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The antiKKKrime war against the excluded continues unabated

Andy | 27.10.2004 14:59 | Repression | Social Struggles

Britain’s totalitarian terror against the socially excluded and the different is escalating and reaching new heights. As the sheep call for more “protection” from one another, the statist tyrants grab more and more power, and what few freedoms exist are crushed mercilessly under their jackboots. Another animal rights activist has been served with an ASBO and also jailed, for absolutely nothing – his alleged “crime” was simply to shout at a vivisector. Other victims of ASBO’s include a homeless man jailed for visiting his girlfriend in a town where he was banned for begging, someone banned from owning a TV, someone banned from listening to gangsta rap, and even a barrister given an ASBO for banging a mop on the floor! But resistance is possible and growing.

Britain’s totalitarian terror against the socially excluded and the different is escalating and reaching new heights. As the sheep call for more “protection” from one another, the statist tyrants grab more and more power, and what few freedoms exist are crushed mercilessly under their jackboots. Another animal rights activist has been served with an ASBO and also jailed, for absolutely nothing – his alleged “crime” was simply to shout at a vivisector. Other victims of ASBO’s include a homeless man jailed for visiting his girlfriend in a town where he was banned for begging, someone banned from owning a TV, someone banned from listening to gangsta rap, and even a barrister given an ASBO for banging a mop on the floor!

This statist terror is a permanent war against those who do not fit into an idyll of social control, presented as a harmonious society but meaning in fact the unconstrained dictatorship of the “normal”, the “decent” and the conformist. The perpetual war against the different – known in Britain as anti-social behaviour clampdowns, in America as quality of life policing and zero tolerance – is a threat to the very existence of oppressed people, from beggars driven from city centres and left to freeze to death, to the psychologically different who are ever more repressed in a hostile world. And in many ways this is a war against everyone – no everyday activity is harmless enough that the state does not think it has the right to ban it under such fascist laws.

The SWP is talking about launching a campaign against ASBO’s. This is a step forward, as long as it does not simply become another front group. But the way to really defeat the totalitarian terror of the policing of everyday life is to mobilise the excluded, the precarious and the “anti-social” in a mass campaign of direct action to render the laws unworkable. Blockades of ASB conferences, ALF-style targeting of individuals involves in ASB crackdowns, fake “ASBO” campaigns where ASB posters are put up in rich areas or leaflets distributed declaring that local baddies are under ASBO’s, mass civil disobedience and prison support actions for ASBO victims are among the options available to campaigners. If the police and wardens act like Nazis, let us treat them like Nazis and drive them from the streets! Let a thousand intifadas bloom! Down with the tyranny of the normalisers and the majoritarians – victory to the anti-social!



Social apartheid – ‘quality of life’ for the rich; ‘zero tolerance’ of the poor

Parenty’s 1999 book Lockdown America – Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis, guides the reader through the massive militarisation of the US police and immigration service, which began with President Richard Nixon’s quest to re-establish social control after the turbulent late 1960s, when ‘capitalism hit a dual social and economic crisis.’

In particular, the enforced retreat of three police forces from the 1965 Watts rebellion had caused a crisis of police confidence. Just as 15 years later in Britain, inner-city uprisings would lead the police to draw on the experiences of the occupying army in the north of Ireland, the US police looked to the military in Vietnam for ideas. This resulted, on the one hand, in rapid buying up of helicopters, computers, microfilm fingerprint files and electronic maps, on the other in ‘soft’ strategies of incorporating sections of the community, buying off key people and gathering intelligence.

Nixon was prevented from fully realising his plans due to continued resistance and the Watergate scandal. The drive for militarised social control ultimately took off in the 1980s as ‘a response to the vicious economic restructuring of the Reagan era …To restore sagging business profits, the welfare of working people had to be sacrificed…the criminal justice crackdown has become…a way to manage rising inequality and surplus populations. ‘

So, from then until now, there has been an unrelenting build-up of weaponry by the state, both in terms of actual hardware and in the shape of laws and powers that pervade every area of life and seek to control every form of behaviour. These laws are universal on the statute books but selective in their application. They are ‘sold’ to the population in the guise of ‘the war on drugs’, ‘the fight against organised crime’ or even the desirable sounding ‘quality of life’, but in reality amount to all-encompassing social and racial control of the working class.

