The Post Bag: Letters To Squall
To rave or riot - Exodus reply
Letter to Squall from the Exodus Collective, printed in Squall issue 13, Summer 1996.
Squall 13, Summer 1996, pg. 64.
The most love and respect going out to all JAH soldiers at Squall, and to JAH soldiers everywhere from The Exodus Collective.
This is a reply to the letter written by Emile Henry published in the last issue under the heading ‘To Rave or Riot?’
We are chuffed at Emile’s raising of this issue, so would like to make these points, with a view to hopefully fuelling the debate.
There is a massive difference between police “approaching community leaders for help in diffusing a situation” and what happened in Luton. We had absolutely no contact at all with police, but we believed then and believe now that the police chiefs chose to apply the paramilitary tactics they did at Marsh Farm as part of a wider exercise.
Beds police dealt with the original incident, a burning car and thirty kids, by advancing a column of riot police, and flying a helicopter shining a massive beam of light, which brought people from all over Luton into the area. The first night’s incidents were followed the next day by Luton’s newly-appointed divisional commander appearing on television hourly, in an amazingly provocative way, saying police had reclaimed the area. A mass media circus’ arrived, and police stopped vehicles everywhere for ‘checks’. Now the months of petty week raids on Marsh Farm prior to the riot make more sense. The estate was tense and it felt horribly like that was how police command wanted it.
We believe the Marsh Farm riots were a result of a national change in the policing methods used in Britain which are more recognisable in British colonies such as Hong Kong. (read of ‘Shooting in the Dark’ by Gerry Northam). We believe that Marsh Farm was used as a proving ground for these new police tactics which are high profile and all about BEING SEEN to control.
We could have cancelled the dance and joined the riots if we had believed that to be right. But we are part of a movement that firmly believes in the power of being ‘massive but passive’. We are confident that recently appointed ‘new- style’ police chiefs in Bedfordshire and beyond, were gutted by the fact that a real community dance has been PROVEN to be more effective than any strong-arm stormtrooper approach. This was clearly obvious when many young people preferred a radical dance to a riot when given the option. After the disturbances, the police publicly denied the dance had any effect, claiming it was down to their policing methods.
When you read Gerry Northam’s book and become aware of the secret changes in British police strategies, You realise the fact that police command is fully aware of the consequences of its actions. In Luton they seem to be creating a sponge to soak up rebellious and angry members of our community.
Exodus is not just about criticising the old Babylonian way, but is also deeply serious about building an example of a better way for the future. To believe in the ‘right’ to be violent whilst building that way means more of the same old shit. If you ‘gain freedom’ through violence, then you should expect to have to defend it by the same means. We believe in the triumph of reason over will, good over evil. In other words, that our culture, based on sharing and cooperation, is so right and they’re culture, based on self-interest and competition is so wrong, there will come a time when we just need to force debate and they will be unable to argue against such obvious truths.
Something deep inside of most people says that violence is wrong. We believe in the building of a non-violent society that values all life, and which has respect not force as its police. So surely you should begin as you mean to go on.
All of this would just be talk if we didn’t have another positive means of resistance in place of riots, which have rightly been described in the past as the voice of the people. We believe in “collective security for surety” as written in Bob Marley’s ‘Rat Race’, and have demonstrated this on many occasions. This firmness of purpose is the reason our dances continue to this day.
In the face of such opposition to our culture, we believe it is our duty to be constructive not destructive, because we are confident that the construction of a new way always signals the destruction of an old one, and that DIY culture is the roots of the new one.
The Exodus dances are the heart to a movement that is not on the Babylon terms and not of their timing. The ARK Community and Activity Centre proposal will give this movement a permanent home and a means whereby people who have no voice at present can speak. No longer will they need to smash the few facilities people can use.
The massive gatherings that are community dances are in total contrast to the paramilitary vision of Britain (Howard’s Way), where any large crowds need controlling by armies of police and security. Our dances show this to be bollocks, so undermining their reason for being - the people are more responsible than they are, so people question their worth. This has been repeatedly shown in the many mass confrontations we have had with their riot police, and we’re sure that 4,000 people peacefully demonstrating outside Luton nick makes them think twice about so readily opting for violence over dialogue. Hence their opposition to The Ark and all our other activities.
We know where we’re going, and we know where we’re from. We’re leaving babylon, we’re going to our Father’s land...
Exodus, Movement of JAH People… Robert Nesta Marley (still alive).
Bouncer, Glenn, Bruce, Mandy, Nobby and Jonny B