At the time I was trying to remember if I knew anyone in Edson who could have been a suspect but I drew blank.... as it turns out mostly because I'm growing older and my memory sucks these days because it turns out that it WAS someone who I was aware of and who has made an appearance on the blog:
The man accused of driving a stolen vehicle through the Edson courthouse on Saturday and vandalizing the property with anti-Semitic slurs is a part-time rapper who appears to hold a dark fascination with Hitler. Kelvin Zawadiuk, who lives in Edson, is a part-time musician who performs under the moniker La Haine, French for The Hatred. "He's very clearly, a fairly traditional neo-Nazi," according to Barbara Perry, a criminologist specializing in hate crime at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.Kelvin Zawadiuk was associated with Blood & Honour when the group was especially active in Alberta. Back in 2011, three members of the hate group were charged with committing a series of assaults in Edmonton as they were engaged in flyering. One of those individuals, James Brooks, was also the "star" of a film being directed and produced by Zawadiuk:
Brooks plays the lead role in a forthcoming low-budget film, Blue Eyed Devil, directed by Edson-based filmmaker kelvin Zawadiuk, about a violent neo-Nazi. "James is a really intelligent guy, really charismatic," Zawadiuk said. "He has a real screen presence and he was perfect for this, a skinhead character. It's an ode to the 1970s and 1980s exploitation movies, a character study, a man descending into madness. It's just meant to terrify you."But Zawadiuk wasn't just interested in the far-right for "artistic" reasons. He also very much shared the ideology of Brooks and the other members of Blood & Honour and was supportive of Robert Reitmeir when the latter was accused (and later convicted along with Tyler Sturrup) of murder:
Despite supporting two members of WEB that had broken with the then Aryan Guard, Zawadiuk also appears to have been close to Aryan Guard founder/leader (later rebranded as Blood & Honour) Kyle McKee and other members of the group:
Finally, Zawadiuk was invited to B&H events in Calgary as recently as 2015, though it isn't certain if he attended:
Now while Blood & Honour in Alberta seems to have declined since McKee and his partner Chelsea moved to New Brunswick to become one of the go-to tattooists for the Northern Guard, the hate group is still a going in the country even as they attempt to remain under ground.
After Judge’s Ruling, Charlottesville May Be Stuck With Statues of Confederate Generals Lee, Jackson
A fortnightly resource for anti-racist and social justice campaigns, highlighting key events in the UK and Europe.ASYLUM, MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP REFUGEES AND THE LIBYAN CONFLICT
25 April: The Guardian releases footage of militias believed to be linked to the warlord Khalifa Haftar opening fire on refugees at the Qasr bin Ghashir detention centre, 12 miles south of Tripoli, in an attack that reportedly left two people dead and up to twenty injured. Amnesty International calls for a war crimes investigation of the incident, while the UNHCR evacuates 325 people from the detention centre. (Guardian, 26 April 2019)
29 April: In a joint operation between Italy, UNHCR and the Libyan ministry of interior, 146 refugees are evacuated from Libya during a humanitarian pause in the conflict. (UNHCR, 29 April 2019; The Local, 29 April 2019)
2 May: Al Jazeera reports that migrants and refugees are going without food and drinking dirty water at the Abu Salim detention centre in southern Tripoli, with serious consequences for the sick, including twenty detainees suffering from tuberculosis. (Al Jazeera, 2 May 2019)BORDERS, TRANSIT ZONES AND INTERNAL CONTROLS
23 April: A video shows a group of 12 Iraqi refugees, including a 3-year-old child, locked in a cage in Klobuk, a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina located near a border crossing with Croatia. One of the detainees filmed the video and sent it to pro-migrant charity Are You Syrious, which claims that the detainees were held overnight. (Independent, 23 April 2019)
23 April: Greek police raid an unauthorised refugee camp in Athens’ Elaionas district, with the migration ministry claiming that they were called in by the camp’s directors after clashes between residents and new arrivals ejected from a nearby squat. (Ekathimerini, 23 April 2019)
25 April: A week after Salvini announced that NGO rescue vessels would no longer be allowed to travel through Italian waters, the Mare Jonio, which rescued 49 migrants off the Libyan coast last month, is declared unfit for rescue operations by Italian coastguard inspectors in Sicily. (The Local, 25 April 2019)
25 April: A welfare reform passed by the conservative Austrian government will mean immigrants receive €300 less per month than the current standard minimum welfare payment of €885, unless they can prove German or English language skills. In 2017, nearly half of those receiving the payment were immigrants. (Info Migrants, 29 April 2019)
26 April: The Hungarian Helsinki Committee claims that Hungarian authorities are continuing to refuse food to failed asylum seekers detained in the country’s border transit zones. Prime minister Orbán’s spokesman dismissed criticisms, but the HHC says the government may be breaching international human rights law. (Guardian, 26 April 2019)
27 April: The National Audit Office launches a formal investigation into the ‘English test scandal’, the Home Office’s 2014 decision to revoke or curtail the visas of around 34,000 international students it accused of cheating in English language tests. Over 1,000 were deported and many have spent time in detention, but over 300 court of appeal cases have been brought by international students who claim they were wrongly accused. (Guardian, 23 April 2019; Guardian, 27 April 2019)
29 April: The Berlin-based NGO Mare Liberum e.V says that Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transportation has effectively suspended its operations in the Aegean Sea due to its reclassification of the Mare Liberum as a commercial freightliner, imposing equipment requirements it cannot fulfil. (Enough is Enough, 29 April 2019)
30 April: Fifteen Turkish asylum seekers who crossed the Evros river into northeast Greece were pushed back and beaten by masked men with batons, says journalist Tugba Ozkan who was with the group. A few of them managed to cross again, with the Hellenic League saying that this is part of a pattern involving Greek security services. (IPA News, 30 April 2019)
2 May: Home Office data obtained by the Bristol Cable and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows that in the UK’s 11 largest cities nearly 6,000 British citizens were stopped for immigration checks between January and October 2018, more than any other nationality. Only 5 were arrested, raising concerns that ethnicity and colour are being unlawfully used as a basis for ‘reasonable suspicion’. (Guardian, 2 May 2019)