‘Quality of life’ (QOL) is the other side of the much-discussed coin of ‘zero tolerance’ (ZT). This form of policing should be studied by readers in Britain, where it is being brought in under the guise of dealing with ‘anti-social behaviour’. The ‘quality of life’ under discussion is that of the mainly white middle class, which is perceived as threatened by the mere existence of poor working class people on the same streets as them.

ZT/QOL policing was developed by then New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton under Mayor Rudi Giuliani, using the ideas of right-wing criminologists James Q Wilson and George Kelling. The doctrine is one of ‘vigorous enforcement of even the most trifling municipal codes in the theory that preventing “disorder” will prevent violence… Police were advised to…control “panhandlers, drunks, addicts, rowdy teenagers, prostitutes, loiterers, the mentally disturbed.” According to the theory, enforcing laws against public urination, graffiti, and inebriation will create an aura of regulation that helps prevent brutal crimes like rape and murder’ (p70).

ZT/QOL policing appeared to be a success – between 1994 and 1998 overall crime in New York dropped 43 per cent. But at what cost? ‘During the same period another set of statistics has also emerged. Complaints of police brutality…jumped by 62 per cent...while…the city has paid out more than $100 million in damages arising from police violence… Bratton’s response was “That’s too damn bad” ’ (p83).

At the same time, the government is waging war on immigrants. Writing in 1999, Parenty describes the vicious state racism: ‘the combined force stops Latino drivers and pedestrians at random, conducting warrantless searches…cops and [immigration] officers humiliate Latinos on public highways and interrogate children on their way to school’. In a single raid 432 undocumented migrants and two US citizens were deported, some wearing only their underwear. Post-2001, many of the three million Arab American citizens now have experience of the same treatment.

The aim of this terror is to ensure that immigrant workers live in fear, do not organise, do not rebel, and do not ask for higher wages or better conditions. They remain a cheap, expendable source of labour. At the same time, they can play the role of convenient scapegoat for the economic problems now beginning to affect the whole of US society.

Overwhelming force is also increasingly used in the everyday policing of black and Latino working class areas of cities. Parenty describes the operations of the ‘super-cops’ of the Fresno, California Violent Crime Suppression Unit (VCSU) as ‘a sneak preview of a future American police state’. The VCSU was formed in a massively hyped-up response to genuine problems of crime and gang warfare but continued heavily armed, paramilitary operations long after every gang member had been incarcerated. The Unit acts unashamedly as an army of occupation – ‘If police are soldiers instead of civil servants, and their task is destruction and conquest, then it follows that the civilian community will be the enemy’ (p112).

(from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!)

SEE ALSO: Academic study on the criminalisation of black youths in America


Anti-social behaviour
Large sections of Camden are now covered by blanket anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs). Any group of more than two people can be asked by police to disperse, and no-one under the age of 16 can be on the streets after 9pm. The first high-profile days of the Camden Town ASBO were marked by a massive police presence, including a mobile CCTV camera van, helicopters and marine support units on the canal. 64 individuals, mainly drug users, were served with exclusion orders. Meanwhile, in the back streets, young teenagers on bikes, who had previously behaved well, taunted the police and rode off laughing. In Somers Town, the other ASBO area, policing has so far been low-key but it is clear that the spectre of ‘gang violence’ will be used to prohibit young Asians from gathering in the streets during the summer holidays.

The measures in the Anti-Social Behaviour Act constitute a generalised attack on freedom of movement and are racist and anti-working class in their application. The parliamentary committee that scrutinised the Act in 2003 was at a loss to understand why it was necessary to introduce such a draconian law. It asked the government to ‘explain why existing powers (...such as those under the Public Order Act 1986, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997) were not sufficient’. The use of these blanket ASBOs stigmatises and criminalises entire sections of society by labelling them as a problem. It punishes parents living in cramped flats without gardens by making them keep their children inside for no reason. It does nothing to solve genuine problems of crime.

Blair announces, Camden pounces
Under the Education Act of 1996 ‘parents have a duty to ensure that their children attend school regularly and on time. Failure to do so may result in court action, a fine of £2,500 and/or a three-month custodial sentence’. Eight years on, with the Education Act reinforced by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, Tony Blair has announced zero tolerance and a target of 100% punctuality and attendance for all school students. Some Camden schools have seized on this encouragement from the Prime Minister to bully parents.

School newsletters carry warnings that from September 2004 Penalty Notices (in English only) will be issued to parents/ carers for poor attendance, frequent lateness and holidays in term time without school permission. The penalty will be £50 if paid within the first 28 days, rising to £100 after 42 days. This could result in a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record. How does this help families, burdened by multiple problems, whose children are finding school difficult? Clearly some Camden heads would rather show support for Blair than for their pupils.

