Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/714/14353
TUSC candidate's comment
Grim toll for hidden police racism
Lesley Woodburn, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate for the London Assembly
Over Easter yet another brazen example of police corruption came to light. It was revealed that the Met police (MPS) buried a 2004 report warning of racist stop and search. This, alongside a barrage of recorded flagrant police brutality, is a call to action for anyone who identifies as a trade unionist, grassroots activist and socialist.
Lib Dem mayoral hopeful Brian Paddick claims that his 2004 report was buried by his bosses for eight long years. But what did he do to campaign for it to be brought to light? If Paddick was so concerned about the level of racism in the MPS why didn't he give the report to the then mayor Ken Livingstone or his Police and Equality Adviser?
I can't help thinking he's only doing this now because he wants black votes. It seems Paddick's job meant more to him than the lives of ordinary black Londoners. The smugness of this 'poli-tricking' is sickening.
A key question is what have been the consequences of this report's suppression? Between 2004 and 2012 there have been 34 deaths of Black and Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people by the MPS. 38 white deaths have occurred during the same time frame. Racist police, while disproportionately targeting black people, are also indiscriminate in their brutality.
Left unchallenged and with an "Ineffectual Police Complaints Commission" to step in with a cosmetic appearance of a serious investigation, both black and white deaths in police custody will continue. It is only united working class action by black and white people that can stop this.
I am increasingly jaded by calls for public inquiries into police excess, exercises in feel-good ineffective 'slactivism'. 'Public' usually means a government minister, IPPC-led, a mayor or senior cabinet member, a physician, a Lord Chief Justice and, maybe, just maybe, someone from the community concerned.
The community representative will resign within months or weeks of partaking in what they know is sure to be a cover-up. Public inquiries into deaths in police custody never include the organisations many working people belong to and exercise power within - the trade unions.
The trade unions, and community organisations have collectively come together to combat the injustices we face as working people. I welcome, for example, the RMT transport union's initiative, holding the meeting 'We Demand Justice.'
That meeting heard from the families of those who died in police custody such as Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher Alder died in 1998, and Samantha Rigg-David, whose brother Sean Rigg died at Brixton police station in 2008.
As a trade unionist, I welcome the Police Federation's decision to ballot police officers over strike action against the cuts to its service. I hope the police do strike as they did in 1918 and 1919. Through striking, I hope that it increases many ordinary rank-and-file police officers' collective understanding.
Only through struggling to defend their service will the police understand the need for free association and to form an independent trade union that collectively bargains and defends the rights of its members, while also kicking itchy-fingered racists and anti-trade union corrupt officers out of its ranks.
In The Socialist 18 April 2012:
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