Blog Archive

Friday, 28 November 2014


Flood the Embassy - Justice for Michael Brown Darren Wilson is GUILTY - Report by Donna Guthrie, BARAC Women’s Officer 

More than 2,000 people protested in solidarity with the community of Ferguson outside the U.S. embassy in London demanding justice for Michael Brown on Wednesday night blockading the US Embassy and taking to the streets of central London bringing traffic to a standstill. Holding 'jail racist cops' and ‘Black lives matter’ placards, people mobilised in the thousands, following the decision not to prosecute US police officer Darren Wilson who shot dead unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson. Calling for justice and an end to the racism that allows police in the US and UK to shoot black people. The protest entitled ‘Flood the Embassy - Justice for Michael Brown Darren Wilson is GUILTY’, organised by London Black Revs, the NUS Black Students’ Campaign, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, and Defend the Right to Protest was young, loud and militant and called on people to take to the streets to demand that killer cops were taken off our streets. The organisers stressed their solidarity with demonstrators in Ferguson, saying: ‘In the same year that Mark Duggan’s murder was deemed lawful, and where the USA’s ongoing war on black people has been defined by a string of killings of black men by police, it is as important as ever to affirm solidarity between our people across borders.’ Those that spoke called for everyone to stand alongside the family of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, at a time when justice continues to be denied to the Black community. People of all ages and races stood and held placards and candles to condemn the shooting of Michael Brown in solidarity with protests taking place across the globe.

 NUS Black Students Officer, Malia Bouattia, offered solidarity with Ferguson from the NUS Black Students campaign and said that ‘your (Ferguson) resistance is an example to us all!’ She declared that the ‘police cannot and will not work on behalf of black people’ ‘their role is to terrorise, divide and humiliate us. There is no appealing to a moral conscience that does not exist!’ She said ‘Our community cannot afford to lose anymore loved ones, we must take to the streets and in the words of Stokely Carmichael we need to ‘Organise Organise, Organise!’

 Addressing the protest,co-Chair of BARAC, Zita Holbourne said how sad it was to ‘come together after another black man has been killed at the hands of the state, and of the police. ‘ She spoke of the family and friends of Michael Brown who will now have to dedicate years maybe decades fighting for justice and becoming activist, something they didn’t plan to do, because their son, an innocent 18 year old had been murdered by the police. ‘As a mother of a young black man it pains me that we have to warn them, not of the dangers of crime that may affect them, but of the dangers of the police criminal state that may harm them or even murder them’. Zita continued. ‘We now that when power, prejudice and privilege come together that equals institutional racism. The judicial system is a corrupt system that fails those that are the most poorest. Cuts to legal aid in the UK means that those that face the most injustice are least likely to be able to access justice. ‘ Zita also announced that BARAC had initiated a grass roots campaign with other UK black organisations called Elbow out Ebola and invited people to join the campaign and attend the conference on 5 December in London. She finished by praising the grassroots Black organisations and campaigns like NUS Black students campaign and Black Revs that had initiated the protest in solidarity with the communities in Ferguson. BARAC is proud to support Black young people taking the lead as community activists standing up for our community and against racism. Contrary to how the politicians and police demonise our black young people as criminals and worthless it was great to see such raw talented and organised young activists leading the way for equality, Justice, freedom and humanity.

 As the crowds continued to swell were then addressed by Carol Duggan, the aunt of Mark Duggan shot dead by police in Tottenham in 2011 on behalf of Justice for Mark Duggan Campaign Carol ‘We want to send out condolences to Mike Brown’s family. We feel the pain and know the pain of losing somebody at the hands of the police,’ she told the crowd. ‘We know what it feels like to know that a member of your family has been murdered in cold blood. That is why we stand in solidarity with the community in Ferguson, who are very, very brave people.’ Mark’s death mirrored that of Mike Brown in that both were innocent, posing no threat and unarmed, both raising their hands in surrender, both shot dead and then subjected to character assassination. Mark was murdered by the police and yet the inquest found that he was lawfully killed and also that he was unarmed. Carol talked of the smear campaigns against them and their families. ‘They won’t even admit they are killing people. They are just ‘removing the threat’ ‘In America the police are vicious, even shooting people in the back’ and she went on: 'They've come to a point in Ferguson where there is no turning back. 'They have to carry on fighting. They have to see this through. And we have to stand behind them because you know what happens there will eventually happen here.’

