National Civil Rights Movement
THE SECOND conference of the National Civil Rights Movement took place in Sheffield last Saturday. Around 100 people met, principally to ratify the NCRM's constitution and elect officers. The NCRM was set up a year ago at a 600-strong meeting held in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. Its intention was to put together a broad based grassroots anti-racist movement. The NCRM defines its strategy as an "alliance between families, lawyers and activists". At last Saturday's meeting many victims of racist attacks and police racism spoke.
These included Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher died in police custody, the Reel and Menson families, the Hillsborough Family Campaign and others. A spokesperson from the Diamond Five told the conference how five Chinese waiters were arrested by police after they had defended themselves from a racist attack at a London Chinatown restaurant. The Stephen Lawrence family lawyer, Imran Khan, told the conference how the family were angry and disappointed that the government had "delivered so little" one year after the public inquiry. Khan also said there was a "fantastic backlash" from the police against the findings of the Lawrence inquiry.
He also called for police stop and search powers to be abolished. Lawyer Mike Mansfield, who is president of the NCRM, attacked the New Labour government for not delivering justice for the Lawrences and instead attacking people's civil rights, including the right to a jury trial. The conference elected various people to act as "network convenors". One of their aims is to up the membership to 2,000 by the end of this year. Many motions were passed, including one backing the forthcoming London demonstration in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal (see centre pages). The lack of numbers at the Sheffield meeting was a disappointment, as was the lack of any official trade union presence.