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Police raids sow fear in Manchester

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Issue 2556
A police van in Boscombe Street, Moss Side, which had been cleared for a raid on Saturday
A police van in Boscombe Street, Moss Side, which had been cleared for a raid on Saturday

In precisely the wrong response to the appalling Manchester bombing, cops have been kicking down Libyan families’ doors across parts of the city.

By Monday police had arrested 16 people—but had already been forced to let two go without charge.

A search of a house in the Whalley Range area on Monday morning resulted in no arrests.

Shocked neighbours described the Libyan family whose home was searched as being “friendly” and “nice”.

Sunil Soni, a neighbour, said, “It’s a bit worrying seeing the police on your doorstep in a situation like this.”

Some of the police’s tactics seem designed to intimidate whole neighbourhoods. They used an explosive device to blow their way into a home in the Cheetham Hill area on Saturday.

Meanwhile, police cleared the streets in the Moss Side area to raid a property on Boscombe Street.

Blame the system that creates terrorism
Blame the system that creates terrorism
  Read More

Student and Moss Side resident Bethan Turner told Socialist Worker, “They taped off a lot of the surrounding streets and there were a lot of police.

“Part of Boscombe Street is still cordoned off.

“There’s been an increased police presence in Manchester generally, but what are armed police going to do to stop a suicide bomber?”

Chris Ayton from Manchester said it felt “like a community under siege”. “For a bank holiday, Moss Side was like a ghost town, with police vans patrolling the streets,” he told Socialist Worker.

Outside Manchester, police carried out raids in Nuneaton in Warwickshire and Shoreham by Sea in West Sussex, where they arrested their 16th suspect on Monday.

The Manchester bombing last week was an appalling atrocity, as were the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005.

But the police response to 7/7 brought injustice and death—and cops appear to be treading a dangerously similar path today.

The Metropolitan Police shot dead Brazilian electrician Jean Charles De Menezes in Stockwell Tube station two weeks after 7/7.

Jean Charles was just an innocent man taking the train to work.

The cop in charge of that operation, Cressida Dick, is now Metropolitan Police commissioner. Dick had both British soldiers and armed cops at her command last week.

The heavy-handed raids in Manchester echo the brutal farce in Forest Gate in 2006.

Some 250 cops raided a home in the east London borough of Newham, claiming it was a chemical weapons factory.

They arrested brothers Abul Koyair and Mohammed Abdul Kahar—after shooting Mohammed in the shoulder.

No chemical weapons were found and the brothers faced no charges.

The Tories and police are on the lookout for more powers, but these repressive measures do nothing to address the causes of terrorism.

May’s troops did not make the streets safer

Theresa May put nearly 1,000 armed soldiers on the streets last week. When the plan, known as Operation Temperer, was drawn up in 2015, officials tried to keep it secret.

Even David Cameron didn’t want to use it, fearing people would make comparisons with the occupation of Northern Ireland.

But for May, desperate to reaffirm her claims to be “strong and stable” amid a faltering campaign, the risk was worth taking.

The army is even less bound by token shows of accountability than the police are. Deploying it is a dangerous move against democracy and civil liberties.

In 2015 Police Federation chief Steve White warned that budget cuts would lead to a more “paramilitary” style of policing.

For many this appears to have been borne out.

But the argument relies on the idea that there are no longer “enough” cops to keep us safe.

There is no safe number of armed agents of the state to have on our streets. The number will never satisfy the police and military’s ambition for more funding and powers.

It’s significant that May’s austerity as home secretary alienated cops—natural Tory supporters—because it weakens her side.

But any extra resources they win will only be used to repress ordinary people. The row over police funding shouldn’t distract from the significance of May’s use of the army.

Resist a racist backlash

Most people in Manchester have firmly resisted any racist backlash after the bombing last week.

Fascist English Defence League supporters were driven from the streets by ordinary people last Tuesday.

But the days after the attack saw a “spike” in racist threats, taunts and graffiti, according to police forces around Britain.

Manchester saw 56 incidents by last Wednesday.

A man wielding a metal bar followed and racially taunted a school student. A bank teller was called a “terrorist” by a customer.

Naveed Yasin, a surgeon who worked for days treating victims, was told, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.”

Most alarming was a suspected arson attack of a home in Oldham.

The overwhelming mood has been for unity against the bigots. But without firm opposition, the Tories’ grandstanding can only give them oxygen.

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