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Inverness protests against the fashion police

Jim Jepps

Dangerous or just warm?This Saturday young people in Inverness will be gathering to take part in a protest at plans by retailers in the Eastgate shopping centre to ban people from wearing "hoodies" and baseball caps.

The protest, called by Scottish Socialist Youth, stems from anger and concern about news that shops in the Eastgate centre will be the first in Scotland to adopt Tony Blair's "Hats Off" policy espoused by Northern Constabulary.

SSY Spokesperson, Simon Cann was quoted as saying "I think it is outrageous that young people in general are being targeted for the criminal actions of the few. The fact that shop owners can use discretion to target only 'likely' criminals means that only young people will be asked to remove their hats, and this is unacceptable."

"It is ironic that many of the Eastgate stores are quite happy to sell the offending articles, whilst banning them from being worn. This is simply adding to the creeping erosion of our civil rights."

The SSY, the youth wing of the Scottish Socialist Party are urging people of all ages to assemble at 2pm outside the centre's Marks and Spencers High Street Entrance, preferably in hats or hooded tops. Organisers are planning to lead a non-violent demonstration of civil liberty in order to express the animosity felt by many in Inverness.

Scottish Socialist Party Convener, Colin Fox described the measures as an attack on young people "It is time that young people were treated with respect instead of being criminalised. The SSP and the SSY have no time for loutish, threatening or anti-social behaviour, but the real solutions to these problems lie in offering a real future to our young people - not exploiting them as workers, ripping them off as consumers, or scapegoating them "en masse" for society's ills".

New Labour seems particularly keen at the moment to pose as the fashion police as it's a way of looking like they are tackling crime whilst in fact only making tokenistic speeches. It may well be that some people are intimidated by young people wearing hoods, just as they intimidated their elders by wearing quiffs and brothel creepers, or Mohican haircuts. The fact is you cannot legislate against youth - but it won't stop New Labour trying.

Bizarrely this is connected with a drive to have those doing community service to wear guantanomo style orange jump suits. The idea that making your local neighbourhood look like a prison yard will make everyone feel far safer seems bizarre in the extreme and is another indicator that New Labour would rather indulge in a three minute hate than address the real causes of anti-social behaviour. The idea behind community service is to help offenders feel they have made a contribution to and are part of the community - to use this as an opportunity to mark them out as evil doers is to offset any worth community service might have had.

We do need to address the causes of anti-social behaviour, but we can't do this by making easy speeches about the clothes young people wear and the music that they listen to. We should attack not just poverty, unemployment and poor housing - but also the disenfranchisement and alienation that many, particularly but not only the young, feel. But to do that you need to address the question of social justice and that is not the New Labour way.


Inverness Youth take to the streets in protest at "hoodies" ban
Saturday 4th June
Marks and Spencers High Street Entrance

June 2005


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