(from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!)


Anti-social behaviour orders:
‘The law is turning our children into criminals’

A court decision has given a green light to a wave of new ASBOs. Kelly Hilditch looks at the likely impact

INCREASING NUMBERS of chidren are being locked up in Britain’s prisons, not because they have committed a criminal offence but because they have fallen foul of draconian Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs).

The number of Asbos issued is set to rocket after a ruling in the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday of last week.

The human rights organisation Liberty brought a case alleging that Brent council in north west London and the Metropolitan Police had acted illegally by publicising the identity of three young men who had been served with Asbos.

The council and the police printed the men’s names, addresses and photographs, along with details of the orders against them, in leaflets, a newsletter and on a website.

The leaflets were then distributed to local residents, who were asked to tell the police if they saw any of the young men in the area.

Lord Justice Kennedy and Mr Justice Treacy ruled that this was not a breach of the young men’s human rights.

Meanwhile, as a result of the council’s naming and shaming policies, the men and their families have suffered from vigilantism, including verbal abuse, threats and bullying.

Beccy Palmer, a youth worker in the Brent area, said, “The decision sets a dangerous precedent. The stigma and the reputation will be with them forever.”

ASBOs are a cornerstone of Tony Blair’s proclaimed mission to crack down on the nuisance behaviour that he says blights life in many working class communities.

But, far from rebuilding communities, the ASBOs are tearing them apart.

ASBOs are increasingly being issued for trivial reasons. A barrister in Camden was served with an Asbo for banging her mop against her floors and walls.

Two brothers in Manchester, aged 11 and 12, were banned from wearing balaclavas. One 14 year old has been banned from misbehaving at school.

A woman who played loud music has been banned from owning a stereo, radio or TV.

A couple in the Midlands were banned from playing “gansta rap” containing words deemed offensive.

Age is no barrier to getting an ASBO. A ten year old in Bath has been banned from carrying matches, while a 87 year old from Merseyside has been banned from harassing his neighbours after a row over a hedge.

A homeless alcolohic was served an ASBO banning him from Aldershot. He returned to the town to see his girlfriend of 30 years, only to be jailed for three months for breaching the order.

Young people can be served ASBOs even when they have done absolutely nothing wrong.

Several London boroughs imposed curfews last summer.

Children caught in the wrong area who refuse to move on could be held in a police cell and handed a custodial sentence or a £5,000 fine.

ASBOs have been served against people protesting peacefully over arms sales and cruelty to animals.

ASBO hearings are civil not criminal proceedings, so they don’t require proof beyond reasonable doubt. They take away the principle of people being innocent until proven guilty.

Hearsay, or gossip, is also admissible in ASBO hearings. Evidence can be submitted anonymously.

Although ASBOs are issued through civil proceedings, breaking the terms of the order is a criminal offence.

Punishments can be as high as five years in prison. Already, sentences of up to eight months have been handed out to teenagers for breaching ASBOs.

One high profile case involved an ASBO being issued to stop a teenager waging a vicious campaign of racist behaviour.

But criminal laws already exist which prohibit such racist harrassment, along with the drug dealing and violence the government says it wants to stamp out.

“This is part of an argument about how the law is used and how people are convicted,” says Beccy Palmer.

The ability to hand out ASBOs to children as young as ten is seen by some as a way to criminalise children by the back door. There are record numbers of children in prison under New Labour.

As well as criminalising people, ASBOs are also being used to evict people from their homes.

Housing associations work with the police and local authorities to secure the orders. They then use the ASBOs to evict those, or the families of those, who receive them.

What is needed are real opportunities and training

The situation is being made worse by the lack of facilities and opportunities for young people.

“Young people see less and less opportunities open to them,” says Beccy Palmer.

“Youth centres are being closed down. In Brent alone the numbers have gone from 39 to three.

“I took a group to an art project in central London. Half of them had never been to central London before.

“Top-up fees prevent working class kids from going to university. And the alternative? Job Seeker Plus, work placement that leaves 60 percent out of work within six months. Or at best some menial job earning minimum wage.”

A group of youth workers in London have issued an open letter to David Blunkett which they hope to launch at the European Social Forum.

