The Home Office has launched a new wheeze to tackle knife crime. Judging by the responses, though, it could be one of the worst ideas it’s ever had.
Certain fried chicken stores are replacing their usual packaging with special boxes. Bearing the hashtag #knifefree, the boxes also feature “real life stories to show people how they can go #KnifeFree”.
London-based writer George Luke spotted what might be going on, making reference to the racist stereotype that ‘Black people love fried chicken’:
First it was the news of new stop and search laws, now it's #KnifeFree messages on fried chicken boxes.
This is racist, and racial profiling.
The powers that be know this, they want to spread hatred, division, and civil unrest.
Don't fall for their obvious trap!
— GOᑎᘔO Kᖇᔕ™ (@GonzoKRS) August 15, 2019
And Labour MP David Lammy suggested the campaign had more than a whiff of Boris Johnson about it, given that the prime minister has previously called Black people “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” (again, echoing racist imagery):
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) August 14, 2019
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, meanwhile, denounced the chicken box plan as “crude, offensive and probably expensive”. She also said the Home Office “would do better to invest in our communities not demonise them”.
Investment vs wasting money
Academic and former youth worker Adam Elliott-Cooper appeared on Sky News to discuss the chicken boxes. And he highlighted the background of Conservative cuts:
at a time when over 100 youth centres have been closed across London, this really is an insult to see these kinds of resources being put on chicken boxes instead of real, tangible youth services.
He then described how one of the stories on the boxes talks of a young man growing up with few opportunities. His message to the government was clear:
Well here’s an idea. Instead of writing a story about a young man who grows up in a community with not a lot of opportunities, and putting it on a chicken box, why not make more opportunities in those specific communities? Why not re-invest in those kinds of youth services that have been cut, why not invest in those kinds of mental health provisions that have been cut, why not invest in the educational maintenance allowance which has been scrapped?
And he finished by saying:
I think it’s a profound insult to these young people as well, when these opportunities are being taken away, that you’re putting a story about this lack of opportunities on the back of a chicken box.
It's an insult that the government is putting resources into chicken boxes while cutting vital youth services.Adam Elliott-Coope on Sky News on the offensiveness of the Home Office plans to tackle knife crime via chicken boxes.
Posted by New Economy Organisers Network – NEON on Thursday, 15 August 2019
Featured image via Twitter – Home Office
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