Hackney Heckler issue 11, November 1992


Hackney Council prides itself on “Working for Local People”. It’s their buzzword, their slogan! They put it everywhere. And its a complete joke which just shows how out of touch the idiots are with our reality. That’s a reality of cockroach-infested flats, closed nurseries, crumbling schools, potholed roads, run-down libraries, higher and higher council rents. It’s a reality of collapsing local services, of more and more people struggling to stay above water.


And what do our beloved council leaders do? They boast about winning the City Challenge. Great! More expensive shops, more empty offices – while our homes rot around us. And more jobs for the boys / girls, more backhanders, more palms greased. Corruption? What corruption! And when those toe-rags aren’t boasting, they’re blaming council workers… or squatters… or Poll Tax non-payers. “It’s all their fault there’s such a crisis!” cry McCafferty, Shepherd, Craig and the rest of the Mare Street mafia. Talk about blaming other people for your problems, your mistakes, your stupidities.

The Mare Street mob just take the biscuit. The real problem – apart from being corrupt and cracked – is that they are a bunch of gutless, spineless tossers. Time again, the Government has starved Hackney of money – money desperately needed to maintain our services and standard of living. What do our glorious council leaders do? Whimper, whine, complain slightly… and do sweet F.A! They don’t care because they’ve got their power, their nice big salaries, their high-flying careers ahead of them – and they think we’re too stupid, too apathetic to do anything about the savage injustices they’re constantly imposing on us.


Well, we’ve got news for them. We showed our power through the Poll Tax when we stuffed both central government and the council. Poll Tax is now dead and buried thanks to our struggles, our fights, our solidarity. And we show our power whenever we work together as a community, helping each other – all the small deeds that help to make life a bit more bearable. We’ve shown what we can be capable of. The council leadership have shown that they’re only capable of being a bunch of shambling fools. We’ve got no time for the Tories or the Liberal Democrats: that’s just the same medicine but in a different bottle. If we really want something, the only people that can get it are us. Stuff the council, stuff the government – it’s time for a bit of people power.


After almost a year the Hackney Heckler is back. Now produced by members of the Colin Roach Centre, it will continue as a hard-hitting, funny and practical broadsheet. We aim to encourage people to organise and to take direct action about situations that affect their lives, as its obvious that we can’t rely on the government, the council, etc, to take the necessary action for us: we can only rely on ourselves!

On the recent huge miners’ demonstration Hackney Labour Group marched with their banner. Yet these same hypocrites support the council when it cuts jobs and services.

Hackney has a new centre set up with the aim of assisting people struggling together for a better future. It’s been named the Colin Roach Centre in memory of the young black man who was murdered in Stoke Newington Police Station in 1983. A number of groups and individuals are already involved with the centre, including the workers and some of the management committee of the Hackney Trade Union Support Unit (phone 071-249 8086), Hackney Community Defence Association (071-249 0193), and the Turkish and Kurdish community group Halkder, and the centre is developing a membership, supportive of those groups, but independent of them. For more information phone either of the numbers above.

The official opening of the Colin Roach Centre is to take place on January 12th 1993, the tenth anniversary of Colin’s death. A plaque will be unveiled at the centre, followed by the H.C.D.A. ‘We Remember’ Commemoration March to Stoke Newington Police Station, where wreaths will be laid in memory of all those who have died at the hands of Hackney police. Assemble 6:30pm in Bradbury Street on Tuesday 12th January. Bring your friends.


Did you hear the one about the police officer who was earning as much as £2000 per week from drug dealing? His name is Roy Lewandowski, a.k.a. Officer X, a one-time detective constable with Stoke Newington Drug Squad. Although not charged with drugs offences as yet, he’s just been in court on a theft charge, and is also facing charges of VAT fraud.

In Policespeak, this man is not a criminal, he’s “a rotten apple.” And he’s been taken out of the barrel – temporarily at least – because he’s been suspended from duty. Poor old Scotland Yard, hard pressed to deal with the booming drugs trade, had a problem choosing how to investigate Lewandowski and his mates. So they decided it should be an inside man – not just another officer from the Met., but an officer who knew both the area and the people involved.

Who better than Superintendant Ian Russell who used to work in Hackney. So long as the police investigate themselves, so long as Stoke Newington Drug Squad is investigated by Scotland Yard, so long as they appoint officers “familiar with the territory”, they treat our community with contempt. So long as they insist that it’s just a matter of a few rotten apples, and refuse to look at the opportunities for police crime and take away some of the police’s powers, our community will be the victims of crime – whether by ordinary decent criminals or police officers.


The council always tries to make its workers out to be the enemy, blaming them for lack of repairs, poor services, delayed benefit claims, whatever. As usual, they’re lying. Most council workers aim to do their best while being attacked by their management. The workers in Housing Benefits have shown a way forward; faced with a mounting workload, a management proposed staff reduction and a cut in wages they decided that enough was enough and walked out on strike. Four weeks strike got management to see the error of their ways. The workers didn’t get everything they wanted – but they certainly got a lot more than if they had just passively sat by while the council shat on them from a great height. It just shows: if you want something, you’ve got to fight for it..and there’s no use in complaining if you’re not willing to fight.


