From 7pm on 9 June there is an arboricultural study camp set up at the Holifield Farm Project in Cornwall. Given a large focus of many people joining to Resist G7 is care for nature and the environment, we have also been invited to come along, camp and take part.
You’ll find Holifield here:
The nearest station is Redruth, on the mainline from most areas around the UK. There is one bus an hour from Redruth to Helston. If you are able to get this bus, please do as it will make pick ups a lot easier. You can check the timetable for this bus (Number 34) here: https://www.gocornwallbus.co.uk/our-timetables/34-sunday-28th-march#timetable
There will be transport to collect people from Helston, or Redruth if you can’t get the bus. Please do be aware though, that you may have to wait so please be patient!
Please call or message letting us know what time you’ll arrive and how many of you there are:
07599 948 546
07599 948 562
Save these numbers as they will be the contact numbers for transport throughout the weekend.
There’s also a regular bus from Falmouth (on the Moor) straight to Gweek: 35 or 35A
7:05 AM⇢8:03 AM / 8:35 AM⇢9:10 AM / 10:30 AM⇢11:05 AM /12:30 PM⇢1:05 PM /2:30 PM⇢3:05 PM /4:45 PM⇢5:20 PM / 5:35 PM⇢6:33 PM
Head towards Helston, and from here head for R.N.A.S. Culdrose on A3083 (signposted Lizard), drive along this road to the roundabout.
Turn left at the roundabout (sign posted St Keverne).
About ½ mile along on the B3293 road, turn left and follow the signpost to Gweek.
Drive through Gweek village.
Take a right hand fork by the pub and keep going up the hill. You’ll see a sharp turn to the right signposted to Holifield Farm and Bonallack.
From here drive up a trackway, but please be aware that this is an active community project, people live here and there’s also a school onsite so there’s a STRICT five (5) mph speed limit everywhere around the farm.
Head up the track and bear to the right when you see a clearing filled with large piles of wood. Keep heading along the track, and the camping field is towards the end.
We’ll be doing our best to get clear signposts along this road and the track, but please do be patient with us if you arrive early!
If you reach the village (where you’ll see a shop and a pub) you’ve gone too far so will need to turn around and keep an eye out for the sharp turning!
We can’t wait to see you all here, to work together, mobilise against the G7 and take part in some incredible days of action.
There are two fields for camping, gathering and workshops, the rest of the farm is strictly out of bounds. Areas to walk in this beautiful site will be clearly signposted. No fires or BBQs anywhere on site, but there is a beautiful communal fire pit. The landowners have said they welcome acoustic music, but have requested no amplified music at any time. You’ll be given a full run down of all these things when you arrive, and please do share this information with others who come later.
It’s vital that everyone reads and respects our Safer Spaces Policy before they arrive. Working together in this radical and transformative way means we’re creating the change we wish to see in the world. https://resistg7.org/resources/documents-and-policies/resist-g7-safer-spaces-policy/
Please also try to have a look at our essential guide about what to expect and what to bring before you travel: https://resistg7.org/essential-information-for-people-coming-to-cornwall/
We’re just coming out of over a year of lockdowns, so it’s important we all stay aware and keep each other safe. Please wear masks in all communal areas, and use hand sanitiser. If you feel unwell at any time, please try to leave site safely and let someone know (we’ll create a safe system for this that you’ll be given information about when you arrive).
The time is now, together we are stronger, and we are the G7 resistance!
For More information check out:-
https://t.me/resistg7 (Public Telegram group)
Trans Safety Network (TSN), launched publicly in October 2020, is a group of trans people who research and publish data on transphobic campaigns. Organise spoke to them about the group, and the wider climate of transphobia in the UK.
Why did you form TSN?
A lot of us have been either following or otherwise engaged by the rapid increase in anti-trans hate campaigning going on. A great deal of this is well known and written about, in terms of the “TERF War”, but increasingly we noticed other mobilisations. These were hidden from most peoples awareness. Less active on social media, but very active in other ways; lobbying government, establishing networks of conversion practitioners, producing books full of “alternative facts” about the history of trans people, harassing trans academics, and leafleting door-to-door.
What made us finally come together and start TSN was hearing reports from friends, who knew school teachers, about strange DVDs about the Transgender Agenda. We wanted to investigate and expose where they were coming from more comprehensively.When we investigated further, the DVDs turned out to be coming from the Christian creationist group Truth In Science1.
What are the biggest threats to Trans safety in the UK at present?
The biggest threat to trans safety and well-being in the UK right now is institutional - the British government have made no secret of the fact they are willing to drag out trans rights issues with inquiry after inquiry. All for the sake of a (even by Tory standards) pointless culture war, that infringes on the supposed small government civil liberties they’d normally love. The NHS is both failing to defend care for trans people in court, and failing to provide it in the clinic. Healthcare training teaching doctors how to interact with trans patients sensitively was pulled on the basis of a moral panic, local councils have withdrawn equality guidance under legal threats from anti-trans activists while waiting for a far right Tory party to show leadership. In the public narrative, there’s a lot of focus on TERFs as mobilisers of all of this but they simply would not be as influential and powerful as they are without significant backing from the right wing press and sympathetic MPs and Lords (in both the Tory and Labour parties). In the end it comes down to power and resources. Anti-trans campaigns have powerfully stifled trans voices from media, driven trans women out of public roles, and are having a chilling effect on trans health and sociology research, while Oxford University funds conspiracy theories about Jewish Financiers and Big Pharma being “behind Transgender Ideology”2. None of this could happen without the support of institutionalised power in the state, higher education and nationalised healthcare.
How do you feel trans safety relates to other struggles?
The trans community is really small. We know there aren’t many of us, and unlike a lot of other communities we’re often isolated and spread out among communities who are culturally hostile. Right-wing governments have a habit of using us as a scapegoat they can whip to keep their electoral base happy. Left-wing governments offer us platitudes to make themselves look good without really changing anything. Either way the fundamental issue is a lack of trans power/trans liberation. A lot of our historic and pre-existing representative bodies have mainly served to try and incorporate transness into an establishment that has no reason not to treat us cynically. Often in the process they disregard the needs of racialised trans people, trans migrants, trans sex workers, incarcerated trans people, disabled trans people, trans people with care responsibilities etc. Some of the most damaging transphobia comes from bosses, landlords, border agents, cops, psychiatric professionals trying to pathologise us just getting through life. We often can’t rely on services, such as domestic violence, who can exercise power to hurt the most marginalised. Those facing the most serious issues with transphobia urgently need a trans liberation movement built on coalitional and intersectional lines. It’s not enough to just have the government registering approved transgender people on a list. We need liberation!
Regarding intersections with struggles against sexism, much of the debate seems to be about whether feminists are happy to allow trans people to be part of the struggle. People arguing against trans inclusion claim it’s inappropriate for trans people to be included in feminist struggles. Those arguing for inclusion tout its validation. Few debates talk about the necessity of trans inclusion, whether it is necessary for liberation from patriarchal systems. The discussion should not be “do we want trans people to be included” but “in what ways are trans inclusivity and liberation needed for the larger struggle against gendered oppression”.
Transphobia seems one of the most pervasive forms of bigotry amongst the UK’s left and anarchist movements. What do you feel has driven this, and how can it be opposed?
Not sure it is necessarily true that transphobia is more pervasive on the left than other bigotries. Transphobia is certainly highly visible on the left, but other bigotries are sadly still alive and well. There are a lot of ways that the wider left pays lip service to anti-racism but fails black and brown siblings in practice, and there have been major issues with anti-Semitism.
Bigotry isn’t really the most useful way to think about transphobia (or any form of oppression). If we see the left as something that’s being built, who is it being built for, and how does it achieve that? Transphobia is structural: lots of people on the left make platitudes against hate or about the trans women dying in South America, but it often has an exploitative character to it. You show you’re a good leftie by denouncing TERFs or hand-wringing about dead black and brown trans women far away, and in the process you get moral/social value without really doing anything for trans liberation. We need trans liberation built into the roots of radical projects.
Those hostile to trans people have grown increasingly prominent in the past few years. Why do you think that is?
There’s a mixture of factors, particularly in the UK. Transphobia isn’t new at all, nor are TERFs. Many of us have been opposing them for years. We know people who’ve been putting up with them for decades. In the UK, there are probably three things which have come together to make transphobia particularly loud.
Firstly, the UK-based religious right have been movement-building for years, and not just around trans stuff. They’ve organised harassment campaigns, targetting reproductive health clinics (to deter people from abortions), and mobilised large numbers around schools and sex education. Secondly, the trans-national alt-right crowd have been growing, and they are really effective in media operations. Finally, we have the most far-right Tory government in many years, and a profoundly complacent parliamentary left-wing.
What other trans groups are active in the UK at the moment?
There are loads of trans mutual aid groups in the UK, and more popping up pretty regularly. We’ve had a blip as a community, after the implosion of Action for Trans Health, but it’s probably good that these are very much local groups focused on addressing the needs of local communities. If you’re trans and don’t have one locally maybe find some friends and see what you could do about organising one. Talk together and find out what problems trans people are facing in your area and find ways to solve them! Direct action gets the goods.
Do you have any reading or listening recommendations?
Blood and TERF is a really great podcast, well worth listening to.
What sort of things should cis people be doing more of to support trans people?
Make your community spaces actively safe by confronting transphobes. Resist respectability politics. Don’t help spread the smear stories about individual trans people, regardless of if they’ve done something wrong. Don’t treat transphobia like it’s an individual bigotry; it’s social and systemic, and needs to be addressed by dealing with the institutions and systems that make it possible.
How can people support you?
