Hackney Solidarity Group: 1990 video clip + PDFs

A short clip of interviews with HSG activists Norman and Justin about opposition to the Poll Tax and the increased class struggle dimension in the anarchist movement after the miners’ strike.

Hackney Solidarity Group was launched in 1989 and existed until at least 1993. Its main activity was opposition to the poll tax, but it was involved in a number of other local working class campaigns too and had a fine line in exposing council corruption.

The footage above is taken from the film “Dare to Dream: Anarchism in England in History and in Action” directed by Goldsmiths student Marianne Jenkins in 1990. It’s is an interesting overview of veterans like Albert Meltzer, Nicolas Walter and Philip Sansom (all of whom have since died) alongside a new generation of activists from London Greenpeace, the anarcho-syndicalist Direct Action Movement and HSG. It even features what looks like a young Roger Hallam of Extinction Rebellion at the 24 minutes mark.

Many issues of Hackney Solidarity Group’s Hackney Heckler newsletter can be now be viewed as PDFs on archive.org. This site includes an introduction to the group as well as scanned versions of the Heckler. (Irritatingly I’ve not got a copy of the issue Justin is holding up in the clip above though…)

There were two subsequent iterations of Hackney Heckler, one in the noughties (or possibly late nineties?) and one by Hackney Solidarity Network in 2018, which can be seen in all its full-colour glory here.

Hackney School Kids Against The Nazis (1978)

“We are black, we are white – we are dynamite!”

This short news clip shows a group of kids leafletting outside a school (I’m not sure which one?) and discussing racism and the National Front with fellow pupils. You can also see a march by school children across Hackney Downs.

Heartwarming stuff – I’m very grateful to Louis Allday for posting this to Twitter (and to the comrade who brought it to my attention).

School Kids Against The Nazis badge

School Kids Against The Nazis was an initiative by the Anti-Nazi League, but as you can see from the clip this incarnation in Hackney was a very grassroots affair with distinctly homegrown leaflets (and accents!).

There was a battle for the hearts and minds of schookids taking place in the late 1970s, with the National Front publishing its own youth paper Bulldog to pollute children’s minds with its fascist ideas. The NF also produced its infamous “How To Spot A Red Teacher” leaflet in 1978 which led to some physical attacks on teachers. The Front was especially active in Hackney in this period – its National HQ Excalibur House in Great Eastern Street in the south of the borough opened in 1978 also.

Hackney School Kids Against The Nazis was formed shortly after the ANL’s Carnival Against The Nazis in Victoria Park on April 30th 1978.

The clip is taken from a longer Thames Television documentary which you can see here:

There is a tonne of great Hackney-related footage in the full piece (but the school kids segment is the highlight for sure):

00:00 ANL march from Traflagr Square to gig in Victoria Park, including interviews with marchers

03:07 Patrick Kodikara of Hackney Campaign Against Racism

03:52 Leafletting session on Hackney estates

04:45 Leafletting Ridley Road market: “Remember to bombs on Hackney, we remember in Ridley Road, we remember Mosley’s fascists”. As Charles points out in the comments below, this includes Monty Goldman – one of Hackney’s most prominent Communist Party candidates.

05:36 Veteran tenants organiser Bob Darke (previously covered on this site here)

07:59 Haggerston Labour councilliors Roger and Ros Tyrrell

11:15 Aiden White from East Ender newspaper

13:13 School Kids Against The Nazis

There is also some great footage of Hackney school kids talking about police racism in the 1980s here.