Thursday, 22 December 2011

Stan Collymore speaks his mind regarding Alan Hansen's* use of the word 'coloured' to describe black football players

'Official Alan Hansen says coloured on match of the day HD' - includes a viewer's reaction!
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*Stan Collymore has since put out a statement on Twitter saying that he was not responding to Alan Hansen's use of the word coloured, but to comments made by others on Twitter. Statement at end of article.

Stan Collymore via Twitter:
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Alan Hansen: referred to black football players as 'coloured' on Match of the Day

"Coloured. What colour would that be? Blue? Green? Orange?  White Black (not coloured). Black is fine. Mixed Race (not coloured). Half caste,not fine.

An idiots guide to the 21st century .

No need to have a pop, just trying to be helpful.

We need a debate, a real one where everyone living in this country can reform our accepted rules,as there's a lot of confusion amongst  lots of people right now.

Words or phrases have the power(historically) to really really hurt,whether intentional or not, so surely by acknowledging people's sensitivities(and justifiable of you have even a tiny grasp of history),taking a step to understand where these sensitivities come from,and say "ok,seems reasonable", how do we all work together and move forward.

I grew up hearing all sorts of words uses for disability,race,poor,and disadvantaged people that simply aren't used today because MOST people understand where those words came from.
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Stan Collymore spoke out on Twitter
 My Dad is Black ,my Mum is White, so trust me I've seen plenty to form a judgement from. In essence,many Whites (I lived exclusively in a white home growing up) feel that they are treading on eggshells,and can't do right for wrong (and that's understandable) and many Blacks, Asians and Mixed Race Men and Women feel they are just being taken the piss out of,after 100's of years of awful abuse,so how do we bridge the gap and all just get on?

We talk,be open and try and put ourselves in others shoes.
The only way!

Try asking questions to people who look different or sound different,and ask them why they would get offended and ask,"would I in the same situation ?"

Communication, not blind ignorance is the only way, otherwise we'll all bloody end up unhappy! Great country, mostly great people (if not a bit stubborn,it's in our DNA) but for Gods sake,put yourself in another mans shoes for once.

It might work!

Merry Christmas"
Stan Collymore via Twitter @StanCollymore

* Stan Collymore has since issued the following statement:
Response to Sun Newspaper article on Alan Hansen.
'In yesterday's Sun Newspaper,I was quoted as saying "Coloured,what colour would that be? Green? Blue? Orange?"
The suggestion in the story is that this was in direct to response to Alan Hansen's comments on MOTD.
It was not.
I was responding on twitter to a rash of comments asking if I minded being called coloured,
to am I coloured or black?, to less polite comments.
My reply did not name Alan Hansen,or refer to him in any way,whatsoever,and i defy anyone reading my twitter feed to see Alan Hansen's name in any way mentioned.
Therefore to use a quote not even naming Alan Hansen as the stick to beat him with in an article,completely misrepresents my quote,and frankly is unfair and wrong.
If I want to have a go at someone,i'll quite happily name them'.
Stan Collymore
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Stan Collymore (photo from

Monday, 19 December 2011

Rev Jesse Jackson supports call for public inquiry into deaths in custody UK - videos

Link to Press Release:

Link to video of full Press Conference:


'American civil rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson was at Operation Black Vote's headquarters on Thursday 15th December to address a press conference where gave his full support to a group of campaigners calling for an independent judicial review into the current handling of Black deaths in police custody.

Reverend Jackson joined a number of agencies including Operation Hope and Recovery, The United Friends and Families Campaign, Inquest, Black Mental Health UK, Operation Black Vote and the Campaign 4 Justice to stand with the families who have been affected by these tragedies.'

Uploaded by

'American civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson addressed a press conference in east London on Thursday 15th December 2011, to publicly give his backing to the growing number of calls for an independent judicial inquiry into the current handling of deaths in police custody.

A number of agencies including Operation Hope and Recovery, The United Friends and Families Campaign, Inquest, Black Mental Health UK, Operation Black Vote and the Campaign 4 Justice have come together to stand with the families who have been affected by these tragedies.

The meeting highlighted the widespread distrust that the recent spate of deaths of Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell Brown, Demetre Fraser and Jacob Michael, at the hands of the police has caused. It will also focused on the urgent need for the establishment of an independent judicial public inquiry.'