We rely a lot on tips from people who’ve seen transphobic leaflets. We’re hoping to be able to build links with other orgs in the future, with a view to addressing some of the undiscussed intersections between trans liberation and other issues. For instance, black and brown transfeminine public figures are especially singled out for demonisation. We would like to address trans safety in a way that draws attention to the operation of racism, misogyny and transphobia together, rather than treating transphobia as a single issue. This is just one example, we're looking for collaborators who would be interested in putting trans safety in a broader context. ■
2The Political Erasure of Sex was a report funded by Oxford University and authored by TERF activist Jane Clare Jones, it was sent to every MP and Lord in the counry and repeated the antisemitic conspiracy theories of primitivist Jennier Bilek. Briefly discussed in https://transsafety.network/posts/gcs-and-the-right/
As I begin to type this article, it has been 348 days since Boris Johnson announced the first national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, over 120,000 people have died as a result of the disease, creating massive disruption, grief and anxiety for countless other people, and demonstrating the total inadequacy of the government and the Capitalist system that provides it with its power.
We’ve seen the government bungle its response to the pandemic, communities band together in admirable acts of mutual aid, right-wing conspiracies, and inspirational mass movements rise up against oppression. Now, with the development and mass distribution of a number of vaccines, many people envision an end to the pandemic in the U.K within a year. As the pandemic is gradually brought under control, and businesses and the government try to push people towards a return to ‘normality’, what threats and opportunities might face us, and what can we, as anarchists, do to prepare and respond to these challenges?
First, let’s assess the actual likelihood of the pandemic being brought under control here within a reasonable timeframe. The government promises that all adults will have received the first dose of a vaccine by the end of July. However, most research indicates that two doses are necessary for effective protection against the virus, and, in order to achieve this lofty promise, the gap between first and second doses has been stretched from a recommended 2 weeks to a maximum of 12 weeks; this lengthened gap has caused concern as it may potentially reduce the effectiveness of the vaccination and may even provide an opportunity for the virus to mutate and adapt against the vaccine.
The concerns about the potential reduction in the effectives of the vaccination have been further exacerbated by the fact that the second dose may consist of a different vaccine than that of the first. Although the threat of mutation may be somewhat inhibited by the fact that the virus cannot mutate in an overly extensive manner without compromising its ability to infect people, and that vaccinations could likely be developed against any new strains, the fact remains that new strains of the virus do have the potential to severely disrupt the vaccination process; for example, the AstraZeneca vaccine has been found to be significantly less effective against the South African strain. It must also be kept in mind that many people, such as those who have an autoimmune disorder, etc., will be unable to receive a vaccination; as it has not been confirmed for certain that vaccinations prevent transmission of COVID-19, there remains the potential that precautions will still have to be maintained for the benefit of these people, even after the bulk of the population has been vaccinated. In light of these factors, whilst it may not be entirely improbable that the pandemic will be brought under control by some point after October this year, it is also not entirely improbable that the pandemic will continue in the U.K for a noticeably longer period of time.
On a more hopeful note, the research and production of new vaccinations against COVID-19 has led to a number of exciting developments: mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, have now been proven to be effective and are cheaper and easier to produce than traditional vaccines; a trio of ‘biohackers’, Dariia Dantseva, David Ishee and Josiah Zayner, developed a DIY DNA vaccine that produced neutralising antibodies in all three of the trio when they tested it on themselves; a group of people, who met through their association with Harvard Medical School, formed the Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative (RaDVaC) and developed a vaccine with the express intent that it could be produced with minimal equipment and distributed safely with a minimum of training (RaDVaC’s vaccination is delivered via a nasal spray, as opposed to via an injection).
The relatively low cost of production for each of these vaccinations (especially the RaDVaC vaccination, which is significantly cheaper and easier to produce than the mRNA and DNA vaccines) means that, through the pooling of funds and/or fundraisers, decentralised collectives could produce and distribute vaccinations against COVID-19 (and, with some modifications, against other diseases) throughout their local communities; this could potentially allow for the mitigation of any disturbances to the state vaccination programme, the shortening of the gap between first and second doses, and, in a more expansive view, it could lessen communities’ reliance on the state for healthcare). mRNA vaccines have another exciting potential for treatment as research indicates that the same technology could be adapted to treat most forms of cancer (in somewhat of an oversimplification, injections of mRNA could be used to cause cancer cells to produce antigens that would then cause the body’s immune system to target and destroy them); if this is the case, this has enormous implications for anarchistic models of healthcare as it could potentially allow decentralised collectives to effectively treat the leading cause of death worldwide.
Of course, we must refrain from being overly optimistic and avoid falling into the trap of techno-utopianism; this decentralised production and distribution of vaccinations, as well as the use of mRNA technology against cancer, has not been tested or proven to be effective in a statistically significant manner, there are a number of safety concerns that will need to be addressed, and it is likely that anyone attempting to produce vaccines will face harsh opposition from the State, who will act to protect the patents of corporations and to destroy any attempt to undermine its influence.
Vaccinations in all forms will continue to be opposed by a vocal minority of conspiracy theorists that have emerged throughout the pandemic. These conspiracy theorists consist of a diverse coalition of, amongst others, anti-vaxxers, QAnon followers, and vehement opponents of 5G technology. Whilst they, by themselves, are likely to remain a minority, and will probably never amount to a serious threat on a systemic level, they provide an excellent body of potential recruits and supporters for fascists, who have already begun to openly participate in their marches and demonstrations.
The conspiracy theorists are ideal targets for fascist recruitment as they, whether they are aware of it or not, hold a number of anti-Semitic beliefs and have an authoritarian mindset that views any deviance from their line of thought as the behaviour of mere ‘sheeple’ at best or a serious threat from allies/servants of their imagined shadowy cabal at worst.
Fascism in the UK, after the collapse of the majority of the EDL, has mostly been a disorganised, infighting mess, but it may be able to regain an organised presence on the streets if it continues to gain influence over the conspiracy theorists and takes charge of their movements. Even if they never become sufficiently organised to be a systemic threat, there is a serious risk that the conspiracy theorists and fascists may begin to commit isolated acts of violence and stochastic terrorism, which will largely be targeted against Jewish and Muslim communities.
Unfortunately, this movement is likely to be sustained even after it long becomes clear that vaccinations pose no major risk; due to its cult-like mentality, many of the movement’s adherents will double-down on their ideas in response to information that challenges them. As a result, there needs to be an active anti-fascist presence to protect our communities from violence and to prevent fascist organisation. Where possible, anarchists should do what they can to dispel conspiracy theories and ensure that people’s, often legitimate, opposition to the government is not misdirected in hateful, bigoted directions.
Anarchists should also act to help people whose opposition to the government and state is directed in more positive directions. During the Summer of 2020, there was a significant resurgence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in response to the murder of George Floyd in Amerika. This movement successfully popularised the positions of defunding the police and, more hopefully, police abolition. The disproportionate manner in which BLM protests and activists have been policed provides evidence of both the racism of the police as an institution, and the serious threat that the movement poses to the police. Unfortunately, the centuries of ongoing racism and police brutality are unlikely to end any time soon, so anarchists must be prepared to help the continued struggle against the police and support BLM in a variety of ways, whether that be through prison support or fundraising for BLM activists who face state repression, or opposing the fascist presence that often emerges to harass BLM protests.
Finally, what can we expect from the British state?
The government is under pressure from its capitalist backers to reopen businesses and kickstart the economy, and it will likely do this, as it has done previously, before it is actually safe to do so. At least for the immediate future, the government has indicated that it will attempt to offer support to mitigate the severity of the economic damage inflicted by the pandemic, but many people will struggle, and are struggling, as the result of job-loss and Brexit-related price increases; a reinvigoration of the many mutual aid groups that sprung up during the early stages of the pandemic would be incredibly useful in helping people to overcome this challenge, but we should be careful to avoid previous mistakes and take a stronger effort to push forward a radical message and reject the attempts of local political parties to co-opt the groups for their own agendas.
The growing influence of the state will not be limited to the economy as the government has announced its intentions to restrict and repress protests; as mentioned earlier, the state has felt threatened by movements such as BLM, and is therefore pushing forward a bill, the ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’, that will allow the police to place more limitations on protests, and inflict harsher punishments on those who violate such limitations. The Labour Opposition, led by Keir Starmer, former head of the Crown Prosecution Service, has so far voiced no objection to this bill and it is more likely than not that it will pass successfully. When it does, we can expect more harassment from the police at demos, and will potentially have to deal with more self-policing at demos from nervous liberal/NGO types; more attention will likely have to be given to the vital work of prisoner support, as, unfortunately, people will be facing more years behind bars due to harsher sentencing.
Further state repression is planned through the criminalisation of trespass; although the category of ‘people who trespass’ encompasses just about everybody, the criminalisation of trespass will disproportionately be used against gypsy, traveller and Roma communities in a violent attack against their way of life for the benefit of wealthy landowners.
An equally severe concern is the potential for an intensified legal persecution of trans people; although the government has made recent progressive steps, such as the inclusion of alternative gender identities in the 2021 census, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Elizabeth Truss has made a number of comments that parallel those commonly employed by TERF activists, and has announced plans to make it more difficult for trans youth to access support, to roll back long delayed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, and to endanger trans feminine people by forcing them out of women’s spaces. With a hostile media that actively discriminates against trans people and platforms transphobes, and a Labour Opposition that itself harbours many transphobic members, we cannot expect any ‘official’ opposition to such legal persecution and we should therefore prepare ourselves to provide our own opposition through a diversity of tactics.
The sheer volume of oppressive policies and positions that the government has planned is indicative of a ‘Shock Doctrine’. A ‘Shock Doctrine’, as defined by Naomi Klein in her 2007 book of the same name, is a political strategy involving the exploitation of large-scale crises, whether natural or artificial, to distract, preoccupy and overwhelm any potential popular resistance to oppressive/otherwise unpopular policies and developments. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a perfect opportunity for this shock doctrine, as many anarchists and a significant portion of the political left’s membership base have been stuck combatting the pandemic’s effects, critiquing the government’s decisions, and dealing with the grief and anxiety surrounding the pandemic, with little time, resources, or capacity to organise effectively against the government’s planned repression. Not to mention the fact that COVID-19 itself significantly increases the risk of organising physically, and that many people have grown a heightened sense of ‘learned helplessness’ as they have felt unable to effectively act against the pandemic themselves, becoming reliant on following the orders and instructions of government ‘experts’ .