3 May: The NGO Mediterranea accuses Malta of colluding with the Libyan coastguard after it intercepted a boat carrying around 100 asylum seekers that was sailing towards Lampedusa. A Maltese military aircraft guided the vessel back to a Libyan to an unsafe port, the NGO says. (The National, 3 May 2019)
7 May: The German search and rescue vessel Sea Watch 3, which sails under a Danish flag, says it will resume its operations in the Mediterranean sea after a court in the Hague criticised the Dutch Water Management Ministry for issuing it with new safety regulations, without giving it sufficient time to transition to the new code. (InfoMigrants, 5 August 2019)ASYLUM AND MIGRANT RIGHTS
26 April: The latest statistics released by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, show that 333,400 people were granted asylum in EU member states in 2018, a 40 per cent drop compared to 2017. (Info Migrants, 26 April 2019; Info Migrants, 29 April 2019)
7 May: The Guardian reveals that the Home Office is abandoning its target of processing most asylum claims within six months. Humans rights lawyers say that the Home Office should expect an increase in legal challenges should the decision lead to further delays for asylum seekers. (Guardian, 7 May 2019)RECEPTION AND DETENTION
26 April: Italian humanitarian organisation Intersos warns that since the ‘Salvini Decree’ was approved last December many migrant youths have become homeless after being forced to leave reception centres after turning eighteen. It says that the situation is particularly acute in Sicily, which hosted over 40 per cent of all unaccompanied minors in Italy in 2018. (Info Migrants, 26 April 2019)
28 April: Whistleblowers from within the Home Office’s Dublin Cessation Team (DCT), responsible for transferring asylum seekers to other EU member states, claim that failings are being made by ‘overworked, under-skilled, bullied and high-stressed’ DCT caseworkers. These include the unlawful detention of asylum seekers for up to six weeks, as well as asylum application rejections and deportations without properly considering an individual’s case. (Guardian, 28 April 2019; Guardian, 28 April 2019)
1 May: The Danish immigration minister Inger Støjberg tells a parliamentary hearing that refused asylum seekers detained in Sjælsmark deportation camp will continue to be prohibited from having their own kitchen facilities to make their own food. Rejecting the recommendations of the Danish Red Cross, she says that government wants these people to understand they are ‘not welcome in Denmark and should travel home’. (The Local, 1 May 2019)
7 May: Over 80 civil society groups submit a report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture highlighting the UK’s failure to adhere to international human rights standards, including the absence of a time limit on immigration detention and the detention of people who have been victims of torture. (Guardian, 7 May 2019)CITIZENSHIP
1 May: A cross-party group of 87 MPs sign a letter to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, requesting an investigation into whether the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policies are institutionally racist and constitute a breach of the department’s public sector equality duty. (Guardian, 1 May 2019)
6 May: Home Office data obtained by Citizens UK shows that 900 children classified as stateless were forced to pay the £1,012 fee for their applications to become British citizens, despite a Home Office spokesperson’s claim that stateless individuals who have spent a significant amount of time in the UK should be exempt. (Guardian, 6 May 2019)RAIDS AND DEPORTATIONS
5 May: The German NGO Pro Asyl commends the moral stance taken by pilots after figures released by the German federal police reveal that in 2018, pilots refused to carry out deportation flights in 506 cases, compared to 314 instances in 2017. (Taz, 7 May 2019)
7 May: Protesters chanting ‘stop deportations’ confront police and immigration enforcement officers outside a building site in Brighton during an immigration raid. 17 men, identifying themselves as Albanian, Indian, Ukrainian and Kazakhstani, are arrested for immigration offences. (BBC News, 7 May 2019)ANTI-FASCISM AND THE FAR RIGHT
23 April: At the Old Bailey, two teenagers belonging to the neo-Nazi Sonnenkrieg Division group plead guilty to encouraging acts of terrorism. (Telegraph, 23 April 2019)
24 April: In Milan’s Piazzale Loreto square, where Mussolini’s corpse was publicly displayed in 1945, masked neo-fascist supporters of Italian Serie A team Lazio hold a flash mob with a banner reading ‘Honour to Benito Mussolini’, while singing fascist songs and making Nazi salutes. (France 24, 24 April 2019)
26 April: Memorials to Italians who fought fascism are vandalised in Sicily, Tuscany, Bologna, Rome and in the vicinity of Milan. In Rome, far-right groups including Azione Frontale hold a counter rally to celebrations of Italy’s liberation from the Nazis in the rest of the city, and an anti-fascist café bookshop suffers a fire that may have been started by explosives. (The Local, 26 April 2019)
28 April: The far-right Vox party win 10 per cent of the vote in the Spanish general election, entering parliament for the first time with 24 seats. The right wing People’s Party, which attempted to sideline Vox by mirroring its anti-immigration policies, were punished at the polls, losing 71 seats. (Guardian, 29 April 2019)
30 April: 21-year-old white supremacist Shane Fletcher, who plotted to massacre members of the public in his Cumbrian hometown of Workington, is jailed for 9 years. Detained in March 2018, he described himself as ‘a big fan of Hitler’ in police interviews. (Independent, 30 April
1 May: In Sweden, hundreds of neo-nazis from the Nordic Resistance Movement march on May Day in Kungälv, north of Gothenburg, and in Ludvika, central Sweden. Police, who clash with counter-protesters as they attempted to get near the neo-nazi rally, make eighteen arrests in Kungälv. (The Local, 1 May 2019)
1 May: Around 200 people, many in uniform, and some carrying posters stating ‘Israel is our downfall’ attend a neo-nazi Die Rechte (The Right) rally in Dusiburg, while in Plauen, Saxony, 500 people, beating drums and appearing to imitate the Hitler Youth, attend a march organised by the Third Path. The Central Council of Jews in Germany criticise the policing of both events. (The News Tribune, 2 May 2019)
1 May: In Brno-střed, Czech Republic, hundreds of anti-fascists block 50 supporters of the National and Social Front marching in the city centre with the neo-nazi demonstrators, including Vlastimil Pechanec, previously convicted of the racially-motivated murder of a Romani man in Svitavy, forced to take a different route. (Romea, 3 May 2019)
2 May: For the second time in two days, far-right leader Tommy Robinson is doused in milkshake while on his campaign trail for the upcoming European elections. The Asian man who threw the second milkshake, in Warrington, says he has been receiving death threats. Two others require hospital treatment after being attacked without provocation by Robinson’s security team. (Guardian, 3 May 2019; Guardian, 5 May 2019)
