Since November 2021 we’ve been busy, so our usual blog updates about what we’ve been up to have been quiet. Rather than leave people wondering about what’s been happening for the last six months, we thought we’d write up a quick summary to keep you in the loop…
November kicked off with a special book launch event held jointly with Black Country Stand Up To Racism and other anti-racist groups across our region. We had a real treat, as not only did author Rick Blackman talk about his excellent new book ‘BABYLON’S BURNING: Music, Subcultures and Anti-Fascism in Britain 1958-2020’, but we were also blessed to have Zak Cochrane from Love Music Hate Racism step in to guest host the event. The book is for sale in all good bookshops – we’d highly recommend it.
A few days later NorSCARF was then part of the COP26 Global Day of Action for climate justice, which was a world wide event to coincide with the UN talks on climate change that were being hosted in Glasgow. Hundreds of areas across the country held events and demonstrations, including in Stoke, Stafford, Leek and Lichfield. NorSCARF was part of forming the North Staffordshire Climate Coalition as part of this, made of up of various organisations including North Staffs TUC, Friends of the Earth, Save Newcastle’s Green Sites, Stoke Extinction Rebellion, Stoke YouthStrike4Climate, Cultural Zebra, and more. We held a successful demonstration and march in Hanley, with lots of great speakers.
Also later on in November NorSCARF took a delegation of supporters to a solidarity rally in Shrewsbury to support National Education Union member and teacher, John Boken, who was sacked by Shrewsbury College after he reported racism amongst staff and was subject to a drawn out bullying campaign by his employers for his role as a trade unionist. Details of his story can be found here
On 15th January we joined the local KillTheBill Alliance for another national day of action in opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. A demonstration was held in Hanley. Speakers from a range of gorups came along and another loud march went through the city centre, accompanied by the Stop HS2 Nellie the white elephant!
On Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January) we held a meeting where we were incredibly fortunate to be joined by Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls, a professor at Staffordshire University of Conflict Archaeology and Genocide, specialising in Holocaust research. Professor Sturdy Colls took us through the significance of her work in unearthing the history of sites of genocide and the stories of victims that form part of her studies. Find out more about her research and publications here.
Finally on the last Saturday of January we took a delegation to a counter demonstration against fascist Tommy Robinson who descended on Telford in an attempt to build a racist narrative about Child Sexual Exploitation in the area. The counter demo was called by Shropshire and Telford Stand Up To Racism alongside Shropshire and Telford TUC and the main call of the day was ‘No to the Nazis – Justice for the victims’ as we marched through the town centre to face Robinson’s thugs.
Early in February we helped to host a film night in Newcastle with the North Staffordshire Climate Coalition. The films centred on the theme of climate justice and included a funny short animation about trade union strikes for the environment and indigenous rights in Australia, and a documentary about the L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) indigenous-led protest campaign against an oil pipeline in Louisiana.
On the first day of March we had our monthly meeting and were joined by Emma Birds, West Midlands Campaigns Manager for national organisation Asylum Matters. Emma spoke to us about the details of the Nationality and Borders Bill and kindly provided her presentation for other people to view, below;
After the invasion of Ukraine by Russia many people across the country were horrified at the prospect of war and the refugee crisis it was creating and there was a day of action on both Sunday the 6th and Saturday 12th. In Stoke, the North Staffordshire Ukraine Solidarity group called demonstrations for both days and NorSCARF was invited to attend and speak.
Every year in March Stand Up To Racism leads a rally and march through London to mark UN Anti-Racism Day and this year we were able to fill of minibus of people form Stoke, including a big delegation from local refugee and asylum seeker charity, Asha. It was a long and busy day but we were pleased to join thousands of others anti-racists in the capital as well as thousands more who held similar events across the world!
During April we attended a second cost of living demonstration, in Hanley, the first one having being held in February, to highlight that the cost of rising prices and falls in income is an issue that affects marginalised communities the most. Both demonstrations were called by Staffordshire People’s Assembly Against Austerity and North Staffordshire TUC as part of national days of action to say we won’t pay for a crisis we didn’t create.
At the start of the month we held a meeting with a speaker from Trans Staffordshire who gave a talk about LGBTQ+ hate and discrimination. This was a timely event as outrage had recently been spreading after the government backtracked on a policy on conversion therapy, meaning that the ban of its use would not include trans people.
Unfortunately May 7th was the second date Tommy Robinson picked to bring his fascist following to Telford again. This time NorSCARF put on a minibus to the counter demonstration and extra people came in cars too. As our side of anti-racists and anti-fascists marched through the town to confront Robinson’s racist gang, it quickly became clear that his numbers had drastically dwindled since his last visit in January, and we were able to loudly bring our message of unity over division for Robinson and all to hear!
We were glad to bring our stall out for a sunny day at Keele University as the student’s union put on a Refugee Festival to help raise money for refugees and asylum seekers working with Asha. This event coincided with an art exhibition and public forum on the theme of climate justice, conflict and refugees being held at the university. It was great to be out meeting students and staff, and we look forward to more sunny days over the summer and autumn where we get to speak to people about our anti-racist and anti-fascist work!
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