London Citizens leaders, including several of the Contextual Theology Centre’s officers, took part in an emergency meeting this morning to co-ordinate a response to the recent violence. The statement below has just been issued.
Jellicoe Interns and CTC staff are working with churches in London Citizens – taking part in the cleanup; checking up on the wellbeing of local people; helping to arrange and promote acts of prayer and witness. We will be tweeting details of events as they are arranged – follow us on @theologycentre
Tomorrow the analysis – today the cleanup
London Citizens member communities across London are located in many of the areas where the current disturbances and looting have taken place. We condemn any acts of violence and vandalism and call on all in civil society to work together for the common good using the creative tools of politics as the vehicle for change. Leaders, Trustees and Organisers met in reflection this morning to share stories, experiences and consider a constructive reaction to the present chaos and fear which is threatening the good community relations which existed in most of our neighbourhoods. We agreed to meet with Citizens member communities immediately at a Borough level and consider civic action at that level, at this stage. This should include reaching out to the traders, the police and young people and their families.
It was also agreed to start action with the clean up that is proposed in the neighbourhoods most effected by the vandalism – so before the analysis there must be the clean up. Please check with – www.riotcleanup.co.uk or http://188.8.131.52/locations/locations.html or Twitter-@riotcleanup.
The analysis of the present crisis in our communities will not stop but be shaped by our experience over the next few weeks and related developments. It was agreed to hold an open meeting for member communities and organizers in St John-at-Hackney Church, Mare Street in Hackney on Wednesday, August 31 st for a wider and more considered reaction to the rioting and any related actions over the next two weeks.
One of Citizens UK’s strap line’s is ‘teaching the art of politics in action’. Yesterday was no different. A snap shot of what this meant for Citizens UK on Monday, 8 th August was; in Deptford, Lewisham 9 Citizens Chinese leaders met with Police to negotiate better protection for their community from random attacks and muggings; in Hackney Central, 15 Citizens young leaders visited local shops in Mare Street to successfully persuade them to sign up as City Safe Havens; in Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets a working group of 6 Citizens leaders and organizers met to plan how to get local people recruited into the 4,000 jobs on offer with the 2012 Olympics in Stratford; in Victoria 8 Citizens leaders met with officers from Westminster City Council to try and save the Westminster Centre for Independent Living; in Tottenham, Haringey over 200 leaders from civil society met in a Vigil for Hope, supported by most of Citizens member groups and the organizers in that Borough; in Shadwell, Tower Hamlets 20 Citizens leaders stood together by their Mosque and the Watney Market Shopping Centre to protect both and support the traders; in Whitechapel a group of 5 Citizens leaders met to agree to work with the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and other civic groups to lobby the Home Secretary to ban the proposed ‘March’ through Whitechapel by the English Defence League on September 3rd .
London Citizens member communities have recently launched a ‘Listening Campaign’ across our 250 member communities focused on the London Mayoral Election in May 2012 – hundreds of delegates from our membership will meet in Assemblies in October and November to debate and vote on the issues they wish to put to the main candidates for Mayor. These will be ready to present to the various competing camps by mid January 2012 and a major Assembly of 2,500 Citizens is planned for April 26 th 2012 – it has been agreed to encourage London Citizens member communities to widen the scope of their ‘Listening’ and One to Ones to include all groups in their neighbourhoods – and traders and young people particularly to invite them to join them at the great Assembly on 26th April to prove that social and political change is possible provided you organize and work democratically with other people.