2 May: 33-year-old David Shufflebottom, a member of the far-right group Stoke-on-Trent Infidels, is jailed for 15 months for Islamophobic social media posts and for orchestrating a Britain First march in Burslem, at which he was seen shouting racist and Islamophobic abuse. (Manchester Evening News, 2 May 2019)
5 May: The far-right Hard Line party (Stram Kurs), which is calling for the deportation of 700,000 Muslims and is led by lawyer Rasmus Paludin, is to stand for the first time in the Danish general election in June after getting the required 20,000 signatures. (Guardian, 5 May 2019)
7 May: Police begin investigating UKIP MEP candidate Carl Benjamin, known online as the far-right Youtuber Sargon of Akkad, after it emerged that he tweeted Labour MP Jess Phillips in 2016 saying ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’. (Guardian, 7 May 2019)ELECTORAL POLITICS
24 April: Nora Mulready, one of Change UK’s MEP candidates, is accused of racism for conflating Islam and terrorism and saying that Tommy Robinson’s concerns must be ‘acknowledged’. Two other candidates for the newly-registered centrist political party, Joseph Russo and Ali Sadjady, were forced to resign earlier this week over racist comments. (Independent, 24 April 2019)
25 April: Extreme-right party leaders, including Rassemblent National leader Marine le Pen and Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, meet in Prague’s central Wenceslas Square to launch their Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) European election campaign. They are hosted by Czech lawmaker Tomio Okamura, leader of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party. (RT, 25 April 2019)
25 April: The anonymous Twitter account @matesjacob reveals 40 new self-professed Conservative Party members who have shared or endorsed racist or inflammatory Facebook posts, including two local council candidates who have now been suspended pending investigations. (Guardian, 25 April 2019)
28 April: Heinz-Christian Strache, the Freedom party (FPÖ) deputy chancellor of Austria is criticised for endorsing far-right terminology in an interview with the Krone newspaper in which he said that the FPÖ is fighting ‘replacement’ of the native population. Subsequently, sport minister Norbert Hofer said, in an interview with Profil magazine, that ‘mass immigration is turning Austria into a country with a Muslim majority’. (Guardian, 29 April 2019) (Guardian, 29 April 2019)
29 April: A Conservative Party district council candidate in Somerset is suspended for making a series of anti-immigrant Facebook posts over the last few months, although it is too late for his name to be removed from the ballot. (BBC News, 29 April 2019)
29 April: Slovakia’s Supreme Court dismisses a request by the prosecutor general to ban the far-right People’s Party of Slovakia that has 14 seats in parliament, saying there is insufficient evidence to label the party a threat to democracy. (Star Tribune, 29 April 2019)
5 May: The governing Fidesz party launches a campaign video for the European parliamentary elections that uses the case of a suspected Syrian terrorist recently arrested in Hungary as an argument for stopping the current pro-migration policy of Brussels. (Hungary Today, 5 May 2019)
6 May: In the northern Austrian town of St Martin im Innkreis, the deputy leader of the far-right Freedom Party resigns after sharing posts on social media that appeared to deny the Holocaust. (Euronews, 6 May 2019)POLICE AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
25 April: The Ministry of Justice releases its latest Safety in Custody statistics, showing a significant increase in the number of deaths and a 25 per cent increase in incidents of self-harm in prison in the year to December 2018. Inquest says that an ‘unacceptable number’ of the 164 deaths officially attributed to ‘natural causes’ were the result of poor healthcare in prison. (Inquest, 25 April 2019; Guardian, 25 April 2019)
25 April: In Romford, east London, a plainclothes police officer is filmed striking a handcuffed black 17-year-old boy with a cosh soon after he and his 14-year-old friend were stopped and searched. After the video of the incident goes viral and prompts online outrage, a spokeswoman for the Met Police says that the incident is being reviewed. (Metro, 25 April 2019)
27 April: A multi-agency ‘public health’ approach to the root causes of youth knife crime is the only long-term solution to the problem, a College of Policing report argues. The government-backed body also finds that stop and search has only short-term benefits, while incarceration significantly increases the likelihood of reoffending. (Guardian, 27 April 2019)
29 April: 2,666 prison staff have faced disciplinary action between mid-2013 and mid-2018, Ministry of Justice data obtained by the Guardian reveals. The most common offences were breach of security and assault or using unnecessary force on prisoners, while others included racial harassment, trafficking, and having ‘inappropriate relationships’ with a prisoner. (Guardian, 29 April 2019)
30 April: A new report by drug policy think-tank Volteface shows that the number of 14- to 18-year-olds convicted for possession with intent to supply drugs has increased by over two-thirds between 2012 and 2017, while school exclusions for drugs and alcohol have increased by 57% over the same period. (Guardian, 30 April 2019)
4 May: Internal Home Office data analysed by Liberty shows that in the year to March 2018, black people were 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched in England and Wales than white people, meaning that Sajid Javid was likely aware of the racial disproportionality of the practice before he recently made it easier for police to use. In the year to April 2019, the Met recorded an overall 40 per cent rise in stop and searches. (Guardian, 4 May 2019)YOUTH SERVICES
7 May: A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime finds that the areas most decimated by cuts to youth services have seen large increases in knife crime, suggesting a connection between austerity and serious youth violence. The group’s chair, Sarah Jones MP, urges the government to review youth funding and to consider making the provision of certain services a legal duty for councils. (Independent, 7 May 2019)DISCRIMINATION
3 May: Mirandola council near Modena, Italy, vows to support a woman excluded from a local gym for wearing the veil with the owner, she says, refusing her membership as she was dressed in a ‘not-very-western way’, adding that he ‘doesn’t allow nuns or Batman’ to use the gym. (Guardian, 3 May 2019)EDUCATION
30 April: Equality watchdog Trevor Phillips criticises the decision to appoint Prof Martin Millett, a white academic specialising in Roman archaeology, to oversee the University of Cambridge’s two-year academic inquiry into how the institution benefited from slavery and other forms of forced labour during the colonial period. The two full-time researchers carrying out the study will also investigate the ways in which ways in which scholarship reinforced, validated or challenged race-based thinking. (Guardian, 30 April 2019; Guardian, 3 May 2019)