Most people will remember the storm over council corruption several months ago. A number of council workers were sacked because of allegations of corrupt practices. However, at the time, it was argued that many of those sacked were in fact innocent and the council were only trying to intimidate and frighten its workers while at the same time appearing to do something about corruption. One of those sacked, Julie Okoli, has now had her case heard by an Industrial Tribunal – the tribunal declared that there was no evidence whatsoever against her and awarded her substantial damages (though it’s never enough). Yet again this council is revealed to be a bunch of liars. Next time you hear MacCafferty, Craig or anyone else going on about this or that: remember that they always lie! Incidentally, why was MacCafferty never investigated for corruption – surely the evidence is strong enough or maybe because it’s only us poor bastards down at the bottom who get investigated?


The fight against fascism in Hackney has been going on for years. Hackney, for example, was at the forefront of the struggle against Oswald Moseley’s blackshirts in the 1930’s. In 1935, Moseley had tried to hold a ‘Nuremberg’ rally at the newly opened Olympia but anti-fascists protested and the resultant fascist violence in the hall disgusted many of his ‘respectable’ backers. In desperation the blacicshirts decid-ed to concentrate their efforts to promote fascism in east London. The centre of their propaganda was in Victoria Park Square.

Opposition was resolute. When the fascists planned a march from Victoria Park, anti-fascists mobilised to block the procession, in the ensuing punch-up there were many arrests. During the year there were many struggles in the park. On July 10th 1935, Israel Becow was arrested and charged with “using insulting words and behaviour” at a fascist meeting. Five days later Barney Becow faced similar charges. In addition he was accused of “assaulting a constable and…James Taylor, a fascist, by striking him on the face with his fist.”

Despite the opposition racist attacks continued at a high level. In 1937, two Asian men were pushing a barrow of tailor’s cuttings up Green Street. Some Nazis attacked them and were detained by the crowd. They were prosecuted in court but; “were dealt with leniently because the Indians… could not make themselves understood in the police court.” Racists mocked them from the gallery.

In 1938 another major confrontation took place outside the Salmon and Bull pub in Cambridge Road. Approximately 1000 fascists and their sympathisers were estimated by the police to have assembled. According to the police reports: “a large number of Communists and Jews” turned up to shout abuse. The fascists were again chased off. The most successful tactic employed by anti-fascists was to oppose all meetings on the street. In Ridley Road fascists spoke from a van. The Jewish People’s Council regularly disrupted them. The fight against fascism in Hackney took place on the streets. It did not die away with the defeat of Hitler. It is only by regular confrontation, in defiance of the authorities, that it will ever be banished from the borough, and the country.


Well, that’s a non-starter. We don’t need dope (or weed, draw, bush, hash, cannabis, call it what you will) as much as we don’t need tobacco, alcohol, tranquilisers, whatever. But a bit of dope can be as nice as a pint…if not nicer (especially if it’s good gear!)

Millions of people in this country smoke dope. It’s definetely less harmful than alcohol, tobacco or tranquilisers – but it’s still illegal. From the way the cops or the Government go on sometimes, you would have thought that smoking a bit of dope is like killing your granny. And when they’ve gone on about it, off they go down the pub (or into the drinks cabinet) and get sloshed. Did someone say hypocritical bastards?

Dope has been around for centuries – and for centuries it has been legally taken as a way of having a good time. After all, that’s partly what life is about – having a good time. So all our ancient relatives used to get very high without the fear of being busted. But this century the state decided to criminalise dope mainly because that’s what big business wanted. The reason for this was that hemp (from where dope comes) is an amazing plant that can produce rope, paper, clothes and many other things.

In the attempt to keep it illegal hemp has been researched more than any other plant, but the resarch has revealed many useful and ecologically sound applications. Hemp oil could be used as the substitute for the finest grade lubricating oils; at present they slaughter whales to refine such oils. Hemp has many medical qualities, it’s of known value against asthma, arthritis and rheumatism, is a tranquiliser and antibiotic. It’s less likely to cause cancer than many pharmaceutical drugs, and might even contain the cure to cancer. But the big paper and chemical companies didn’t like all of this because it was a threat to them – and, as they ran (and still run) the government, it was banned.

It’s still illegal now, partly because it gives the cops a good excuse to harass and criminalise us. And also if it was legalised, then the profits of the tobacco companies would drop (until one day there were Marlboro Leb Lights, etc!). A stoned Marlboro man – now, that’s a good thought.

Whatever: it’s time they got off our backs and let us smoke a bit of puff if we want to. The story of this is a classic example of the bosses and the state ruining our lives when all we want to do is to have a good time. Well, we’re having it whatever they’re doing – though it would be a nice change if they saw some sense (but we’re not taking any bets on that). All we can say is stay cool, stay free and get down.


PDF version available here.

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