Tag Archives: police

Guramit Singh on the run

Guramit Singh (full name Guramit Singh Kalirai) was at one point a leading, indeed founding member, of the EDL. A spokesman for the group he spoke their demos and gave interviews to the media. He is now on the run after being convicted for a violent raid on a gardening shop in Hucknall, Nottingham.

Nottingham Post screenshotBBC Screenshot

According to the Nottingham Post:

Andrew Wheelhouse, 31, David Mura, 26, and Guramit Singh Kalirai, 31, went into gardening shop Simply Hydro, in Wigwam Lane, Hucknall, at about 12.30pm on Thursday, May 2, with the intention of raiding it.

They attacked a shop assistant, pinned him to the ground and threatened to slash his throat if he did not give them money.

All three were tried at Nottingham Crown Court and convicted  of attempted robbery. On Tuesday (24th September) all three were sent to prison, however Kalirai did a runner before the trial and was sentenced to six-and-a-half-years in prison in his absence. A warrant is out for his arrest.

Kalirai made much of his Sikh heritage, often carrying a Sikh flag on demos. This generated some consternation within the Sikh community. Following his conviction, Sikhs Against the EDL have publicly called for the Sikh community to help police capture the fugitive.

EDL bigwig Tommy Robinson told the BBC that Kalarai was no longer involved with the EDL, but had still found time to contact him:

Mr Robinson said Kalirai had been in touch with him while on the run to say he had not done anything wrong.

“He said he is working with his legal team to fight the conviction,” Mr Robinson said.

“It doesn’t seem like something he would have done.”

So that’s alright then.

No English Democrat Police Candidates

We’re pleased to announce that there will be no English Democrats standing for Police & Crime Commissioner posts in any of the 5 East Midlands counties next week. Neither Elliott Fountain (Lincs) or Alan Spencer-Bennett (Northants) made it onto the ballot. That means that, UKIP aside, there are no far right candidates in the region.

We’d like to think our exposé had a little something to do with Fountain’s withdrawal – after all what party craving respectability would let an openly islamaphobic man, who can’t keep his arse in his trousers and supports far right violence against the police, run for head of the local police force? It’s about as sensible as a drug-taking anti-drugs candidate… Still, we’d have loved to have seen him come last with 25 votes again.

Stop and search – not a fair cop

A report by Nottinghamshire police reveals that their uses of stop-and-search powers in 2011/12 have fallen disproportionately on black people, who are nine times more likely to be stopped than white people.  This is of course nothing new; although the extent of disproportionality has varied in recent years, it’s been an ongoing reality for some years that you’re more likely to be stopped in Notts if you’re black.  A recent national report (for which Notts police did not provide data) showed that the same reality exists – with varying degrees of disproportionality – nationwide.

As Notts police say on their own website, “Racist harassment is a crime…..Racist harassment is any offensive conduct or behaviour motivated by prejudice against a person because of their skin colour, nationality, ethnic origin or cultural background. ”  Unfortunately, it seems like the best way to get away with this particular crime is to wear a police uniform whilst doing it.


Policing of Leicester EDL demo criticised

The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) has published a critical report analysing the policing of the EDL demo and counter-demo on February 4th.

The report is a collation of the evidence and observations obtained by a team of community-based volunteer legal observers who spent the day monitoring the policing of both EDL and counter-demonstrations.

The report criticises police handling of the demonstration, particularly the effort and resources the police and local authorities devoted to persuading the local community, particularly young people in the local community, not to attend counter demonstrations against the EDL. It also raises questions about the use of force, particularly the use of dog units against Muslim youth, and the restrictions on movement placed on the Muslim population, effectively making Leicester a ‘no-go’ area.

Val Swain of Netpol stated, “The decision by Leicestershire constabulary to persuade local communities, voluntary and faith groups and particularly young people to stay away from counter demonstrations was utterly wrong. It really cannot be the role of the police to decide who is able to demonstrate and who is not. As well as being an interference with fundamental rights to protest, it led to a policing strategy that prioritised police control of the local community, especially Muslim youth. This raised tensions, heightened anger, and in my view made conflict more, rather than less likely.”

