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Blair blames victims after Nazis spark new rioting

by ALAN MAASS | July 20, 2001 | Page 7

THE CITY of Bradford exploded in July in the latest in a series of riots in northern England sparked off by Nazi bigotry.

Police with orders to crack down battled groups of both Nazis and anti-Nazi youth in three days of confrontations that left dozens hurt, including many police.

Officials from Britain's Labour Party government denounced the "thugs on both sides" supposedly responsible for the violence. But the rioting started after cops allowed Nazi thugs to gather in the center of the city, where they harassed and attacked Asian residents.

On July 7, the police banned a threatened march by the National Front, a Nazi organization. But the cops did nothing to stop groups of Nazis from rampaging around the city center. Instead, they arrested several Asians and used horses to push people out of the city center.

Infuriated, Asian youth and anti-racists stormed onto the streets to confront the police. But the response of Tony Blair's supposedly left-wing government was to threaten to use tear gas and water cannons to restore order in Bradford and other cities.

The government wants to "literally pour cold water on the arguments of its critics and bring tears to the eyes of those eager to see justice done," wrote Gary Younge, a columnist for the Guardian newspaper. "Instead of tinkering around the edges…they have finally embraced a bold initiative: water cannon and tear gas."

Bradford is the latest of several cities to be hit by rioting. They are all economically depressed industrial towns with large Asian populations--where the Nazis' scapegoating has an appeal among youth faced with joblessness and poverty.

But the government has done nothing to challenge this--or the deepening segregation in cities like Bradford. This only gives the Nazis a bigger opening.

As Younge concluded, ordinary people in cities like Bradford "do not need water cannon or tear gas. They need hope."

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