Friday, 16 December 2011

Britain's 'polite,' 'insidious' racism

(Article from

( - Lee Jasper is one of Great Britain’s leading activists in the Black community. He has spent the last 30 years campaigning for social justice and racial equality. Mr. Jasper’s keen insight and compelling commentary on issues concerning fair treatment and equal justice can be read on and Mr. Jasper recently answered questions posed by Final Call staff writer Starla Muhammad regarding critical issues facing the UK’s Black youth.

Starla Muhammad (Final Call Newspaper): What is the overall condition / status of our Black youth in the UK? Are their major concerns about these “post-code wars?”
The status of most Black youth in the UK is “young, drifting and Black.” Our sons and daughters suffer inordinately high levels of unemployment, locked out of opportunity and locked into a life of poverty and crime by a level of racism that is routinely denied by Government. These Black areas of deprivation are now producing the fourth and fifth generation of children born as third- class citizens in a so-called first-class democracy.

These historically deprived areas have been flooded with drugs and guns, they operate open drug markets. Add to this mix the cultural imperialism of America being forced fed to young people through MTV and a largely White-owned media rap industry that promotes the quintessential ghetto gangster lifestyle and you begin to see why we suffer the terror of “post code” wars. The continued escalation of youth violence in these areas is of serious concern. Post-code wars are created and maintained by post-code discrimination and racism.

FCN: What are the major concerns among young Black Britons today? Are they optimistic or pessimistic about their future? Why?

LJ: Major concerns of Black youth in Britain are the same concerns as all African youth living in Western nations. Concerns over lack of employment, no housing, poor education and police brutality, in particular, Black deaths in custody. Racism in the labour market ensure high rates of Black poverty and as a consequence of the cuts to public sector budgets, we are seeing Black workers being made unemployed and losing their jobs in big numbers.
Over 80 percent of the African and Caribbean community that are in work are employed in the public sector. They were the last in and the first to go. As a result we are seeing Black women and men being made redundant in droves, the consequent effects will be devastating. Poverty breeds crime and in the UK for every 1,000 White people, there are 1.2 people in jail, for Asians that figure is 2.4, for Black people the figure is seven. Put simply, British institutional racism is the most polite and insidious type of racism you will find anywhere in the world.

FCN: As a mentor and community activist, what does the Black community in Britain need to do to reach our young people? What sort of programs and initiatives have you participated in or helped facilitate that seem to work to address the issues of Black youth in Britain?

LJ: We need to develop our own economic base and stop spending money we don’t have to impress people we don’t know. We need to realise the vision that there are over an estimated 25 million Africans in Europe and we need to focus on working with Africans in France and Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, Italy and Spain to bring about a African European wide economic renaissance. If we can link globally with African Americans, South American Africans, those on the African continent, we could reverse engineer the triangular slave trade route and create a global African economy.

People need to understand that history teaches us that African Muslims once ruled Southern Europe. Initiatives we need are our own schools, our own universities and businesses. Our initiatives are focused on getting young people to register to vote through Operation Black Vote, getting young people into business through a campaign called Operation Hope and Recovery, a partnership with the Black churches and ensuring that campaigning skills are taught to our young people.
Having said that, the entire European economic edifice built as it was on great crime and atrocities seems to be reaping the whirlwind of its original sin. The challenge may be now to overthrow capitalism itself as no one community can be inculcated from the acute economic crisis facing Britain. We have to believe that another more compassionate just world is possible.

FCN: Any other comments you would like to share?

LJ: I would like to make what may seem a controversial point here: Celebrity African Americans love London. As actors, sports stars and artists, they come to visit and perform to hundreds and thousands of people, mostly White and earn millions as a result. They tend by and large to leave their commitment to the Black struggle at JFK airport. They rarely engage with the British Black communities and allow themselves to be managed by their White European agents. They ensure that they don’t get involved in the either Black politics or the wider race debate here in the UK. …

Africans throughout the Western world face the biggest challenge since we were stolen from the shores of Africa. We have history that teaches us that when Western economies decline, racism increases and becomes more violent. Now is the time for international African solidarity not just in words but in action. In the age of the internet, ignorance is no defence for inaction.

FCN: Thank you.

Lee Jasper (LJ):

Video - Reverend Jesse Jackson - UK solidarity

 Click on link to watch: Press Conference on Deaths in Police Custody
by OBV with Jessie Jackson 

Operation Black Vote - click to go to website

                                                ( Uploaded by on 15 Dec 2011)

'American civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson addressed a press conference in east London on Thursday 15th December 2011, to publicly give his backing to the growing number of calls for an independent judicial inquiry into the current handling of deaths in police custody.