The report was launched at the Highfields Centre in Leicester on Monday 11th June by community youth worker and Netpol campaigner Saqib Deshmukh, who presented the findings to local activists, journalists and a representative of Leicestershire constabulary. Saqib has also helped to train community based legal observers in East London, as part of the initiative to monitor the policing of the Olympics by Netpol partner Newham Monitoring Project.

Key report findings include:

• Police, working with Leicester council, put significant resources into a campaign aimed at persuading local people, particularly the youth, to stay away from counter demonstrations.
• The use of the Children Act, which allows police to take under-eighteen year olds to a ‘place of safety’, was unacceptably used as a ‘scare tactic’ to further dissuade young people from attending demonstrations
• Police maintained control over the movements of local people, making Leicester effectively a ‘no go zone’ for young Muslim men.
• Police used substantial force to control groups of Muslim youth, including the use of kettles, baton strikes and police dogs, leading to one young man sustaining dog bite injuries.
• Stop and searches were carried out under s60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, a police power that does not require suspicion of an individual. Although the number of such stop and searches was not high, all reported searchers were of people of Asian appearance. Powers to remove face coverings and scarfs also appear to have been disproportionately used against Muslim/Asian young people.
• The facilitation of the EDL appeared to take greater priority than the facilitation of counter demonstrations.

Again, we are reminded that the police are no friends of local communities who are threatened by fascist mobilisations.

Why liberal ‘anti-fascism’ is a mistake, Part 3

[Go to Part 1 | Part 2]

4. It bolsters the far right’s attempts to portray themselves as victims

Those on the far right love to think of themselves as victims of an establishment conspiracy to deprive them of their free speech and undermine them. To some extent, this is true, largely due to the sporadic adoption of a liberal anti-extremism by mainstream society. The tendency of liberal anti-fascists to give a platform to mainstream politicians and establishment figures (see Part 2 of this article), to leave physical confrontation of fascists to the police (see Part 1) and to lobby for the mainstream media and organisations to deny the far right a platform mean that it is extremely difficult to find mainstream voices explicitly supporting the BNP or the EDL.

However, it is not necessary to dig too much deeper to find establishment support for the kind of policies these groups would like to see implemented. Strict immigration controls, racial and religious profiling, greater police powers and patriarchal family values all receive some degree of support within the mainstream. Indeed, anti-fascism often turns into a game of labels rather than an examination of the content of politics. Tory and Labour MPs get away with saying and doing all kinds of authoritarian and reactionary things that Tommy Robinson or Nick Griffin could never, because anti-fascism can often become fixated on membership of certain organisations, rather than the ideological confrontation of a particular kind of politics.

Indeed, far from being rebels, the EDL often seem to act as guard dogs for the establishment: supporting the monarchy, the armed forces and British rule over the Falklands,attacking striking workers, student protesters, Irish republicans and the left. At times the EDL’s politics seems to flow directly from the pages of the right wing tabloids – hardly the voice of an oppressed minority! Indeed, the EDL were notoriously championed by the Daily Star.

As the examples of other European countries (e.g. Austria, Italy, Greece) demonstrate, these populist nationalists can easily become the establishment without shedding their fascist core. They can then start using the resources and authority of the state to build up their movements and carry out attacks on minorities and the left. Thanks to their contorted worldview they can happily integrate into the state in this way and still complain about what a victimised minority they are.

Increasingly, the far right is appropriating the language of genuine struggles against domination, e.g. anti-racism and anti-colonial and indigenous struggles, and using it for their own aim of continued European/white domination of the political, economic and cultural spheres. Anti-fascists need to confront this fake victimhood wherever it crops up and consistently challenge the fascists with the reality of the power relations involved.