 Marcia Rigg, sister of Sean Rigg, who died after being arrested and restrained by police in 2008 in Brixton Police station, spoke for the Sean Rigg Truth and Justice Campaign. Marcia said: 'Burning and looting - we don't condone these acts - but I for one and I'm sure people around the world understand the frustration and anger that the people are feeling when our loved ones are murdered on the streets. 'What else are we supposed to do?' ‘People across the world understand the frustration and anger that people in Ferguson are feeling when their loved ones are murdered,’ she said. ‘What are they supposed to do? We try to go peacefully, just ask for the truth, but all we keep getting is lies.’ ‘Another mother’s womb has been wrenched with pain by a police officer that he would do it again! The family is not alone we stand in unity with the people in Ferguson, and we must stand in unity to pressure the governments of the US and UK to stop police officers killing our people. We have to speak for the voiceless. We have to fight back and keep fighting till we get justice.’

 Other speakers included DTRTP spokesperson Wail Qasim, who asked ‘What is a Black life, truth is nothing at all black people are dehumanised with the snatching away of their lives.’ ‘Well Ferguson is a movement that says no to this.’ DTRTP chair, Hannah Dee thanked the organisers and reminded that people that ‘Black lives matter, this is a struggle that has no borders and called this the start of a new movement. She called on the national guard in Ferguson to put down their rubber bullets and their tear gas if they want peace!’ and that they should note ‘ there’s a murderer on the loose in America and his name is Darren Wilson’ Referring to the Ferguson statement that reads ‘This is not a moment it is a movement and the movement lives’ The protest heard from a RMT Union Paddington No1 Branch Secretary and the Chair of London Campaign Against State & Police Violence Chair before receiving solidarity greetings from Cerie Bullivant - (Cage Prisoners) who himself was the victim of the War on Terror in the UK, who warned that the ‘War on terror is a war on the poor and a war on Islam and spoke of the British citizen are kidnapped and taken abroad and tortured with state compliancy.

 London Black Revs finished the speeches with outlining how they are organising a new militant movement to defend communities from racism, repression and cuts and attacks of our services and urging people to join them to oppose the ‘worrying rise in support for UKIP and the shift that is taking place in Britain that is seeing the growing acceptance of racist arguments like the removal of immigrants’. ‘The threat is not just from the BNP and EDL, for attacks on immigration are also about sending back black people who are born here to ‘where they think we are from and we have to send a clear message that we are here to stay which is why they set up London Black Revs to help build inside our communities before the next Tottenham or Ferguson.’ They called for people to organise to survive for when the state comes it comes with trucks, tear gas and violence like in Ferguson. They also reminded those there that the cuts that are taking place are an attack on the black community, the poor, women, the disabled and those with mental health conditions and the need to defend our community and all oppressed in society.

 A minute's silence was observed to remember people killed by the police around the world, which was followed by a loud chant of 'killer police off our streets'. Following the vigil at the US embassy, thousands of protesters marched through central London along Oxford Street, Leicester Square, and Downing Street, and on to the Houses of Parliament blocking traffic and protesters held raised their hands are they filed the streets. And other protesters could be heard chanting ‘Being black is not a crime’ and ‘Hands up, Don’t Shoot’ as they marched through central London. Chants of ‘How many cops in the BNP?’ ‘No Justice No Peace, Get these killer cops off our streets!’ ‘How many cops in the KKK’ were accompanies by calls over the megaphones of enough is enough, End to police killings now.

BARAC welcomes the militant activism of London Black Rev's and NUS Black students, who organised this serious mobilisation in solidarity with Ferguson. These organisations are at the forefront of the campaign that is organising and challenging the cuts that are impacting on local communities and workplaces and disproportionately on the black community. Last year, following the verdict of inquest into the killing of Mark Duggan, BARAC called on community organisations to actively boycott the police. BARAC welcomes the call from protest organisers to unite and affirm that we will not engage willingly with the police. BARAC is committed to working to build grassroots movements to organise against police racism and state brutality. We will be joining LBR and Co-organisers at the NUS Black Students Campaign Winter Conference this weekend in London to discuss practical actions and united action to build in local communities. We urge BARAC supporters to join us there. Details: NUS Black Students Campaign Winter Conference, 29-30 Nov, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

 Useful links: Video:">Video"> Video:"> Video:">Video"> Video: Londoners rally outside US embassy for 'justice for Mike Brown’:

Saturday, 15 November 2014


Elbow Out Ebola is a new campaign initiated by BARAC UK and is chaired by Lee Jasper, Co-Chair of BARAC.

Sign up to the Elbow Out Ebola conference on 5th of December using the link below and support the global day of action. 