A number of agencies including Operation Hope and Recovery, The United Friends and Families Campaign, Inquest, Black Mental Health UK, Operation Black Vote and the Campaign 4 Justice have come together to stand with the families who have been affected by these tragedies.

The meeting highlighted the widespread distrust that the recent spate of deaths of Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell Brown, Demetre Fraser and Jacob Michael, at the hands of the police has caused. It will also focused on the urgent need for the establishment of an independent judicial public inquiry.'

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Deaths in police custody cut deep in the psyche of black Britons

An improvement on feeble IPCC responses to police abuse might help avoid the kind of anger shown in the summer's riots.

First published at,

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Rev Jessie Jackson calling for total reform on handling of deaths in custody - Press Conference: Thursday 15th December 1.45 – 2.45 pm

Jesse Jackson Sr
Rev Jesse Jackson Snr

Press Notice: Immediate Release                    Contact:  Francine Fernandes/ Lee Jasper
NEWS/POLITICAL DESKS                                Tel: 0208 983 5426/ 07984 181797

Reverend Jesse Jackson urges total reform on handling of deaths in custody
A press conference with the Reverend Jesse Jackson has been organised for Thursday 15th December from 1.45pm – 2.45pm at 18a Victoria Park Square, London, E2 9PB, to publicly give his backing to the growing number of calls for an independent judicial inquiry into the current handling of deaths in police custody.

A  consortia of agencies including Operation Hope and Recovery, The United Friends and Families Campaign, Inquest, Black Mental Health UK, Operation Black Vote and the Campaign 4 Justice have come together to stand with the families who have been affected by these tragedies. This meeting will highlight the widespread distrust that the recent spate of deaths of Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell Brown, Demetre Fraser and Jacob Michael, at the hands of the police has caused. It will also focus on the urgent need for the establishment of an independent judicial public inquiry.

Reverend Jackson will call for an independent public inquiry leading to wholesale reform of the way that these tragic deaths are currently investigated and police officers held to account. He will address the recent global increases in levels of police brutality. In the UK last year a 164% increase in the rate of stop and searches targeting Black people helps explain why fatalities are disproportionately higher among the UK’s African Caribbean communities. Government data shows  that in the past 12 months alone Black men have made up 20% of the deaths in police custody, despite coming from a community that are just 2% of the population. Disturbingly, mental health service users make up 61% of all deaths in custody and more work also needs to be done to prevent further fatalities amongst this vulnerable group.

Lee Jasper Chair of London Race & Criminal Justice Consortium & Executive member of Operation Hope and Recovery stated:

"Suspicious deaths in police custody represents the critical fault line in police and community relationships and this past year has seen a massive increase in the number of Black men who suffered deeply suspicious deaths whilst in police custody. Had someone in Government or the London Mayor’s Office heeded the warning signs about this issue that were apparent throughout the spring and summer, the August riots could have been avoided, preventing needless loss of life and damage to property.

In many cities throughout the UK there exists a poisonous policing sub culture of racial profiling. This drives up racist stop and search rates that contributes to an increase in police community tensions. Furthermore, as a result of the many failures of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the IPCC are perceived as discredited and no longer enjoy the confidence of Black communities. These are critically important issues. As an experienced former Director of Policing for London for eight years it is my informed view that unless a full and open public inquiry takes place, bringing the powerful disinfectant of transparency to an issue clouded in controversy, that anger and frustration could erupt again. The families of those who have died whilst in the care of the police or other institutions deserve a public inquiry; the nation’s best interests would be best served by such an inquiry. Government needs to understand that without justice there can be no peace." 

Speakers include:
Reverend Jesse Jackson, United Friends and Families Campaign, Merlin Emmanuel Campaign 4 Justice, Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign, Mark Duggan Family,  Stafford Scott-Tottenham Defence Campaign, Matilda MacAttram -Director of Black Mental Health UK,  Deborah Coles Co-director, Inquest,  Rev Wayne Malcolm – Operation Hope and Recovery 

Lee Jasper will chair the Press Conference.

