Asian, African and Caribbean communities are outraged that a NF march this weekend is to take place in Bermondsey during the important 10th year anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Mayor Ken Livingstone and Trevor Phillips, new Chair of the Commission of Racial Equality, have called for the Home Secretary, David Blunkett to ban it.
It is particularly reprehensible that Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey, is not calling for a ban on the march, he said: “I strongly oppose the National Front, but I will always defend the right of people to speak and march and protest provided they do it within the law” (Southwark news April 17th pg 3)
The 1990 Trust, a national organisation based in south London, which seeks to promote good race relations and uphold human rights have received a flood of emails and calls from all communities all over London. They are disgusted that in the very week that Stephen Lawrence was murdered in south London, when communities are preparing for a week of memorial events, the NF are being allowed to March. Caller after caller to the Trust is repeating the view that the if the Home Secretary’s refuses to ban the march this is blatantly offensive to Doreen and Neville Lawrence and to Black communities everywhere.
Karen Chouhan, Director of the 1990 Trust, said :”If this march is not banned it will be a clear signal of the retreat from the from the Lawrence inquiry. It is despicable that a fascist, racist group of people should be allowed to march with such obviously provocative timing and with such a clear racist message.
“If it goes ahead we will be calling for all communities to register their disgust on the day and also with the Home Secretary and Simon Hughes the MP for the area. In 2001, there was a vicious attack on an Asian man in the wake of a NF march; we cannot let this happen again.
Racism is a violation of human rights and it the responsibility of the local authority, the government and the police to uphold human rights and protect all of its citizens and residents.”
The advances made in race relations since the Lawrence Inquiry, albeit with much work to be done, should not be sacrificed by the potential, indeed, likelihood of disturbances that the NF march will cause.