As the recently appointed equality officers for the young Members' national committee, Graham and I were keen to attend the Stand Up To Racism conference on the 21 October.
To begin the day, we attended a morning workshop on mobilising against Trump, Euro fascism and racism. A variety of amazing speakers informed the room about events in Europe – specifically, Austria, Greece and Germany. We discussed the rise of hate crimes in our own country, and the impact of the recently formed 'Football Lads Alliance'. The group is supported by Tommy Robinson, and is popularity is growing alarmingly fast.
The morning plenary “Confronting the rise of Racism, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism in the US and Europe” followed with a lot of similar themes to the first session we’d attended. The floor gave a standing ovation to welcome Esa Charles, who had buried his son just the week before. His son died in police custody, and he gave an incredibly moving speech on racism within the police force, and the failure to bring justice to his family. Janet Alder followed this with her own story about her sister, who also died at the hands of our police force.
After a break for lunch, we started the session that I found the most interesting of the whole day. The workshop was titled 'Grenfell: institutional racism and the social cleansing of our cities' and the accounts given from survivors and local residents were truly chilling.
The failure of local councils to provide adequate and safe housing is astonishing, and will only continue after the government recently voted down a proposal to put regulations into law. This vote means that the safety regulations remain a 'recommendation', rather than legal requirement. Lowkey, the rapper, made an interesting observation that the one good thing about Grenfell was the change in culture around youth in the area. Young people have always been given a bad reputation there, but when the disaster struck, youth of all colour and creeds worked together to help in any way they could.
We finished the day by talking about how we can work together to build the movement against racism. Recent attacks on refugee camps are worrying and safeguarding refugees against this will be a top priority in the upcoming year. PCS agreed to create our own SUTR group, that will give all our members a chance to work together to contribute to the abolishment of racism.