Dea-John Reid Murder: Fight For Jobs, Homes and Services, Not Crime and Racism

June 3, 2021

Birmingham Socialist Party sends its condolences to the family and friends of  14 year old Dea-John Reid who was tragically murdered on the streets of Kingstanding on Monday evening.

From reports from locals and witnesses to the horrific murder it was clear from the beginning that this was a racist murder after witnesess reported the boy being chased and subjected to racist abuse before being stabbed.

Disgracefully but unsurprisingly West Midlands Police denied and attempted to play down the racist motive of the 14 year old’s tragic murder, only admitting on Wednesday evening what locals had been reporting all along: that racism had sparked this tragic sequence of events.

Currently six people, four men in their 30s and two boys aged 13 and 14, have been arrested on suspicion of murder and remain in police custody.

Read on for our analysis of the social issues that have fuelled both racism and violent crime in Birmingham

Protesting outside West Midlands Police HQ with Black Lives Matter in June 2020

Independent Investigation Needed

The actions of West Midlands Police in relation to this case and in previous incidents involving the deaths of black men in custody shows that we can’t trust this force to investigate the reason for Dea-John’s murder, including possible racist motives, by themselves.

We need an independent investigation involving elected members of the local community in Kingstanding and North Birmingham, including trade union reps, particularly those involved in working with young and vulnerable people in schools and social services.

Protesting outside Birmingham Council House

Austerity Devastates Brum

Such an enquiry could not just begin to establish the real circumstances of this murder, but also the social problems which provide the backdrop to this latest outrage. The fact that 41.6% of children in Birmingham are living in poverty (the highest rate outside of London). The 9.8% of people unemployed, with many tens of thousands more in precarious work and 55,400 currently on furlough wondering if they’ll have a job to go back to.

Along with the decently paid, secure jobs that have been lost from the city due to the decline of manufacturing, the social ties of working class communities in Brum have been further hit by a decade of cuts to public services, largely administered by the Labour council. Among the 12,000 jobs axed by Birmingham City Council since 2010 will have been many community and youth workers who previously helped young people find a positive future away from street crimes and violence.

Rather than build a campaign to win funding from Westminster for expanded public services that could prevent crime, the Labour Party’s main response via their Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster is to call for a sticking plaster of 450 extra police officers. But if they are not democratically accountable to the communities they police, if they continue to carry out groundless stop and searches focused on Black and Asian young people, this could serve to heighten tensions rather than ease them.

With many young people already feeling frustrated due to the effects of Covid in placing them under lockdown for many months and also robbing them of the opportunity to study and find work, it’s vital that trade unions and democratically run residents' and community associations work to ensure that any tensions created by this shocking murder are channelled in the direction of campaigning for better jobs, homes and public services rather than a repeat of the riots which followed the murder of Mark Duggan at the hands of the police in 2011.

The tories and the rest of the ruling class in the media have diverted the anger people have about these conditions towards racism. Priti Patel whipped up fear around migrants while the capitalist media raised tensions by filming desperate refugees in dinghies. They also inflamed a cultural war by claiming that BLM was attacking Britain and its values.

Black Lives Matter protest in Birmingham

Build a Mass Movement To Smash Racism

The Socialist Party is fighting to build a mass movement that can smash racism and the class inequality that together press on the necks of young people. To do this we must organise and draw all the lessons and ideas from the movements that have gone before; the slave revolts that led to the abolition of slavery; the Civil Rights movements; the anti-colonial revolutions; struggles against fascists in Britain, and all the struggles of the organised working class and socialists against exploitation and oppression.

Leaving the power to run society in the hands of the existing rulers, the big business boss class, condemns us to having to keep fighting racism. Mass united working-class action and organisation, united around a programme of anti-racism and anti-capitalism, to fight for socialism, with the working class taking power, is necessary.

Coronavirus has revealed all the brutal truths about capitalism - showing how big business bosses and their Tory representatives prioritise profits, and are therefore utterly unable to keep society safe, while workers have been shown to be the ones keeping society going and defending safety. Kier Starmer’s Labour Party has offered no serious alternative and has been absent from all the major protests.

The Socialist Party builds on the conclusion of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers: “You can’t have capitalism without racism”. What does that mean for building the Black Lives Matter movement? It means building a mass united movement of working-class people with anti-racism at its heart; that fights for workplace safety and PPE for all who need it; for fighting trade unions; for free education; for democratic working class control of the police and for a future for all young people. It means building a new mass party of workers and young people because we can’t trust the capitalist politicians with our lives and our future.

And it means fighting for the alternative to capitalism – socialism. Capitalism is outmoded. It can’t offer us a future.

Written by workers for workers.

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