Time:              1.45pm – 2.45 pm (Doors open at 1.15pm)
Date:              Thursday 15 December 2011
Venue:           Operation Black Vote, 18a Victoria Park Square,  Bethnal Green, London E2 9PB 

Transport:    Nearest tube Bethnal Green on the Central Line

Monday, 5 December 2011

C is for Cure - campaign launched by the mother of a young man diagnosed with Lymphoma

C is for Cure - A mother's experience in her own words. Please support in the first instance by clicking 'like' on the campaign Facebook Page 

(link at end of article).

"My son was diagnosed in September with stage 4b lymphoma, he has had Chemo and it didn't work: he is now spending most of his days in and out of hospital. To be honest he is my hero as he has taken this on the chin and is staying strong even when in the deepest pain, during the time since he was diagnosed the thing that struck me the most is that there is little or no emotional support for him or my other 3 boys.

There is the fantastic teenage cancer trust but he is too old for their services. They even have a beautiful new ward in a local hospital,  but it is for young people up until the age of 19. Being 21 I know he is officially an adult but to be honest he is still very much a child needing comfort and guidance and needing to believe he can still fulfil his dreams.

Any support group we have been to are mostly made up of older people which in itself is not a problem and I’m glad they exist but he doesn’t relate to any of them being a young black man who is educating the doctors on street slang: yes he is giving them a lot of jokes!

 I feel a bit useless in this situation as medically I can do nothing: my child’s life is in the hands of strangers so I have felt compelled to do something. That is why I am now in the very early stages of setting up C is for Cure..

 I aim to raise funds to:
a) Fulfil my son's lifelong dream, by sending him on a round the world trip when he gets a break from this horrible treatment. His hopes and dreams are crushed at the moment, as he can no longer work.
b) Raise enough funds, so that other families in this situation, from low economic back grounds can get some practical and emotional support and have a memorable experience to fulfil their own hopes & dreams once their treatment is completed. 

I am also setting up a support group for young adults who have been affected by life changing illness/ disability and their siblings and family and finally I want to raise aware of how easily your life can be turned completely upside down in one day. ( the importance of loving your family today not tomorrow) I am asking who ever ( and to be honest the more the merrier) to help me to fund raise to make the above possible.

I am sorry if this is a little rambling I am a little tired as I have spent the best part of the week between the hospital and work. Thank you for showing concern and taking time out to show support."
L. Maher

C is for Cure on FaceBook:

Please read this article on the BBC website:  Cancer 'drives families into debt', says charity report

'Two-thirds of parents of children with cancer surveyed by a cancer charity say they have been forced to borrow money to make ends meet.
Of the 245 families interviewed, 76% said that their child's illness had had a major impact on finances with two in three parents experiencing a loss of earnings.
  The survey was carried out by children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent.
It wants the government to ensure families get more financial support.
For their report, entitled Counting the Costs of Cancer, the charity also sought the views of 90 young people with cancer through an online survey, focus groups and telephone interviews.
Parents and young people told the charity that they spent on average £367 and £277 respectively on cancer-related expenses every month, and with treatment lasting up to three years, the bills soon mounted up.
This added up to a spending of £4,400 for parents and £3,325 for young people each year, the report said.
These costs included travel and car parking to get to hospitals and treatment centres, additional clothing for the child as a result of weight loss, food to supplement that available in hospital, and other costs such as telephone calls and accommodation.
'Under pressure'
The report found that of those parents who acquired debt, 41% borrowed £1,000 or more and 27% borrowed more than £2,000.
Six per cent of parents surveyed said they had turned to high interest, short-term loans to cope with the additional costs.
CLIC Sargent said it was concerned that government reforms would restrict families' options to financial support through the benefits system.
Lorraine Clifton, chief executive of CLIC Sargent said the cost of caring for children with cancer was often unexpected.
"Everyone is suffering in this economic climate but parents of children with cancer are amongst the hardest hit. The extra costs can be significant. It's shocking to hear that some families felt driven to debt in order to get through financially.
"We're dependent on the generous support of the public and other donors to fund our vital work to support young cancer patients, but the money we raise can only be part of the solution.
"We want to work with the government and other organisations to find better ways of ensuring young people and children with cancer, and their families, have the financial support they need."
The report also found a significant impact on the lives of young people who had cancer.
Five in six surveyed said that their quality of life had been affected and two in three young people felt they were less able to study well.
A spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions said that people with terminal cancer are fast-tracked.
"In these cases we pay the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance immediately and unconditionally regardless of daily care needs.
"Under the new Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) we are introducing a new objective assessment and regular reviews to make sure people get the right levels of support."
(First published at:

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Institutional racism and British judicial system: rotten to the core.

