community opposed the war in Iraq and understood the link but wanted to express their horror and campaign for justice for Jean Charles and were not happy for the campaign to be dominated by others.
Lambeth Socialist Party will sensitively help build a united campaign of the working class of Lambeth to bring justice for the assassination of Jean Charles.
Call for unity
AT THE vigil Socialist Party member Rob Macdonald called for the unity of the Lambeth community. He said that there will be no peace without justice and that the killing of innocent people by the police was not a new phenomenon for the people of Lambeth.
It was always working-class people from Iraq to Stockwell that pay for Blair's policies with cuts, wars and murders. Under the guise of anti-terrorism laws we are all in danger. The local Socialist Party is calling for a demonstration to be organised through the local working-class estates of Lambeth to unite the community. Rob called for no to war, no to terrorism, no to racism and for the unity of the working class.
Message from a Brazilian socialist
ANDRE FERRARI from Socialismo Revolucionario (the Brazilian section of the- CWI/CIO, which the Socialist Party is affiliated to) and an executive member of Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (P-SOL) writes on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes by the London police.
THE MURDER by eight shots (at least seven direct in the head) has shocked Brazilian people. Most people don't understand why this happened to an innocent Brazilian worker.
Like many other workers Jean Charles was outside Brazil trying to get better living conditions, a job and a future, things he cannot get in a country that suffers from neoliberal and anti-working class policies.
At the same time, the feeling amongst Brazilian people is clearly against the barbarous terrorist attacks in London. The understanding is growing that Jean Charles is another victim of a policy that will not end terrorism but, as the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan shows, only provoke more deaths, terror and war.
The Party of Socialism and Liberty (P-SOL) in Brazil publicly condemns the murder of Jean-Charles and considers British and US imperialism to be responsible for this tragedy.
We condemn the terrorist attacks in London and firmly work for the end of the invasion of Iraq and all imperialist interventions and a socialist alternative as a way for a world without war and terror.
Staying united under pressure
ON 23 July hundreds of people took part in a peace march through the streets of Beeston, Leeds and into the city centre. Beeston resident James Winterbottom gives his view on life in the area.
It's been a turbulent time over the past fortnight. It started when four young men became suicide bombers carrying out a coordinated attack on London's transport network killing dozens of people. These abhorrent acts left a trail that led the police and the world's media back to Beeston.
Where you'd normally see kids playing football in the street, sneering pinstripe-suited media executives sipped designer coffee in deckchairs under makeshift gazebos on the pavements.
Getting home from work everyday would mean navigating through ever-changing police cordons. Police cars thundered up and down the streets and pavements were packed with officers walking the streets, usually a rare occurrence.
The hardest thing our community had to get our heads around was that the suicide bombers that devastated London had regularly met in Beeston to plan their attack. The sense of shock was palpable, people gathered on the streets sharing their feelings with neighbours. Waves of guilt collided with confusion, anger and sadness shaking our tight community to the core.
The anti-Muslim feeling that the terrorist attacks created elsewhere could have spread through Beeston and made us all turn on each other, upsetting the balance of the diverse community. This would have suited certain people. The terrorists wanted this to happen to make impressionable young Muslims think they live in a country that hates them. Racist organisations wanted this to happen to add fuel to their disgusting propaganda about the Muslim faith.
The opposite was true. The attacks prompted much soul searching about how young people could be pushed to extremism but no one was willing to start pointing the finger at other people.
From my experience, the community has never been more united. During the evacuations this spirit helped make a difficult time much easier. Most people accepted the massive inconvenience of being moved out of their house or like me, returning from work to find you weren't allowed into your home. Everyone pulled together and looked after one another, regardless of race or religion.
THERE WERE patchy media reports of this unity but media coverage of Beeston was far from being fair and balanced. The press need an angle on every story; when they cannot find one they tend to make one up.
Most focussed on the run-down areas, painting a picture of deprivation where terrorism was an inevitable consequence of such squalid conditions. Reporters were happy to receive free bottles of water from Hamara Healthy Living Centre but didn't say that it and many other schemes had gone a long way to help local people and improve the environment.
The negative portrayal of Beeston may just be lazy journalism but their reports made viewers think that the culture of the area helped nurture terrorism and pushed people out to the fringes of society. I find it hard to believe that Beeston was to blame for producing people willing to carry out such horrendous acts.
I think the government used criticism of Imams and the Muslim faith to deflect responsibility for the effects their war on terror has had on disillusioned youth all over the country, not just in Yorkshire.
New Labour's foreign policy has alienated vast amounts of Britain's youth. For me it's the single greatest factor in changing peaceful young men into mass murderers. The Anglo-American war on terror and the Islamaphobic rhetoric that goes with it gives extremists the opportunity to recruit impressionable angry youth and guide them down the path to terrorism.
Acts of terrorism will do nothing to change the current global climate and will only encourage Blair and Bush in their unjust war in Iraq. To make a genuine difference we must act collectively and peacefully to make our voice heard.
The peace march made me feel better about the area I live in. Marching with a complete cross-section of my community showed we aren't ashamed to live in Beeston. It shows we hate terrorism, that we're not afraid to say the war in Iraq was wrong and that we're a united community. It also showed the many young people present that collectively the working class can make a difference without resorting to terrorism.
In The Socialist 28 July 2005: