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zaterdag 9 oktober 2021

#WORLD #WORLDWIDE #UK #ANARCHISM #News #Journal #Update - (en) #UK, #AFED, organise magazine: THE BILL IS KILLING US | THEORY AND ANALYSIS

 The police, crime sentencing, and courts bill is rapidly approaching and holds

major implications for black and brown communities across the UK. As the
Institute of race relations said way back in March of this year "the race and
class implications are massive and go beyond the right to protest" ---- To get an
understanding of what the future holds for our communities we only need look back
at history. Just recently I visited the outstanding War Inna Babylon at the
London ICA. As moving and powerful as the exhibition is what it conveys is not
only a communities fight for the truth and justice in the wake of police
brutality and deaths in custody but of the continual resistance to racist and
autocratic policing over the decades.

Professor of sociology and author Alex Vitale once said that "the police are not
here to protect you" and as people of colour we know this to be a truth. Over the
past two to three years there has been an increase in the disproportionately of
stop and search nationwide. Here in Avon and Somerset we have seen a
reintroduction of section 60 powers and during lockdown black people became a
frequent target for fines and increasingly disproportionate and racist policing.

A photo of a stop and search via the Guardian 2017, in 2021 disproportionately
has increased.
As a Police monitoring organisation we noted the 38% increase in the use of stop
and search powers across Avon and Somerset (2019 to 2020 respectively) and the
stark fact that black people became 6.4 times more likely to be stopped than
their white counterparts in the county. We also expressed a great deal of concern
that not only did the police not acknowledge this fact but in fact outright
denied its existence whilst drawing on the reactionary "more whites are stopped
than blacks" trope.

Of course, this was not only infuriating but troubling for many of us. The lack
of trust and public confidence in the police has become increasingly evident over
the past eighteen months or so. Rather than bridge the rapidly emerging divide
that exists between themselves and communities they seem more inclined to contain
than protect we are currently witnessing an increasingly aggressive and
militarized response to crime that has adopted the authoritarian law and order
iron fist approach of the conservative leadership of this country with relish.

We need look no further than the introduction of serious violence reduction
orders (SVRO ) to understand the implications. In the conservative party 2019
pre-election manifesto it was stated that "police will be empowered by a new
court order to target known knife carriers, making it easier for officers to stop
and search those convicted of knife crime." However the landscape was soon to
change when re-elected home secretary Priti Patel issued a consultation document
proposing that anyone aged 18 or over who is convicted of an offence involving a
knife or other offensive weapon could also be subjected to an SVRO stop.

We need only look at the legal definition of offensive weapon ('any tool made,
adapted or intended for the purpose of inflicting mental or physical injury upon
another person') to understand the scope and target range of SVRO powers
increases dramatically on this basis as does the potential for disproportionate
stop and search. The issue we face is that it has always been unlawful for a
police officer to target someone based on previous criminal history. To do so
allows no propensity for people to rehabilitate and change and effectively allows
the law to punish us forever.

Of course, what the law states the police should and shouldn't do and what they
actually do are very different things. As a 'mixed race black male' (my PNC
record definition) I have been stopped and searched over 50 times in my life.
Upholding the once a criminal always a criminal narrative does not bridge divides
or heal wounds and regain trust in the police. It creates trauma. It creates
cycles and dog whistles to the reactionary elements of society as well as within
the police themselves. By increasing the scope of powers that are frequently
abused we are moving rapidly away from "policing by consent" and towards a model
of policing from a bygone era.

As IRR stated in March "policing in the Brexit state" is a trip back in time to
the 1980s. Recently, the government has said that discrimination against black
people and travellers and the impact on us from the bill is "objectively
justified". They went further to state "any indirect difference on treatment on
the grounds of race is anticipated to be potentially positive and objectively
justified as a proportionate means of achieving our legitimate aim of reducing
serious violence and preventing crime."

This statement has massive implications for our communities and what the future
of policing in the United Kingdom means for us. It's clear that to some in the
echelons of power the ends justify the means and racial profiling, stereotyping
and disproportionate targeting of anyone who is deemed to be a potential criminal
often it seems based solely on race alone is quite simply collateral damage.

At present black people are nine times more likely to be stopped by the police in
England and Wales than our white counterparts. The police seem happy to open the
doors to racist strategy without any consideration for those who are on the sharp
end of such powers. Stop and search has failed spectacularly to act as an
effective deterrent to knife crime and an expansion of these powers will only
continue to destroy public confidence in policing.

I share the same concerns as the Criminal Justice Alliance Group that we are
looking at the disruption of the lives of those who are rehabilitating in our
communities and from my point of view no doubt 'discretionary 'ongoing vendettas
by malicious racists who should never have been granted a position of authority.
In late 2020 the ex-Met Police superintendent Leroy Logan said "young people feel
they are over policed and under protected. They see the police as predators".

Speak to anyone in St Pauls or Easton in Bristol and you'll notice the general
mistrust and disillusionment with the police. Communities here like those in
London have a long and volatile relationship with the police and with the
upcoming PCSC bill we can only expect things to become increasingly worse before
they become better.

The focus on the bill in particular the goal of Kill the bill protests has
primarily been to raise awareness about the attack on our civil liberties and the
right to assembly. Of course like many others I completely agree that protest is
a cornerstone of our democracy the fight is without a shadow of a doubt an
important one.

However, it's absolutely worth noting that other than a large amount of righteous
noise being made about the impact the bill is going to have on travellers' rights
It seems that along the way the primarily white Kill The Bill protest movement
seems to have forgotten about us.

Don't get me wrong, the brutality of Avon and Somerset police during the protests
earlier this year has been unforgiveable and has produced some of the most
disgusting displays of state violence I have ever witnessed in my life. It's
worth remembering that when the uprising occurred at Bridewell that weekend in
March following the first Kill the Bill protest a black man with a heart
condition was tasered three times and violently assaulted by an armed response
team in St Weyberg.

When you understand that the horrific levels of violence seen and used against
peaceful protestors is used against black and brown communities far too
frequently than not you realise that the police commit hate crimes against us
every day. At points I've cringed seeing the dare I say it, middle-class trendy
student "send flowers to Brixton police station please! "XR protestors take
centre stage who think living in St Pauls is "edgy" and drinking in Easton is
getting back to their nan's roots but you know what? It's their fight too. Except
when they walk past a stop and search that seems a little rough because it's not
their problem.

The support work I have been involved with as a case worker and a member of
Bristol Copwatch over the past 12 to 18 months has been emotional. When we've
seen unjust convictions overturned for those we have been supporting it's been
liberating. When I've been called an everyday hero it's touched my heart. It's
made me revisit my own trauma the police have created from years of stop and
search harassment and most recently low key surveillance, tails and ongoing
harassment because of the work I do in the community.

 From what I've seen whilst volunteering and what I know about the police as a
whole it is clear that they are unlikely to change their approach towards
marginalised communities. What they put us through reflects the corrupt system
they enforce. It mirrors the attitudes of those in the highest echelons of power
and its something that we as people of colour should always stand together and
resist.

John Pegram, Bristol Copwatch founder and case worker
________

Thank you to John for the article, follow him and the rest of the team via
@BristolCopwatch.

https://organisemagazine.org.uk/2021/10/03/the-bill-is-killing-us-theory-and-analysis/
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