30 April: Following five months of protests by students and staff, St Edmund’s College, Cambridge terminates the research fellowship of Dr Noah Carl, whose non-peer-reviewed research makes connections between race, IQ and criminality. The College says that Dr. Carl has collaborated with people ‘known to hold extremist views’, and that there was a risk his position could be used to incite racial and religious hatred. (Varsity, 30 April 2019)
5 May: The University of Bristol begins advertising a permanent academic post to coordinate efforts by staff and community groups to investigate the university’s historical links to slavery. The political leaders of the city itself, which was one of three key British ports for slave traders, are also planning a ‘permanent memorial’ to its slave trade past. (Guardian, 5 May 2019)
6 May: Data from 92 UK universities shows that 277 students have been sanctioned for posting racist, homophobic and transphobic comments on social media, as well as images of brandished weapons and other content deemed offensive. The director of the Runnymede Trust says that many more incidents are likely going unreported, and that moral panics about free speech are downplaying the threat of racism in universities. (Guardian, 6 May 2019)
7 May: A review of school exclusions, carried out by former Department for Education minister Edward Timpson, finds that 78 per cent of expelled children either had special educational needs, were eligible for free school meals, or were understood to be ‘in need’. It also finds that children from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds are 1.7 times more likely to be expelled than white British children. (Guardian, 7 May 2019)MEDIA AND CULTURE
25 April: In the run up to the Spanish general election, Facebook takes down several far-right networks including that of Unidad Nacional Española (UNE), not for Islamophobic, fake and misogynistic content but for ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’. (Guardian, 25 April 2019)
27 April: A court rules that the German public broadcaster ZDF acted lawfully when it refused to air a pre-European parliamentary elections campaign advertisement for the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). The commercial violates Germany’s criminal code and threatens public order by ‘maliciously attacking the dignity of foreign residents of Germany’, the court says. (Deutsche Welle, 27 April 2019)
7 May: The 90-foot-long fishing boat that sank in April 2015 in the Mediterranean between Libya and Lampedusa, leading to the deaths of the more than 700 migrants on board, is transported to Venice, where it will be displayed for visitors to the Venice Biennale. (Guardian, 7 May 2019)
7 May: Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum writes to Turin council stating that it will pull out of Turin’s international book fair if the Altafore publishing group, which has close links with the neo-fascist party Casa Pound, is allowed to participate. The Italian authors group Wu Mind and others are already boycotting the event. (Guardian, 8 May 2019)HEALTH
April 26: A 34-year-old man from Cameroon, William Tonou-Mbobda, dies in intensive care at the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, where he was being treated for psychiatric reasons, just five days after being subject to ‘coercive measures’ by three hospital security guards. The hospital has been accused of racism, and the security officers remain on leave while the police investigate. (Spiegel, 29 April 2019; International News, 1 May 2019)EMPLOYMENT AND EXPLOITATION
25 April: Home Office figures obtained by the Morning Star show that people in immigration detention would have earned £500,000 more so far this year had they been paid the minimum wage instead of £1 an hour for their labour. (Morning Star, 25 April 2019)
25 April: A new report by Oxford University’s Centre on Migration Policy and Society finds significant inequalities of outcome faced by ‘asylum migrants’ (those who came to the UK for asylum reasons, but are no longer asylum-seekers) in the labour market. They are less likely to be in employment, earn less and work fewer hours, and are more likely to be self-employed than UK-born people and other migrant groups. Read the report here. (Oxford University, 25 April 2019)SPORT
28 April: In the northern Italian town of Trieste, organisers of a half-marathon taking place on 5 May reverse their decision, announced the previous day, to exclude African athletes from competing. Their claim that the aim of the ban was to highlight the exploitation of African athletes is dismissed by critics as racist. (Independent, 27 April 2019; Guardian, 28 April 2019)
27 April: Over 160 professional football clubs across Britain take part in the third ‘Football Welcomes’ campaign by Amnesty International, more than three times the number participating last year. The weekend of action includes free tickets being given to refugees and asylum-seekers alongside stadium tours, player visits, and local community events. (Morning Star, 23 April 2019)
6 May: The new Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Football Forum, thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, reports that it has received evidence of children as young as seven experiencing racist abuse at matches. (BBC News, 6 May 2019)RACIAL VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT
24 April: In Dungannon, a town in Northern Ireland, ‘Muslims out’ graffiti is daubed on the back wall of a Syrian refugee family’s home. Around the same time, a stone is thrown at another Syrian refugee family’s nearby home. Police are treating both incidents as racially motivated hate crimes. (Irish News, 27 April 2019; Independent, 29 April 2019)
25 April: A report by Czech police shows that anti-Roma, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim crimes increased between 2017 and 2018, while those motivated by antisemitism decreased. While the number of charges and prosecutions for sympathisers of extremist movements decreased, expressions of online hatred have increased. (Romea.cz, 25 April 2019)
26 April: In Swansea, south Wales, racist graffiti saying ‘Muslim c*** scum is found on an outside wall of a family’s home. The mother-of-three says she ‘doesn’t feel safe’ there anymore. (Wales Online, 26 April 2019)
28 April: A man who was shown in a viral video racially abusing and assaulting a taxi driver on Easter Sunday in Dublin hands himself in to the Gardai. (Irish News, 28 April 2019)
7 May: Kenza Isnani, the daughter of Habiba and Ahmed who were shot dead by a militant far-right neighbour who then set fire to their home in 2002, launches a campaign to rename part of the Schaerbeek street in which the murders unfolded after her deceased parents. (The Brussels Times, 7 May 2019)
This calendar was compiled by Joseph Maggs with help from Graeme Atkinson, Jamie Wates and the IRR News Team.
