Weyman Bennett

Knife crime on the rise: what’s behind the violence?

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A recent spate of knife killings in London, often involving young black males, has led to much anguish and debate about solutions. Weyman Bennett argues that more stop-and-search or “bobbies on the beat” are definitely not the answer. Instead we must look to underlying causes in the way that austerity and racism have ravaged communities in cities like London.

In the first few months of this year there has been a series of murders, particularly in London and particularly involving knives and young black people. The heartbreak and pain experienced by the families and friends of those who have lost their lives will be enduring. And the consequences will be felt far beyond them into the communities affected, who will feel fear and anger at the loss of life.

The need for maximum unity

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Racists, fascists, Islamophobes and anti-Semites are on the move across Europe. Weyman Bennett outlines the strategies we need to mobilise effectively against the different strands of the right.

The UN anti-racism demonstrations on 21 March can become a turning point in the fight against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, fascism and racism. The march comes six weeks before a general election dominated by debates around austerity and racism.

Ferguson, St Louis: Echoes of the past

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Hands up. Don't shoot!

The shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, a suburb of St Loius in Missouri, sparked a wave of anger and protest in America. Weyman Bennett attended the memorial service for Michael on behalf of Stand Up to Racism and Unite Against Fascism campaigns. Here he looks at what has changed, and what has not, for black people in the US.

You could feel the anger on the streets of Ferguson even after the days of demonstrations had peaked. Families in this relatively nice suburb of St Louis were sitting outside their homes in deck chairs with home-made placards demanding justice for Michael Brown.

Anti-racism: Two steps forward...

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Socialist Review spoke to Weyman Bennett, joint secreatary of Unite Against Fascism, about the Stand Up to Racism demonstration on 22 March and challenging the scapegoating of migrants.

The 22 March European-wide anti-racist demonstrations are very important for socialists and anti-racists. Over the past 40 years there has been a migration of people from the Caribbean, south east Asia and Europe into Britain. They brought the flavours and sounds of their communities and have integrated into the working class.

Anti-fascism and the spirit of the united front

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In this special feature Socialist Review sets out the challenges and strategies faced by the anti-fascist movements in Britain. With contributions from activists involved in the struggle here.

The declaration by Tommy Robinson and his cousin Kevin Carroll that they were abandoning the English Defence League (EDL), the street organisation they had founded, marked an important milestone in the struggle against fascism in Britain. Robinson had led one of the most successful fascist street movements since the National Front in the 1970s, a model emulated by dozens of "Defence Leagues" across Europe. His resignation marked the movement's demise, and follows the electoral collapse of the Nazi British National Party (BNP).

One, two, three, Tower Hamlets

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The English Defence League (EDL) suffered a significant blow last month when they attempted to march through the heart of Tower Hamlets in East London. Instead of being a day spent intimidated the local Muslim community and its allies, the EDL found itself unable to set a foot inside the borough.

After Woolwich

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The racist backlash after the murder of a soldier outside Woolwich barracks last month has been on a far greater scale than that following the 7 July 2005 bombings in London.

Even though more than 50 people were killed and over 700 injured in 7/7, there were only sporadic attacks on Muslims and their property. Compare this with the report from the Faith Matters think tank that it had logged 193 anti-Muslim hate incidents in first six days following Lee Rigby's murder, including ten attacks on mosques. This is 15 times higher than the average rate last year of just over 12 anti-Muslim hate incidents per week.

Black and fighting back

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The riots that happened last summer highlighted the gulf that exists between many young black people and mainstream black political figures. Brian Richardson and Mark L Thomas spoke to Weyman Bennett about the new mood of anger among black people.

“There is a significant change taking place among young people. The people involved in the riots generalised politically much more than in 1981 and 1985.”

But there were signs of this even before the riots, argues Weyman. The demonstration a couple of months earlier over the death of the black musician Smiley Culture during a police raid on his house attracted several thousand people - the biggest protest over a death in custody for a number of years.

Voices of the unheard

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Thirty years ago the Brixton riots heralded a wave of unrest in Britain's inner cities that terrified our rulers and helped forge black and white unity

"Molotov cocktails were thrown for the first time on mainland Britain. There had been no such event in England in living memory."

These words come from a police report into the Brixton riots of 1981. On 10-11 April 1981 massive riots exploded in Brixton, south London, and thousands of people fought running battles with police. Some in the popular media described the unrest as race riots. They were not. Black and white joined together to find a voice: they are part of the battles that forged multiracial Britain.

Growing up with racism in Britain

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The threat posed by racists on the streets and fascists at the ballot box shows that racism has not gone away. Zita Holbourne, Weyman Bennett, Hesketh Benoit, Marcia Rigg and Assed Baig discuss their experience of racism and how to fight back.

"Let's tackle the roots of racism" - Zita Holbourne

Growing up in 1970s London, I was viewed as a strange phenomenon by many. Frequently my mother was told to "go back home" and called a "wog". People tried to apply labels to me and called me "half caste", "half breed", "half pint". Some didn't know what my race was but knew they disliked me because of the way I looked and called me "Paki", "Greek girl" and "Chinese girl".

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