These problems, as demonstrated by the BLM protests, can be overcome and effective resistance against the state can manifest itself, even in the face of crisis. In addition, it is possible that we can utilise our experiences gained during the pandemic in mutual aid collectives and other support groups to effectively organise alternative structures to, at least in part, circumvent or mitigate the harms inflicted by the government’s Shock Doctrine; for example, if the State won’t support trans youth, then decentralised collectives should step in to fulfil that role, and if the government starts doling out harsher fines against protesters, then community solidarity groups can raise funds to cover the costs. The pandemic may even provide us with some advantages of our own as it has successfully exposed the inadequacy of both state and capital, and has left countless people distrustful of authority and eager for radical change.
In conclusion, the pandemic has disrupted society, allowing, and perhaps compelling, the government to increase its authoritarianism to preserve its own power. This disruption has also, however, allowed us to gain vital experiences and has opened up new opportunities.
Many people, now disillusioned with the status quo, have been misled to follow conspiracy theories and fascist influence, but many more have allowed their disillusionment to be a more enlightening experience, pushing them to take their first steps to build a better world. In face of the challenges created by this pandemic, and the overwhelming likelihood of future crises, it is perfectly reasonable to feel disheartened, but, in our darkest moments, we can take inspiration from the acts of resistance, compassion and solidarity that have arisen across communities globally.■
“The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world, here, in our hearts. That world is growing this minute.”
~ Buenaventura Durruti
In the early hours of this rainy 5 May 2021 in Caracas, Nelson Mendez passed away at the age of 68. A tireless propagandist, editor of the publications Correo (A) and El Libertario, author of several books and dozens of opinion and research articles. Nelson died as a result of complications associated with Covid-19.
Nelson Méndez: (Caracas, 1952) had a degree in Sociology and was a professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV). Linked from his youth to social activism and anarchism from 1980 onwards, from the end of the 1990s he was part of the editorial team of the newspaper El Libertario. He was also one of the animators of the Centre for Libertarian Social Studies (CESL), which operated in Sarría for several years. His most recent book is "Gastronomía y anarquismo. La utopía intensa de unir fogones, barricadas, placer y libertad" ("Gastronomy and anarchism. The intense utopia of uniting cookers, barricades, pleasure and freedom" 2021). He previously published "Un país en su artificio. Itinerario histórico de la ingeniería y la tecnología en Venezuela" ("A country in its artifice. Historical itinerary of engineering and technology in Venezuela" 2011) and, co-authored with Alfredo Vallota, "Bitácora de la utopía. Anarquismo para el siglo XXI" ("Logbook of Utopia. Anarchism for the 21st century").
Nelson was a reference for several generations of Venezuelan anarchist activists. His cubicle at the School of Engineering of the UCV was an epicentre of libertarian publications coming from various parts of the world and meetings to plan organisational and propaganda activities. He was a consistent anti-authoritarian, rejecting the inequities of the Venezuelan governments before and after 1998, as well as the coups d'état of different ideological signs that occurred in 1992 and 2002.
His colleagues at El Libertario would like, with these lines, to pay him a heartfelt tribute. His example continues to be an inspiration to us and we will always carry his joy and kindness in our hearts. Our heartfelt words of affection and consolation go to his partner Mina and his son Salvador. ■
Venezuelian comrade Nelson Mendez has passed away at the age of 68 by Covid-19. In the early morning of this rainy May 5 in Caracas, Nelson Mendez has passed away at the age of 68. Tireless propagandist, editor of the publications «Correo (A)» and «El Libertario».
Author of several books and dozens of articles of opinion and research. Born in Caracas in 1952, he had a degree in Sociology and was a professor at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV).
Linked since his youth to social activism and anarchism since 1980, he was a consistent anti-authoritarian, rejecting the inequities of the Venezuelan governments before and after 1998, as well as the coups of different ideological sign in 1992 and 2002.
Rest in power Nelson. ■
Today, different anarchist groups, collectives and organizations, publicly manifest ourselves against the tax reform's hikes on essential subsistence goods. But not only because we consider the reform as an organized robbery to the pockets of the working class, peasants, service workers, self-employed and freelancers. But also, we make evident the failure that constitutes this Uribist government of Iván Duque and the disaster that is the whole state apparatus of this country. Which has tried to hide with public works, laws, decrees, media propaganda and cheap nationalism, the organized robbery that it really is over the totality of the people of this region of the continent.
The taxes that Duque -falsely- talked about reducing, regardless of the president in office, were, are and will be the same a general theft from the people, since they have guaranteed, through the clientelist mafia, the access to power to no more than 20 families throughout the country. 20 families who have corruptly enriched themselves and continue to exercise power in the territories -many times- through the use of arms, whether legal or illegal. And also benefiting from legal and black market rents, -understood as- drug trafficking, smuggling, human trafficking, land fattening, dispossession of land from peasants and illegal mining.
How can they expect the people to continue to believe in the state, if the same government that controls it, acts systematically against them?
The handling of the pandemic is disastrous, not only the duquismo made the covax option fall apart when it could have ensured the supply of vaccines for Colombia. But they also dare to do business with the health care of the people, at the expense of the taxes that they steal from the workers. The pressure on health workers, the overexploitation they suffer day by day, is not exclusive. The teachers have also been deeply affected, not to mention all the people, who with their sweat, tears and effort sustain a state that takes more than it really gives back to them.
The war, which is maintained in the territories, has been continued because of political decisions against the people. The same people who continue to pay its toll in deaths, and continue to suffer the abuse of the state, the repression of the security forces that only serve to maintain the privileges of those who control the political and/or economic power. From the unfulfilled promises that have led to the beginning of a new cycle of violence, the betrayal of agreements that sowed hope in the population of Colombia . At the end, they decided to harvest a fire fueled with gasoline.
For all this, and much more, is that we, the anarchists, express ourselves in resounding opposition to the simple actions, which is to make a parade along the Séptima Avenue. Instead, we call for an indefinite General Strike, that leads to move the status quo for the benefit of the people: from its local oligarchs and bourgeois minorities, to the wide, long, broad and diverse peoples that make up the majority of the population in of the population in the Colombian region.
Recovering the municipal autonomies, the collectivization of the territory among those who inhabit it ancestrally or traditionally, and the ancestral or traditional inhabitants (not among those who, by usurpation, dispossession and displacement, obtained it), exercising assembly, communalism and horizontality, all decisions collectively, an open, participatory, diverse and permanent assembly, rejecting any authority, caudillism, gamonalism, patronalism and patriarchy. It is not necessary for the state controlled by the elite to decree the AGRARIAN REFORM, its the communities, towns and municipalities themselves, who can do it without intermediaries, they only need to agree to an assembly and start it.
¡!!Abolish the relations of subordination to the narco-oligarchic state!!!!
¡!!!End of passive activity, it is time to go out to the streets!!!
¡!!!!Obstruct the exercise of repression!!!!!
¡!!Build autonomous neighborhood and municipal assemblies!!!!
Abolish the relations of male-dominated and patriarchal oppression: diverse participation and gender equality, agreements of renouncing the war, ¡¡¡¡unarmed civil disobedience!!!!
Avoid the tax reform, avoid pension reform, avoid labor reform.
Abolish the state.
¡!!Constitute the Assemblies!!!!
Colectix Kaos Kreador Antifacista – Banderas Negras – ULET-AIT ■
Sexual violence against women and children. Domestic abuse. Police violence. Violence. Suicide.
Part 2: The Women They Find
In the first part of this series, I showed you parts of the misogyny running through British policing. It’s much easier for cops to get away with domestic abuse, and the wives and girlfriends of cops that report it are frequently let down. Women who work for The Police are scared to report sexual harassment in their workplaces. The Police keep being told this is happening, and yet refuse to do anything about it. Blah blah Police Force takes these matters very seriously and blah blah public can rest assured blah blah. Every. Goddamn. Time.
In part two, we’ll cover how being a police officer is one of the very best jobs to have if you want access to vulnerable women and children.
Corruption Isn’t Just About Money
Most of us are taught from a young age to do what a police officer tells us to do. They are there to protect us. Their authority shouldn’t be questioned. Many people will never believe anything else - and if amazingly somehow, but it’s very rare I promise, a bad apple does pop up, BBC documentary series ‘Line of Duty’ will make sure everything is tickety-boo once again.
Police power is necessary. Without it there’d be anarchy. All hail Johnson. All hail Patel. All hail Dick.
In some ways the data the police have access to via the Police National Computer and other systems, is their most unnerving tool. It’s made up of a bunch of databases filled with all the data they’ve gotten their trotters on. If someone or something has been involved in a crime and the police know about it, they have data on it. The existence of this probably isn’t a surprise to anyone. Police write things down. But what can they do with this data?
Some cops use it like Tinder.
Until this research began, my understanding of police corruption was pretty much limited to the movie ‘Serpico’. But no, it’s not just bribes and entrenched racism! On paper, a lot of police forces apparently still think the same as I used to. But misusing police data, and abusing police powers for a sexual purpose are most definitely corruption.
The absurdly named PEEL Spotlight Report Shining a Light on Betrayal: Abuse of Position for A Sexual Purpose from September 2019 by… deep breath… Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) makes plain its displeasure at police forces’ failure to recognise these things as corruption and suitably deal with them.
Clearly, the report focuses on one particular type of corruption, but the points raised must broadly apply to policing as a whole. Here’s a list of some of the teeeeny tiiiny massive problems the report identifies:
Quite a list, eh? Anyhoo. That’s what HMICFRS found. What have I found?
I’m focusing on Abuse of Position for A Sexual Purpose and Misusing Police Data for the bulk of the following words. But the other two charges in the above chart are related to this topic too.
