On my way into Leicester this evening, I noticed a large number of young people wearing hoodies also making their way into town. There was quite a large police presence for a Tuesday evening in Leicester. However, there was no violence or rioting.
I was going with members of the Socialist Party – we always have our regular meeting at the Turkey Cafe on Tuesdays, where I was talking about religion and socialism. Halfway through, we heard a group of people chanting “Peace on The Streets”, emblazoned across a banner with a young person smiling, whilst wearing the ubiquitous hoodie. They were making their way towards the Clocktower. We immediately abandoned the meeting to join them, with copies of our paper advertising the Jarrow Youth Fight For Jobs March.
Then a small group (about 10) EDL supporters riled up the people with “E-E-EDL” chants. They pretend to be against Islam, but the people making up the demonstration were from all backgrounds. It was entirely peaceful. The police could have simply escorted the EDL away and left the youth to make their point peacefully. Instead they over-reacted completely – charging down the street with batons raised. One window of a clothes shop was smashed, but no-one even attempted to get in the shop.
Later there were some windows smashed, on Granby St and High Cross St, after the police provoked the youth. There were no press at the demo itself, other than radio Leicester – so the Leicester Mercury article is talking from hearsay.
The Socialist Party demands that cuts to young people’s services be reversed urgently. We are fighting for secure jobs for all – youth unemployment is around 1 million and amongst black youth the unemployment rate is as high as 50%.
We need a united fight against racism, police oppression and for a mass working class party to stand up for ordinary people. Otherwise, anger and frustration will continue to spill over into rioting. The answer, as we decided in our meeting, is working-class unity.