Socialist Worker

Cops let nazi thugs rampage in Oldham

Issue No. 1750

Cops let nazi thugs rampage in Oldham

Asians fought back

THE CLASHES in Oldham over the bank holiday weekend were not about "lawlessness" or "hooliganism". They were a revolt by Asian youth against vicious racism. They came after police allowed Nazi thugs to roam around the town throughout Saturday. The racists organise under a variety of banners-the National Front (NF), the British National Party (BNP), Combat 18.

But their aim is clear-violent attacks on black and Asian people to try and tear a multicultural society apart. That's what they did in Oldham last Saturday, after months of trying to create tension in the town.

It is part of their "election strategy". The BNP is standing three candidates in the area at the general election, including their leader, Nick Griffin. A gang of ten to 15 racists made their way to the Clarksfield area, right beside the mainly Asian area of Glodwick, on Saturday. They attacked Asian shops and households.

They shouted racist abuse and chased Asian children. They threw bricks through the window of a house in which an elderly woman, several small children and others huddled in fear. They tried to smash their way in. "A pregnant woman was kicked in the stomach," says Hafi, a local Asian man.

"When she called the police nobody came. She hid inside her house while they smashed the windows and tried to break down the door." News of these attacks spread around Glodwick.

People came onto the street to protect their community. Who else was going to? That was when the police finally arrived in the area. They arrested two Asians who were trying to defend the area from the racists. Asian community leaders pleaded with the police to arrest the Nazis, but they refused. The community exploded.

"The Asian youths felt they had to protect their community," said Ashid Ali. "We tried to avoid trouble, but when it came to our doorstep people defended themselves and the police were extremely heavy handed in response."

"The police did nothing to protect us," Asian youths told Socialist Worker. "The community leaders and councillors did nothing. People here have had enough. The police have defended the fascists all along. They've given them the free run of Oldham. The police are racist too.

"That's why we fought the police." Naeem Ashraf said, "We will no longer tolerate abuse. We live here, work here, yet still live in the ghetto."

Asian youths attacked the Live and Let Live pub in Glodwick because a number of Nazis had gone there after they had attacked Asian families. The local newspaper, the Oldham Evening Chronicle, well known for its racism towards Asians, was also targeted. This outpouring of rage at the racism of organised thugs and powerful institutions was not a "race riot", as sections of the media claim. The element of a race riot was the rampage by Nazis through the area-without hindrance from the police.


"Racists kicked a pregnant woman in the stomach. The police did not come."

  • EYEWITNESS

Blair defends the police...

TONY BLAIR rushed to defend the police in Oldham. Incredibly, he said, "The fact is that the police have a good record on race relations."

That flies in the face of the Macpherson report into the police mishandling of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It found the police are riddled with institutionalised racism. And the evidence of it continues to pile up two years later. Guardian reporters recently told Superintendent Dick Crawshaw, one of Oldham's senior police officers, that many Asians rejected the idea that there were "no-go" areas for whites.

"You must have spoken to the only 12 people in the area who can read and write," was his outrageous reply. Despite this he has not been disciplined in any way. The police in Oldham are not "caught in the middle" between rival gangs. They systematically harass Asians and let Nazi thugs organise.


...while Straw defends Tories

THE TORIES' scapegoating of asylum seekers is another encouragement to the small minority of organised racists who rampaged through Oldham on Saturday.

Official figures show a link between anti-asylum speeches by politicians and attacks on ethnic minorities. But New Labour's Jack Straw jumped to the Tories' defence at the weekend. He said that accusing them for whipping up racial tension was "incredible".


United response

ANTI-RACISTS have been striving to unite black, white and Asian people in the face of the media onslaught about racial divisions in Oldham. Around 1,000 people rallied against a planned National Front demonstration at the end of March.

Whenever the Nazis have planned to march they have been met by a counter-demonstration. The Anti Nazi League is organising a "Don't Vote Nazi" campaign in Oldham, and in other areas where the BNP and NF are standing.

  • Contact the Anti Nazi League on 020 7924 0333.

Not scared of speaking out

"OLDHAM IS a repeat of the events in Bradford on Easter Monday. The full effects of the race card are now being felt. Politicians like Widdecombe, Hague, Roche and Straw have fanned the flames of race hatred by attacking refugees. The Nazis are worms that crawl out when there's enough food to feed them.

The police have actively encouraged the Nazis by fiddling the race statistics to try to show that 60 percent of victims of racism in Oldham are white. To allow the police a monopoly on racial incidents is like giving Dracula access to the blood bank.

Candidates for the Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party are prepared to stick their necks out to defend black and Asian people.|

  • ATEEQ SIDDIQUE, Socialist Alliance candidate for Bradford South

Escort for racists

THE responsibility of the Nazi BNP and National Front for the violence is so clear that even the Oldham police condemned it after the weekend. But those were empty words. The police have allowed the racist thugs to organise. Over the last few weeks the police in Oldham have:

  • Allowed the Nazi BNP to hold a rally outside Oldham police station in March.

Police sergeant David Cooper of the Racial Incident Unit said of the rally: "The group appeared to be well organised, well disciplined and coordinated. There was nothing particularly racially inflammatory about what they said. They demanded positive action and asked the Asian community to extract the small number of hooligans from their community."

  • Claimed that the attack on Walter Chamberlain, a white pensioner, was "racist". The police said a group of Asians shouted, "Get out of our area," at Walter before attacking him. This was reported in every national paper and in television broadcasts. But at no point did Walter tell the police that this was said to him. His family insists the attack was not racially motivated.
  • Allowed a gang of racist football fans to march through the mainly Asian areas of Coldhurst and Westwood. They shouted abuse at people, smashed windows and attacked shops. When the Asian community tried to defend their area the police attacked them.
  • Allowed around 70 members of the Nazi NF to march and rally in Oldham despite Jack Straw, the home secretary, slapping a ban on the march.

The tension was already high in Oldham this week after some racist ex-pupils of the mainly Asian Breeze Hill School returned to chant racist abuse and try to attack pupils.

The NF had inspired them by leafleting a mainly white estate the week before. The police did nothing despite appeals from teachers. It was only on Thursday when Asian pupils fought back against the racists that the police moved into action. They arrested the Asians. The pattern is clear-the police are persecuting the victims.


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News
Sat 2 Jun 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1750
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