[from Hackney Gazette]
Boris slammed for taking the race out of Rise
27 June 2008
SUPPORTERS of Finsbury Park’s free music festival have criticised the new mayor of London for abandoning its anti-racism message.
Trade unions joined anti-racist campaigners in condemning Boris Johnson’s decision to drop the tagline London United Against Racism, from the annual Rise Festival next month.
A statement from Mr Johnson stressed his “unequivocal” opposition to racism and underlined how he wanted to emphasise the “cultural and community dimensions” of the festival.
The campaigning organisation, National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR), is among Mr Johnson’s critics.
“Support for the festival from performers has always been based on this anti-racist message, so the change is sure to be highly controversial,” said an NAAR spokeswoman.
“The sincerity of Boris Johnson’s claimed commitment to opposing racism in his election campaign is shown to be false.”
The Cuban Solidarity Campaign (CSC) has been told it is not welcome at this year’s event because of “overtly political” views.
The move has infuriated the Unite trade union, which reacted by pulling its funding for the Latin American stage.
Unite’s London regional secretary, Steve Hart, said: “Censorship is unacceptable to my union and so I am left with no alternative other than to withdraw our intended funding.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Johnson said: “Boris has made a commitment to go ahead with the Rise Festival this year and wants to emphasise its cultural and community dimensions.
“The idea is to promote it as a major festival that brings together Londoners from all backgrounds in a joyous celebration of music and culture.”
The Rise Festival was first organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in the wake of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
Highlights of this year’s festival, which takes place on Sunday, July 13, include Brazilian electro-rock band, CSS, and Jamaican reggae legend, Jimmy Cliff.