Abuse of Position for A Sexual Purpose is a subcategory of Misconduct in Public Office, a corruption charge. There were so many Abuse of Position for A Sexual Purposes that I gave them their own label. However, Misconduct in Public Office covers loads of other things too, and the crimes labelled as Misconduct in Public Office offences I’ve counted are actions where a woman or child has come to harm in some way, but not because a cop has abused his power for sex.
Gross Misconduct is workplace bad behaviour. Not a crime (although officers convicted of a crime usually get one of these too, though I haven’t included them). If an officer is found guilty of Gross Misconduct, they almost always lose their job. Again, I’ve included these where a woman or child has been harmed in some way. It’s all male police violence, all the male time, when it comes to my male charts, baby.
Power and Purpose
Abuse of Position for A Sexual Purpose and Misusing Police Data often go hand in hand. In theory, it’s entirely reasonable to give your phone number to a police officer when you’ve been a victim of crime. I won’t fault someone for doing that. And it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable if the cop puts it in his police issued phone. Right?
I couldn’t find out what the police can and can’t do with the Police National Computer on their phones. But they can definitely access it. Whether they can make entries to it, I’m not sure. If so, that’s where a victim’s details should go, right? On balance, it seems like better procedure to store it on a centralised database than as a new contact in the contact list of a phone. Well, cops sure do seem to end up with the phone numbers of victims without having misused any police data a lot. Hmm.
Each of these one-hundred-and-two stories is awful. None are quite as shocking as the one involving DC Michael McMillan from Part 1: none involves an officer holding the threat of dropping a case over a victim’s head. Few involve officers specially trained to deal with cases of domestic abuse. And only three involve cops falsifying or ignoring evidence in rape cases. So that’s good. Hoooraaaayyyyyyy.
Most of the cases play out something like this whether the victim is a woman or a child: Police officer responds to emergency call. Police officer deals with victim, or witness, or suspect who is vulnerable. Police officer fancies her. Police officer gets her phone number legitimately or otherwise. Police officer starts texting her for an apparently innocent reason a couple of days later.
That happens in most of these cases, mark my words. When you’ve read about as many as I have, it’s hard to pick one case out, because they seem so typical. So ordinary. Which is bad thinking. Bad Lovely Alexander! None of this is ordinary, even if it’s common.
A case study in the HMICFRS report describes a married officer who’d been using his work phone to text thirteen different women he met through his duties. Four of whom believed they were in a relationship with him. That seems like a shit load of effort, like, right? Must have been a power trip. I dunno. Still, I didn’t even find that story in the news while I was doing my research.
So, whether it’s a power thing or an attraction thing, it doesn’t really matter. It’s shitty either way. They start texting. At this point the stories go pretty much all the ways they can go. Except here they get the apparent backing of the state. Have a look.
PC Mark Wilkie liked to send explicit, sexual text messages to victims of crime. PC Mark Wilkie liked to anonymously call victims of crime and make heavy breathing sounds down the line. PC Mark Wilkie did this to at least twelve women. PC Mark Wilkie was caught with a stolen phone containing the phone numbers of over fifty women.
PC Ben Murphy liked to stop female motorists for made up offences and let them off with a warning. PC Ben Murphy would then start texting them messages of a sexual nature. PC Ben Murphy did this to at least five women. PC Ben Murphy sent at least one woman a picture of his penis.
PC Lee Kershaw stole the phone numbers of vulnerable women. PC Lee Kershaw didn’t like it when those vulnerable women rejected his advances. So, PC Lee Kershaw sexually assaulted at least four of them. PC Lee Kershaw also tried to rape a victim of domestic abuse.
Those are just three men who did this. Three men. Three policemen. Out of tens. Hundreds? Thousands? We’ll never know. They were able to do those things with authority and phone numbers. Just phone numbers. A 0, a 7, and nine random numbers.
Voyeurs and The Indecent
In the past few years, The Police have acquired technology that can quickly download the contents of a smartphone, cracking encryption in minutes and giving them access to everything. Contacts. Locations. Messages. Pictures. They’re known as “digital strip searches”. Let’s not mince words. This tech gives the police access to your nudes, and anything else you consider personal, private, or intimate on your phone. I’ve seen no cases involving police officers obtaining pictures like this. But I know they’re coming.
Well, two things.
Firstly, in an audit, 50% of digital strip searches by one force were done without the required warrant. Data is everywhere and The Police want it. Maybe in some cases they’ll even need it. They’ll do whatever they can to get it.
And secondly, well, have a look the numbers for y’self.
While a term like ‘indecent images’ sounds prudish, it doesn’t refer to porn. Porn is created willingly by the participants for the purpose of entertaining others. Oh, and that’s why we don’t call it ‘child porn’. ‘Child sexual abuse images’ if you please. That’s evidence of a crime taking place.
I’m not going to go into significant detail on child sexual abuse images, despite it being the most common charge by far. Fifty-nine cops were charged with related offences, many with multiple. For the most part, that’s because viewing, saving, and sharing all earn separate charges. It’s not a reflection of how many of the images they possessed. From what I figure the images were mostly of girls. It’s still male violence against women, well, girls. Clearly a lot of cops thought it was fine to watch and enjoy children getting raped. And that’s very fucking bad.
A few officers were part of units dedicated to combating child sexual abuse, but only one is definitively linked by the media to have used his police-taught dark web skills to try and get away with possession of the images. Lee Vincent Kelly. But for the most part, they’re caught the “normal” ways. It’s found after they’re caught for another crime, usually attacking a child. Or, by mistakenly leaking some sort of identifying information online, and then having their house raided. Like dumbshit of the fucking decade, PC Robert Branney who had his home address in his username on a child sexual abuse website.
One thing I picked up on is the common excuses used by men caught with child sexual abuse images. First is that they downloaded it by accident. Hmm. Nice save, guy! And number two is that they were very stressed… so… that made them… want to watch child sexual abuse? Two cops, PC Darren Wright and PC Adam Leighton-Price even blamed their leukaemia. The stress of having leukaemia made them want to watch children being raped. That is perhaps the darkest leap of logic I’ve ever seen.
But I digress. Returning to why I’m scared victims nudes will start being stolen. It’s because of cops like Detective Sergeant Benjamin McNish, who filmed a female colleague while she showered.
Or Sergeant Tim Lundy, who posted a woman’s “private sexual pictures” online with the explicit intention of causing her distress. That’s police-speak for “tried to ruin her fucking life.”
Both of those, and many more cases suggest the potential for blackmailing a woman or child with pictures or data from their phone. It’s only a matter of time.
Then there’s PC Dominic Dunne, who liked to secretly film women while having sex with them. PC Dominic Dunne liked to film women while they were unconscious. PC Dominic Dunne liked to film himself sexually assaulting women while they were unconscious.
Still, it was PC Dominic Dunne’s hubris that was his undoing. That he filmed his attacks made it easier for his victims to get justice. Everyone could see what he’d done.
When Your Sexual Assault Isn’t on Camera
I wonder a lot about the women who make an accusation of Sexual Assault, get to trial, and then the man, the cop, is found Not Guilty. I don’t know how I’d handle that. I can imagine sitting in a court room yelling; “But it fucking happened! He did it! What the fuck?! Why don’t you believe me?!”
And then I think of the officers who had multiple accusers and still walked free. What must that result have done to the minds of their alleged victims?
We’ve all been on an overcrowded train. Standing in a vestibule. It’s kinda gross. Hot. Moist. Awkward. I’m a large man, upward and outward. When I’m onboard, I try my best to respect the limited personal space of strangers. But I know I’m likely to bump into someone. Whatcha gonna do? It’s okay. It happens. I’d bet that’s the attitude of most people.
Over a six-month period, Ex-Chief Inspector Gary Davies was accused by three separate whole entire women of rubbing his crotch on them while on overcrowded trains.
He said he had a bad back (from a policing injury no less, how heroic) and needed to adjust his body’s weight distribution to relieve his back pain. As he shifted forward, his crotch came into contact with a woman.
Alright. Fair enough. I figure I’d overlook one quick accidental crotch bump on me. Again, bumping around into others a bit is standard on busy trains. So how long would it take for it to get weird? How long until I’d report it?
But if I were him, there’s no way I’d purposefully perform any kind of action where my crotch is pushed up against a stranger on a train. Man, woman, or child. He was a fucking cop boss. Fucksake he’s a goddamn human being alive in the twenty-first century. He definitely knew it was at leeeast inappropriate. There’s no way he didn’t.
While he wasn’t a cop at the time of the alleged offences, he said he was able to use his knowledge of policing to prove his innocence. Y’see at one point while investigating him, British Transport Police surveilled him illegally. Which he picked up on, because of his police knowledge. So, um that seems to be why he was Not Guilty.
This gets an “iffy” rating from me, what with the three different women reporting him. For the same thing! But nope. Not Guilty. Hmmm.
“My language might be seen as inappropriate and silly but it was to show police officers were not robotic and are approachable.”
Sergeant Richard Evans is a custody sergeant. He’s in charge of the people in the police cells. The above quote is something he said at his trial. His defence seemed to be that he’s a bit cooky. Not a sex-pest. A bit of a silly-billy. Harmless.
He was accused of three different crimes against three women. He had sex with one while she was in custody. He kissed and fondled another while she was in custody. The third had a blanket round her while getting changed and he pulled it down so he could see her breasts.
Not Guilty on all counts. Can’t tell you why. Bit fucking iffy.
Give Us A Snog
In 2011 PC Gareth Roscoe arrested a man for drink driving. The man’s nineteen-year-old girlfriend was with him. She came to the police station. PC Gareth Roscoe was accused by the nineteen-year-old woman of offering to go easy on her boyfriend if she engaged in sexual behaviour with him. PC Gareth Roscoe was accused by the nineteen-year-old woman of groping her breasts, and trying to kiss her.
He was charged and the case went to trial. PC Gareth Roscoe was found Not Guilty.
