Socialist Worker

Reports expose racism in police and schools

Issue No. 2716

Police at a Black Lives Matter protest in London

Police at a Black Lives Matter protest in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The reality of officially sanctioned state racism was laid bare again last week in three devastating reports.

Figures from London’s Met Police showed they were nearly four times more likely to use force on black people than white people.

Analysis of the Met’s reporting also showed that restraint techniques are three times as likely to be used on black people. These include wristlocks, strikes, takedowns and ground-pinning.

London’s cops used force 159,000 times in 2019-20, with more than a third of cases involving black people.

The police churned out tired and familiar stereotypes to justify the disparity.

A serving officer told the BBC that the disproportionate use of force was because police found black people “more threatening and aggressive”.

Meanwhile, assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said the police response could only be judged when taking into account “the types of crimes committed, the type of demographics of individuals involved in those crimes”.

In other words, the police have a racialised system of profiling that associates young black people with certain types of crime—and a ­certain type of response.

Cops reflect racism from the top of society
Cops reflect racism from the top of society
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A second report dealt with the school exclusions and found that black pupils are disproportionately hit with fixed-term suspensions.

In some parts of England, they are excluded at a rate three times higher than white pupils.

Analysis from the House of Commons Library also showed pupils with black ethnicity have higher temporary exclusion rate in two thirds of local authority areas.

And, again it’s often the use of racial stereotypes that are to blame, with some schools banning particular black hairstyles, teeth kissing and even fist-bumps. Ranae James was excluded dozens of times while her mother grappled with a mental health problem. She said her east London school had “stereotyped” her, rather than offering the ­support she needed.

“If you were upset and you kissed your teeth, you were excluded straight away,” she said. “That was seen as the most antagonistic thing you could do.”

A key factor in many pupils’ ­alienation from school is the way the curriculum deliberately leaves out black and Asian people’s ­histories and cultures.

Yet the government last week rejected a call from a cross-party group of MPs to add more black history to the national curriculum.

The MPs had merely requested that black historians be asked to offer some revisions to what is already taught, and some ideas for new topics.

But that was too much for schools minister Nick Gibb. He said that schools are already teaching the lives of black people, such as Mary Seacole and Rosa Parks—and that is really quite enough.


Horrendous attacks show dreadful consequences of state-driven racism

Racism driven by the top of society has given the green light to bullies everywhere to take their prejudices to the streets.

Several serious racist attacks were reported at the end of July.

Two men were arrested last week on suspicion of attempted murder following a racist attack on an NHS worker in Bristol.

The victim, a young musician known as K-Dogg, was hit by a car while walking to a bus stop from his job at Southmead hospital.

He suffered serious injuries, including a broken leg, and will likely need plastic surgery. Witnesses say the occupants of the car shouted racist abuse as they drove into him. A protest march was held last Saturday.

In Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, a 15-strong gang subjected an Asian family group aged between 10 and 14 to a barrage of racist abuse.

They then set on them with baseball bats. The Asian boys, who were in a park playground, were left with blood pouring from their wounds and had their shoes and jackets stolen.

Tories won’t tackle racism—they’ll fuel it
Tories won’t tackle racism—they’ll fuel it
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Up to 60 people joined a protest organised by Stand Up To Racism and others last Saturday. One local resident spoke to the crowd to say she had been disappointed at the police response to the attack.

She said they had not communicated well with the family and they have been reported as saying the attack happened because “Bishop’s Stortford is a predominately white town”.

People outraged by the attack have launched a crowd funding appeal to buy new clothes for the Asian boys to replace those stolen.

Police in Norwich have launched an arson investigation into a fire that last week damaged a former pub that is being converted into a Mosque and community centre.

“A man was seen to start a fire in an outbuilding before leaving the area,” say police.

But amid their devastation, Sirajul Islam, the secretary of the Norwich Central Mosque, said he “can’t believe how much support we are getting” from the whole community in the city.

These attacks are a warning to anti-racists everywhere.

Every time an MP or councillor spouts vile hatred, or seeks to put the blame for the coronavirus on black and Asian people there are dreadful consequences.

We must all be ready to respond quickly to the threat.

Thanks to Janet Szpakowski for report


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