From former members who were involved this year.
“With all of the things going around about Movement for Justice at the moment, I wanted to write about my experience of them and what’s happened recently.
There is some discussion of abusive behaviour and gaslighting in the post, and a brief mention of rape.
I’m quite nervous about posting this but I’ve made the post public, so please feel free to share it if you want to.
I’m writing this in support of a good friend of mine who has been treated horrifically by the leadership of MFJ. Everything I have written is with the permission of the person involved. The post is very long but is the only way I could write everything I wanted to say.
First, a bit of background on how I got involved with Movement for Justice. I went to my first Yarls Wood demo last December and another demo against deportations in Peckham this January. I liked the work they were doing and joined shortly after.
At my first MFJ meeting some members introduced themselves as being from ‘Movement for Justice’ and the ‘Revolutionary Internationalist League’. I didn’t think much of this at the time – lots of people are members of multiple groups, so I assumed it was one I hadn’t come across yet.
The more work I did with MFJ it became clear that the ‘RIL’ consisted of about 5 people within MFJ, ‘the leaders’. They were often very secretive, meet alone and most importantly – make all of the decisions. The more time I spent around the RIL, it became clear that they were more focused on building their vanguard for the revolution than sticking with things and fighting injustice (there are some examples of this in the paragraph below). I kept going and working with them because (again) I was new and inexperienced and really believed in what I thought we were fighting for.
I am the close friend referenced in the second blog. I had a number of concerns about things I had seen or heard over my time with the group, but as I was new to organising on the left I assumed I didn’t know how things worked and was inexperienced. After I have spoken to others about these things, I have realised that they really weren’t OK. I’m going to describe a few of them below:
– I think the worst one is from when I turned up to the demo on the Friday after the Grenfell fire at Kensington Town Hall (the one where residents occupied the town hall). A man who is in both MFJ and the RIL turned to me with a huge smile on his face and said ‘ooo, it’s our time! Everyone’s ready to go!’ When he saw the shocked look on my face he tried to backtrack a bit, saying it was very sad. At the time I put it down to him being a bit of a dick, but now it seems to be part of a larger pattern.
– Grenfell: After the ‘Day of Rage’ there didn’t seem to be any plans to go back to the area. Someone brought this up a couple of times (including the person who has disclosed their abuse) but was shut down. I really thought MFJ would continue fighting around Grenfell but seem to have completely dropped it.
– We went to a number of demonstrations against police brutality over the summer. Again, someone mentioned going back to these areas to organise and was told (I heard this myself) ‘I don’t think that’s where the dynamic forces are.’ So we didn’t go back.
– I once talked to a MFJ/RIL member about the fact that a lot of people don’t go to SWP/SUTR/UAF demos after the rape coverup by the organisation and was told ‘I don’t like that sectarianism’ which shut the conversation down.
I should say that dissent is not encouraged within the group, and it feels like you’re being told what to think. A lot of the time I thought if I spoke up I would be shut down immediately.
In relation to what has happened in the past couple of weeks, the person involved is a close friend of mine and I have been by their side through a lot of what has happened. After the initial ‘intervention’ they asked for some time away from MFJ/RIL to gather their thoughts. Despite this, various members of the RIL tried to contact them every day (sometimes getting other MFJ members to as well) via text, phone call and email, using various tactics to try to manipulate them into getting into contact with the group (including explaining to them what had really happened and how they’d misinterpreted it). I have seen all of the text messages and emails.
This a section from one of the posts made on Faceook:
‘Due to my lack of reply a member of the leadership tried to enter the house later in the week. I spent 20 minutes with my hand on the doorhandle preventing them from getting in and completely freaking out. The RIL member loudly said they will ‘come back later’, around 30min later I suddenly saw them through the window on the phone, not once ringing the doorbell, before they left again.’
My friend messaged me when this was happening and I made my way over to the house (we live on opposite sides of London so it took me about an hour to get there).
I am part of the ‘MFJ House’ chat on whatsapp as I was helping with some things while they were moving in. Shortly after my friend sent me the message saying that the person was trying to get into the house, the following two messages came through to the chat from the same person:
‘Me and [name redacted] are outside trying these bloody keys for ages 😦 Is anyone nearby?’
‘Actually the top lock is def unlocked and the key just turned in the bottom lock so feels like the latch may be on – [name redacted]/[name redacted] r either of u in??’
This is without telling any of the others who live in the house (their names have been redacted) that they were coming over.
I arrived not long after and we got as much of my friend’s stuff out of the house as we could.
I could write a lot more, but I think this is enough for now.
Additionally, my friend’s facebook account has been reported to facebook and suspended under Facebook’s ‘real name’ policy. They have not been using a full name for various privacy reasons, mainly because of escaping an abusive family that has been stalking them.
If anyone wants to talk about any of this (primarily people I know or those who have worked with or been affected by MFJ), please feel free to reach out to me.”