In 2016 while attending a call, PC Gareth Roscoe asked for a hot drink from a member of the public. A woman. She agreed and invited PC Gareth Roscoe into her home. PC Gareth Roscoe tried to kiss her.
He was found to have engaged in Gross Misconduct and dismissed from the police. Casts a little doubt on the result of his first trial, huh?
I wonder how often cops try to snog the public. PC Gareth Roscoe is not the only cop charged with doing this.
More Miserable Numbers
I’ve been on either end of a rejected kiss. It’s uncomfortable for everyone. But it’s only ever been with peers. There will have been the socialised male/female power dynamics, sure, but I’ve never tried to kiss a stranger at work. It’s never involved one of us having legal authority over another.
Of course, many men feel entitled to women’s bodies despite rejection; the addition of a uniform must only amplify that. Recently I learned men – strangers - will grab women either side of their waists to move them out of the way. If as a society that’s where we’re still at, fuck, man. Women aren’t chairs.
The overall state of successful prosecutions of Sexual Assault by police officers is relatively high at nearly 90% (not counting Unclear or Awaiting Trial).
Many cops are charged with multiple offences, and this is reflected in the total statistics. One officer was charged with five counts of Sexual Assault and was found Not Guilty for all of them. Another was charged with five counts of Sexual Assault, and was found Guilty of all of them.
However, once we remove the two-hundred-and-twenty Sexual Assaults against children from the picture the prosecution rate for cops that attack women drops to 63%, and it’s not clear at all why that is.
Infuriatingly, as with everything I’ve discussed, we only have a few small random parts of the story.
Sexual Assault is woefully underreported for both adults and children. For the year ending March 2020, the Office for National Statistics estimated that 618,000 women were sexually assaulted. 162,936 of these were reported to the police.
For children, there’s currently no way of knowing what the actual scale of the problem is. The ONS’ best estimate is 7.5% of adults aged between 18 and 74 were victims of sexual abuse as children. That’s 3.1 million people. Jesus Christ. For every boy abused, three girls were. If we extrapolate those numbers to the number of people under sixteen currently living in the UK, 12.7 million, we get 952,500. But I don’t know how to work that into an annual figure.
Frequently The Police don’t record data on sex crimes properly, so even the total number recorded against children is a guess by the ONS. 73,260 for the year ending March 2019. We don’t really know how many children are sexually abused every year. Yep.
Then there’s the March 2021 UN finding that 71% of women in the UK have faced some form of sexual harassment from men in public. The number rises to 86% for women aged 18-24.
55% of those women thought their experience wasn’t serious enough to report. 45% thought reporting it wouldn’t help. Again, it’s hard to pull any useful data from these figures, apart from the general lack of faith in society and The Police. The UN definition is as broad as can be. Though that’s not a criticism! Because it’s all unacceptable. It was all serious enough to report to someone. It was all serious enough to be worthy of help. It all fucking matters.
“[The UN] defines sexual harassment as the continuum of violent practices against women and girls. It can take the form of various acts including rape, other aggressive touching, forced viewing of pornography, taking and circulating sexual photographs, as well as verbal sexual conduct. In effect, sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual conduct.”
While it’s not obviously comparable with any of the data I’ve amassed, The Independent submitted a Freedom of Information request to The Metropolitan Police querying how many officers had been accused of “sex attacks” between 2012 and 2018. They found 562 officers were accused of Sexual Assault and only forty-three faced subsequent proceedings. We don’t know how many ended up in court.
Finally, there are the most recent Independent Office for Police Complaints figures. The IOPC claims to publish quarterly reports about complaints for each police force. Except at time of writing – March 2021, the most recent quarterly reports were for Q3 2019. And the most recent annual report was for 2018/19. I can’t see a publication date for the report. It’s all probably completely fine that the IOPC aren’t publishing figures anymore for no obvious reason. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Well, whatever, I guess. Let’s have a looksee at their latest data.
The total number of complaints (not just of a sexual nature) fell for more than half the forces in England and Wales. Only four had an increased number of complaints. Are they getting less shitty? Or just recording fewer complaints? There were 5% fewer in total than the previous year, down to 58,478. But um, well, for that same year there were 123,171 total cops in England and Wales. That’s potentially almost one in two officers being complained about. Right? Probably nothing to worry about.
You know what? Fuck this. I’ve read through the IOPC report I’m referring to twice. It’s self-congratulatory bullshit. It can fuck off. The IOPC provide no real data of any use. The categorisations of complaints are vague. They just sing the praises of their own ability to count things. The vast majority of all complaints are not upheld. And guess who decides whether a complaint should be passed to the IOPC?
The police force being complained about. Because of course it is. What’s even the point of the IOPC?
We already know that the culture in policing is predominantly macho, they look after their own, and Counter Corruption Units only investigate something when they actually have to. They don’t bother looking for things proactively.
Speaking of which.
“If you can’t trust a police officer, then who can you trust?”
This is a question we saw asked a lot in March of 2021 after a cop was accused of kidnapping and murdering a woman. It’s the same question that’s asked in practically all of the cases I’ve described above and below, and the many, many more I haven’t.
Who gets to decide who gets to be a cop? The police, of course.
The vetting standards are… I dunno. Predictable? But the chances are, most people would pass a police vetting. None of the things they vet for are special. Seeing if someone has massive debts and therefore potentially open to bribery, checking whether their mum’s an underworld boss, that kinda thing.
I don’t think they need to be lowered, that’s for sure. I’m not sure how you’d vet for someone’s potential to carry out a sexual assault. The only mention of “sex” in relation to a crime in the vetting standards document is that an applicant to the police isn’t on the sex offenders register. Hooray for the bare minimum… But there’s gotta be more they can do. Someone somewhere knows. And has likely been ignored.
What’s unacceptable, but not that surprising is what HMICFRS found in their previously discussed report on abuse of position for a sexual purpose.
“All 43 forces agreed national vetting standards in 2006. It is not acceptable that there are still people working in forces without the correct vetting for their role. We are deeply concerned about the confusion in some forces as to the vetting levels required for some roles, and how many people still need their vetting status updated.”
In their reports for more than five years now the inspectorate has been specifically instructing, not just recommending, forces to complete vetting for all staff. And still, they haven’t. In the latest report 52% of one force were without the correct vetting.
Oh! One more thing! There’s no national requirement for staff to be vetted when they transfer between forces. So after being accused of the Sexual Assault of a child, PC Ian Naude was able to transfer to a different force. Kidnap a teenage girl. Rape her. And film it.
I wrote this section as an abolitionist. I don’t want The Police reformed. I want them gone. But I recognise that’s not going to happen any time soon. So, the absolute bare minimum that needs doing is finding a better way to keep men who are happy to carry out sexual violence out of policing. As long as these vulnerabilities exist, they’ll keep on being recruited. And it’s gotta be more than the “Have you ever been a member of the BNP?” box they have to try and keep out nazis. Currently anti-fascists are better at vetting cops than the cops. Though that’s not particularly surprising.
You’re All Fired
And now you know how The Police care very little for rooting out their corrupt officers. That it’s incredibly easy for cops to misuse the data they collect, and soon they’ll have access to even more. It should be even clearer that The Police have no interest in treating institutional misogyny with the seriousness it deserves. And the only thing in place to stop men who attack women and children from gaining state sanctioned power is that they haven’t been caught before.
Well, what happens when all of that combines and cops commit the very worst kind of sexual assault?
Writes and reads about horrible things, and turns them into video soup. find him at www.LovelyAlexander.com and follow him at @LovelyAlexanduh
Part 1: The Women They Know
Part 2: The Women They Find
Part 3: The Women They Rape
Download the spreadsheet here: https://we.tl/t-vqccs8iDIm
Sexual violence against women and children. Domestic abuse. Police violence. Violence. Suicide.
Part 1: The Women They Know
Like many people, I am a man. And like many people, I spent much of March 2021 reading stories shared by women covering the spectrum of shitty behaviour they’ve experienced at the hands of men. I am trying to keep the reason why that outpouring happened out of this series. But it should be clear what has inspired it. The memories of her should belong to her family and friends. Her name shouldn’t be used as bait to discuss the horrors below.
The more I think about it, I realise that this terrible piece of society that somehow, we’ve all just let exist forever, isn’t a women’s issue. It affects women, of course. Definitely of course. But in these attacks, the women’s role is simply to exist to satisfy the man. This is a men’s issue.
It is we men who make these choices. It is we who keep leering at you. It is we who keep groping you. It is we who keep assaulting you. It is we who keep raping you. It is we who keep killing you. This is a men’s issue. We make this shit happen.
As of March 2020, 68.8% of UK cops were men.
Policing is a deeply misogynistic institution that refuses to change. This has been pointed out numerous times over the past decade by various inspectors and victims’ groups. Yet all The Police do is pay lip service to the changes recommended. This lack of action has led to corruption, sexual assault, rape, and murder.
In the seventies, women were first permitted to become full blown cops. The numbers have risen since then. But an increase in female officers doesn’t mean The Police don’t hate women.
The Source For the Number in The Title
On my internet travels, I found a list of links to media reports about cops committing crimes. It’s from a source I’d usually dismiss as being dodgy as fuuuck. The author is a Freeman. A special kind of probably-harmless-conspiratorial-looney. “You can’t arrest me ‘cos I know magic words” kinda guy.
The list goes back twelve years. I combed through the nearly one thousand articles, verifying them all, and removed all the cool stuff like cops taking drugs, and stealing stuff from work (pssst if you’re a cop reading this, you should start stealing from work, take loads of drugs, and then quit).
And with the remaining information, I was able to create a spreadsheet with all the charges I could find that were brought against cops for physical or sexual violence against women and children.
Here’s a summary of what I’ve found. Not all the crimes are included on this chart.
What’s immediately clear from looking through this data, is that a recent murder of a woman, allegedly by a cop, is not an exception. What happened to her is particularly brutal. But police officers attack women and children all the time for gratification.
