Socialist Worker

Wave of police harrassment and raids in the run up to Notting Hill Carnival

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2367

Police stop young black people on the way to Carnival

Every year police stop young black people on their way to Carnival (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Some 112 people have been arrested after police smashed their way into homes across London ahead of Notting Hill Carnival this weekend.

Around 250 cops from the Territorial Support Group, Trident gang crime command and the dog unit raided addresses across the city on Wednesday.

This is a major escalation in the number of arrests from last year, when the police arrested 27 people in pre-emptive raids. Officers claim they are targeting “gangs”.

However, the pre-emptive arrests are the Met’s annual exercise in harassing mostly young black people in the run up to Carnival. And Scotland Yard says it will not rule out further arrests.

“As a child in the 1970s I can still remember fleeing in fear as they stormed into the crowds at the Carnival, wielding their batons” criminal barrister Brian Richardson told Socialist Worker.

“The Metropolitan Police has a very long and disreputable history of hostility to the Notting Hill Carnival and everything it represents.

“As ever, the decision to mount pre-emptive raids exposes the institutional racism that infects the police force.

“We must say no to harassment and defend the right of young black and white people to be out on the streets celebrating multiculturalism.”

In 2012, cops arrested 299 people over the weekend. Police detained a group of 36 people at King’s Cross tube station, 19 of those stopped were under 18 years of age.

Of those arrested 15 were taken away and held by police until they were let go without charge.

This year’s Notting Hill Carnival will be swamped with 13,000 police officers, an increase of 1,000 from 2012, with cops set to patrol the streets from Saturday.

Special officers who call themselves “super recognisers” will be also be deployed to trawl the crowds. They remember the faces, names, birth dates and other details of anyone who has been arrested at some point in the past.

Cops will also be targeting people to stop and search as they enter Carnival. A recent study by the drugs organisation Release and the London School of Economics (LSE) has found that black people are disproportionately targeted in stop and searches over low level drug possession.

It found that although drug use is lower among black people, they are six times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched for drugs and are also six times more likely to be arrested and charged.

The study also shows that black people are more likely to receive harsher sentences than white people facing the same charges.

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Fri 23 Aug 2013, 16:19 BST
Issue No. 2367
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