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Reclaim The Streets

November 23, 2011

Here’s an email sent from the good folks at Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services highlighting a new fund to help people after the recent riots…

Reclaim Our Streets Fund

Reclaim Our Streets fund aims to support local communities affected by the recent riots in Merseyside. Grants are available to relieve hardship caused directly or indirectly by the riots in August 2011. The aim of this programme is to help support the immediate and longer term needs of local people through funding independent non-profit groups.

The grants panel has just met but need some more applications to spend the balance. Allocation has to be spent by end of December so the panel will meet again before Christmas.

If your organisation is working to regenerate the area following the disturbances, the panel is particularly keen to hear about projects that focus on moving forward, rather than looking back at the riots.

Applications are requested by the end of November.

I suppose the first question is ‘who are we reclaiming the streets from?’ It’s an emotive phrase that; ‘reclaim the streets’ as it suggests the streets have been claimed by someone else and taps into that deep well of middle class (and working class) fear that the streets are filled with muggers, rapists, arsonists, burglars, crack fiends, prostitutes, paedophiles and stray pit bull terriers. In this nightmare scenario the right wing media and the Tory elite want to keep people frightened, keep them divided and only too willing to grass eachother up for benefit fraud and stealing stake bakes from Sayers. That’s not to say there aren’t some despicable cunts out there who make some peoples’ lives a misery but let’s get things in perspective. Even Norris Green isn’t Port Au Prince yet.

There are deep rooted problems in our inner citys and whilst the right wing will claim this is due to social breakdown, lack of family values and respect for law and order, the left wing will alwyays claim that these problems are generated by economic inequality. The reaction of most people to the recent riots was hysterical bordering on fascistic. In reality, the Liverpool riots were pretty half-arsed and short-lived compared to the ferocity of the 81 disturbances. The sight of attention seeking students armed with their quid shop brushes stood at bus stops as they ‘reclaimed their streets’ from the ‘locals’ made me sick. Even those who should know better, the former supporters of protest, delared that these riots weren’t political or motivated by genuine anger but were merely knee jerk copycat responses to the events in Tottenham.

Ah, yes, Tottenham. The catalyst for this riot was, let’s not forget, the killing of a black man by police officers who then misinformed the media via their pals in the so-called ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Committee that the man had shot at them first and they were acting in self-defence. We’ve been here before many times and the same ‘mistakes’ keep getting made. Lies, cover ups, prejudice, propaganda. If scousers can’t see through this classic tactic after Hillsborough, then there’s not much hope left.

The Liverpool Echo even declared in an editorial that the riots of 81 were ‘noble’ as they were a product of heavy-handed, racist stop and search procedures and economic deprivation. That’s not what they said at the time ofcourse, no the Echo and the rest of the media blamed criminals and militants of using the local population of Toxteth (and other cities) as tools of insurrection to further their own agendas. Rioters were either classed as opportunists or dupes. Familiar stereotyping eh?

The draconian sentences handed out to rioters and those who simply sent eachother facebook messages may well appease the permanently outraged denizens of Middle England yet look vindictive when compared to say the sentences handed out to white collar criminals and expense fiddling MPs. Make no mistake, this ‘Reclaim The Streets’ theme is an attack on the working class and any ‘non-proft’ group thinking of applying for these funds (no mention of how much there is and why it hasn’t already been spent by the way) is only playing into the hands of the Torys’ divide and rule agenda.

The truth is that no matter what the media and the politicians say, people don’t riot for a laugh. There’s always a fear of reprisals whether that’s jail or personal injury. I think most people would rather not place themselves or others in danger given the option and they also undertand that their characters will be assassinated by a self-serving establishment who whip up moral panics and public outrages as a way of diverting attention away from their own moral bankruptcy….witness the current Milly Dowler hacking or the MPs expenses scandals for proof of that.

We live in cynical times but we’ve always lived in cynical times. It’s Ok to be cynical because cynicism allows you to see through the bullshit and spin y’know the really horrible, nasty cynicism of those in power who like to have one law and set of standards for themselves and another for the little people. So, come on folks, let’s ‘reclaim the streets’ but not the banks, let’s reclaim the Union Jack but not the stolen land occupied by the gentry and the church and big business. Where’s Charles Bronson when you need him?


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