I’m not a data scientist, I’m just a blogger with time on his hands and a limited knowledge of Excel. The biggest insight I can offer is: Why the fuck is no one counting this?
That’s not hyperbole. No one is! Police forces count complaints against their officers, The College of Policing has annual statistics for officers who are fired and the category their offence fits into. But they don’t count which of those ends up in the justice system.
My data just shows the cases that have been charged and then reported on. I will not have found every case which is charged. It will absolutely be incomplete. Male violence against women is widely underreported already and many of the stories I’ve read feature quotes from survivors about fearing reporting a police officer. Or in some cases being threatened with that information by the piece of shit doing the violence.
They’re More Than Just Numbers
Each entry on the spreadsheet represents the courage of a woman or girl who decided to try and do something to stop the man that hurt her. It feels a bit trite to write that, but after reading so much of this bleak, bleak shit I had to find something positive to try and hold on to. For me, it has been their courage.
So, as I show you numbers, please try to remember that each piece of a total is something terrible that happened to somebody. It was real. It was something that affected them enough to brave going to the place where their attacker worked, to the literal source of his power, and telling one of his colleagues. That must have been shit scary. I hate that I can do none of their stories justice. In fact, my focus is very purposefully on the perpetrators and their enablers. I want them to own the terrible things they’ve done. They did it.
From the senior officer who raped two junior officers, to the PC who sent suggestive texts to a fourteen year old girl. It’s all male entitlement and misogyny, inflated by the state, and used in ways to abuse someone else just because she’s a she.
These men made choices to do these horrendous things. Remember that. This was all chosen. And keep in mind that people aren’t charged with every crime they’ve committed, just the ones the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) thinks it’ll successfully prosecute. Most of these cops will be worse than they appear.
Most importantly for understanding the data, I’ve combined crimes into more recognisable labels. There are so many different charges that are basically the same, or have significant overlap. I just think it’s simpler to categorise ‘Indecent Assault’, or ‘Unwanted Sexual Touching’ as Sexual Assault.
I refuse to accept that ‘Buggery’ isn’t Rape. Or indeed ‘Assault by Penetration’. The law may judge differently, but if you assault-by-penetration someone, you’re a fucking rapist in my eyes.
You can find further notes and detail of how I’ve grouped crimes together for easier data wrangling in the Information section of the spreadsheet I used to assemble this data. You can download a copy of the spreadsheet at the bottom of this page.
I haven’t collected data on whether victims or perpetrators belonged to any minority groups. This goes for ethnicity, and for things like sexuality, or if the victim was a cis or trans woman. I would have absolutely collected it, for sure, but details about victims are quite rightly kept out of the press. Generally the only way to tell the officer’s race is if a mugshot is included in the articles I’ve got the data from.
Last on the list of caveats is that a small number of the cops charged over this ten-year period committed their offences decades ago. It’s taken this long to bring them to justice. So, some are historic cases. I do not believe this makes them any less worthy of being counted here. Not least because there’s a high chance that in thirty years cops will be being prosecuted for crimes they’re committing today.
Cops At Home
I’ve heard several times over the years that domestic abuse is much more prevalent in police families. Maybe you have too. Academic literature from the US confirms this isn’t one of those bullshit facts that floats around, with three studies concluding that somewhere between 20% and 40% of families with a police officer experience domestic abuse. The level for a non-cop family is 10%.
You might be thinking “ohh but the Americans are all gun-toting maniacs” which is obviously completely entirely totally true. But also, y’don’t need a gun to hurt somebody else. And cops get training on how to be violent whatever country they’re from. I’ll find a source later. Ahem.
With that bleak statement of fact out of the way, here’s something relatively positive until you think about it for more than a second; I was surprised by how few of the total reported cases were domestic abuse-y in nature. Though limits placed on the media and details they can report might be hiding a higher number.
The category ‘Family or Ex’ is exactly that. And all sixty-five of the charges brought were prosecuted and the perpetrators were found guilty. So that’s good. Or is it? Well, yes.
But also, probably definitely not.
In 2020 The Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) brought a super-complaint (‘super-complaint’ is what they’re actually called, very cool) against The Police titled ‘Failure to address police perpetrated domestic abuse’. It discusses at great length the fear and difficulties faced by women who are being, or have been abused by partners in a police force.
While it doesn’t contain much in the way of statistical data, the super-complaint identified common themes amongst all the women they interviewed, more than half of whom also worked for the police. The most common being that the affected women feel doubly powerless. The powerlessness a victim of domestic abuse often feels, but also the man abusing them works for the police, the institution ostensibly there to protect them.
From the CWJ report; “What stands out as a common feature is the potential for improper manipulation and abuse of systems in the suspect’s favour. …Underlying this may be a belief that an officers’ career should not suffer as a result of these kinds of reports.”
I imagine these experiences matched that of a civilian police worker who was for a time the wife of PC Steven Riding. In fact, she became the second ex-wife of PC Steven Riding, who assaulted her repeatedly. Over twenty-two years PC Steven Riding abused three women. A wife, a wife, and a girlfriend.
It seems his girlfriend reported him. PC Steven Riding was found guilty of grabbing her by the neck, slapping her, and kicking her. PC Steven Riding’s second wife said he did similar violence to her. She spoke of having to wear a scarf to work to cover up the bruising around her throat left by PC Steven Riding.
The story doesn’t say whether she tried to report him. But eight years with a man like PC Steven Riding, who was content to regularly strangle her, and punch her, can’t have been easy or empowering. She said at his trial:
“I was nervous giving evidence and discussing parts of my private life. But it’s a necessary evil to ensure his proven violent behaviour stops. It was important for me to attend to try to in some way form a closure on a difficult and stressful chapter.”
I hate this. They separated in 2010 and he was tried in 2016. PC Steven Riding, trying to cling to power, denied the charges and so forced her to give evidence and relive her trauma.
Of the thirty-nine physical assault charges against women I’ve found, fifteen were committed by PC Steven Riding. The rest?
One was against a colleague. Four were against a partner. And six were against an ex.
PC Stuart Doran got dumped. That must’ve sucked. But we all get dumped at some point. It hurts. It leaves us confused. We write rambling mushy nonsense, drink ice-cream and beer in equal measure, send secretly hopeful texts and blah blah blah etc etc you know how breakups go. Most importantly, we get over them. It just takes a little time.
She was at a party. He wasn’t invited. PC Stuart Doran spent the night drinking. PC Stuart Doran turned up at the party he wasn’t invited to. PC Stuart Doran pushed her onto a bed. PC Stuart Doran straddled her. PC Stuart Doran grabbed her by the neck. PC Stuart Doran punched her in the face.
PC Stuart Doran punched her in the face again. PC Stuart Doran punched her in the face again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
PC Stuart Doran put his hands over her mouth and nose, cutting off her breathing. PC Stuart Doran leant forwards bringing his face closer to hers. PC Stuart Doran clenched her cheek between his teeth. PC Stuart Doran bit down hard and tore.
His victim? A fellow police officer. I hope she got a warmer reception on her return to work than this officer mentioned in the CWJ super complaint did:
“After her initial report of abuse … she returned from sick leave, bullying began: a wooden cross marked “in remembrance” was left in her tray, comments were made implying she was mad, three male officers drove with her to a forest in the early hours, suggested a cigarette break then drove away leaving her alone for 30-45 minutes. She was sexually harassed by another officer but when she told him to stop, her senior reprimanded her for upsetting him.”
It's Just Banter
With those kind of responses to a colleague who had been a victim of domestic abuse, no wonder it took three years for the victim of Detective Constable Nick Gravenor to report him for a sexual assault.
For several months while at work, DC Nick Gravenor told his junior female colleague that she had a “nice bum”. DC Nick Gravenor told his female colleague what he liked sexually.
On the day that DC Nick Gravenor attacked her, his victim had just ended a relationship with another man, and had recently been bereaved. In her own words, she was vulnerable.
DC Nick Gravenor forced his mouth against hers. DC Nick Gravenor pulled off her top. DC Nick Gravenor pulled off her bra. DC Nick Gravenor touched her inappropriately. DC Nick Gravenor made her afraid that she was about to be raped.
I wonder if DC Nick Gravenor and his male colleagues ever described the woman he assaulted as “job fit”. Apparently in The Police that’s what male officers call female officers who look good both in and out of their uniform.
I wonder if DC Nick Gravenor discussed with his male colleagues if the woman he attacked was “getting any cock?” Just like a team of five officers were caught doing, in their office, along with a whole bunch more sexist and racist comments.
Having read the CWJ super-complaint, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d done both;
“The concerns raised in this super-complaint should be seen in the context of a broader culture of ‘institutionalised sexism’ within the police service that condones and trivialises violence against women.”
Of the nine charged killings of women and girls by police officers I found, one is awaiting trial. The remaining eight resulted in the man being found guilty or were part of a murder suicide. Six wives. One ex-wife. One ex-lover. And one daughter.
All these cases are horrible. They all stick out in some way. How could they not?
Inspector Darren McKie’s wife was a police officer. Inspector Darran McKie strangled her.
Detective Constable Peter Foster’s wife was a police officer. DC Peter Foster beat her over the head with a baseball bat and stabbed her in the throat.
I could only guess at whether these were the miserable finales of domestic abuse.
Inspector Toby Day had just been fired for “misusing police systems and matters concerning honesty and integrity”. A few days later Toby Day strangled his six-year-old daughter. Toby Day stabbed her three times in the chest. Then Toby Day strangled his wife. Toby Day stabbed her four times. Toby Day stabbed his sixteen-year-old daughter in the neck. She survived. Toby Day stabbed his fourteen-year-old son in the chest. He survived.
DC Ivan Esack
In 2010 Detective Constable Ivan Esack, resigned from the police because he was bored. No, really. That’s not a joke.
