The most important intergovernmental organisation of the last year, the World Health Organisation, defines violence as:
the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.
The media in this country have used the terms ‘violence’ and ‘violent’ to categorise the recent civil disruption surrounding the Kill The Bill protests. Norwich’s recent protests couldn’t be called ‘violent’ by any stretch of the imagination, but there have still been reactionary responses attempting to write off their importance, including from the EDP. However in the case of places like Bristol, the word ‘violence’ has been openly used against protestors by the media and influential reactionary figures.
Content warning: references to and short descriptions of sexual harassment, sexual violence, xenophobia, homophobic & transphobic abuse.
Made by Sea and Wood, in Darkness, the debut novel by Alexandros Plasatis, weaves together a collage of stories that tell the experience of Egyptian immigrants in Greece through a variety of voices. The stories are primarily set in and around Café Papaya in Kavala, where Pavlo the waiter works nights, acting as both a main character and an observer of the Egyptian fishermen. In snapshots of a male underworld, violence dominates this narrative, as the central female character Angie the barmaid fights against being cast as a victim.
While Archant published clickbait headlines in the EDP and Norwich Evening News that chose to spotlight the pink chalk ‘vandalism’ of a war memorial, Saturday’s Kill the Bill protest in Norwich city centre was in fact a peaceful display of solidarity, and an empowering antidote to the violence that protesters elsewhere in the country have been subjected to. In Bristol, boards reading ‘People Over Property‘ now surround the former plinth of the Edward Colston statue, and act as a visual reminder of both the police and the media establishment’s skewed priorities when it comes to covering protests. Chalk gets washed away with a spell of wet weather. Authoritarian bills don’t.
Sunday’s events in Bristol have made headlines. Predictably, however, mainstream media has fallen into the trope of shortsighted reporting, indulging in simplistic, one-sided narratives of protestors as ‘mobs of animals’ who ‘attacked’ and ‘badly injured’ police officers. Whilst they make good headlines, these intentionally inflammatory discourses, alongside powerful images of burning vans, serve to eclipse the bigger story.
Content warning: references to police violence, racist violence.
The revival of the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired an array of haunting artistic responses. Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World, edited by Ambrose Musiyiwa, is no exception. With over 100 contributions from writers of diverse ages and backgrounds, the collection is a poignant exploration of an era of renewed protest and newfound solidarities, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
At year’s end, many of us feel the pull to try and put a positive spin on the preceding 12 month period – to celebrate its joys, while recognising its difficulties in order to put them behind us as we look to the new year with a hopeful eye. At the end of 2020, it is particularly difficult to find a positive angle from which to look back, or forward. The slow-motion explosion that is Brexit has rolled on, the UK government that came to power just over a year ago has taken every opportunity to demonstrate its incompetence and corruption, and the mainstream media has continued to side with the powerful over the marginalised. And then there’s the elephant in every room – the Covid-19 pandemic, which has pushed many of the institutions we rely on to breaking point, revealing just how little many governments care about the lives of their more vulnerable citizens.
The brutal murder of George Floyd in America this May sparked revived global conversations on the presence of racism in criminal justice structures around the world today. Despite this movement and its rallying cry across the world that Black lives matter, the UK’s systemic racism is entrenched and stubborn. Just last week in Britain, dance group Diversity’s performance on popular TV show Britain’s Got Talent attracted criticism after daring to depict police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement in their powerful performance. As activists work in the aftermath of the revolutionary protests and petition to push forward change, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in Britain has launched an investigation into racism within English and Welsh police forces. Through this, it aims to assess whether Black, Asian, and other minority-ethnic groups are discriminated against by police officers and established practices.
As the Green Party lets its members elect its third member of the House of Lords, one candidate’s name has jumped to my attention more than the rest: Rupert Read. For those who don’t know, Read is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, a former Green Party Councillor in Norwich and, according to his website, a ‘climate and environmental campaigner’. Whilst this can be seen as an impressive list of roles and beliefs, these aren’t the reason that Read’s name caught my eye.
Content warning: discussion of transphobia, genitalia
In June, the news broke that Graham Linehan, former comedy writer turned full time transphobe, was finally removed from twitter for his continued attacks on the trans* community. Whilst it is positive that twitter is finally taking the action that the trans* community have long been asking for, this should have happened years ago, when Linehan started doxing people who dared challenge him.