With regeneration looming large over Tottenham (north London), IRR interviews young activist Tash Bonner who is fighting back.
Tottenham in many respects has been unable to heal from both the murder of Mark Duggan and the uprisings of 2011 – rather than the state dealing with both of these matters and investing in the community, it has instead decided to tear the place down. The 2011 riots, as the IRR argues in The London Clearances: Race Housing and Policing, has been expediently used by the state to justify extensive redevelopment projects, both in Tottenham and across the capital in other low-income BAME neighbourhoods. More and more councils are capitulating to the pressures of housing financialisation and privatisation. The heart of the city, all the wonderfully vibrant common places we take for granted, the multicultural quarters of the capital, are slowly being eviscerated. And social housing, once held in common, by low income and working class communities, are under threat, with tenants residing in them imperilled in their sleep. This is ‘Grenfell Britain’, where if a fire does not get you, demolition will. 
The likelihood that another one of London’s endangered social housing estates will bite the dust, with another community engulfed in the prevailing winds of state-led gentrification, is very real. IRR’s Jessica Perera speaks to north London resident and activist Tash Bonner, founder of the Temporary Accommodation Group (TAG) for Love Lane estate in Tottenham. In the interview that follows, Tash speaks passionately about what it means to live through regeneration and how the community is trying to resist being dispossessed and displaced. He focuses on the gendered, classed and racialised experiences of managed decline, colonial tactics deployed by the council, as well as highlighting the ways young working-class black men living on council estates, are seen as the perpetrators of youth violence, knife crime and gang activity, and never as victims of multiple state failures.
Living on Love Lane and managed decline
Jessica Perera: Would you say a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be involved in the Love Lane estate campaign over regeneration plans.
Tash Bonner: My name is Tash, I’m 25 years old, a student studying music business at the British and Irish Modern Music institute (BIMM) in London, and I’m also the chair of the Temporary Accommodation Group, otherwise known as TAG.
I came to be involved in the Love Lane estate campaign through the residents’ association set up by Haringey Council, to help Love Lane residents and answer queries with regards to the estate’s proposed regeneration. After being with the residents’ association for about a year and a half, I felt that it wasn’t doing what it should be doing, specifically about two thirds of the estate’s residents are living in temporary accommodation. I felt the need to separate myself from an association that wasn’t advising or taking the initiative for the majority and the most vulnerable of the tenants. So along with a few other residents, we separated and formed TAG for Love Lane to push for us to be permanently rehoused in a council property in the borough.
JP: What do you think about the proposed regeneration of Love Lane estate and the effect this is having on residents?
TB It’s funny because I think a lot of people, including me, view not only the regeneration of Love Lane and the surrounding area, but the entire regeneration of London itself from quite an objective standpoint. The new Tottenham stadium and White Hart Lane station are seen as this intrusive enemy that’s slowly taking away our land, and to some extent they’re right.
My personal opinion is, cool, things need to move forward and need to be upgraded, and post-war buildings need to be upgraded for obvious reasons, so it’s only natural that regenerations will happen. My issue is, though, how these regenerations are happening and what they’re doing to the communities living there. That’s where it’s getting a bit sticky. Of course, the stadium plans are amazing, but they should provide the community with something. There seems to be more care for the new stadium, the station and having a Costa, and all these other things, at the expense of the community. There’s lives that you’re ruining, and there’s no price on that.
JP: Do you see the failure or neglect of Haringey council in maintaining the safety and hygiene standards of Love Lane as part of the council’s objective to build up a case or justification to demolish the estate?
TB: We’re very much aware that we’re in a vulnerable position, not only as temporary accommodation tenants, but the whole estate is living in uncertainty. At any point we can be upped and left. And not only are you dealing with that, you’re dealing with secure tenants and leaseholders, who are also feeling the pressure from Haringey Council from that neglect and that lack of support. When you take into account the neglect on the upkeep and the maintenance of the estate, well maybe they are trying to make us uncomfortable enough to leave. So, when Haringey Council says to people: ‘right cool, we’re going to move you somewhere else’, people go: ‘well, you know what, yeah, I’d rather go, because at this point, I’m tired, I’m depleted, I’m sick of my surroundings because you haven’t maintained it’.