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London riots (photo:
The London riots have attracted exceptional media and political coverage, but as the rebuilding work gets underway and the media coverage dies down the whiff of political interference in the dispensation of justice and the rancid stench of judicial racism begins to fill the air.

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I have witnessed this first hand having spent three days at inner London Crown Court observing case after case being tried in the immediate aftermath of the riots. What I saw shocked me to the core: it reminded me of the chaotic ad hoc justice of the Wild West. Black offenders rights were dismissed, bail applications routinely refused for first time offenders and disproportionate sentences handed out down by an almost all white judiciary. It was carnage.

The Prime Minister David Cameron in part motivated this unnatural judicial zeal. His message of the need for swift justice resonated across the courts in Britain.  The judiciary spent the summer doling out harsh sentences leaving us again deeply troubled about the question of fairness and who we can trust to be equitable.

Against a backdrop of regularly reported disproportionate outcomes for black people in the criminal justice system, we are quickly losing faith in a system that is already harder on us than it is on anyone else.

Is this hysterical and discriminatory justice a product of both institutional racism and overbearing political pressure? How can the judiciary claim to uphold the principles of fairness and justice for all citizens regardless of colour or faith in the light of the overwhelming evidence that points to racist sentencing practices in some of our courts? Is the judiciary truly independent in terms of decision making and sentence passing?

This is not a rhetorical question especially when you consider the Guardian has recently reported that a recent report from the Ministry of Justice study shows that offenders from ethnic minorities are more likely than their white counterparts to be sentenced to prison for certain categories of crimes, according to an analysis of more than one million court records. You can read more here:

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The Guardian goes on to report that “the difference in racial sentencing between courts was also considerable. Haringey magistrates court, which dealt with many of the Tottenham riot cases, sentenced – before the summer disturbances – 11 of the 54 black defendants it dealt with for public disorder or weapons offences to prison, as compared to 5 of 73 white defendants. While West London magistrates court sentenced 17 of 107 black defendants to jail, versus 21 of 237 who were white – meaning at that court black defendants were 79% more likely to be jailed.”

The fact is that either as victims of crime or as offenders, black people in Britain are treated as third class citizens. Fundamental to any notion of citizenship is the principle of equality and that remains elusive to most black people in Britain. Whether it is as victims of crimes or those who have suffered deaths in custody or as offenders, we are treated differently and I might add without fear of any real consequences, by a police service and judiciary that operates beyond and above the law.

After the recent summer riots PM David Cameron virtually instructed the judiciary to hand out exemplary sentences to rioters. Contrast this to the soft touch and sympathetic hearing given to MPs and Lords caught up in the expenses scandal and you begin to see how it is that the legitimacy of the state is in crisis. From bankers bonuses to public sector cuts and the inequity of racist sentencing more and more people are questioning the very basis of justice in the UK.

As a modern 21st century democracy we are supposed to be guaranteed the ‘separation of powers’, of the state and the judiciary a widely accepted model for governance of a modern democratic state. The concept of separation of powers assumes that the three categories of public power should have the necessary constitutional wherewithal to resist encroachment or influence by the others. The state is divided into branches, each with separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility so that no one branch has more power than the other branches. The normal division of branches is into an executive (the part that executes the laws), a legislature (the part that makes laws) and a judiciary (the courts that decide if laws have been broken). Britain’s unwritten constitution is predicated on this model.

If you check the Judiciary of England and Wales website you might be encouraged to see their commitment to Judicial Independence. Their opening statement says: “It is vitally important in a democracy that individual judges and the judiciary as a whole are impartial and independent of all external pressures... so that those who appear before them... can have confidence that their cases will be decided fairly and in accordance with the law. When carrying out their judicial function they must be free of any improper influence. Such influence could come from any number of sources. It could arise from improper pressure by the executive or the legislature... the media... or other judges, in particular more senior judges.”

That said as black British citizens we should expect that sentencing decisions for those involved in the London riots would be free from racial bias and political pressure from external sources. We should have complete confidence in judicial objectivity. We do not enjoy that confidence that has been systematically eroded by a number of critical factors.

