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Local residents give the smack dealers some extra advertising. Pic: Simon Chapman


When the revolution comes, we'll get rid of the police cos there'll be no more crime... yeah right. Anarchist utopias are all very well, but anti social behaviour is carving up communities in the here and now, and 'blueprints for the future' don't take knives off throats. In Bristol, one community awash with crack dealing scumbags - which the police refuse to tackle - has chosen to ditch living in fear, and take on the problem themselves.


Having sustained years of systematic beatings, communities all over Britain are finally imploding under the jungle-law/free-market greed-fest of smack and crack dealing and the anti-social, anti-people, anti-life bullshit behaviour it generates.

Skipping the idea of underpants over trousers (hooray), in favour of a pair of matching Jean Marie Le Twat cravats (boo), top UK crime fighting duo, Blunkett and McBlair (enough! - ed) dusted off some ol'-skool reactionary slogans in the hope the resulting confusion will camouflage the absence of intelligent policy. (...er, more boo...)

In March, Home Secretary David Blunkett managed to exit London and venture down the M4 to Easton in Bristol with a circus-full of performing home office clowns and tongue-lolling media in tow. The stunt of the moment, was the unveiling of his 'crime hotspots' and New Labour/Old Tory sus laws.

Much was made about the crime levels on Easton's Stapleton Road and the size of the resident black population. But the race card played (cynically) by Blunkett, and picked up (enthusiastically) by the press, has sod all relevance to the situation confronting local people.

Basically like dozens of inner city neighbourhoods nationwide, the community in Easton is being torn apart by smack and crack dealing and the anti social behaviour it generates. Despite Blunkett and the rest of 'the good people' distancing themselves from the 'criminal hardcore', the crack dealers, muggers and scumbags pimping out fourteen year old girls, are merely subscribing to the same greed driven mentality as every corporate CEO and Downing Street resident has since they minted the first fucking groat. The single message peddled by schools, governments and television, is the same one (often unwittingly) picked up and driven home by parents and peers alike. Namely, the only thing little Johnny should be concerned about is: how much money he can accumulate in his life, how many 'things' that will enable him to 'buy', and how much 'power' it will afford him. Society tells him - do anything, and step on anyone, in order to further your individual position - fuck over everybody who dares stand in your way. There is no society. There is no obligation to the greater community.

In Easton, the dealers (black and white - but increasingly immigrant Jamaican self-styled 'gangsta yardies') and the punters jacking up on our doorsteps (black and white, some local, some not) all fuel the fear in the streets, and, the ranks of muggers in the underpasses. Hatred is the currency of choice on the streets - and every youngster sports a big-bad-sneer and mouthful of menace 'coz that's the way to be'. The police (more or less exclusively white) are totally unwilling to deal with the situation - or more to the point, they are content to let the situation in Easton escalate - it keeps the 'scum' out of the 'nice' parts of town - and the hope is, a well-nurtured crime ghetto may result in a cash injection from above. (Avon and Somerset chief constable Steve Pilkington said that without any more money - and Blunkett came with empty pockets - Labour might as well be trying to crack crime on the moon).

The tightly orchestrated Blunkett-junkett in March made sure no unsightly views were aired before the invited press and New Labour faithful. High salaried 'community-workers' and businessmen (including a locally despised loan shark) were ushered in to grip, grin and pat his master's dog. Every press agency was on the guest list, but both Stapleton Road (it's a long road) residents groups were prevented getting near the minister by heavily armoured, and armed, police - the number of which Stapleton Road has never seen before, or since. (It was only a last minute tip-off about the visit that enabled residents to give the Home Secretary a good old Easton billboard style welcome... much to the shock of the camped out GMTV camera crew). In the event, two smack deals went down in full view of the thirty odd assembled old bill and special branch officers as Blunkett was doing his Diana-about. The few disgruntled residents, who had got wind of the 9am stunt, openly mocked the cops, who pretended not to notice, safe in the knowledge the journalists present would obediently do likewise.

Like Trinity Road's [Bristol police station] sick-list, activists have continually shied away from tackling crime. Anarchist scribes paint us pictures of self policing utopias where criminality will disappear along with private property. All very well, but fuck all use to anyone facing a four-inch blade at the corner of the Easton way. Similarly, liberal whites recoil at the prospect of being on the 'wrong' side of a scrap with someone flouting asylum laws, or any conflict with even a hint of ethnic involvement.

It's horseshit. No one's denying the responsibility of successive administrations who have consistently denigrated and ghettoised working class communities, and used drugs, bad housing and poverty to keep people down and out (of the loop). But that does not free everyone else from shouldering some blame. If you are fucking over my community, you are a scumbag. Whether you're a corporate developer, a white racist cop or a black crack-dealing pimp, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter sod all if you've dodged a fucked-up asylum system. Being a law-breaker doesn't make you a social activist. If you want to make money out of misery and destroy the community in the process, you are as much the class enemy as any titled parasite, and you need to be stopped. This is not a race issue. It's greed versus community.

Also, it's not enough to say to people who live in the area: 'Look, we don't want more police on the streets', or, 'we don't want fucking CCTV.' People who have been mugged, or whose kids go out to play and come home with needles in their hands, say, 'I'm sorry, but I'm fucking scared.' You cannot tell them: 'Oh no you're not.'

But, and there is a big but, many people (black and white alike) - here in Easton at least - are well aware that the solutions to their predicament will not come in a panda car or via a ballot box (however long you wait). They are sick of struggling up 'proper channels' only to be blocked by bureaucrats. They've stopped calling the cops, because they know the cops don't come. [The local beat officer at a post Blunkett community meeting confirmed that there is only one dedicated officer at any one time for the entire Easton, Eastville and St Judes area (an area the size of Brixton facing similar problems). To residents who complained of waiting three hours for a police response he said: "You're lucky we came at all".] The result is that several community groups have sprung up in recent months, all with increasingly militant agendas. One crack house has been shut down, dealers' phones have been 'cut off' and proposals are being sorted to reclaim large chunks of land. This isn't about vigilantism, but about taking control back from all bogus authority (whether that authority is backed by parliament, or by a machine pistol in the boot of a BMW).

Consensus won't come easy (the anarchists and the CCTV brigade are all in there together), but the alternatives on offer ('neighbourhood wardens' [ie: Reliance security rent-a-cops] from central government or 'gentrification' from the local New Lab/corpo-friendly council) are backed by no-one. We're all on a learning curve and we're not sure where it'll end up. But bitching about it and doing nothing is, hopefully, no longer an option.