In February 2012, after years of abuse, Ivan Esack and his wife separated. In April 2012 Ivan Esack walked into his ex-wife’s hair salon and stabbed her eleven times in the neck and chest. As Ivan Esack walked out, he said “She deserved it, the bitch”.
Before Ivan Esack murdered his ex-wife, he harassed and stalked her. She reported him to the police several times, but decided not to press charges because she didn’t want to damage his reputation. Ivan Esack sent her text messages saying “Death, death, death”.
She got a new boyfriend. Seven weeks before Ivan Esack murdered her, Ivan Esack walked into her hair salon and strangled her until she passed out. At Ivan Esack’s trial, her boyfriend described her state of mind in the weeks between the attacks; “She was a nervous wreck and absolutely petrified.”
Her boyfriend testified that she said, “[Ivan Esack] would do her family”.
One of the BBC articles about the trial of Ivan Esack begins with this line: “[Her] determination not to get her violent former husband Ivan into trouble ultimately cost her her life.”
Ivan Esack wasn’t a cop when he killed his ex-wife, but he had been for seven years. During the investigation, police learned Ivan Esack was verbally and physically assaulting her while he was a police officer. When Ivan Esack killed her, he was barely two years out of the police. Did he still have contacts in the police? Did Ivan Esack use his position as a police officer to scare her into silence? According to the Centre for Women’s Justice, this is typical behaviour of a police officer who is also a perpetrator of domestic abuse.
After Ivan Esack’s trial for murder, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Fotheringham told the BBC; “We take every incident very seriously and we won’t just look for the evidence provided from the person suffering. We look for evidence around it to see if we can support them.”
In 2014 a review of the case reported back. It stated The Police did nothing in the face of mounting evidence in the months before Ivan Esack stabbed her to death. That The Police did nothing when they could have arrested Ivan Esack for the charge of ‘Sending Malicious Communications’. The Police did nothing when she told them that Ivan Esack had threatened to harm himself. The Police did nothing after investigating and finding that friends and family had information about the ongoing abuse Ivan Esack inflicted on her. The Police did nothing when she reported Ivan Esack had turned up at her new home with a knife. The Police did nothing when Ivan Esack strangled her in public.
The Police did fucking nothing.
It’s unclear if The Police knew of Ivan Esack’s behaviour while he was employed by them. But the events leading up to and the eventual murder of his ex-wife make me wonder if they’d have even cared. Here’s a quote from the CWJ’s super-complaint:
“We are particularly concerned about the conclusion that because conduct took place in an officer’s private life there is no potential for misconduct. In one of the cases cited the Professional Standards Department stated that the officer had discredited himself but not discredited the police service.”
Domestic Abuse is NBD, Actually
I combined the latest sets of domestic abuse figures for England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester, who were having computer problems - seriously), Scotland, and Northern Ireland. They totalled 1,380,507 reports to The Police, and of that first number 802,804 were recorded as crimes.
These of course are only the abuses that were reported. From what we have seen so far, it is likely the numbers don’t include those of women partnered with police officers.
Since putting together the spreadsheet the bulk of this series is based on, seeing large numbers related to violence printed like that has really started to affect me. I entered more than 1300 violent crimes by hand. I read about each one. Imagined the horror each time. It’s a small number compared to the total above. But I feel I can at least begin to comprehend the sheer amount of fear and suffering numbers like that represent. In the reports the domestic abuse numbers are from, when I read lines like “Domestic abuse has remained relatively stable in…” it starts to overwhelm me. The detachment of statisticians, innocent though it may be, is infuriating. Enough about me.
“I want to fuck you”.
David Temkin, the lawyer defending Detective Constable Michael McMillan said that “[McMillan] was never threatening or violent towards the complainants.”
“I want to fuck you”
Is what the message said, sent by DC Michael McMillan to the victim of a domestic violence case he was investigating. DC Michael McMillan then demanded “indecent pictures”. She refused.
DC Michael McMillan recommended no further action be taken against the first, nameless man who had attacked her. DC Michael McMillan said that she was unwilling to help the police with their enquiries and had retracted her statement.
DC Michael McMillan was a police officer trained specially to handle complaints and victims of domestic violence.
DC Michael McMillan convinced a rape victim that she should retract her complaint against the nameless man who raped her. Even though she didn’t want to. DC Michael McMillan lied to her and told her he was arranging protection for her from the first nameless man who attacked her.
DC Michael McMillan abused his position of power, and convinced two domestic abuse victims to have sex with him. DC Michael McMillan sent sexts and lewd pictures to victims of domestic abuse. DC Michael McMillan regularly demanded naked pictures from domestic abuse victims.
David Temkin, the lawyer defending DC Michael McMillan said that “[McMillan] was never threatening or violent towards the complainants.”
David Temkin can suck my whole entire ass. Explain to me how there aren’t threats or violence in the actions of DC Michael McMillan, the man charged with protecting women from other men who had already done violence to them.
The threats implicit in not complying with DC Michael McMillan’s demands are clear. The disparity in power between police officer and abuse victim are clear. The threat implicit in the demands made by a man such as DC Michael McMillan are clear. Do what I want, or I will not stop more of the violence you have already suffered. It’s my abuse, or another man’s abuse. Choose.
One of the first concerns in the CWJ super-complaint are reports from domestic abuse professionals afraid that officers believed to be perpetrators of domestic abuse are working in public protection roles dealing with victims of domestic and sexual abuse. While there is no indication that DC Michael McMillan abused his wife or daughters, what might a man who does perpetrate domestic abuse to his family do to a vulnerable woman who has asked him for help? What might he be doing now?
Corrupt As Fuck
As you’ve seen, misogyny runs deep through British policing. There’s fear within its own ranks to report men who sexually assault their colleagues. There’s indifference when a cop is suspected of abusing his wife. There’s outright hostility towards some victims. There’s failure after failure after failure.
It's sadly predictable that there’s a lot more to this story. A lot more women and children have been hurt. A lot more women and children have been let down. A lot more women and children have been scared into sexual exploitation by a man wielding state power for his own violent means.
Unless The Police get their act together and/or abolish themselves, we’ll never know how many. I have some numbers on the cops that have been caught. But like with domestic abuse, they are very bad at catching their officers when they abuse their position for a sexual purpose.
In most cases, they’re not even looking.
Writes and reads about horrible things, and turns them into video soup. find him at www.LovelyAlexander.com and follow him at @LovelyAlexanduh
Part 1: The Women They Know
Part 2: The Women They Find
Part 3: The Women They Rape
Download the spreadsheet here: https://we.tl/t-vqccs8iDIm
1st of May 2021. Greetings of the Secretariat of the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF/IFA)
The Secretariat of the International of Anarchist Federations sends its greetings to this international meeting for May Day 2021. Founded in 1968 at the International Anarchist Congress in Carrara, the International of Anarchist Federations continues carrying out the values of social justice, antiauthoritarianism and internationalism that inspired the struggle of the Paris Commune 150 year ago and of the five Martyrs of Chicago 135 years ago. Still inspired by these values, our member federations are committed to build an anarchist alternative for a world that is increasingly devastated by the crimes of capitalism, the logics of states and armies, the ever-growing environmental depredation.
In the last year, this situation has been tragically worsened by the current world pandemic, whose consequences are burdening the working class. Exploited and oppressed people are those most affected by the pandemic, and at the same time most committed to protect everyone’s health. Yet, in various regions of the world we are witnessing the deterioration of the living and working conditions of hundreds of millions of people. In many countries the military budget has been increased and war tensions between states are exacerbating alongside a growing concert of racist, fascist and nationalist propaganda. Governments all around the world are strengthening security measures, tightening control and repression on their populations and are widening the power of police forces. Meanwhile, all over the world, an increasingly segregated population is living in total deprivation in places such as poor neighbourhoods, detention camps for migrants and prisons.
Nevertheless, in every corner of the world there are forms of resistance. In some cases movements of struggle are not only resisting the harshening of authoritarian policies but they are trying to create an alternative. We stand with people revolting in the USA against racism and police, in Nigeria against special security forces, in France against a new police state, in Chile against the
militaristic neoliberal State and the genocidal violence used to repress the Mapuche people, in Great Britain against patriarchy and gender violence. We are with those who are struggling for equality and liberty against dictatorships in Turkey and Belarus, and against authoritarian regimes in Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia. Where it is present, the anarchist movement is an active part of these struggles, trying to develop their revolutionary potentialities and to counter any authoritarian degeneration. In various regions of the world anarchists are engaged daily, defending spaces of freedom, supporting striking workers, building solidarity and mutual aid networks to tackle poverty, gender violence, inaccessibility to protective equipment and medical treatment.
While it would be impossible to summarize all the activities which are being supported by our comrades and federations in different countries and realities, these include experiences of mutual aid which include, among other possible examples: Creating groups of mutual aid that help one’s community/house/neighbourhood to cope with the virus, for instance with distribution of food, protection equipment and medicine; Opening up new spaces for living and for making cultural activities, including occupations of spaces by homeless peoples; Circulation of books, journals and other supports and explanations to deal with the crisis; Promoting and practically implementing anticapitalistic alternatives to the existing economic system such as solidarity shared funds; Promoting activism to support abused and vulnerable groups such as indigenous people.
Now, more than ever, it is necessary to strengthen the internationalist dimension of anarchism, to oppose the ongoing authoritarian processes and to relaunch a revolutionary perspective in a world that capitalism and state have brought to the point of collapse. In this May Day, a date which is crucial for both our history and future, we confirm and continue our worldwide fight for fostering internationalist solidarity in the workers’ movements worldwide, to go ahead building day by day the new world that we bring in our hearts. ■
The IFA Secretariat
Secretariat: [email protected]
Social Media: www.twitter.com/IntFedAnarchist
AUDIO READING : www.youtu.be/VLl6VXhT-A4
[TW: sexual violence]
Since Organise’s last update on Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has announced that Eritrean troops will leave the region of Tigray in Northern Ethiopia. This comes as a surprise, since Abiy has spent the last few months denying the presence of any Eritrean troops in Ethiopia at all. Yet, even as he was denying the existence of the Eritrean troops fighting a war against a group he declared victory over in November, reports from the UN and Amnesty International were confirming that, not only were they there, they were colluding with Abiy’s government to carry out numerous atrocities. When they leave on their as-yet-unspecified date, a slew of corpses—which could very well number upwards of 100,000—will be in their wake. This prompts the question: who is Abiy’s audience for these lies? Who is a sincere believer, any more?
