'The State It's In' - Squall Editorial
When Home Secretary, David Blunkett, visited Bristol for a PR stunt recently he didn't bank on meeting the increasingly militant resid
ents of Easton. But, with discarded needles in local playgrounds and pimping rife on the streets, police, politicians and social theorists are still missing the point by a mile....
Having sustained years of systematic beatings, communities all over Britain are finally imploding under the jungle-law/free-market greed-fest of smack and crack dealing and the anti-social, anti-people, anti-life behaviour it generates. Skipping the idea of underpants over trousers (hooray), in favour of a pair of matching Jean Marie Le Twat cravats (boo), top UK crime fighting duo, Blunkett and McBlair (...er...), are dusting off some ol'-skool reactionary crime slogans (boo) in the hope the resulting confusion above will camouflage the absence of intelligent policy below (...er, more boo...).
Blunkett did the same in March, when a circus-full of performing home office clowns (with tongue-lolling media in tow) dared to leave London (okay, just for a morning) and venture down the M4 to Easton in Bristol. The stunt of the moment, was the unveiling of Blunkett's 'crime hotspots' and nu-Labour/old Tory suss laws.
TWO SMACK DEALS WENT DOWN IN FULL VIEW OF THE THIRTY ODD ASSEMBLED PC'S AND SPECIAL BRANCH OFFICERS AS BLUNKETT WAS DOING HIS DIANA-ABOUT.
Much was made about the crime levels on Easton's Stapleton Road - and the size of the resident black population. But the race card played (cynically) by Blunkett, and picked up (enthusiastically) by the press, has no relevance to the situation confronting local people.
Basically, like dozens of inner city neighbourhoods nationwide, Easton is being torn apart by smack and crack dealing and the anti social cancer it perpetuates. Despite Blunkett and the rest of 'the good people' distancing themselves from the 'criminal hardcore'; the crack dealers, muggers, and the pimps hiring out fourteen year old girls (there are several in Easton), are merely subscribing to the same greed driven mentality as every corporate CEO.
The single message peddled by schools, governments and television, is the same one, often unwittingly, picked up and driven home by parents and peers alike. Namely, the only thing little Jonny should be concerned about is: how much money he can accumulate in his life, how many 'things' this will enable him to 'buy', and how much 'power' it will afford him. Society tells him: Do anything, and step on anyone, in order to further your individual position, And destroy everybody who dares stand in your way. There is no society; there is no obligation to the community as a whole.
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY OUT OF MISERY AND DESTROY THE COMMUNITY IN THE PROCESS, YOU NEED TO BE STOPPED. THIS IS NOT A RACE ISSUE. IT'S GREED VERSUS COMMUNITY.
In Easton, the dealers (black and white - but increasingly self-styled 'gangsta yardies') and the punters jacking up on our doorsteps (black and white, some local, many travelling from Gloucestershire and beyond to score) all fuel the fear in the streets, and, the ranks of muggers in the underpasses. The police (more or less exclusively white) are totally unwilling to deal with the situation - or more to the point, they seem content to let the situation in Easton escalate. It keeps the 'scum' out of the 'nice' parts of town - and the hope is, a well-nurtured crime ghetto may result in a cash injection from above. (Avon and Somerset chief constable Steve Pilkington made it clear that without any more money nu-Labour might as well be trying to crack crime on the moon. Blunkett came with empty pockets).
The tightly orchestrated Blunkett-junkett in March made sure no unsightly views were aired before the invited press and nu-Labour faithful. Hi-salaried 'community-workers' and businessmen (including a locally despised loan shark) were ushered in to grip, grin and pat his master's dog. Every press agency was on the guest list. All three Stapleton Road residents groups, however, were prevented getting near the minister by heavily armoured, and armed, police - the number of which Stapleton Road has never seen before, or since. It was only a last minute tip-off about the visit that enabled residents to give the Home Secretary a good old Easton billboard style welcome, much to the shock of the camped out GMTV camera crew.
In the event, two smack deals went down in full view of the thirty odd assembled PCs and special branch officers as Blunkett was doing his Diana-about. The few local protesters, who had got wind of the 9am stunt, openly mocked the cops for the blind eye they were turning. The cops duly proved the point by pretending not to notice, safe in the knowledge the journalists present would obediently do likewise.
Like Trinity Road's [police station] sick list, activists have continually shied away from tackling crime. Anarchist scribes paint us pictures of self-policing utopias, describing how criminality will disappear with the absence of property. All very well, but of absolutely no use to anyone facing a four-inch blade at the corner of Easton Way. Similarly, liberal whites recoil at the prospect of being on the 'wrong' side of a scrap with someone flouting asylum laws, or any conflict with even a hint of ethnic involvement.
SEVERAL COMMUNITY GROUPS HAVE SPRUNG UP IN RECENT MONTHS, ALL WITH INCREASINGLY MILITANT AGENDAS. ONE CRACK HOUSE HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN; DEALERS PHONES HAVE BEEN 'CUT OFF'.
No one's denying the responsibility of successive administrations which have consistently denigrated and ghettoised working class communities; drugs, bad housing and poverty conspiring to keep people down and out (of the loop). But that does not free everyone else from shouldering some blame. If you are screwing my community, you are my enemy. Whether you're a corporate developer, a racist cop or a crack-dealing pimp. Whether you're black or white, it doesn't matter. Being a law-breaker doesn't make you a social activist. If you want to make money out of misery and destroy the community in the process, you need to be stopped. This is not a race issue. It's greed versus community.
And it's not enough to say to people who live in the area: 'Look, we don't want more police on the streets', or, 'we don't want CCTV'. People who have been mugged, or whose kids go out to play and come home with needles in their hands, say, 'I'm sorry, but I'm fucking scared'. You cannot tell them: 'Oh no you're not.' But, and there is a big but, many people (black and white alike) - here in Easton at least - are well aware that the solutions to their predicament will not come in a panda car or via a ballot box (however long you wait). They are sick of struggling up 'proper channels' only to be blocked by bureaucrats. They've stopped calling the cops, because they know the cops don't come. The local beat officer at a post Blunkett community meeting confirmed that there is only one dedicated officer at any one time for the entire Easton, Eastville and St Judes district (an area the size of Brixton). To residents who complained of waiting three hours for a police response he replied: "You're lucky we came at all"!
The result is that several community groups have sprung up in recent months, all with increasingly militant agendas. One crack house has been shut down, dealers phones have been 'cut off' and proposals are being sorted to reclaim large chunks of land. This isn't about vigilantism, but about taking control back from all bogus authority (whether that authority is backed by parliament, or by a machine pistol in the boot of a BMW).
Consensus won't come easy; the anarchists and the CCTV brigade are all in there together. But the alternatives on offer from central government like Reliance security rent-a-cops as 'neighbourhood wardens', or from the local council like 'gentrification' from the local nu-Lab/corpo-friendly brigade, are backed by no-one who actually lives in the area. We're on a learning curve and we're not sure where it'll end up. But doing nothing is no longer an option.