The Tories claim that Britain is united against the rioters. But while there is a backlash, many people have defended young people and opposed the police crackdown.
Around 2,000 people marched from Dalston to Tottenham in north London last Saturday under the slogan “Give our kids a future”.
Many opposed the draconian punishments that young people face.
Ahmet, a 17-year old from Stoke Newington, said, “It was a scary night, but I’m more scared about what comes next.
“I don’t want people to be sent to prison.”
Some newspapers have played up ethnic divisions in Hackney. They have focused on Kurdish and Turkish shopkeepers who tried to defend their shops during riots.
But it’s not true that there’s a wall between different ethnic groups.
Ahmet said his Turkish parents had helped set up the march. “We want to say that we are together, not on the side of the police against the people they say are rioters,” he said.
Nisan also lives in the area. She told Socialist Worker, “There has been a lot of talk of Turkish people coming out against the rioters.
“We have to make sure the public knows that the riots were about the state and their policies that are oppressing people.”
Many people worried about how politicians might spin the riots. Althea said, “We can’t allow the government or anyone else to turn this into a race issue.”
And like many, she was appalled at the government’s hypocrisy, saying, “Andy Coulson got a second chance!”
The Tories’ fierce assault on young, often black, people pushed many to join the march.
“I’ve never been on a protest before but I’m on this because I want to stand up for the people who rioted,” said Michelle. “They aren’t the problem.”
A similar sentiment was echoed on a 200-strong march from Deptford to Lewisham town hall in south east London on Wednesday of last week. Protesters chanted, “Blame the government, not our kids”.
Khadisha, a young woman who was on a bus passing the protest, got off and joined it.
She said, “There were reasons behind these acts. These are angry kids—and they have nothing. Cameron represents the rich. This is why people riot.”
Up to 200 people met in Tottenham on Monday of this week (see box on page 4). They rejected explanations that blamed individuals for the riots and stressed the need to look at the system.
Funmi Abari, a member of the youth parliament, told the meeting, “Boris Johnson came and a group from the youth council were there standing in front of the burnt out post office.
“We asked him, ‘Can you see the impact of cutting youth services now?’ He said, ‘No not yet’. He was utterly ignorant.”
Some people may have felt nervous in the face of the right wing onslaught that has followed the riots.
But we should feel increasingly confident to challenge the hypocrisy, and stupidity, of politicians
As Gary McFarlane, an activist in Tottenham, put it on Saturday’s protest, “We are not hoodlums. We are not criminals.
“It is the police and big business that are the thieves and looters.
“We have power if we come together. From Cairo to Greece to London we can smash the system.”