Hackney Liberal Democrats have announced that Pauline Pearce, who became known as the Heroine of Hackney during last summer’s riots, will stand for them in the upcoming local council by-election in the Hackney Central ward.
Hackney resident Pearce became a local celebrity after a video of her angrily standing up to rioters was uploaded to YouTube. The 46-year old grandmother, a former jazz singer, has campaigned against gang and knife crime and hosts a chat show on a community radio station.
The Hackney Central by-election will be held on May 3, following the current Labour councillor Alan Laing’s resignation.
Pearce told EastLondonLines she had been approached by a number of political parties, but said the Liberal Democrats’ policies were closest to her own concerns. “I feel that right now the Liberal Democrats represent what I believe in,” she said.
She praised their position on police stop and search tactics, which Liberal Democrats have said are overused, saying: “We’re a very diverse community and we want everyone to feel safe in that community.”
Pearce criticised politicians “in white collars and black ties” who are out of touch with people in communities like Hackney. “I think a lot of politicians should experience what it’s like to be stopped and searched by the police,” she said.
She said her past involvement in gangs gave her a particular appreciation of the need to fight gang crime and violence in the borough. “I know that it’s not the way to go,” she said. “But I don’t want to dwell on the past. We’ve got better days ahead and that’s what I want to work towards.”
Abraham Jacobson, Liberal Democrat councillor for Cazenove ward, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled [Pauline Pearce] is standing for us. She’s a genuine person who lives in Hackney and says things as they are.
“Everyone knows her; she listens to people; she helps people. That’s the kind of person we want as a councillor, because that’s what we do – we listen to people and we do what the community wants.”
Simon De Deney, Chair of Hackney Liberal Democrats, said: “We feel that Pauline will be a valuable addition to Hackney Council and we are proud to have her represent us. She is a real example of how a life can be turned around and how someone with a difficult past can give back to society.”
Pearce is also a member of the advisory board for the proposed free school in Hackney, while the Liberal Democrats voted to oppose free schools in 2010, but said she did not think this would cause conflict. “I am my own woman and I think I’m entitled to my own opinion,” she said.