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                         November 2014

Launch of Elbow Out Ebola Peoples Campaign


The Elbow Out Ebola Peoples Campaign is a newly established, broad based peoples movement, initiated by the UK based, Black Activists Against the Cuts (BARAC) movement. The campaign is made up of both grass roots organizations and individuals who have come together to explore what can be done to support global efforts to respond to the Ebola global medical emergency.

After a recent initial meeting in London, to explore the issues and after much discussion among individuals and organisations, it was agreed to formally establish and publicly launch this important people’s campaign.

We strongly believe that ordinary people can make a real difference to the lives of the people of West Africa. A global people’s movement was thought the best vehicle to both help raise much need funds for projects working directly on the ground and address the longer term political issue of driving sustainable development agenda in the region.

A Global Call to Action:

This is an urgent call out to the people of the world on behalf of the people of West Africa to come together in a grass roots people’s movement to aid the peoples of West Africa.

Governments will only do so much without political pressure from people. It’s vitally important that we ensure that the world is no doubt of our demand for increased action to respond to the current crisis and agree a longer term plan to establish a regional health network in West Africa.

Our goals are simple;
·         To call for a Global Day of Peoples Action on Ebola to take place in the spring of 2015.
  • To campaign, lobby globally in partnership with others, to agitate, educate, Governments, institutions, agencies and civil society for concerted global action to one of the gravest medical emergencies the world has ever faced, the Ebola virus.
  • To campaign for a sustainable global development agenda for the establishment and creation of a regional health care system in West Africa.
  • To challenge the myths surrounding Ebola.

Elbow Out Ebola; A Global Emergency:

In Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, people no longer shake hands when they meet and greet each other, preferring to avoid each other or to briefly touch elbows in an effort to avoid infection for Ebola.

Touching elbows has now become a local tradition in parts of West Africa, where the risk of Ebola contagion is high and is unique and poignant reminder of the devastating impact this virus is having in human relations.

We have adopted this greeting, as part of our campaign, as symbolic act of solidarity with the people of West Africa who are suffering and in dire need of our help.

Join the Elbow Out Ebola Campaign:

This campaign intends to give Ebola the Elbow by calling on people power, a global alliance of civil society, trade unions, faith groups, community organizations, businesses, schools and universities, in a global peoples coalition, to come together in a determined attempt, to lobby Governments, intergovernmental institutions, to hugely increase their individual emergency aid and longer term investment in West Africa.

What Activities Are We Engaged In?

The campaign meets weekly and has agreed;

Elbow Out Ebola International Conference on December 5th from 9.00am – 5pm followed in the evening by a fundraising cultural evening, to take place at the Zanzibar Club, 291 Kirkdale, Sydenham, SE26 4QD

For more information and to book click here:  Elbow Out Ebola Conference

We are also organizing a Global Day of Action in the spring of 2015 under the banner “We Love West Africa” and we are in the process of organising several cultural and fundraising events across the UK.

We need all the help we can get and are asking people to sign up and join us and volunteer to support the campaign. You can contact us here;

Our Current Partners:

  • Black Activists Against the Cuts (BARAC)
  • BlackBritishBulletin
  • Coreplan Ltd
  • European Federation of Liberian Associations
  • Liberian Social Organization, UK (LASOUK)
  • Melqosh International
  • PCS Union
  • Sierra Leone High Commission and Ebola Task Force
  • Starlight Music Academy
  • The Nubian Times
  • The Voice Newspaper
  • TUC
  • Voice of Africa Radio FM
  • Zanzibar Nightclub

Further Information:

The Peoples Campaign 
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An open letter to Bob Geldof  has been issued  by the campaign, Race Equality in the Music Industry, whilst  his efforts are appreciated, the press release responds to the failure to include any more than 1 single black artist, Emeli Sande, amongst the 30 who make up Band Aid 30, being recorded this weekend ignoring the numerous other talented and successful black artists in the UK.  One of the co-signatories of the letter is artist and co-chair of BARAC UK, Zita Holbourne. 


