Build a socialist alternative to racism, sectarianism and oppression
The Socialist Party welcomes the announcement from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that all charges related to last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in Belfast and Derry are to be dropped. The PPS recognised that the events were organised in a responsible manner, aimed at minimising the risk of Covid, and that they related to a matter of “important social concern”. All fines against those who took part in these protests – and a similar protest against gender violence in Belfast, organised by ROSA in the wake of Sarah Everard’s killing – must be immediately rescinded and reimbursed.
The PSNI have said their handling of the protests “unintentionally damaged the confidence and trust of the black, Asian and minority ethnic community.” For those present on the day, it seemed there was little unintentional about it. Police officers clearly singled out people of colour and young protesters for harassment, fines and threats of prosecution. In Derry, police used a sound system to speak over an opening address from a black activist. Given that the protests were in response to the police murder of an unarmed black man – George Floyd – this was provocative and insensitive in the extreme.
The PSNI were operating on the basis of sweeping and draconian powers which were rushed through Stormont by the DUP and Sinn Féin, with the support of the other main parties, on the eve of the protests. The fines were defended by Alliance leader and Justice Minister Naomi Long. At the same time, the Northern Ireland Executive was doing nothing to address outbreaks of Covid-19 in workplaces such as meat processing plants, caused by bosses prioritising profits over safety.
The Executive parties – Orange, Green, or Alliance yellow – defend the capitalist system. As Malcolm X said, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.” To overcome oppression, division, inequality and poverty, we need a united struggle for a socialist future, where society’s wealth and resources are used in a planned and democratic way to meet the needs of people and planet, not the billionaires.
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