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Statement on the Riots

The outbreak of riots in Birmingham, Sandwell, and Wolverhampton came as no surprise. Birmingham against the Cuts has been aware for months that the most deprived areas in the West Midlands were close to an explosion of rage.

The £212 M cuts imposed with glee by the Con-Dems on Birmingham City Council have seen youth services slashed, Connexions offices closed, Neighbourhood Offices shut or run down, as well as children’s and family support services cut to ribbons. Central government cuts to housing benefit and tax credits have reduced the income to the poorest families while prices have continued to rise most for essential goods like food, heating, and transport.

Youth unemployment now stands at 20%
in the UK, and far more than that in many areas. Abolition of the EMA has left many young people with no prospect of further education.

Charities that fill the gaps in public provision have fared no better. The list of charities facing funding cuts in the Midlands includes: 100 children’s and young people-related charities,47 elderly-related charities, 40 arts charities, 37 disability charities, and 33 adult care charities.

Recent protests at deaths in police custody also showed that relations between the police and local communities were at an all time low. The timing of the riot may have been triggered by events in London, but it already was inevitable.

No one should support or tolerate mugging of individual citizens, looting of family owned shops, or attacks on fire crews, but the scene for this has been set by the mugging and looting practised by our MPs, banks, and multinational firms.

The riots coincided with a new world financial meltdown, which showed up vividly the futility of the austerity policies being followed in Europe and the USA. It is time for our leaders to admit that their policies are destroying the fabric of our society while doing nothing to improve the short or long term prospects for recovery.

The killing of three innocent young men defending their livelihood underlines the tragedies which social breakdown can bring. The united response of all the communities involved is an indication of the strengths which multi-cultural Birmingham still has to address its problems.

Birmingham against the Cuts believes the solution is in our hands. We have to give alienated and disenfranchised youth hope of a better future, and a real stake in society. This can only be achieved by a policy of economic and social reconstruction. Stop the Cuts. Start public investment in housing, green energy, improved leisure services, and further education.

We call on everyone who agrees with this from every community in the city, including young people who took part in the riots, to join with us in resisting and defeating the cuts programme, and helping to establish a council and government committed to social cohesion and equality.

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