Socialist Worker

Met use Notting Hill Carnival as excuse to harass black people

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2216

Police carrying out a house raid in the run up to Notting Hill Carnival
Pic: Metropolitan Police

Police carrying out a house raid in the run up to Notting Hill Carnival Pic: Metropolitan Police

The traditional harassment of black people by the police in the run-up to the Notting Hill Carnival has begun.

More than 70 people have been arrested so far in the Met police’s Operation Razorback.

They have declared that this weekend’s carnival will be a “hostile environment” for criminals.

But like every other clampdown, it does little to stop crime but much to add to the climate of alienation and racism felt by young people.

Operation Razorback’s tactics include hand-delivering hundreds of letters to “advise certain people” not to attend the event.

The cops are also embracing the internet, recording a YouTube video and posting regular updates on Twitter.

More ominously, they are monitoring the Facebook pages of people who say they are going to the carnival.

In addition, a series of police raids are taking place across London, with officers in full riot gear.

A police spokesman said, “We will target gangs who bully, carry weapons and commit crime, and we will continue to investigate, arrest, convict and imprison people who have no respect for others.”

In among the local newspaper headlines of weapons finds—such as a samurai sword and a ball bearing gun—some people have been arrested for immigration offences.

There are unconfirmed reports of at least one deportation.

Operation Razorback is about creating a climate of fear in the run up to the carnival.

One witness to a dawn raid on the Peabody Estate, in North Kensington, told Socialist Worker, “I’m completely freaked out. I thought I was going to be murdered.

“It was the noise of them [the police] breaking down a door a couple of flats away. There seemed to be cops everywhere on the street it was terrifying.”

Mike is a young black man in Brixton. He told Socialist Worker, “You realise Carnival is coming round again when you get stopped and searched more often.

“There are more cops around, and they are just that little bit more aggressive than usual.”

No other public event receives this sort of policing—it’s institutional racism in action.

On the day of the carnival, groups of police officers will be concealed in strategic positions. One unit will be armed and all entrances will have search points.

The police will use Section 60 of the Public Order Act, which enables them to stop and search people even without reasonable suspicion.

Two years ago the operation saw police detain over 150 people at the Oval, miles away in south London, to “prevent crime”.

The police have always hated Carnival. But it does provide them with an annual opportunity to express their racism and the opportunity to harass thousands of young black people.

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Article information

Tue 24 Aug 2010, 17:30 BST
Issue No. 2216
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