Racist cops no surprise for young black people
The Metropolitan Police has always been institutionally racist. I first encountered them when I was stopped and searched at the age of nine, just yards from my family home.
Three tall white male officers ran up and boxed me in against the wall of a shop. Dozens of people were inside watching. My heart felt as if it was going to explode.
All I could think was that I was going to be arrested for something I hadn’t done. They told me that 'there are a lot of thieves in this area and you looked very suspicious and nervous, so we need to check your details'.
I wasn’t given any receipts, and I didn't know what would happen with the details I had given.
From there my encounters with the police only got worse. One evening as a teenager I was sitting on a bench with some friends when two police vans mounted the pavement.
Ten big white male officers jumped out and launched themselves at us. I was knocked over, and when I staggered back up, a forearm strike to the throat forced me back against the wall to be searched. They screamed abuse at us.
My friends were dazed and winded. An officer rammed their heads into the wall. One of them had an officer’s hand around his throat, on the pretext that he was “resisting arrest” by curling over for air.
They even attempted to arrest one of my friends, claiming that the fluff from his jacket was cocaine. No slips were given. We were told to 'fuck off, and if you say anything we’ll find you black boy'.
That night we realised that no matter what we did, where we were and what we wore, the colour of our skin made us a target for the police. I have now been stopped at least 20 times, always with aggression and racist abuse.
So when it emerges in the media that the police have been caught being racist, none of my friends are surprised.
What is clear among young black and Asian people is that it happens every single day.
Arnie Joahill, West London
Police brutality opened our eyes
I hope the penny is starting to drop about the police. That's what happened for many miners during our strike in 1984–85.
I’d already had a truncheon on my neck, and that’s a great educator. But most miners would have said that the police did a good job. They lived under that illusion because they'd had very little contact with the police.
At the start there was a bit of laughing and joking with the police on the picket line—until they got some experience of being pushed around.
It was when a few heads had been cracked that people began to see the police for what they are. Having your windscreen smashed in on your car is a real wake-up call too.
It made miners question their own attitudes to black and Asian people.
When you’re in trouble, and you see other people in trouble, you make links. People on the receiving end of state repression became our comrades.
It worked wonders as an education. It’s been the same for students more recently and people on anti-fascist protests.
I wouldn’t trust a copper as far as I could throw him. If anyone wants to argue against that now, they should see what they say once they’ve got a taste of his truncheon.
Steve Hammill, Crewe
Women have the right to decide
Jenny Bloom (It’s not bigoted to say abortion is last resort, Letters, 7 April) says she is not a “bigot” and that legal and safe abortion should be available for those women who find themselves in a desperate situation.
However, she regards abortion as “harming one human being for the sake of another”.
This language is characteristic of the bigotry of the churches and anti abortionists, who always describe the choice of abortion as selfish, immoral and casual.
That’s what bigotry is—the denigration of women’s choices, reducing women to the status of irresponsible children.
Emma Hall, North London
Labour looks to Murdoch
The Murdoch press seems intent on punishing the Tories for not keeping the lid on the hacking scandal.
The Sunday Times dealt the government a devastating blow with its 'cash for access' revelations. The Sun has ferociously condemned Osborne’s budget as a budget for the rich.
In the most blatant way possible, Murdoch is showing the politicians what he can do to them if they cross him.
And what is the Labour Party response to this? Ed Balls has had an article in the Sun condemning the budget.
Murdoch is warning the Tories that if they are not careful, the next general election might well see the Murdoch press backing Labour once again.
And despite everything that has happened over the past months, after all the revelations of criminality and corruption, the Labour leadership are still prepared to embrace the Sun.
If ever there was a time to finish Murdoch once and for all, now is it. Once again, Labour is half-hearted, compromised and not sure what side it is on and the danger is that the opportunity will be let slip.
John Newsinger, Leicester
Syrians support uprising
Around 300 Syrians and supporters from across Scotland gathered in Glasgow recently for a fundraiser in solidarity with the revolution.
Many had long track records of opposing the Western powers’ illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There was a powerful photo and film exhibition depicting the vicious repression by Bashar al-Assad’s regime—as well as the mass resistance of ordinary Syrians.
Those who spoke highlighted the need to build solidarity and support for the revolution. At no point were there any calls for Western military intervention in Syria.
A few of us gave out copies of the recent debate in Socialist Worker about the Syrian revolution. This was well received.
People talked about the need to support the revolution while opposing Western efforts to hijack it for their own ends.
Socialists and anti-war activists can be confident that there is an audience for supporting the revolution in Syria and simultaneously opposing any military intervention.
Keir McKechnie, Glasgow
Speak out for Amanpreet
The campaign to stop the deportation of Indian lesbian Amanpreet Kaur received a boost when her partner spoke to a Social Work Action Network conference in Liverpool.
It is enormously difficult for LGBT asylum seekers to be accepted. They are subjected to racist and homophobic abuse in detention centres.
Amanpreet is now out of detention. She has been traumatised by her experience and her partner D is keen to speak at more meetings to raise support.
To book her email [email protected]
Sue Caldwell, North London
Workers of all regions unite!
Socialist Worker is right about the so called north-south divide (Does Britain have a north-south divide?).
Manchester tops the league for severe child poverty. A few miles away are some of the poorest wards in Britain.
But visit Manchester and you will see new buildings, big banks and hotels, and posh shops.
George Osborne is the MP for Tatton in Cheshire, where many of his rich tax-avoiding friends live.
The real divide in Britain is class, and class struggle is the only effective response to austerity—in the north and in the south.
Mark Krantz, Manchester
Football fans held to ransom
For my sins I’m a fan of Gillingham FC.
Last week the council banned all fans from attending the next match, on the advice of Kent police.
Unless the club foots the bill for extra policing costs, the game must be played behind closed doors.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has also called for clubs to start paying policing costs in their town centres and beyond.
Small clubs depend on gate receipts to survive. They could now be held to ransom by the police.
I remember the Hillsborough disaster, so forgive me if I don’t associate the police with crowd safety.
Kevin Best, East London
Does Bristol need a Boris?
This May, Bristol will decide by referendum whether to have a directly elected mayor.
Supporters of this argue that this will be more democratic.
But a mayor could not be removed inside his or her four year term. He or she would only need the support of a third of councillors to pass any policies or budgets.
It could make our local government even more top-down than it already is, and more susceptible to the influence of big business.
Tim Nelson, Bristol
Labour does the dirty work
I remember reading about a councillor being expelled from the Labour Party in Barking because he wouldn’t vote for cuts (Socialist Worker, 7 January).
Labour are doing the dirty work for the Tories.
We just had the “Bradford Spring” and those cretins can’t work out why.
I say it’s time now for a “spring” nationwide.
Martin Hickman, Rotherham
Workers can stop disaster
The Titanic disaster shows how workers come off worse under capitalism (Titanic: a disaster built on class).
But the events in 1912 also show them fighting back.
A month before the Titanic sailed one million miners struck for a minimum wage. Dozens of ships were laid up because of the shortage of coal.
And nine days after the sinking, stokers on the Olympic, Titanic’s sister ship, struck to win the correct number of lifeboats on board.
Their victory shows that the power of workers could have prevented disaster.
Nick Howard, by email