This is a guest blog from the organisers of the VodaHome action in London in July
At our recent Vodafone protest in Central London, where along with a number of other activists and campaigners we closed down the Vodafone London flagship store, there was an incident which occurred that was unacceptable, and something the UK Uncut London group would like to publicly apologise for. This blog has been written collectively by the organisers of the London action, and is just one step we’re taking to try and reconcile and apologise for this incident.
A person who was attending the action, was wrongly identified as an undercover police officer, and this was done over a microphone in front of all the people present. Not only was this a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do, which put this man at risk of reprisal from other people; it was also a racist act, as he was a black man in a predominantly white group of campaigners, and the people who accused him were also white.
Subsequent discussions with the man who was wrongly accused, made it clear this incident is another in a lifetime of systematic racism he has experienced, where he has been singled out because of his ethnicity.
We also found out after this incident, that the man who’d been accused of being an undercover police officer, was actually a dedicated and veteran anti-fascist campaigner; and someone who has been targeted consistently by the police throughout his life for being black. Furthermore, that he has close personal experience of police targeting black people and the police brutality which goes hand in hand with that.
We want to take this opportunity to formally and publicly apologise as a group for what happened. We fully accept this was a racist act and it should not have happened. It put you at risk, singled you out as a black man and further marginalised you. We take full responsibility for this.
We also apologise for not doing enough immediately after this happened. We should have ensured a full apology was made to you over the mic, so other people there would have heard too. We realise this lack of appropriate response must have left you feeling even more alienated and excluded.
We also want to assure you how seriously we take this. We recognise that this incident has been extremely difficult for the man who attended the protest and has also effected people of colour who were part of organising the Vodafone London action. As a group we are currently taking steps to learn from what happened. This is an ongoing process and one which we are committed to.
We’ve put together some resources that we’ve found useful since dealing with this, we wanted to share them with anyone else interested in these issues:
1) Unpacking White Privilege www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf
2) How to Deal With Being Called Out: http://thinkanddiethinking.tumblr.com/post/38480374534/how-to-deal-with-being-called-out-from-the
3) Tools for White Guys: http://www.starhawk.org/activism/trainer-resources/tools-whiteguys.html