From: Paul Bowman <paul.bowman at totalise.net> To: aut-op-sy at lists.village.virginia.edu Subject: RE: AUT: not a race riot in oldham Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 15:36:24 +0100 X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook IMO, Build 9.0.2416 (9.0.2910.0)
> This is from Indymedia:
> The truth behind the Oldham Riots - An eyewitness report (text)
> by No Platform - Anti-Fascist Network 7:31am Tue May 29 '01
Is a pretty good report by the NP and local comrades. However there are a few other points to be made on the background (I was present in Oldham for the first NF rally on 5th May and also this Saturday just gone - with my antifa hat on, natch) to the events.
The focus of national "race tension in Oldham" hysteria did not actually start with the attack on Walter Chamberlain (the pensioner mentioned) but was actually begun with a report on "No-go areas for whites in Oldham" on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the week before. [* For the benefit of international comrades, the Today programme is not any old obscure radio programme that no-one really listens to, it is the leader in British political news reporting both for the BBC and, more or less, for serious national political news as a whole. Much of the political stories covered by BBC (and many others) radio, TV and (a day later) newspapers originate in stories dug up or interviews performed by the Today team. They don't just report the news, they make half of it. They could be considered to be the elite shock troops for Brit political news reporting, they also have one of the worst records for giving free political platforms to the nazis. *] The "no-go areas" story they picked up from the local rag, the Oldham Chronicle, and took a team down to interview kids on the street in one of the areas in question. The resulting broadcast of some of the young lads saying they were declaring their area "no-go for whites" was immediately picked up by TV and tabloid news - in a way that the lad's explanation that this was just a shock slogan to draw attention to how they were fed up of the rest of Oldham being no-go areas for them - a sort of "how would you like it if it was the other way round?" thing - was not (reported that is - sorry long sentence, must learn to write one of these days). It was then, yet another BBC-created story that had focussed national racial paranoia on Oldham when the attack on Mr. Chamberlain (a nasty, vicious attack, but no different from thousands that never make the news - especially when the victim isn't white of course) threw petrol on the flame. Yes, the BNP, NF and Police have all played their part in building the riot, but the origin of this recent story lies with the media - specifically the BBC.
The weekend after the Chamberlain attack, Oldham were playing (football) at home against Stoke City - a team with a pretty notorious hooligan following. On their way to the match the Stoke firm marched through one of the asian areas (not sure if this was Glodwick or another one) and smashed windows and attacked anyone asian on the streets. After the match the Stoke firm (and possibly some of eh Oldham lot as well) went back for a second bite of the cherry and were met with more prepared and determined resistence from the hastily mobilsed community. As bricks and petrol bombs rained down on the racist hooligans the riot police appeared and (unfortunately) saved the Stoke firm's bacon.
Oldham has been an open sore for many years, however, going back long before current events. The asian communities in Oldham were specifically brought in to work in the textile mills in the late 60s and 70s in a last-gasp attempt to save the local textile industry from extinction by importing cheap labour. The mills are now empty and crumbling and Oldham is an unemployment blackspot. The asian community has be very poorly treated by the local (white, natch) council who were finally found, in a 1992 report by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), to have systematically concentrated asians in specific areas and in the worst housing available, in deliberate racist ghettoisation policy. The result of this policy is a level of ghettoisation more reminiscent of Belfast than other Northern towns. Asians are unable to live anywhere in Oldham except the cramped ghetto areas where they go to schools with no white kids in them. Social contact between white and asian kids, whether through schools, community centres, jobs, town centre shopping areas, pubs & clubs etc. is virtually non-existant. Apartheid reigns thanks to the council's racist housing, licensing and social space "zoning" policies. This is of course backed up by police action against any "suspicious" (i.e. more than one or two) group of asians either in the twon centre or anywhere outside their appointed ghettos basically.
As for the police, the author of the quote mentioned in the above piece was local police Superintendant Dick Crawshaw (the actual quote was "You must have spoken to the only 12 people in the area who can read and write." - same difference). The NF march call for the 5th May, led to a static fash picket on the outskirts of town (Machester Road roundabout), while passing there evening time I noticed a scramble of police riot vans out onto the ring road to elsewhere in town. One of the fash reports (on their website) noted the filth had had a call out to Glodwick (one of the main ghetto areas, slightly out of the town centre - where the main rioting was this weekend). This particular fash found it evidence of media-manipulation conspiracy that the police radio message he overheard specifically instructed them not to allow any of the media near the area. The reason for this call that a mass of the Glodwick youth had decided to march into town to confront the NF. The police (and apparently "community leaders" according to Socialist Worker - and here the indymedia piece writer is, I think, confusing the event where he saw the SWP & community leaders pursuade another group of youth from a smaller ghetto area near the Civic Centre just up from the ANL picket, with the unseen confrontation in Glodwick on the other side of town). Unfortunately I wasn't able to see the police confrontation with the Glodwick mob, but given their precautions to keep the media away and the riot gear, I'd say they were prepared to put their argument across in the usual cop manner, by cracking heads. All this has to be taken into the context of the feelings of the asian youth of Glodwick towards the cops when confronted with riot truncheons. yet again on Saturday night.
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