The letter says, “We experience day to day the effect that the constant media barrage and continuous government attacks through policy has on young people, their families and communities. What are needed are real opportunities, meaningful training and secure properly paid employment.

“We do not wish to minimise the effect of crime on anyone. In fact some of us have experienced it ourselves.

“But the vast majority of young people do not commit crime, and those that do need the right support and a chance to realise their own potential.”

Another youth worker told Socialist Worker, “All sorts of behaviour is now being labelled as anti-social.

“ABSOs mean that young people can get locked up for trivial things, like playing football, swearing or wearing hats.

“Successive governments have stripped money out of the youth services that did help prevent bad behaviour.

“Now they are pumping money into punitive measures like ASBOs. But there is no evidence that they will work.”

The government is ruthlessly pursuing its stategy.

Last October the government launched an Anti-social Behaviour Action Plan.

Since then there has been a massive increase in the number of ASBO units in local and regional police forces.

Some £65 million of public money is being devoted to this clampdown.

Between April 1999 and March 2004, 2,455 orders were issued, more than half of them within the last year.

Those at the sharp end of the ASBOs are beginning to organise to raise awareness of how damaging they can be.

At the European Social Forum there will be a meeting on “Youth crime: myths and realities”. Young people will speak out about their experience of the judicial system, their views on government policies and media hysteria. It will be held on Friday 9am at Birkbeck.

To celebrate Black History Month, young people will be performing a play they have written which explores racism and Islamophobia on Saturday at 12 noon, at the London Welsh Centre.

(from Socialist Worker)


“David Blunkett was banned from going within 100 yards of any married woman…”
Now stick an ASBO on Labour in Hartlepool

CRIME BECAME a key issue in the Hartlepool by-election in an unexpected way last week. Local police had to intervene when a row between Labour and Lib Dem supporters threatened to turn nasty. Incredibly, the two sides were raging at each other over which party was the toughest on crime.

The Labour Party have been accused of bussing staff up from their central London office to hold a “protest” outside the Lib Dem offices in Hartlepool on Tuesday of last week. The “protesters” waved placards accusing the Lib Dems of being soft on criminals. A huge row ensued. The police had to break up Labour’s crime picket and “had words” with senior figures from both parties. Newspapers are reporting that among the Labour “protesters” were Labour officials who played key roles in the Hodge Hill by-election in July.

Labour won the Birmingham Hodge Hill seat, but their campaign disgusted many by its vitriolic abuse of “teen gangs” and asylum seekers. A local paper, the Hartlepool Mail, ran a picture of last week’s undignified scuffle.

Respect press officer Peter Smith responded by having this letter printed in the paper:

“The clash between Labour and Lib Dem supporters on York Road requires a response. Rival political parties can surely find a more mature way of settling disagreements than engaging in a street ruckus. It beggars belief to think that this unseemly row was over the party’s respective law and order policies. We in this office were pleased that a close examination of the photograph clearly shows that, with the exception of the police officers, most of the demonstrators were not from the town.”

Labour Party figures are now threatening legal action against the Liberal Democrat candidate for naming them as getting on the wrong side of the police on her website.

(from Socialist Worker)


Please write letters of support to Andrew Davies, a tireless animal rights campaigner who has been imprisoned for objecting to the animal abuse of David Hall and Partners. This was an unexpected custodial sentence and Andrew would sincerely appreciate your letters of support. Shocked as he was he at the severity of the sentence (essentially for having an argument with Simon Turner on the validity of animal experimentation!) he is in good spirits and awaits your letters.

Andrew Davies NN5431
HMP Birmingham
Winson Green Road
B18 4AS

On Friday 1st October Andrew received 28 days and also an indefinite Anti-Social Behaviour Order(ASBO) for merely shouting about the abuse of innocent creatures(Section 4a Public Order).

(From Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs website)


Grass Busts Downtown Criminalize Young and Poor
by Robert Norse/Becky Johnson

On Tuesday September 21st, according to a Sentinel story the next day, cops swooped down on a dozen young street kids and busted them on felony marijuana charges at Pacific Avenue and San Lorenzo Park. The kids responded by coming to City Council in protest on Tuesday the 28th and may be at the City Council candidate forum on October

The Santa Cruz Sentinel (9-22-04) apparently taking its cue from the Santa Cruz Police Department called its young victims “gypsies, dirty, prone to violence and associated with methamphetamines and heroin.” On Tuesday September 28th a half-dozen young people, including several who had recently been arrested for felony marijuana charges downtown or at San Lorenzo Park spoke back to City Council during the Oral Communications period of the City Council meeting while two dozen of their companions watched and cheered from the audience.

HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) and HRO (Human Rights Organization) sponsored a protest rally outside Council chambers, where they fortified the latest police targets with hot thick vegan soup. Activists advised the newcomers of City Council’s procedures and repressive “Decorum” rules. In January Mayor Scott Kennedy threatened a dozen people with arrest for silently carrying signs around the chamber and had one man arrested for speaking quietly to a homeless man for “disrupting a public meeting” (charges were never filed, but the man was taken away in handcuffs and held in jail for several hours).

At the Tuesday night meeting, many of the tattooed, pierced, and tattered attendees were homeless. For most it was their first time in City Council chambers. Nearly all were anxious about saying anything to the Council. Councilmembers, including Mayor Kennedy, declined to speak with the youth as a group as they gathered outside, though loudly urged to do so by organizers. They pointedly ignored the young people and swept inside the chambers.

Mayor Kennedy treated speakers differentially, allowing those not addressing the City’s youth-targeting “Drug War” busts downtown, to speak over their 3- minute time, but abruptly shutting down speakers shut off the speakers before the last two spike-haired youths had a chance to make their case, and allowed less than the thirty minutes mandated for Oral Communications--the only City Council period when the public can actually speak on subjects of their own choosing. He then spent more than two hours on a West side home variance that affected two well-to-do households.

Mike Seymour, an older man who lives in his van, also spoke. Originally in Santa Cruz for a three-week visit last November. He is still here trying to take care of charges of sleeping and camping in which, he says, police towed his car and damaged it. "None of those charges ever stuck but they owe me for towing my vehicle and the tow company owes me for the damage they did while towing it." He has been taken to court twice for marijuana charges (both dropped) and reports he is regularly harassed by police.
Participants gathered afterwards outside the chambers and vowed to “sleep in” at a subsequent Council meeting, even if it meant going to jail--in order to change the City’s 11 PM to 8:30 AM Sleeping Ban law. “At least it’ll mean a cot for the night” said one woman, shaking her head.

Full article is at:


LBGT youths of color protest harassment

By Minnie Bruce Pratt
New York

High-stakes real estate is transforming Greenwich Village in New York City. And it is driving out young people who gather there in order to carry on the long tradition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities gathering in the West Village.

But young people are organizing and fighting back.

Some 200 people, mostly youths of color, rallied Oct. 16 at the site of the Stonewall Rebellion in Sheridan Square, and marched through police down Chris topher Street to the piers. They chanted, "Stonewall means fight back!" and carried signs reading, youth need beds, not jails."

Stonewall was the 1969 uprising against police brutality led by transgender, gay and lesbian young people. Most were people of color, homeless and forced by poverty into prostitution. The piers have served for generations as shelter and home to such youths.

The group Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment--FIERCE--organized and led the Oct. 16 protest. FIERCE is a community organization formed in 2000 by trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, Two-Spirit, queer and questioning (TLGTSQQ) youths of color in New York City. FIERCE battles police brutality and discriminatory arrests of youths of color. It organizes for housing, employment, education and healthcare for homeless and low-income youths. And it provides training in community leadership.

First with Mayor Rudolph Guiliani's "Quality of Life" campaign, and now continuing with Bloomberg's "Operation Clean Sweep," LGBT young of color have been arrested for acts that affluent white Village visitors or residents commit with impunity--like "noise" and "loitering."

Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, pointed to the racist profiling of such arrests in a comment on people held in the arrest pens: "One of the things that's startling is how rarely you see a white face. And the great majority of charges ... are quality of life charges." (Village Voice, April 30, 2002)

At the closing rally on Oct. 16, Kenyon Farrow, a FIERCE ally, drew a parallel between the "Black Codes" of Recon struc tion and the "Quality of Life" campaigns. Both, he pointed out, were intended to restrict people of color in public space, and to entrap them into prison. He demanded the city end the curfew on the piers.

(from Workers’ World)
full article at:



Riot police clash with yobs in city centre
VIOLENCE flared in the city centre when drunken yobs fought running battles with riot police. Police were pelted with missiles by gangs of booze-fuelled troublemakers who sparked flashpoints throughout the city centre during the night of weekend violence. Five police officers were injured during the clashes - with one suffering a broken collar bone - and two police patrol cars were damaged. A total of 14 arrests were made.