November 15 2014
RE:IMI (Race Equality: In Music Industry) notes that Bob Geldof is recording a new  'Do They Know It's Christmas?' single by Band Aid 30 this weekend, with profits going towards the ebola response in west Africa. Whilst we appreciate this initiative and the many less high profile efforts by African community organisations in Britain, it is a shame that 30 years on, Geldof, a man who seems to have a passion for Africa, has not widened his address book to include African artists.
To the best of our knowledge the only African included in the Band Aid 30 lineup is Emeli Sande. Is it that Geldof is not aware of the numerous African British artists with commercial success such as Tinie Tempah, Leona Lewis, Dizzee Rascal, Beverley Knight, Corrine Bailey Rae, Omar, Sade Adu, Alexandra Burke, to name a few who could have been included?
Whilst this is not a personal attack on Geldof, the reality is that for all the good intentions  of the Band Aid 30 project to help Africans, what many within the African British and black music communities see from the published lineup is another form of Eurocentrism - the European off to help the African, without engagement with African musicians in Britain, let alone on the African continent.
If the music industry is serious about engaging with diversity, particularly race equality, which is the reason RE:IMI has been formed, then that message needs to feed through more, and be reflected in a British collective of artists such as Band Aid 30. As it is, whilst Emeli Sande's place in the Band Aid 30 lineup is well-deserved, as she is one of Britain's top selling recoding artists, her inclusion as the only African could be perceived as a tokenistic effort.
We hope that this open letter comes to the attention of the organisers of the recording session in order to redress the situation for future efforts. It would be helpful if today's multi-cultural Britain was better represented in the Band Aid 30 lineup. 29 years on, perhaps lessons can still be learnt from  Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Quincy Jones, whose ‘We Are The World’ effort was performed by a truly multi-cultural collection of artists known as USA For Africa.
Outside of Band Aid 30 and the big charities and NGOs, there are initiatives led by Africans both here in Britain and on the African continent. In London, the newly formed collective Elbow Out Ebola has a conference at Zanzibar in south London on December 5 to find out where ebola-hit countries are at, and how Diasporan Africans can help, and community groups BTWSC and African Histories Revisited are organising  a dinner fundraiser on December 6 at Best Western Cumberland Hotel in Harrow in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières UK's ebola response.
Interestingly, a number of African artists on the continent have recorded songs to raise awareness about the ebola virus, but as the organisers or artists do not have the same profile or media access as Geldof, you've probably not of heard of them. One of the songs is  'Africa Stop Ebola', which features singers well-known on the so-called world music scene, such as Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, and rapper Didier Awadi.
The song is a message about what people can do to help stop the spread of ebola in Africa, and is performed in French and local languages widely spoken across west Africa to ensure that the message is understood.
RE:IMI encourages Geldof, if he would like to help Africans, to engage with them and work with them rather than merely doing things for their benefit. We thank all the Band Aid 30 artists, but we are now wise to the rise in sales and profile which charity records, and concerts, provide.
Kwaku, RE:IMI co-ordinator
P O Box 14092, London NW10 1WL
Diane Dunkley, artist manager, RM2 Music
Dr Robbie Shilliam, lecturer, Queen Mary, University of London
Hugh Francis, chair UK Black Music Industry
Rikki Stein, artist manager, Fela Anikulapo Kuti Estate
Zita Holbourne, spoken word & visual artist, co-chair BARAC

Sunday, 26 October 2014



BARAC UK is supporting the campaign to save 22 year old dad from Croydon, Marcus Campbell, who is in a critical condition at Croydon University Hospital after having initially being turned away from the hospital in the summer, wrongly diagnosed with a virus.  He was subsequently diagnosed at St Georges Hospital with a rare inflammation of the brain stem. He was transferred to Croydon after 3 months at St Georges, against his family's wishes and the hosptial has stated that should Marcus's heart stop beating they will not resuscitate him. 


Marcus's family has been forced to launch a campaign to save him, demanding a transfer to a hospital with a specialist unit that can give him the care that he needs and deserves.

As if Marcus's critical condition was not enough for the family to deal with, they have been treated appallingly by hospital personnel, including being banned from visiting for a number of days, told they must seek permission to pray by his bedside by the hospital's head of security and told not to read the Bible to him because it won't do anything as he is going to die and his mother Sandra being told that she must take his belongings home as he won't be needing them again. 

It is an absolute outrage that a family wanting nothing more than to get the best possible care and support for their seriously ill loved one should be treated so inhumanely by the hospital who have attempted to deny them human and religious freedoms.

The petition launched by the family on has rapidly gained over 26000 signatures but more are needed to keep up the pressure.  They have staged three protests outside the hosptial supported by their local MP Steve Reed and it is of great concern to learn that at the protest held on Saturday,  security barred access to the hospital for some visitors allowing white people to enter but refusing entry to black visitors seemingly on the basis that because they were black they might be supporting the family campaign.