I’ve been living on Love Lane for three years now, and when I first moved in, the upkeep of the estate was fairly regular. But I was looking into my mum’s tenancy agreement recently, and it said there was a service charge for things like a lift and general maintenance and what not. But actually, my block doesn’t have a lift, so it dawned on me, why are we paying service charge for something that we don’t have? I also recall seeing that the estate – well, my block at least – was cleaned, at least every other week. But slowly over time, especially in the run up to us being given the ballot for the GLA funding (it was last summer when the news came out that Haringey were trying to get GLA funding, and that a ballot would happen as a result) I started to notice that the general upkeep of the estate plummeted. The amount of times that the security door of my block was broken, and would stay broken… and there are security doors for a reason! They have been left broken for weeks. And when those doors are broken, you have rough sleepers, prostitutes and drug users now finding shelter in my block. But there are lots of children, young people, women and families on the estate, this is a problem. Managed decline, it’s real man, it’s really real.
When I first moved there, the estate was a lot more vibrant and it felt a lot safer. In the summertime the kids were able to play on the grass, and there were barbeques for the community, you felt at home. But over the last 12 or 18 months, the blocks have become a lot more dangerous, and I’m having to take action, I’m having to tell them [drug users and prostitutes] to get the hell out. But that puts me in a vulnerable position – who knows what could happen? Haringey Council should protect us. One time a ‘nitty’ defecated in the corner of my block, and it sat there for a week, a whole week. That shouldn’t be happening. And what’s frustrating is that when we mention this type of anti-social behaviour to Haringey Council, they ignore us. When I talk about anti-social behaviour I’m not talking about young people. For me, Tottenham is full of young people; there are lots of colleges and schools near us. But when Haringey council say’s it’s going to ‘fix things’, they mean regeneration and installing CCTV.
Regenerating Tottenham: 2011 riots, policing and knife crime
JP: Did the riots of 2011 play a role in the council’s plans to regenerate the area?
TB: Definitely. I feel like the 2011 riots, as well as the misinformation about those riots, in terms of who was responsible and who was involved, is being used against the people living in Tottenham. For me, that’s unfair. There was this whole blame pushed onto gangs and on people of colour, people who live on council estates. But when you look at the facts that’s not exactly accurate, and so for those events to be used as an excuse to regenerate the area, then you’re basing your whole argument on misrepresented information.
The riots have been used as an excuse to regenerate Tottenham, it’s almost like they thought if you don’t regenerate the area, then who knows in five- or six-years’ time we might have another one! But look at what started the 2011 riots, where Mark Duggan was shot by police and the people were angry. It’s call and response. In the community’s eyes, someone was seen to been unlawfully killed, so of course people are going to be angry and react. And what’s been the reaction from the council: ‘we need to regenerate the area because of these riots’. But what caused the riots? This backward way of thinking doesn’t quite go to the core of the issue, glazing over what really happened. That for me is truly unfair.
JP: Sixty-five per cent of Haringey residents are non-white British. Is regeneration reconstituting the social landscape?
TB: The BAME community is being targeted by the police, that’s just one uncomfortable reality that we’ve got to live with. Not only do we have to deal with the uncertainty of knowing our homes might be demolished because of regeneration or that gentrification is pushing us out, but while we’re still here, we have to watch our backs because of the police. It’s a constant prod. We are losing our community; Caribbean shops, Polish shops, ethnic shops. All these other things that are genuinely part of our community are slowly being taken away from us. When rents go up, shops are forced to close, and the local community is blocked from what is, essentially, ours. And I can only imagine that post-regeneration, that 65 per cent will drop. Tottenham might not even be a Labour Council in five years? It might be Lib Dem. Knowing what Tottenham was, and what it will become, it’s crazy, absolutely crazy.
JP: Has Tottenham seen an increase in police presence since undergoing redevelopment?
TB: This might sound crazy to anyone not from Tottenham, but the sound of sirens – it’s normal. Especially on Love Lane, which is practically on the High Road. But what I have noticed is a huge increase in police officers patrolling the area. And even more so on my block specifically. I don’t understand why. I think their increased presence is more to do with redeveloping the area, than say with knife crime. It seems to me like there has been a push for more police presence in areas that are being redeveloped as opposed to areas suffering from increased instances of knife crime.
JP: Knife crime and ‘gang activity’ are often associated by media and politicians with particular problem housing estates. Is that the case in the proposed demolition of Love Lane or Broadwater Farm estates?
TB: With regards to knife crime, it’s related to dropping the upkeep of the estate. I mean, if you deprive people of their resources then of course they’re gonna fight each other, and become a bit more savage. If you need something, you’re going to grab what’s closest to you. And so if you’re not upkeeping these estates, and then all of a sudden we see, as a result, an increase in crime, ‘gang crime’ or violence, then maybe you need to start looking after the communities as opposed to making cuts to the police force, and then when people start getting a bit desperate and seeking other means to survive, go: ‘let’s regenerate it’. That’s the narrative.
You’re doing nothing to solve the problems here, and when they get too big, or seem to get too big, they’re used as an excuse to basically get rid of a whole community and put new people there. There’s cheaper, more affordable and more ethical and humane things you’d could have done – five or ten years ago to prevent us from being in this state. I’m not the first person saying these things. They’ve been said for ages. We should be more fearful of austerity than knife crime, but why is this not in the media? Poor communities are not ignorant of this, but the media and the politicians are making a deal out of knife crime, which they are creating, and then using it as an excuse to go, ‘you guys need to go’. It’s wrong, on all levels.
Gentrification: race, class and gender
JP: Are we looking at ‘social cleansing’ — the large-scale removal of lower-income residents (and local business owners) where they are seen as undesirable and having no financial value?
