Day of Rage: Who are the Movement for Justice?

What is The Movement For Justice By Any Means Necessary?

The movement took action on the same day as the State Opening of Parliament (Credit: Twitter @followMFJ)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

As if things couldn't get any more heated in London, a mass protest rocked the capital on Wednesday as temperatures rocketed into the mid-30s.

The #DayOfRage demonstrators marched from Shepherd's Bush Green to the Palace of Westminster and Downing Street. The route took them through Kensington, the borough decimated by last week's Grenfell Tower fire.

The group that organised the protest is called the Movement For Justice By Any Means Necessary (MFJ). Much has been written about the group today, but little is actually known.

So who exactly are the MFJ? What are itheir goals?

The organisation has been around longer than you might expect. It was founded in 1995 by Kingsway College student union members in the bohemian hub of Camden, who came together with the goal to tackle organised fascism and institutionalised racism. Its origins can actually be traced even further back, with the public outrage triggered by the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

Since its formation, it lists among its achievements the closure of the British National Party's (BNP's) headquarters in London; the eradication of the movement from east London; and the construction of a movement against fascism. Yet its tactics have often been aggressive and divisive, providing its commitment to achieving its objectives 'by any means necessary.'

In 1995, for example, the group organised a paint attack on former Tory Party Chairman and Cabinet member, Brian Mawhinney to protest language used in relation to the Asylum bill of that year. Mawhinney was hit with flour bombs and bright orange paint as he began to give interviews on College Green, outside Parliament.

It seems several of the group's original members remain active today. Indeed Karen Doyle, who is co-ordinating the Day of Rage protests, claims to have been involved in the movement for the last 22 years. Elsewhere she also describes herself as an artist and a "revolutionary."

On the group’s Facebook page, it defines itself as an “organisation always pushing forward” to build an “independent, integrated, youth-led civil rights movement” which is representative of minorities and the oppressed. It also says it is “not afraid to stand on the truth”, and asserts that the “great majority of society” longs for leaders who aren’t afraid to fight for the people.

The aim of the MFJ’s latest event is to demonstrate against austerity, budget cuts, and anti-immigrant attacks, organised in response to the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. The group has declared its intention to “bring down the Government” with the Day of Rage protest.

The MFJ has been accused of trying to “hijack” the grief of the Grenfell Tower survivors by a community centre helping some of the former residents of the tower. Many are also concerned that the demonstration could turn violent, with numerous figures – including Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell – urging the protesters to remain peaceful.

It's easy to see where the concern stemps from. An editorial from the Movement for Justice magazine in November 1997 promised the group would build “militant campaigns for justice” to counteract and connect all of the supposed injustices committed by the state. Earlier today our own presenter, Julia Hartley-Brewer,asked Doyle three times to condemn any outbreaks of violence which might take place at the event, to which she didn’t give a clear response. Our presenter said she should hang her head in shame at this, pointing out the word ‘rage’ is defined as ‘violent, uncontrollable anger’ earlier in the interview.

So does ‘militant’ include the potential use of violence? By the time temperatures have cooled this evening, we'll probably have a better idea.