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13 March 2014

Stop cuts and police repression in Tottenham!

The trial is currently taking place of Nicky Jacobs, one of those charged with the murder of PC Blakelock during the Broadwater Farm riots in 1985.

The riots happened in the aftermath of the death of Cynthia Jarret who suffered a heart attack during a police search of her home.

The original investigation into the murder saw teenagers interviewed naked and with no guardian present, evidence tampered with and hundreds arrested, with many violently attacked while in custody.

Relations between police and residents in Tottenham, particularly young people, have deteriorated over three decades during which a long list of people from or living in the area have died while in police custody. The Mark Duggan 'lawful killing' verdict has contributed to this.

When discussing with young people in the campaign to defend jobs, education and youth services in Tottenham (involving Youth Fight for Jobs, Day-Mer youth, Unite the Youth and Voice of Youth), police repression is a big issue.

The cuts are making the problem worse. As schools become academies, students express feelings of being constantly under surveillance.

The police commissioner has said he is open to ideas from local community leaders and politicians about how to improve the situation.

But the idea of asking the very people who are impacted by the police's behaviour doesn't feature.

Many young people in Tottenham are aware of the area's history with the police. Young black men are 28 times more likely to be stopped and searched and a Metropolitan police officer is 30 times more likely to stop and search a black person than a police officer outside of London.

There will be a presence outside the court during the seven week trial and YFJ campaigners plan to attend, along with Socialist Party members.

Going forward, we will continue with our campaign for decent jobs, access to education and for the return of funding to local services.

Our first meeting had 50 people at it from the different youth groups. The main problem is that everyone's talking about Tottenham, but no one is asking young people what it's like to live in Tottenham.

We are discussing bigger actions in the coming months, such as a protest march on 19 April from a job centre to a local college.

Helen Pattison

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