The mobs rampaged from the Upper Precinct through to Broadgate, The Burges and Hales Street from around 2am on Sunday. One eye-witness described to The Observer the “mayhem” caused by the hooligans, who were armed with bottles and other missiles. Police in full riot gear were forced to call for a back-up team from Birmingham, who joined extra officers drafted in to tackle the violence, which erupted 11 hours after England had kicked off a World Cup qualifying match against Wales.

Police said some officers were singled out for racially motivated attacks and abuse by the thugs. [serves them right for being uncle toms in the white-supremacist police]

Sgt Phil Radbourne, of Little Park Street police station, told The Observer: “We had sufficient numbers to quell any problems. "It was dealt with swiftly and a number of arrests were made. We minimised the disruption to law-abiding members of the public enjoying a night out.”

Some of the thugs arrested on the night will appear before Coventry magistrates later this month charged with public order offences. Others were charged with racial abuse offences and several were released on police bail. Police numbers were swelled on the night as extra officers were on the beat due to Operation Norbury - a Home Office initiative which aims to clamp down on alcohol-related crime in towns and cities across the country.



EDITORIAL: Goose Fair Shooting
Brian Davey

At the time of producing the latest issue of the NAN the horrifying killing of Danielle Beccan has just occurred. On the radio this morning John Heppell was again giving out, rather uncomfortably it sounded, an official line - that although things have got worse in Nottingham over the last ten years, over the last two years things have begun to get better. However, the Radio 4 interviewer pointed out that does not tally with the death of Danielle. Nor does it tally with the death, last year, of Marian Bates in her jewellers shop in Arnold - nor with the death, earlier this year, of Derek Smith after giving evidence against a gang who attacked him - nor the killing of Gerald Smith in Sheffield, a bystander hit in the cross fire of a Nottingham gang feud - nor the murder of the couple in Lincolnshire, again an apparent by- product of the increasing brutality coming out of Nottingham.

The idea that things are getting better is the official line after the new broom brought in by the new chief constable Steve Green. As we pointed out in an earlier article in the NAN, Mr Green was brought in because the Nottingham police force was clearly failing. He applied sweeping changes - so sweeping, in fact, that it is arguable that he de-stabilised the police organisation in Nottinghamshire and did more harm than good. (For example, in re-deployments staff were given an option on where they wanted to move to, meaning many experienced officers opted to move into the areas easier to police).

The sad truth is that the level of youth crime in Nottingham is probably partly a by product of its age structure and the policies pursued by the city council itself. There has been a surge in the night life economy to cater for the large number of students and many kids as the city has become more unequal. Kids in the estates like St Anns and the Meadows have their noses rubbed in their lack of prospects every day if they go into the city centre where the shopping bonanza is taking place and every night where it is party time. So they want to get their share of the action and drugs and guns are an apparent way into the good time. The city has no strategy at all for manual employment other than, in effect, telling working class kids that they should try harder at school. (The opportunities would be great in a green economic strategy as much building and cultivational work would have to be done, however, that is not on the agenda of short sighted politicians).

While Mr Green rants against liberal values and Mr Heppell, very hesitantly, repeats the message that guns are not cool, they might perhaps remember that the next time the Sherwood Foresters want to recruit in the city centre and impress the young boys of all ages with their artillery pieces and light tanks. A friend of mine had her front door kicked in while she was in the bath a year ago by a gang who robbed her - it took the police 3 and a half hours to arrive after a 999 call. This happened about the same time as the British and American governments, in breach of international law were killing their way into Iraq. Any connection? Not a direct one to be sure but the government too is part responsible for creating the culture of violence in which we live. How can any politician have any credibility at all speaking about gun crime after that - least of all John Heppell, who worked as government whip to get a majority for this policy. The results of this policy are now clearer than ever in Iraq - a bloody escalation of violence. They are clearer in Afghanistan too, where despite the official line, our allies happened to be the chief beneficiaries of the heroin trade, which explains the greater supply on the street.

At the moment the most important thing is to catch whoever committed this terrible crime. But there are long term issues as well. Gun crime, if it is solvable at all, is partly a policing matter but not only. And it is not to be solved by not telling the truth, by telling the official line in a way that deviates from the truth, not by moral preaching, especially from a government so keen to resort to violence itself and so economical with the truth. What is needed is a comprehensive package of measures, which includes a real hope for the economic and social future of the St Anns and Meadows and, above all jobs for the young people there.

(from Nottingham Alternative News)

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