TB: Yes, though I’d say, ‘very little financial value’ or ‘not as much financial value in particular areas’. Regeneration is ultimately about business and profit. [If you think about] the amount of money that is going to be generated from the stadium alone, of course [the council] is going to be want to capitalise on that, so social cleansing is inevitable.
But the council shouldn’t just get rid of the people living there and bring new people in to up their revenue. Instead it should try and make the most revenue out of this area, with the people that live there now. I don’t think taking away what’s there and replacing it with something for purely financial gain is benefitting anyone. You’re losing what Tottenham is. It’s going to be this new Tottenham, it might even be called something else in ten years, who knows! Social cleansing is taking place and it’s so wrong. It’s people’s lives, people’s families, people who have been there for twenty-plus years, people’s whose kids have been brought up there, going to school, people who intended to die there and are being told, you need to go somewhere else because we’ve got this new stadium here, and we need space for a walkway.
The plan is to basically demolish Love Lane estate and create a space between White Hart Lane Station and the stadium, so fans can get through easier. That’s 300 families for a walkway. My argument is, you can have the walkway, but just rehouse us in the new flats you intend to build. But of course, living next to a station, that’s a luxury in London …
JP: Local MP David Lammy is quoted as saying ‘Tottenham could do with a bit of gentrification’. Does the long-standing Tottenham community use these new spaces and shops?
TB: These shiny new things that Haringey council want to build aren’t for the existing community, they’re for a new community. That’s what happened with Shoreditch, Dalston and London Fields. We’ve seen it already, we know what is coming. I’m just waiting for a Waitrose, Marks & Spencer’s and Starbucks to pop-up in Tottenham. It used to be that when you got out of Zone 2 you wouldn’t see a Starbucks. But then I saw a Starbucks in Finsbury Park, and I was like ‘wow, a Starbucks in the ends?’ But how many people from the local community will go to Starbucks? That Starbucks will be for those new people now living in Woodberry Down and the other new builds.
JP: Do you think regeneration and gentrification are about race as well as class?
TB: Most definitely, so much of the BAME community falls into the ‘lower classes’ in Tottenham. It’s completely about race, as much as it is about class. And although I lean towards class, gentrification has a specific effect on BAME communities too. In terms of class, Tottenham and Haringey are prime real-estate locations. What we’re seeing in certain areas is over-policing, which then essentially reduces the number of people of colour in an area. Race and class are being attacked from two different angles but somehow end up meeting in the middle.
JP: And what are the gendered aspects of regeneration? For example, what are the differences a single-parent, a mother, might experience because of regeneration that is different to young people or men?
TB: While regeneration affects everyone, it affects everyone differently. Single mums, families of four and young black men like myself each form a subject group, and so for me I notice increase police presence in my area and might be subject to targeting from that, whereas that might not affect a single mum with young children. But for women and single mums, they are targeted by managed decline in a quieter way. If you’re trying to look after your child, and do the best for that child, and then the security of your home is [compromised] both by the threat of eviction and increased presence of prostitutes and drug users, that’s an additional burden. Look at it like this, mums need to work, so she goes to provide for her children, and there’s benefits in place to help with that, but then mum makes a tiny bit too much or does a bit of overtime, because it’s Christmas time, and then they cut away the benefits. This is what’s happening with Universal Credit.
Overcrowding is also another issue, I’ve heard of families where there’s been seven people living in a two bed, and even more in some cases, because they are not being rehoused. So now this whole family is subject to the pressures of not having enough space, when teenagers get home that will affect their schooling. But also, there’s an additional pressure teenagers have, feeling like it’s not safe to go out or come home late in your own area because you’re constantly being told knife crime is on the rise and you have to be safe. Everyone living in poverty is being poked with a different rod. For young black men, it’s the police, for young mothers it’s the lack of security in every sense. Teenagers, it’s the fear of knife crime. And all of these things are controllable, and in my opinion are being used by local councils, politicians and the media. At the same time, it’s those same bodies that can actually do something to help us and reverse it. But they’re not.
JP: Is the fight against gentrification a fight for spatial-justice — the right for community groups to exist in spaces and places that are increasingly becoming (financially or socially) hostile?
TB: You’re completely correct. It’s very much about our right to be there. We built this. What I find so ironic about gentrification is that outsiders love the idea of the black community, but they don’t love the community itself. The black community is being fetishised, they love Caribbean, Asian and Hispanic food, but they don’t want Hispanics, Asians and Blacks amongst their new things [facilities, shops and housing]. It’s plain-sight robbery.
JP: As the material and social landscape changes, how do communities register the loss?
TB: I already feel like I’m at a loss. I’ve lost time and energy as a result. But if I don’t campaign and fight for my community, fight for what I believe is mine and what I believe I’m entitled to, then essentially, I will lose my community, I will lose what I’m entitled to. But that is traumatic — the fatigue, the exhaustion, the tiredness, the days you’ve gotta go to a meeting with David Lammy or the leader of Haringey Council, the deputy head of housing, and even before you get into the meeting, you feel what’s the point. And even worse, coming out of that meeting knowing that you’ve l got nothing out of them. What do you do? Who do you speak to?
Campaigning is tiring, when you’re visiting people door-to-door, and really engaging with your neighbours and the residents, you can feel the trauma, that sense of defeat, everyone’s just tired. Whether you’re campaigning on the frontline or waiting for something to happen [eviction] everyone’s traumatised. It’s managed decline – not just in terms of the upkeep of the estate, but in terms of people’s emotional vigour, the breaking down of the will to want to fight. And it’s being managed in a way that’s making it plummet, people are just tired. I’m tired. So, I’m forced to fight, despite the fact it’s taking me away from the things I love and it’s taking away my energy.
JP: What’s the political mood in Tottenham is at the moment? You’re the leader of TAG, are the community prepared to fight against regeneration and gentrification?
