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Solidarity follows wave of racist attacks

Published Aug 4, 2005 9:35 PM

The escalation of racist profiling in Britain’s “war on terror” is flashing a green light to white supremacists and anti-immigrant bashers. However, as state repression and the bigotry it generates grow, so too do expressions of unity from people of all nationalities.

Anthony Walker was a victim of the racist terror. The Black 18-year-old student, his 17-year-old white girlfriend and his 17-year-old cousin suffered a “torrent of racial abuse” from a racist in front of a pub July 29 as they stood at a Liver pool bus stop at 11:30 p.m. They tried to leave the area, but were confronted by a gang of reportedly three or four lynchers. Walker’s cousin and girlfriend ran to get help. When they returned, they found Walker dead, an axe stuck in his skull.

Grief and rage brought more than 1,000 people out to rally with Walker’s family on Aug. 2. The Walker family stood on the steps of St. George’s Hall, flanked by anti-racists from Unite Against Fascism, the Merseyside Coalition Against Racism, politicians and religious leaders.

Gee Walker told those gathered that she felt overwhelmed by the “sea of faces” and the wave of support she is getting following her son’s murder. “I am receiving letters from people I don’t even know—from America, from Canada, phone calls from Ireland, you name it, and letters of condolence. I don’t know how to thank you, I applaud all of you and thank you from my heart.”

Gee Walker thanked her son’s friends in the crowd for the tributes they have paid to him.

Leroy Shepherd held up a photo of Walker, his nephew: “If your son or my son is walking down the street with a white girl and people see it and they don’t like it, are they going to kill him? This isn’t right. It has got to stop. You have got to stop it now.”

Racism: no secret

Labor MP Edward O’Hara tried to dismiss the horrific murder of Walker as “random, excep tional and representative of absolutely nothing.”

Huyton, where the attack occurred, is a middle-class area of roughly 40,000 in which Black families are 1.4 percent of the population.

David Okoro, Walker’s cousin, told the Liverpool Echo, “There have been examples over the past year and a half of our family suffering racism, particularly the children. That’s not a secret.”

He emphasized, “Liverpool can change things by challenging this behavior and not condoning it.

“Judging by the amount of tributes and messages of support, it has shown that the people of Huyton are standing up against this. That has restored some of my faith in the people in this area.”

One of the first victims of this wave of racist attacks was a Brazilian killed by trigger-happy police after the government approved a “shoot-to-kill” policy following the London bombings. A public memorial for Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes—pinned down by plainclothes British police while they pumped eight bullets into his body—took place in London’s Parliament Square on July 29, coinciding with a memorial in his homeland.

It was eventually admitted by the police that Menezes had nothing to do with the bombings and that the police attack on him was a “mistake.”

Angry protests in Brazil demanding justice targeted the British Embassy in Brasilia and the British consulates in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Menezes’ body was returned to his hometown of Gonzaga, a rural town of some 6,000 residents. Police estimated that more than 10,000 people passed by his coffin. Stores and homes were draped in the colors of the Brazilian flag. At the burial, the crowd applauded Menezes, a tradition at burials of dignitaries.

The signs around his hometown express the mood succinctly: “We want justice!” demands one sign. Another reads: “Jean, martyr of British terrorism!”