5. It weakens anti-fascism on the streets

As Anti-Fascist Action famously stated, their aim was to confront fascism ideologically and physically. This is a message that has been lost in recent decades, as the Socialist Workers Party-controlled UAF has come to dominate anti-fascism’s street presence. Despite all of their rhetoric about smashing fascism, UAF rarely even try to confront fascist marches and demonstrations. Instead, they prefer to keep mainstream politicians, community leaders and trade unions on board by meekly conforming with the police’s instructions. They and the allied Love Music Hate Racism organise celebrations of multiculturalism that are often well out of the way of the fascists, giving the police plenty of space to control both crowds. Often the actual confrontation is left to the local communities themselves who are usually heavily outnumbered by better kitted out riot police.

Whilst it can certainly be argued that, due to the rise of police surveillance and evidence gathering capabilities, the days of AFA are long gone, the opportunity to physically resist fascist mobilisations is definitely not. This does not, despite the stereotype, have to mean going out for a fight with the fash (although we should always be prepared for that), but rather physically preventing them from going where they want. Anti-fascists can take heart from the successful blockade of a Nazi march in Dresden in 2010, and, more close to home, the successful blockade of a BNP meeting in Kimberley in 2007. Both actions relied mainly on the presence of large numbers of anti-fascists who refused to collaborate with the police and blocked the fascists from getting past.

As the BNP disintegrates and the much hyped British Freedom is turning out to be a big disappointment, the far right’s stormtroopers are hoping to go back to the streets again to assert themselves. It is vital for our struggle to prevent them from doing that. That doesn’t mean leaving it to the police to sort out or getting the government to ban them. It means defending our communities from these fascist intruders, by whatever tactics are most effective.

Why liberal ‘anti-fascism’ is a mistake, Part 2

[Go to Part 1]

2. It legitimises and strengthens mainstream politics

Unite Against Fascism and Hope Not Hate are constantly putting mainstream politicians on their platforms, leafleting against the BNP alongside mainstream politicians and generally giving the impression that these crooks are an anti-fascist alternative to the far right. Given that respect for the mainstream parties is at an all time low this is extremely unwise. It enables the likes of the BNP to portray themselves as political outsiders, somehow untainted by the corruption of seeking political power, and as underdogs who are nonetheless a credible threat. In reality, of course, the far right is dogged by corruption and nepotism, something that is central to the BNP’s current internal ructions, but this is a point that is much harder to make when your rally features the local Labour MP and you have Gordon Brown endorsing your campaign.

But of course, it is not just for tactical reasons that anti-fascists should not let politicians jump on the bandwagon. The policies of the main parties on policing, immigration control and suppressing working class communities are often authoritarian and racist. It was mainstream parties not the far-right who brought us neoliberalism, anti-union legislation, detention of asylum seekers, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and are now forcing the cuts on us.

In many cases, it is precisely the policies of the mainstream parties which have created the conditions allowing fascism to flourish. Consider for instance the chronic underfunding of council housing over the last 30 years. Before Thatcher came to power, there were never fewer than 75,000 council dwellings built in any year. In 1999, only 84 were built. Combined with “right-to-buy,” the impact on the availability of affordable housing has been inevitable. The upshot of this is that only the most needy are now able to get access to council housing. If you are, for example, a single working-class male you’re likely to find yourself at the bottom of the list. This inevitably fuels resentment and is likely one of the key drivers in the recent growth of the BNP, particularly in areas like Barking and Dagenham.

Even if they were an effective defence against a rising far-right, neither the Conservatives nor Labour have hesitated to adopt hardline policies in order to pander to voters who might otherwise have been tempted to vote for fascists. See, for example, Labour MP Margaret Hodge’s inflammation of fears about migrants taking social housing or David Cameron’s vilification of Muslims on the day of an EDL march. In the absence of any credible party of their own, the only way that the far right’s politics can enter the mainstream is through such an appropriation by the big three, in their attempt to win votes from the ‘white working class’.

