Socialist Worker

Racism scandals engulf the police

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2298

The past week has seen a series of racism scandals hit the Metropolitan Police.

It has nailed the lie peddled by politicians that the police are no longer institutionally racist.

The scandal broke last week when a recording of a black man being racially abused by police was released to the media.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is now investigating ten cases of accusations of racism against the Met. At least three of these had previously been dismissed by the IPCC after it said there was nothing to investigate.

Five of the ten cases concern officers based in Newham, east London. The investigations cover 20 police officers and one civilian worker. Eight cops and the civilian worker have been suspended while the inquiry takes place.

Being harassed and racially abused by the Met is all too common an experience for many young people in London.

Surprised

“The people at the top are completely out of touch when they say they’re surprised these things go on,” one black lawyer working in east London told Socialist Worker.

“This has become a daily reality for black and working class youth. The police are behaving with impunity and believe they won’t be punished.”

Met commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe released a video to all his employees claiming that “racism and racists will not be tolerated”.

But these are hollow words, the lawyer says. “For years the extensive use of stop and search has been a measure of how police feel they can treat people.

“Along with anti-terror legislation, the police use the protection of the law to harass people on the street. These incidents have spiked in recent years.”

Mauro Demetrio, a 21-year old black man, was pulled over by a van of eight police officers while driving in Newham on 11 August last year.

PC Alex MacFarlane subjected him to a tirade of racist abuse and told him, “The problem with you is you will always be a nigger”.

Mauro says the police also strangled and physically abused him. MacFarlane and two other police officers, PC Joe Harrington and a constable known as Officer C, have been identified by the IPCC as witnesses to the incident. Seven of the eight police officers in the van say they didn’t hear the abuse.

Mauro was taken to Forest Gate police station where he says he saw PC Harrington assault 15 year old Terelle Ferguson, kicking the black teenager in the back of the leg and kneeing him in the back once he was on the floor.

All this took place just three days after the riots sparked by the police shooting and killing Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London.


The cops’ foul record

  • Just two officers out of 2,270 accused of racist behaviour have been dismissed in the last seven years. Other resigned rather than being sacked—meaning that they kept any pension entitlements
  • Black people are 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police in England & Wales than white people. This figure has risen sharply in recent years—black people were 11 times more likely to be stopped in 2009
  • On 19 February police shot 25 year old black man George Asare four times with live rounds. They have also been accused of tasering him in the groin as he lay in a pool of blood in south London
  • PC Philip Juhasz demanded a police discount from a takeaway food store in King’s Cross station last September—and told the Asian shop manager to “go back to your fucking country” when he refused
  • Police shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man, in July 2005


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