London Mayor Ken Livingstone has called on Londoners across the city to stand up against the pockets of racism that threaten the unity of the city, urging Londoners to join the campaign against racist attacks in Barking and Dagenham.
Since the beginning of May, there have been a number of racist attacks in the London borough of Barking & Dagenham. These have included violent assaults, stabbings and racial abuse. Local community organisations have also reported an increase in other racist incidents including for-sale signs daubed with offensive racist graffiti.
The most recent attack in the borough saw a 68-year old Sri Lankan man stabbed on 29 June.
In response to community concerns, the Mayor's Office has met with local residents, the race equality council, community organisations and trade unions in Barking & Dagenham to hear first hand the kinds of problems and racial harassment they have faced. Lee Jasper, the Mayor's Director for Equalities and Policing has also met with the Metropolitan Police Authority's London Race Hate Crime Forum (LRHCF), which has agreed to organise a meeting with police and council representatives to review the situation in Barking & Dagenham.
The Mayor's comments came as over 80,000 Londoners are expected to converge on Finsbury Park today (Saturday 8th July 2006) to make a stand against racism at the anti-racist music festival, 'Rise: London United'.
Mayor Ken Livingstone said: 'London needs to unite against racism wherever it rears its head. I urge Londoners from every part of the city to stand up against the pockets of racism that can still exist in our city - such as the recent vicious racist attacks we have seen in Barking and Dagenham. Londoners have an interest in protecting the multicultural character of our city, which is central to the future success and prosperity of our city.
'Although racists attacks in London have now fallen every year for six years in London, we have to redouble our efforts to stamp out racism, such as the spate of racist attacks in Barking and Dagenham over the last two months.
'London has become the leading city on earth in which economic well-being combines with the classic definition of liberty - that provided you do not interfere with anyone else you can lead your life entirely in you own way.
'London's international character had become the greatest tool for its economic dynamism and the living standard of its whole population.
'Each successive generation that has come here has helped to shape the city we live in, bringing new skills, ideas and cultures that have made us into one of the most productive and exciting places on the planet.
'The racists and fascists who threaten the character of our city stand against the interests of all Londoners, whatever race or creed.'
Headline acts at Rise: London United – which is a free festival - include US rap artist Common, Graham Coxon, The Wailers, Buzzcocks, Roy Ayers, Duke Spirit, Killa Kela plus DJ Kayper, MC Inja & Mentor Kolektiv on the main stage.
Buzzcocks said: 'We've played at many festivals and concerts around the world so it's good to attend an event that is highlighting such an important issue. We encourage everyone to come down on the day, stand up against racism and enjoy our rocking set.'
Graham Coxon said: 'The Rise Festival sends an important message to everyone that London is a united city that stands together against racism. And you can enjoy some great music at the same time!'
Killa Kela said: 'Racism is just plain wrong and I think music is one of the best ways of demonstrating that fact. People from every background should come and enjoy the 'Rise: London United' festival and party with us and soak up the variety of sounds, sights, and flavours. The music line-up has something for everyone and it will be a great free day out for all with a strong message that Londoners love our diversity'.
Rise: London United is organised by London Mayor Ken Livingstone to combat racism and celebrate London's diversity, in partnership with the National Assembly Against Racism and TUC South East Region (SERTUC).
At Rise there are six other music stages; Big Cuba Fiesta, African Village, Urban stage, Mela stage, Crescent stage and DJ Dub Bus, reflecting the wide range of music from around the world that can be heard in the capital.
Comedy on the day will be provided by a talented line-up including the BBC's 3 Non Blonde's Ninia Benjamin, Shazia Mirza, Nathan Caton and Kojo. There will also be a children's play area, fair ground, food and drink, exhibitions and arts and crafts.
Notes to Editors
Rise: London United is a free, one-day festival to oppose racism and celebrate London's diversity, organised by the Mayor of London in partnership with the National Assembly Against Racism and TUC South East Region (SERTUC). It has the support of UNISON, Canary Wharf, ITV London, London Development Agency and Transport for London.
This year the festival will include performances by Graham Coxon, Common, Buzzcocks, reggae icons The Wailers, celebrated jazz man Roy Ayers, acclaimed London five piece The Duke Spirit, plus Killa Kela. Reflecting the wide range of music from around the world that is to be heard in the capital, there are different music stages that feature Latin American, urban, African and Asian music, as well as music and dance with roots in cultures from Turkey to Morocco.
The festival will also include performances from this year's Poetry Slam winners. The Poetry Society and the Mayor of London called on all young performance poets, rappers and emcees across the boroughs of London aged between 12 and 18 years old to take part in the fifth Rise: London United London wide youth slam, where they used their verbal skills highlight life in the capital
Rise Week precedes the festival, with a range of events and activities across London that celebrate the capital's diversity and oppose racism. Included in the week are a wide variety of events in boroughs, galleries, theatres, museums, music venues, arts and community centres, parks and public spaces, all of which reflect the vibrant multi-cultural nature of the city.
Rise: London United also features the Mayor of London's Capture London's Diversity photo competition 2006, which is an opportunity for photographers of all ages, non professional and professional, to give their personal take on London's diversity. The competition closed on 2 June and there will be a public display of winning entries in an outdoor exhibition on Trafalgar Square, an exhibition at City Hall, and at the Rise: London United festival. Work will also be put on the festival website.
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