By allowing neoliberal politicians of any stripe to ride along for free on their coat-tails, anti-fascists are undoing their own work towards a society free of authoritarianism and social control. There is no point in taking away power from outright fascists only to hand it to neoliberals who are much more capable at repressing the working classes. Our enemy’s enemy is not necessarily our friend.


3. It legitimises and strengthens religious and community leaders

The other kind of person that gets an unwarranted boost by liberal anti-fascist campaigning is the self- or state-appointed community leader. These are people who, either propped up by state patronage or their hierarchical position within community organisations, assume for themselves the role of speaking on behalf of their own community, ethnic or religious group. The promotion of religious leaders is especially problematic, as they bring with them their moral ideas which can often be conservative, homophobic and sexist.  Indeed, militant anti-fascists have protested against the fascism of some extreme religious groups, such as an Islamist conference at the East London Mosque.

However, hierarchical anti-fascist organisations like the Socialist Workers Party front group, Unite Against Fascism, lap up the opportunity to invite community leaders onto their platforms, in an ill-thought out attempt to get the support of the communities themselves. Following the muddled logic of my enemy’s enemy is my friend, this tactic can result in people with extremely conservative and offensive political ideas to speak on anti-fascist platforms. For example, UAF invited the anti-gay leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, to speak at an anti-BNP event, a decision that was defeated by pressure from LGBT campaigners.

The promotion of certain Muslim community leaders is especially problematic, given the heavy influence of the state in promoting certain groups and individuals within the Muslim community. Most notoriously, a large amount of funding was given to selected community leaders from the Prevent anti-terrorism pot “to support work that will build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities to take the lead on tackling violent extremist influences”. Inevitably, one effect of this funding has been to dampen criticism of the government and the ‘War on Terror’, something that might easily be mistaken as “violent extremism” by the spooks and cops who give out the money. Community leaders whose funding is dependent on not rocking the boat will inevitably be drawn towards public support for liberal anti-fascism and more policing rather than the community self-defence that ordinary community members tend to support.

Given the current victimisation of certain communities and groups by the far right, it is extremely important to have all sections of the community involved in anti-fascism. However, militant anti-fascists prefer to work on the grassroots level, rather than with community leaders who are often either self-appointed and unrepresentative or state patsies.

[Go to Part 3]

Why liberal ‘anti-fascism’ is a mistake, Part 1

An important distinction needs to be made between a genuine, militant anti-fascism, and the pseudo anti-fascism of liberal organisations like Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate and Searchlight. The latter ideology also informs websites like EDL News and Expose who often seem to see anti-fascism as a race to see who can report racist comments to the police first. Whilst there is no doubt that some of what these organisations do is useful to the anti-fascist cause, the liberal approach strengthens authoritarian elements of the state and state-sponsored ‘community leaders’ who seek to undermine all threats to their power. It boosts an ideologically filtered anti-extremism that is ultimately opposed to militant anti-fascism and liberatory movements as well. Militant anti-fascists must consistently challenge the statist tactics of some who oppose the far right. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing the reasons why.

1. It takes us closer to a police state

Central to liberal ideology is the idea that the state should have a monopoly on violence. Consequently, liberals favour the idea that the police are the only body that can legitimately ‘smash the fash’ on the streets. They blithely ignore the tendency of the police to ‘facilitate’ the free speech of fascists and to repress anti-fascists as and when it suits their interests. Calls for the state to regulate fascism in this way help the state to concentrate power in the hands of authoritarians and quasi-fascists within its own ranks. It should be easy to see why calling for the state to tackle fascism is extremely counter-productive.

The British police have a long and shameful history of protecting fascists. From the famous Battle of Cable Street (which was a fight between anti-fascists and the Metropolitan Police, who were protecting Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists), to the 1993 demonstration against the BNP bookshop at Welling (brutally attacked by the police), to the fitting up of anti-fascists protesting against a neo-Nazi Blood & Honour gig in 2009, the police have made it their job to ensure that fascists have the freedom to organise. Their aims are fundamentally different to those of anti-fascists.

