Being Woke: Understanding the Kingsland Road Uprising
By Toyin Agbetu | Sun 30 July 2017
Front line of the Dalston Kingsland Uprising
Toyin Agbetu shares his account of how a Occupy Kingsland Road vigil turned into the Dalston Kingsland Uprising.
This is not a video about ‘bad youth’.
But neither is it the story of a people so comfortable in their oppression that once the State ignores their ‘we shall overcome’ banners and protest dance they run and resort to shouting from behind their keyboards.
For those of you interested in Truth then understand that this account is about recording history. Its about sharing facts and an honest alternative account to prevent the mainstream media story of ‘masked mobs riots’ becoming the ‘official’ version of ourstory. Yesterday (on Friday 28th July) something happened which is part of a larger movement of resistance taking place across the UK. If you weren’t there then you might not feel or understand the vibe, if you were too scared to get involved (and there is no shame in that) then you’ll probably deny its significance, but I’m telling you it was a sign of a section of British society that has been ignored and disrespected telling the world that it’s sick to death of being invisibly, oppressed, exploited, gentrified and pushed aside by those who fail to see or nurture the genius within for fear of change. I’m talking about African people (and for those that don’t know that includes those with Caribbean or dual heritage).
So, what happened on 28 July 2017? Well by the time I arrived at Dalston it was late in the evening. Upon arrival, I saw the formation of an uncompromising Occupy movement, not one obsessing on the colour of their tents, coffee lattes and iPads but instead, a group of people honouring a fallen 20 year old brother and many who collectively believed the only way to make it clear they want justice was to play for high stakes.
Shrine to Rashan Charles
The Police had a circus planned
Fires were raging in the road and the tale of how a truck that had been attacked after it ransacked the young peoples barricade was being shared by all and sundry. I immediately did my usual reconnaissance of the area and what I saw hidden in various spots down the road filled me with dread. I counted almost 100 police officers in various vans, teamed up with City police officers with riot gear waiting for action. At one moment, I was asked questions by an independent security officer protecting the media, but despite his polite demeanour his presence told me everything. The police were planning a massive operation and wanted sympathetic journalists embedded with them to cover their theatrics.
At this moment I knew that no matter what occurred, even if we all sat on the floor holding hands singing “we shall overcome” and “kumbaya”, after all this police planning, the huge costs of coordinating two forces and promising news channels exclusive footage, they were definitely going to come in force.
I went back to the vigil and tried warning our young people. Some listened, but for many who had come already masked up, my words were ignored. They were angry at being made politically powerless, for being taken for granted, for having to watch elders comfortably talking on their behalf outside police stations, on tv screens and radios but unwilling, too scared to be with them when they faced real danger. Tonight they were hyped and despite what any of us said, and we tried, they were prepared to throw all caution to the wind.
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For many who had come already masked up, they were angry at being made politically powerless, for being taken for granted, but also at elders comfortably talking on their behalf but unwilling and too scared to be with them when they face real danger.