Support is needed by trade unions, community organisations and the wider community to save Marcus and get him moved to a hospital where he can receive the right treatment and care and against the horrific inhumanity,  injustice and race and religious discrimination Marcus and his family are facing.


What you can do to help:  

  For further info please contact the family directly via the twitter / facebook pages or email



 Human Zoo Barbican controversy comes to Liverpool


Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK has teamed up with the International Slavery Museum, PCS union and MCARF (Merseyside Coalition against Racism and Fascism) to reopen the debate that arose in London around the Barbican’s Human Zoo exhibition & institutional racism in the arts & culture sectors . The debate is taking place in the International Slavery Museum, Albert Dock on Monday 27 October at 5.30pm and is part of the museum's Black History Month programme.

The Barbican exhibition, in which white South African artist Brett Bailey, featured live black performers shackled and in cages charged visitors £20 to enter. Despite claiming to be a piece of art challenging prejudice and racism, the work created a huge controversy in the art world and black and anti-racist campaign groups including BARAC UK objected to the exhibition and their campaign forced the Barbican to cancel the show. The controversy generated debates around institutional racism, the role of art and the meaning of art censorship.

Zita Holbourne, national co-chair of BARAC and a member of the PCS National Executive Committee, will be one of the speakers as a leading campaigner against the exhibition. She says: “The protest that led to the cancellation of the Barbican’s Human Zoo exhibition was not anti-art – it was anti-racist. It is not black communities that censor art, rather arts institutions  that censor black artists. As an artist I am passionate about art, but I don't believe that the rights of a piece of art should be placed above the rights of people to equality, humanity & dignity ”.
The debate will be chaired by Dr Richard Benjamin, the Director of the International Slavery Museum, and will be joined by councillor Anna Rothery and Professor David Peimer, author and professor at Edge Hill University. Dr Benjamin says: “For me there is nothing more important than the culture sector being subject to such scrutiny. The International Slavery Museum has a very clear ethos, we are a campaigning museum and as such use the museum and its content to challenge views/actions/ideologies that persist today.”
PCS union has been at the forefront of highlighting how budget cuts are impacting on local communities and workplaces, including the museums themselves. Clara Paillard, President of the PCS Culture Sector and union rep at the Liverpool museums said:  “At a time when black communities are disproportionately impacted by job cuts and huge cuts are being made to arts funding it is becoming harder for black artists to find work and showcase their talents. Institutional racism means that black people are the first affected by local cuts in arts &culture budgets”.
Please call 0151 478 4062 to reserve your free place.
Contact: Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair BARAC
Tel. 07711861660

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Co-Chair BARAC UK contributes to a new publication by The Fabian Society & Compass on feminism & Labour

Riding The New Wave

Spurred on by social media and the effects of the recession, a new wave of feminism is gathering strength at an impressive pace. Meanwhile, our political parties struggle to offer inspiring solutions to the challenges people face in their daily lives. Is Labour in danger of becoming an irrelevance for this generation of feminists?

Yet Labour can still be a vehicle for contemporary social activists to achieve lasting, systemic change in their fight for equality – if the party can find ways to hang on and enjoy the ride.

Zita Holbourne is co-chair of Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC UK), an anti-austerity organisation, that also support family justice campaigns such as that of Mark Duggan. Though she’s active in her community, she writes in a new Fabian and Compass report released today: “The only time I ever see local councillors is when they are canvassing for votes”. In her view, local collaboration is the answer: “For black women to be attracted to Labour party activism, the party must be willing to support our grassroots campaigns in the spaces we have created too”.  This could involve the party campaigning on the multiple discriminations faced by young black people while respecting the fact that BARAC UK’s strong anti-cuts stance does not comfortably align with Labour’s public spending policies.

With contributions from:
  • Ivana Bartoletti, chair of the Fabian Women’s Network and founder of its magazine Fabiana.
  • Lisa Clarke, member of the No More Page 3 campaign
  • Zita Holbourne, co-founder and national co-chair of BARAC UK
  • Natacha Kennedy, academic at Goldsmiths College and a trans activist
  • Lisa Nandy MP, Labour member of parliament for Wigan
  • Yas Nacati, 18 year old feminist activist and campaigner living in London
  • Fiona Mactaggart MP, Labour member of parliament for Slough
  • Sue Marsh, writer and disability campaigner who blogs at the Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
  • Kirsty McNeill, strategy consultant to some of the world’s leading campaigning organisations
  • Anwen Muston, trans officer for LGBT Labour
  • Stuart White, director of the Public Policy Unit and an associate professor of politics at Jesus College, Oxford