TB: Surprisingly, yes. But what makes it hard is the lack of harmony between different groups and activists. Activists want to feel important. They are great for community initiatives like TAG because they are active, but everyone has got a political position they then try to push. We are in a vulnerable position, and though we need solidarity, people have different agendas and want different outcomes.
Firstly, the regeneration of Love Lane, for instance, is different to Broadwater Farm’s. Second, while bringing everyone together is great [because it builds solidarity and resistance] and we all want the same thing [to be rehoused in Haringey post-regeneration], it highlights the differences in our approach to the fight. Perhaps Haringey council is aware of this; it’s almost like we’re pitted against each other. Some of us in TAG feel we should be prioritised over Broadwater Farm because we’re on a [proposed] demolition site and they’re not.
JP: Is Haringey council making you fight one another like a divide and rule tactic?
TB: To some extent, yes. We met with Cllr Emina Ibrahim, who is deputy of Haringey Council, and when we said, ‘you guys put us here as temporary accommodation tenants, en masse, not just thirty of us, you put three hundred of us here. And now you’ve made all these plans to redevelop the area, and you’re not telling us what will happen to us, where you will rehouse us and listen to our concerns. As a body you need to be responsible for the actions you’ve made.’ The response we’ve been getting is: ‘yeah we understand you need to be homed, but there are 4,000 people on the waiting list and we need to work out what’s fair for everyone.’ Whilst we understand that everyone is in need, it backs you into a corner, where you start to feel you have to be selfish, you become anxious that someone 5 or 10 minutes down the road might get rehoused before you. It’s like Hunger Games.
Follow TAG’s campaign here on Twitter
Pastor Norbert Valley is the latest citizen to be charged with ‘facilitating illegal entry’ for giving assistance to a rejected asylum seeker.
Norbert Valley is the pastor of an Evangelical church in the town of Le Locle, eastern Switzerland, a small picturesque place nestling in the Jura mountains, with a population barely over 10,000. As a centre of Swiss watchmaking, it has been named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. And, like many Swiss watchmaking cities, its political and social history has been heavily influenced by radical and socialist ideas. The socialist party had been a leading presence in the area until 1992.
But one Sunday in February 2018 its tranquillity was broken. Police officers interrupted Pastor Valley’s sermon and escorted him away for questioning. His offence was giving occasional assistance, food and shelter, to a rejected asylum seeker from Togo. And for this he was charged with facilitating illegal entry of a foreigner under Article 116 of the Swiss immigration law.
Valley was ordered to pay a 1,000 CHf fine, which he refused on the grounds that his actions were humanitarian and part of his Christian faith. He has made it clear that if he were faced with a similar situation in the future, he would do the same again because, as he says, ‘If we don’t help our neighbours, we lose our humanity.’ It is this act of principle that has really condemned Valley. If prosecutors choose to follow through on the charges brought against him it will be sending a clear message to Swiss society – assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and those without papers is not acceptable, it’s criminal.
The case of Pastor Valley highlights the contradictions in the national narrative of Switzerland – a land that prides itself on its neutrality, the creation of the Red Cross and an ultra progressive view on assisted suicide has also, since 2008, removed any humanitarian exception to the facilitation laws. (In 2019 in Switzerland it is legal to help someone to die with dignity but not to give them to means to live with it.)
Role of church
Valley’s actions are not unique. Throughout history, churches have offered support, provided sanctuary and spoken up for people in need. In 2009, Father Kevin Doran, a priest working in Ireland, spoke out against a new bill that could have seen criminal sanctions made against anyone who permitted a form of marriage that was not ‘valid under the legislation’. More recently a church in the Netherlands held a continuous service for over three months to protect a family from deportation to Armenia. The Bethel Church in The Hague began a service on 26 October 2018 which did not stop for ninety-six days. The pastors set up a shift system with help from others across Europe including Germany, France and Belgium so that the service could be held without a single break. According to Dutch law, police cannot disrupt services to make an arrest. In January 2019 the Dutch government made a policy shift that granted temporary protection to the whole family.
Like Valley, those who spoke up in this case, made the point that they were taking a stand not just for one family but for ‘all the children of asylum-seekers’.
Citizen solidarity movement
This is the first time in many years that there has been a prosecution of a priest. His arrest has sparked a large solidarity campaign and gathered a lot of media attention. There have been profiles and articles covering his story across Europe and even in America as well as support from the Swiss Evangelical Alliance (RES) and Amnesty International (AI), decrying his arrest as part of the rampant use of immigration legislation to prosecute humanitarian activists.
Churches are just one of many groups and institutions that have put themselves on the line for refugees, asylum seekers and those without papers. Since the beginning of the ‘refugee crisis’ in the summer of 2015 thousands have given assistance and support to those arriving on Europe’s shores. They have attempted to fill the gaps in the state provision that even after four years has never moved beyond an emergency response. Hundreds of these volunteers including prominent professionals such as the director or Belgium’s Marie Claire and a Danish children ombudsman, have been arrested and charged under Europe’s member states’ smuggling and trafficking laws. As Valley’s case shows the number will continue to rise whilst Europe maintains its anti-immigrant rhetoric and the framework of legal persecution.Related Links
Read IRR’s new report, When Witnesses won’t be silenced here
An exhibition organised by The Tamil Information Centre, centred around the theme of resilience. The exhibition aims to explore the history of the Tamil-speaking people in Ilankai through art, culture, history, human rights and politics.
- Exhibition 11am – 6pm (Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 May) – Free for all
Location: Tolworth Recreation Centre, Fullers Way North, Surbiton, KT6 7LQ
- An event showcasing traditional Tamil theatre conducted by the Centre for Community Development (CCD). Performances will include Villu Paatu, Kaathavaraayan Koothu, Sangiliyan Play, Karakaattam and a cultural dance performance. Book tickets here