Socialist Worker

Police harassment and raids can’t crush the spirit of Notting Hill Carnival

by Raymie Kiernan and Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2368

Police looking down on the crowds at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival

Police looking down on the crowds at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Special police officers who call themselves “super recognisers” were deployed to trawl the crowds at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. 

They claim to remember the faces, names, birth dates and other details of anyone who has been arrested at some point in the past.

More than a million people enjoyed the annual West London street festival over the bank holiday.

Police smashed their way into homes across London in the run-up to Carnival, arresting 112 people. 

Criminal barrister Brian Richardson said, “The Metropolitan Police has a very long and disreputable history of hostility to the Notting Hill Carnival and everything it represents.

“The decision to mount pre-emptive raids exposes the institutional racism that infects the police force.”

Cops also targeted people with stop and search as they entered Carnival. 

Shoonnee Spence, spoke to Socialist Worker at Carnival on Monday. She said, “The police give us no say in how it’s policed—they take their orders from higher up—but it’s supposed to be a community thing.”

Her friend Claudene Kidd added, “For them it’s all about defending property and worrying about parking.” 

Claudene Kidd and Shoonnee Spence at Carnival

Claudene Kidd and Shoonnee Spence at Carnival

Shoonnee grew up in the area around Notting Hill, and was angry about reporting.

“When the media have a go at the youth they should be looking at society and the lack of services,” she said. 

“Look at the riots two years ago—the underlying reasons, not just the police killing the young guy. 

“The youth have got nothing to do so they hang around the streets. Look at what it’s like for them with unemployment and education.”

Claudene travelled from Lewisham to Carnival.

She said, “We know what’s wrong, and unless we speak up as a community we aren’t going to get anything done about the injustice.”

Pedro De Marchi is 27. “Carnival is about having fun and expressing all the cultures we have here. It’s great,” he said.

“London is a great city. It’s so diverse, but there is huge inequality and the rich are getting richer. They want to keep us poor people ignorant about that fact.”

This year’s Carnival was swamped with 13,000 police officers, an increase of 1,000 from 2012.

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Article information

Tue 27 Aug 2013, 18:24 BST
Issue No. 2368
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