Socialist Worker


Issue No. 1877

Speaking out against racism of police force

A couple of weeks ago I was with my friend at Forest Gate train station, east London, when we were stopped and searched.

Two officers went past and decided to stop and search us.

I said we hadn't done anything wrong. I think it's because I dared to say something that they decided to search us, right near where I live, so my family and neighbours might see.

I kept asking why I was being searched but they wouldn't answer me. One officer started putting cuffs on me.

Because I didn't want the cuffs on, the officer got on the radio and almost 12 more police arrived. I was pushed face first against the wall and arrested. Another guy, who is also black, asked the police what they thought they were doing. He was also arrested.

I told the police that I had to go to the job centre. I also told them I was fasting for Ramadan and had to break my fast at 4.30pm. They left me in the cells until 5.45pm.

This isn't the first time I've been stopped and searched. It is happening all the time to me and my black friends.

On bonfire night I was going into a park in Beckton to watch the fireworks when a police officer pointed at me saying, 'Him!' Six police surrounded me. They searched me, didn't find anything, but said I was not allowed to go into the park.

Every time I get stopped I hate the police more. The BBC programme on the police showed their racism. People like me knew it already.

Lal, East London

I WAS one of those jailed for protecting the community in Burnley against racists when they rampaged through in 2001.

The police were not in control that night. They did not expect the BNP to be so violent and aggressive.

I did have a bit of faith in the police beforehand. Now I have none whatsoever. The police made out that we were the racist ones because we acted to protect our community. I said I was not ashamed for what I did. I was sentenced to three years in prison.

I feared I would lose my job, my home and I was afraid for my family. I won my appeal and was released after six months.

I saw that The Secret Policeman programme. It was police from that Manchester force that came over to Burnley on that day.

The only thing Asian people have learned is you cannot trust the police.

Tariq Saddique, Burnley

A few years ago a very good friend of mine joined the force. Never in our friendship had he made a reference to any ethnic group.

However, within six months of joining the force he always blamed black or Asian youths for spoiling his day. He used more racist words.

It never crossed his mind that he was speaking to a black person, until I confronted him. The shock on his face made him look like the worst fool I have ever seen.

Florence, Kent

If you have any stories about police racism, please get in touch with Socialist Worker

Abbott has betrayed all black children

DIANE ABBOTT is right about one thing – her decision to send her son to a £10,000 a year private school is totally indefensible.

She seemed to understand the appalling predicament of black children in our schools better than most MPs.

A Department of Education report admitted that black Caribbean children are three times more likely to be excluded from schools than white pupils.

Over the last five years Diane Abbott convened a series of conferences at which thousands of parents, pupils and teachers exposed the institutional racism in education that blights the life chances of black children.

In March she chaired a conference called 'London Schools and the Black Child: The Search for Solutions'. Now we know the solution she chose – a posh private school.

Comprehensive education used to be one of Labour's core values. The abandonment of this principle by a left winger is further proof that New Labour is a party that prefers to preach to the deserted.

Richard Coyle, East London

Working class solidarity is becoming infectious

LAST MONDAY I had to ring the nursing home where I work and tell them I was too sick to go in.

The next day the manager phoned me and said if I wasn't back the following day I would be sacked.

I told her I was ill and it would be illegal for me to come in.

Because we work with elderly people who are often frail, we have to be clear of any illness for 48 hours before we go back to work.

She said she was short-staffed and I had to go in or that was it.

Then I had a text from the girls I work with. They said don't worry, we've told the manager what she is doing to you is really unfair and we're not having it.

They said this happens to us all the time but this time they will have a real fight on their hands.

A couple of them have been buying Socialist Worker from me. Then the manager phoned me back to ask when I was going back. She backed down totally.

It is a difficult place to work anyway. The top manager of the home is a real pig to us but that doesn't stop him being a member of the Labour Party. I was worried sick about losing my job. Now I am over the moon.

Now a few of us are talking about joining a union. When I am better, we're going out for a celebration drink.

Karen Jenkinson, Leicester

No thanks to Lib Dems

SOCIALIST Worker readers may remember Edwina Igbodo, the woman fighting to get a council house big enough for her five children, one of whom, Khadijah, is critically ill.

Brent council has finally offered Edwina a four bedroom house.

This is no thanks to our shiny new Lib Dem MP, Sarah Teather. During the Brent East by-election campaign you couldn't move without bumping into a Lib Dem. As soon as she won, they didn't want to know. I called her for weeks asking for help for Edwina and she never responded. Then I got a grovelling call, but the council had already moved. This is a brilliant breakthrough.

Edwina loved the article about her in Socialist Worker. The publicity she got really helped.

Lucy Cox, West London

Filling the political void

I WENT to the British Politics at the Crossroads meeting in London on 29 October.

I think the meeting was very timely and the idea of filling the present political void on the left is essential.

It is a means of influencing mainstream politics in a socialist direction and hopefully providing a viable alternative that can one day lead a government.

This project provides an exciting opportunity to channel the powerful force that unifies the Stop the War movement and trade unionists who feel abandoned and betrayed by the government.

Jo Borghi, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Backing grows for Convention

AT OUR recent London Unison Regional Committee we proposed a motion to back the Convention of the Trade Union Left, planned for February.

The motion was seconded by John Rogers, National Executive Council member and a supporter of reclaiming the Labour Party.

He agreed with us that we need a debate on the left in the trade unions on the issue of political funds.

We agreed to produce a Unison manifesto for the London Mayoral elections and to invite all candidates to demonstrate that they would support it.

Rahul Patel, London Region Unison publicity officer

Read this anti-war classic

I ENJOYED reading Bob Light's review of the film All Quiet on the Western Front (Socialist Worker, 8 November).

Bob did not mention that this is a film of a book by Erich Maria Remarque, a German, that took the workers of the world by storm.

I still own my late uncle's copy. This was the 27th English reprint to appear in less than two years after the publication in Germany.

My uncle and my father were both members of the Liverpool branch of the Labour League of Youth, and this copy was passed around from hand to hand.

In those days the labour movement, which the Labour Party was then a part of, stood for international peace and reconciliation.

Can I urge readers of Socialist Worker not only to watch the classic film, but to read the book.

Tony Wild, Sunderland

School students' walk out plea

I WANT to urge anyone who is in school, college or university to join us in walking out when Bush comes to town.

We want to show the media that the school student movement is alive and well. And we will not stop until we find the solution to end corruption and the lies that capitalism brings.

Maria Underwood, South East London

Worrying signs in the skies

SINCE SATURDAY, people in the Highlands of Scotland have been witnessing large movements of US warplanes overhead.

Experienced observers say the large numbers are reminiscent of those that preceded the bombing of Iraq in 1998 and military strikes on Libya in the 1980s as well as the first Gulf War. Can the US be planning another major attack?

Miguel Fatas, Scotland

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Article information

Sat 15 Nov 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1877
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