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Anti-capitalist group slammed for ‘spewing racism’ claim

The Revolutionary Communist Group presented a petition to the council on Monday

25 January, 2019 — By Tom Foot

The full council was held at the Crowndale Centre, Mornington Crescent

AN anti-capitalist group was slammed for “spewing racism” while challenging the Town Hall’s decision to send counter-extremism officers to a public meeting about Israel.

The Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) presented a petition to the full council meeting in the Crowndale Centre, Mornington Crescent, on Monday night.

It called for a fresh debate on the council’s adopted definition of anti-semitism it believed was the reason “Prevent” officers were at the King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Centre on September 21 2018.

It said: “The officers attended with the clear implication that the meeting and its organisers were potential extremists. The presence of counter extremism officers … constitutes political policing.”

Prevent works to stop people getting involved or supporting terrorism or extremist activity.

The RCG petition drew a furious reaction from Camden Conservative leader Oliver Cooper who warned the group that “hate is a thing we need to address in our borough” and that Prevent officers were “trying to understand

the root causes of extremism” and not “spying”.

Cllr Cooper told the group: “You had told a councillor that you would make statements that Zionism is racism. That – according to the policies of this borough – is an anti-semitic comment. We have a duty as an authority to stop that happening in any way we can.

“I am proud we took steps to send Prevent officers there. We have to

do absolutely everything to keep our Jewish, our Muslim, and all other communities in our borough safe. Frankly, spewing racism and crying foul when you are called out for it is not the way to do it.”

RCG members in the public gallery protested that they were anti- racists and that the criticism of them was “disingenuous”.

Labour’s cabinet member for young people and cohesion Cllr Abdul Hai said: “At no point did the council seek to cancel the event. They [Prevent] attended to help enforce their own understandings of the debate. Officers were open about their roles.

“They had not been instructed by the organisation to report back, or do monitoring of the groups. We strongly reject that the definition of anti-semitism has been used to curb free speech.

“The council had undertaken a review of the definition of the IHRA definition, since its adoption in Camden, and found no persuasive evidence that it has limited free speech. I want to be completely clear, we stand behind the definition.”

Lib Dem leader Flick Rea said she was also proud the council had endorsed the IHRA, adding: “Maybe it could have been handled better, but I don’t think the council should vote to review our decision.”

The meeting was called “Labour, Corbyn and Anti-semitism – why is solidarity with Palestine under attack?”

The meeting took place following a dispute about Labour’s National Executive Committee adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti- semitism.

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