Marchers demand ‘better future’ for young

Pic: Koos Couvee

Hundreds of people marched from Dalston to Tottenham on Saturday in a gesture of community solidarity following last week’s riots.

Youth workers and members of a variety of community organisations marched from Dalston to Tottenham Green  demanding ”a better future for young people.”

The march was organised by the North London Assembly, a temporary action group created by 70 local activists and community organisers from  Hackney and Haringey. The assembly includes a number of Turkish and Kurdish community groups as well as the Haringey and Hackney Alliances for Public Services. On their Facebook page, backed by over a 1000 people, the organisers claim not to represent the community but call for a “United response to both the riots and the causes of despair and frustration that can result in riots.”

Their demands included an end to cuts in public services, particularly to youth groups, community led regeneration of damaged areas, investment in young people’s futures and an end to stop and search tactics by the Metropolitan Police. They are also calling for an independent community enquiry into policing methods in the boroughs.

As the marchers gathered in  Gillet Square in Dalston, organiser Glyn Harries, from the Hackney Alliance to Defend Public Services called for a minute silence for Mark Duggan, the man shot dead by police in Tottenham a week and a half ago, and those that died during the riots last week.

As the march headed up Kingsland High Street towards Tottenham, it was led by a group of  twenty children holding up a banner saying ‘Give Our Kids a Future!’

Lewisham -based community activist Justin Baidoo, 29, said: “There is a plethora of messages coming out of today’s march, people are not just angry about the cuts to the EMA grant, but also way the police have treated particularly young black people. Mark Duggan’s death was just another injustice. I am in no way condoning the looting, but the message coming from the government to young people right now is that if you have been involved in these riots, we’re going to push you further into destitution.”

Dean, a 45-year-old youth worker based in Hackney said: “People in the community have been very quick to say: we know what this has been about. We’re not fortune tellers, but we have said many times that in the context of the cuts to youths services, when young people’s hope and futures are being taken away, you’re going to see anger erupt. What we need to do now is to resist the cuts and show young people that we do want a future for them.”

There was a relatively small police presence and the demonstration passed without any disturbances, ending at Tottenham Green.

Community groups in both Hackney and Haringey are organising meetings next week to discuss further  how to respond to the aftermath of the riots. Meanwhile London mayor Boris Johnson has announced a £50 million fund to support high street businesses damaged by the rioting.

Report: Koos Couvee

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