Anti-fascists who call for the state to ban fascist marches, groups and symbols are playing an extremely dangerous game as such state intervention is frequently also turned against them. For example, Searchlight and other liberal anti-fascists trumpeted Home Secretary Theresa May’s ban on the EDL marching in Tower Hamlets in August last year. However, the Home Office used this opportunity to ban all marches in Tower Hamlets and four other London boroughs for an entire month, which conveniently also banned anti-militarist marches against the DSEI arms fair, East London LGBT Pride and anti-cuts protests. The state will use the cover of banning ‘extremists’ (who are as likely to be people fighting for freedom as fascists or religious militants) to further its own controlling and policing agendas, which are usually fundamentally opposed to the interests of those who want to fight fascism.

There is also evidence of the state using liberal anti-fascist organisations to monitor and control anti-fascists. For example, Searchlight founder and long-time editor, Gerry Gable, was exposed as having links to various state intelligence agencies in the 1980s. Searchlight notoriously infiltrated the Yorkshire branch of Anti-Fascist Action, as detailed in Beating the Fascists, sowing distrust and weakening the organisation. Inevitably, even without intentionally stitching up their comrades, the passing of information about fascist activities to the state by anti-fascists provides an opportunity for the state to monitor what the anti-fascists are up to as well.

For all of these reasons, militant anti-fascists do not trust the state and have sought to build their own movements against fascism, outside of state surveillance and control.

[Go to Part 2 | Part 3]

Two tier justice

Although it’s nice to have a good laugh at the EDL’s expense, the real winners on the day were Leicestershire cops, who’ve had praise heaped on them by the local authorities and press for keeping the EDL safely in their boxes. However, we witnessed some disturbing policing going on at the end of the day.

A group of about 12 quite young Asian and black lads were stopped at the town end of St Margaret’s Way, separated, put up against a wall and stopped and searched very comprehensively by the police, whilst an evidence gathering team filmed them.

While this was going on, a group of about 30 EDL, including Simon Smith and some of the Leicester division, came down the road without any police supervision. Seeing the Muslim lads they changed direction to go straight at them and it was only the last minute scrambling of two police vans from a side street that stopped an ugly confrontation. Even then, the EDL group was not contained but simply stopped while the stop and searches were completed. The (white) cops engaged in friendly banter with the EDL and didn’t seem to view them as a threat, whilst the much smaller, much younger Muslim group were intimidated, humiliated and interrogated.

It sounds as though anti-fascists in town were at the receiving end of some shoddy policing as well. Check out this comprehensive report from our comrades at Leicestershire Solidarity Group for the details.

The EDL love to moan about how a “two-tier justice system” discriminates against white people but when it comes down to it, they are the ones getting preferential treatment.

Leicestershire cops target Muslim youth

The Network for Police Monitoring has expressed concerns that Leicestershire Police are targeting Leicester’s Muslim youth in a campaign aimed at scaring them into staying at home when the EDL come to march on Saturday:

The police have published leaflets saying that, under Operation Stay Safe, they can take any person under the age of eighteen to a ‘safe place’ during the demonstrations if they feel that person is at risk of harm… The police have not specified which situations they think might place someone ‘at risk of harm’, and campaigners say announcement has had the effect of deterring young people from taking part in demonstrations.

The powers police are using were meant to prevent children being put in a situation of exploitation or abuse and are clearly being abused here to prevent young people from exercising their freedom of expression. A local campaigner said that “Making a section of the community feel they cannot leave their homes is probably not the best way to deal with community tensions.”

Netpol say that the police are making the same mistakes they made in dealing with the 2010 EDL demo, which were thoroughly documented in their excellent report.

These tactics are further evidence of the police’s appeasement of the far right group which it is allowing to march through the shopping centre of the city at the weekend.