The flagrancy of Abiy’s lies are echoed in the obscenity of the violence. As accessibility to the region has grown over the past few weeks, Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have made little effort to curb their violence under this heightened scrutiny. On the 23rd of March, soldiers beat and threatened an MSF driver and killed at least four men extrajudicially while MSF staff were present. MSF also reported that “most” of their 100+ hospitals in the region had been looted or destroyed.
As is often the case, much of the genocidal violence redounds heavily on women, as Amharic soldiers talk of cleansing them of their Tigrayan blood. A recent article in The Daily Telegraph quotes doctors and nurses from the region: “Soldiers enter hospitals as they like. They cross wards and threaten patients, nurses and doctors. There were recently seven raped women from Zalambessa who disappeared from their beds after seeing soldiers in the hospital,” says a doctor in Adigrat. A nurse says her rehabilitation centre for survivors of sexual assault was threatened with closure in order to stop these stories coming out, but still the attacks continue and still the stories get out.
The story of Selam, a 26-year-old coffee seller from Tigray who was abducted by Eritrean soldiers with 17 other women in January, deserves to be heard in full [TW: extreme sexual violence, HIV]: “They [Eritrean soldiers] took us into the forest. When we arrived there, there were around 100 soldiers who were waiting for us. They tied the hands and feet of each one of us. And then they raped us without mercy. We stayed that way for three days. After three days the soldiers killed five girls who had been tied with us. They poured [alcohol] over our wounds. They danced standing over us.”
The story continues: “After the first attack, [Selam’s] abusers were waiting for her as she returned to her house from the hospital with contraceptives and post-exposure HIV drugs. “Why the hell did you want this? We want you to be sick. That is what we are here for. We are here to make you HIV-positive,” Selam recalled one of the men as saying.”
To try to suppress the stories even though everyone knows what is going on speaks to a regime unburdened by any need to justify its own actions. Without oversight, the cover-up becomes a mere formality which will allow for the execution of more and more extreme violence. As mentioned in the last article, the importance of an independent inquiry by the UN cannot be overstated. A joint inquiry between the UN and the Ethiopian Human rights Commision will not deliver justice, since the EHRC are state-funded and lack the trust of the Tigrayan people whose voices should be at the centre of the report. Pressure should be put on UN member states to help achieve this.
Abiy’s multi-ethnic electoral coalition—the Prosperity Party—and his dream of a more centralised Ethiopia looks more and more futile and more and more bloody by the day. With or without Eritrea, the atrocities are likely to continue for some time and there is a real possibility that the entire country will fracture or even balkanise, as the regional animosities which saw thousands dead and arrested in a wave of 2014 protests come to a head again.
What’s more, tensions with Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which would give Ethiopia unprecedented control of the Nile’s water flow into those countries, are building. On April the 11th, talks between the three countries over data sharing came to nothing. Leaving the Kinshasa summit, the Sudanese Irrigation Minister said Ethiopia’s offer ‘implies suspicious selectivity in dealing with what has been agreed upon.’ Again, we see how the lack of trust in Abiy’s government could have serious ramifications for the region.
In light of all this, the upcoming 2021 elections (if they go ahead) may seem trivial, but given how much of the violence has been fueled by Abiy’s desire to cling on to electoral power, they have the potential to change the dynamics of the conflict. Abiy used the elections held by the TPLF last year as a pretext to kill thousands of civilians. The TPLF has since been excluded from competing and it remains to be seen what the ostracisation of the Tigrayan people from the political landscape will mean for the Abiy’s longevity.
Citing COVID struggles, the Ethiopian government has recently turned to the IMF and World Bank to raise funds, offering the state-owned internet provider Ethio Telecom up for partial privatisation and asking for a restructuring of its loans to put off repayment until a later date. The military has already seen its budget steadily increase under Abiy: per the human rights non-profit Omna Tigray, military spending currently averages 4% a year, while health spending sits at 3.3%. It is highly likely that this extra financial flexibility will be used to exacerbate the conflict further.
While we should be loath to put our faith in the world’s financial elite, this does provide the institutions of capital with the opportunity to put pressure on Abiy’s government and we in turn should pressure them to do so, by lending our support to Omna Tigray’s campaign on the issue.
Meanwhile, Abiy’s counterpart in Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, who, like Abiy, previously garnered praise from the West (Bill Clinton called him a ‘renaissance African leader’) while committing numerous human rights abuses, is in a similarly precarious position. He faces being scapegoated by Abiy in order to deceive the international community, with EU sanctions already being levied at Eritrea, while domestic dissent over the country’s involvement in the unpopular war grows. The further destabilisation of Ethiopia though, could give Afwerki room to maneuver in the ever-tightening political knot that he has found himself in, as the hot potato would pass back into Abiy’s hands.
If Ethiopia does fracture then, the competing interests of Eritrea, Egypt and Sudan would complexify the conflict and snowball the violence. As ever, it will be ordinary people, like Selam, whose bodies will be pawned for the personal-political gain of autocrats like Abiy and Afwerki or sucked deeper into the scramble for ever scarcer resources.
On the 15th of April, two weeks after Abiy’s announcement that Eritrean troops would leave the region, the under-secretary general of humanitarian affairs told a UN security council that “neither the UN nor any of the humanitarian agencies we work with have seen proof of Eritrean withdrawal.” There have been reports of Eritrean troops indiscriminately killing civilians as recently as the 12th. Some have even begun to disguise themselves in Ethiopian uniforms. It would seem then that the withdrawal is yet another lie. Despite Abiy’s words, the genocide simply goes on.
The fact is that no one is a sincere believer. Not Abiy (despite his Pentecostalism), not his defenders and certainly not the oppressed and displaced Tigrayans. This is because the lies of politicians like Abiy, as with Trump or Bolsonaro, no longer aspire to sincere belief, so easily are they refuted. Their lies are mere instruments. Their ideological utility is not located in their capacity to dupe people into believing them, but in the continued violence they make space for by discarding the aim of duping altogether. If no one believes what they are saying, everything becomes negotiable. It is not then a case of ideology being “a set of lies experienced as true,” but “a set of lies experienced as lies, but acted on anyway”—or as the Marxist academic Theodor Adorno wrote, “the lie has lost its honest function of misrepresenting reality.” It no longer posits another reality, just debases the original, no longer demonstrates an awareness of one’s actions as morally condemnable, only a will to continue the morally bankrupt act. In short, there is no longer anything left to unmask, for the mask is already, obviously, painted plastic. ■
The government has launched a new 95% mortgage scheme. This scheme aims to help first time buyers or current homeowners secure a mortgage with just a 5% deposit. Along with the holiday on stamp duty this is part of a government strategy to try and keep the housing market booming.
While many of those struggling to get out from the under the thumb of a landlords may appreciate this government initiative, housing will remain unaffordable to many in the UK. The Guardian has claimed that:
“The analysis found a single woman on the UK median female wage for 30- to 39-year-olds – £30,258 – could not afford a 95% mortgage on a median-priced property in the cheapest band in more than half of local authorities in England and Wales.
Meanwhile, a single man on the median earnings for his demographic – £34,567 – could not afford a mortgage in almost half (48%) of local authorities nationwide.”
This analysis ignores the fact that a great many people living in the UK are not “median earners”, earning far less than £30,000. Two million workers earn only the national minimum wage, which is £17,000 a year for someone 25 or over working the UK average of 37.5 hours a week. In 2019 roughly 60% of UK workers earned less than £30,000, and roughly 20% earned less than £17,000.
This means that those most able to take advantage of these new government initiatives will be those who are already well off compared to most of us, and this will do little to alleviate the growing housing crisis that many people are suffering under.
According to the National Housing Foundation 8.4 million people in England lived in an unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable home, with 3.6 million living in overcrowded conditions and 2.5 million unable to afford their rent or mortgage.
The housing charity Shelter has estimated that 250,000 people are homeless and trapped in temporary accommodation and that 39% of private renters, equivalent to 3.2 million people, say they have been forced to live in dangerous or unhealthy conditions because they fear complaining to their landlord will trigger a retaliatory eviction.
While the government claims these plans will help people to buy homes, in the long therm they will only create demand for housing at the current prices, driving those prices even higher and making the housing crisis worse.
Over the last ten years wages have remained stagnant while inflation has risen, meaning that we have grown poorer in real terms as house prises have risen. From a human standpoint, housing is a fundamental need for all human beings, and the fact that the government is continuing to promote increasing house prices is an attack on us all.
But even from a detached economic standpoint, prices on housing can not rise forever. Speculation on infinitely rising house prices has a hard limit in the ability of the rest of society to pay for that inflated housing. Any bubble the government promotes will eventually burst, just like it did in 2007.
Of course, the conservative government may not be thinking in terms of human suffering or even economic stability. Property tycoons have bankrolled the Tory party to the tune of £11 million since Boris Johnson became prime minister. This is almost a quarter of the total donations to the party.
In 2017, almost one in five Members of Parliament where found to be landlords. The conservatives were the worst, with over a quarter of their MPs being landlords, but even among Labour MPs more than one in ten were landlords. Many among the political class and the class of big property owners have overlapping interests that are opposed to the needs of most of the people suffering under them.
As long as our society is structured around housing as property that can be speculated on and not a necessity that everyone should have access to, this crisis will continue regardless of how many houses are built or how much support is promised to those in need of a home. If there is money to be made in housing, people will make it, and those people will be able to use that wealth to influence any government in their favour. ■