Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Terror Kid: Benjamin Zephaniah in Conversation

Newham Monitoring Project and Newham Bookshop are delighted to welcome NMP's patron Benjamin Zephaniah talking about his new book Terror Kid.

Thursday 2nd October 2014
Stratford East Picturehouse,
Salway Road,
London E15 1BX

Tickets are £5 and available at the Stratford Picturehouse box office or by calling 0871 902 5740

Rico knows trouble. He knows the look of it and the sound of it. He also knows to stay away from it as best he can. Because if there's one thing his Romany background has taught him, it's that he will always be a suspect. Despite his efforts to stay on the right side of the law, Rico is angry and frustrated at the injustices he sees happening at home and around the world. He wants to do something - but what? When he is approached by Speech, a mysterious man who shares Rico's hacktivist interests, Rico is given the perfect opportunity to speak out. After all, what harm can a peaceful cyber protest do...?

Terror Kid is Benjamin’s first novel in seven years and is set against the backdrop of the 2011 riots. It tells the extraordinary tale of how one boy’s idealism and passion to speak out is distorted and manipulated by those who want to commit acts of terror.

On 2 October, Benjamin will be talking about the issues he tackles in his novel – examining our judgements, intentions and actions, and also the timely issues of terrorism, hacktivism and the exploitation of young people. Always impactful and thoughtful, Benjamin Zephaniah is not to be missed.

Terror Kid is published on 28 August by Hot Key Books and will be available from Newham Bookshop

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

NMP publishes report on community legal observing during the London Olympics

Tthe gloss and spectacle of mega sporting events can hide many potential threats to human rights and equality. Today, on International Migrants Day, we are reminded of one of the starkest examples of this: the pattern of exploitation of migrant workers that has cast a shadow over the preparations for global sports events in recent years. In September 2013, reports emerged of brutality and forced labour in Qatar, which is preparing for the World Cup in 2022. This is one of many instances of exploitation around such events that extend beyond the appalling denial of employment rights. These include the displacement of people from their homes (as witnessed in Rio's favelas in the preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil), unfulfilled promises to create jobs and affordable housing, environmental damage and harassment of working class, black or migrant communities by security officials, enforcement officers and police.

During the 2012 Olympics, Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) set up a human rights observation project in an attempt to monitor, record and challenge any detrimental impact on or targeting of local communities in east London. Today we publish a report setting out in detail how one of the UK's longest-established civil rights organisations deployed close to a hundred 'community legal observers' (CLOs) during last summer's Olympics, what these volunteers witnessed and how the experience of monitoring street level policing during such a major event can help other organisations, both in the UK and abroad, to consider using community legal observers in the future.

'Monitoring Olympics policing during the 2012 Security Games' is available online here or to download here [PDF, 1.1 Mb]

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Newham Council in alleged racism ‘whitewash’ of its Equalities agenda


Independent anti-racist organisation Newham Monitoring Project (NMP) has today accused Newham Council of trying to ‘whitewash’ racism out its Equalities Framework agenda, after viewing a document (see below) that appears to reveal attempts by the council to downplay and remove references to racism reported to them by the public.

NMP reports that the discovery came to light after it downloaded a copy of Newham’s Council’s ‘Equalities and the Local Development Framework in Newham: December 2010’ document, available on Newham Council’s website, on Tuesday 5th November.

Unlike other documents on Newham Council’s website, NMP believes that in error it has been published in a draft form, allowing the public to view the deletions and comments made before being finalised.

NMP claims the series of deletions and comments appear to reveal a pattern of targeting references to racism within the report and attempting to replace them with ambiguous terminology to downplay their significance. Some of the references were reported to them by the public during equalities monitoring and public consultations.

NMP points to two examples in particular, which it claims support their allegations, regarding a youth consultation in 2010, where young people had named racism as a top issue of concern for them:

Example 1

Indeed, a recent corporate survey suggests that some young people at least, continue to have concerns about racism (26% find it an issue of concern, falling within the top 3 issues). [p18]

The ‘editor’ highlights the word racism and comments:

While this issue is of concern I think without wider context of the question this could be misinterpreted. It would be better to say that promoting community cohesion is of concern – as this is something the LDF can influence.

Example 2

In reference to the same youth consultation’s findings later in the report, the same editor deletes the original phrasing:

Significantly, racism is within their top 3 issues facing Newham, just behind crime and the availability of jobs [p21]

And inserts a rephrase deleting the word ‘racism’, replacing it with ‘community cohesion’ and placing it at the end of the sentence thus reducing its emphasis:

Crime, the availability of jobs and issues relating to promoting community cohesion are the top 3 issues facing Newham

A spokesperson for NMP said today:
“The edit mark-up in the Equalities Framework report shows an unmistakeable pattern of downplaying or deleting references to racism. This is an appalling situation, which leads us to only one conclusion: that Newham Council has deliberately and cynically tried to push race off the agenda.

The council has a duty to accurately report levels of inequality in the borough, instead it appears to have attempted to mislead the public by whitewashing the issue of racism. If this is the case, it calls into question the legitimacy of Newham Council’s agenda of recent years following the publication of this document, promoting policies of integration and cohesion as if they had public backing. These policies have been widely criticised locally for avoiding to address and deprioritise pressing issues of racism. They have resulted in a number of moves including the withdrawal of foreign language papers and cuts to translation and interpreting services.

The outcome of this leaves black communities suffering racism without recognition or support and left to spiral downwards, facing greater discrimination and greater levels of marginalisation and deprivation. All communities should rightly be up-in-arms about this if it is proven there has been a calculated approach to undermine the representation of their needs by the public servants elected to represent them.”
The document is also available on Google Docs

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