Firstly who are the judiciary? In 2008 Jack Straw told MPs that “there were too few women and people from Black and Asian backgrounds [who] are appointed [as] judges”. Yet two years later we read in the Guardian (24 February 2010) “The lack of diversity among judges is affecting the experience of people who use the courts and limiting judicial perspectives on critical legal issues.” The Neuberger Report on diversity in the judiciary further criticises the lack of diversity with statistics in 2009 showing that only 19% of judges were women, and 4.5% from ethnic minority backgrounds.

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Judge Barbara Mensa - but statistics show that there is a real lack of diversity in the judicial system

Numerous criticisms still abound decrying the continued and preferred selection of the white, male, and upper-class candidates for judicial posts. Whilst the judiciary might afford themselves the delusion of considering themselves free from racism and undue influence, they are neither free of institutional racism nor representative of the diverse community they serve.

And there are there worrying examples of what happens to black professionals within the criminal justice system who dare to speak out.  

In her currently ‘banned” book Olivea Ebanks, a former prison service manager who took HMPS to court for racism quotes the Home Affairs select Committee Report entitled   ‘Nature and extent of young black peoples overrepresentation’ in the criminal justice system (2007).

“Once they have been charged with an offence, black young offenders are significantly less likely to be given unconditional bail compared to white young offenders and black young offenders are more likely to be remanded in custody compared to white re-offenders. In 2004/05, 8.1% of black people under 18 were remanded in custody, compared to 5.1% for Asian and 4.4% for white people of the same age-group.  REF: 24.

We know that young black people and young people of 'mixed' ethnicity, when sentenced, are more likely to receive more punitive sentences than young white people. Whereas black young offenders accounted for 6% of total offences in 2004-05, they received 11.6% of total custodial sentences.”

Ms Ebanks’ recounting of these facts has been met with condemnation from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Judicial College where she works. Ms Ebanks was suspended from working with judges on matters of leadership and equality and disciplined for publishing her book and sharing information that is already in the public domain by way of being heard in open court. She is now preparing to go to court again to defend her right to raise issues of racism in the workplace and tell her story.

Olivea Ebanks
Olivea Ebanks (picture by BBC)
 Her employer’s reactions to her sharing that simple fact that she won rulings against HMPS, and highlighting how MoJ have subsequently treated her, does not scream of a Ministry of Justice committed to even-handedness.
If this is how they treat their employees then what hope for those black suspects who they believe have broken the law.

In a recent poll carried out among The Voice readers sixty-one percent felt that images of rioters and looters, caught up in the violent disturbances over UK in August, unfairly singled out black men (The Voice 16 August 2011). Again this is not something the Government or Minister Ken Clarke seems to be interested in rectifying. When it comes to the matter of fair and equal treatment from those who have been entrusted with said responsibility, it would appear that they are capable of only two responses: either they go all out to discredit and undermine you as with Ms Ebanks or they simply ignore us.

When you combine the perception of unfair targeting and criminalising of black people with the extremely worrying trend to make an example of the rioters, it is plain to see that we have a recipe for differential enforcement of looting and disorder laws. This in turn will certainly contribute substantially to increasing the already criminally high over-representation of black people in prison in England and Wales.

Of the recent riots Andrew Neilson, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, told the Times it was "fair enough" that the public disturbances were seen as an aggravating factor but added: "There seems to be a complete lack of proportionality to some of the sentences. These make a mockery of proportionality, which is a key principle of the justice system."

The Guardian revealed that magistrates were advised by justices' clerks to disregard normal sentencing guidelines when dealing with riot-related cases. This has alarmed some lawyers, who warn it will trigger a spate of appeals.

In sentencing four convicted Manchester rioters, a crown court judge, Andrew Gilbart QC, made clear why he was disregarding sentencing guidelines when he said "the offences of the night of 9 August … takes them completely outside the usual context of criminality".
Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch, which campaigns for civil liberties has quite rightly said, "You should judge every individual case on its merits and every person on the basis of what they've actually done, rather than this creep towards... judicial activism, where politicians put undue influence on the judiciary."

All of this is against the backcloth of the BBC airing programmes asking if there is a “problem” with young black men; their insensitive and inflammatory questioning of Darcus Howe about the riots, concerted attempts to discredit community Tottenham activist like Stafford Scott who resigned after being mislead by the discredited IPCC and Enoch Powell type comments made by well-known historian and broadcaster David Starkey blaming ‘black culture’ for turning white youngsters into looters. Then we have had the critical attacks on multiculturalism by the Prime Minister and others in his party and the systematic degradation of the all of the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report.

What we have is a layering effect where black people are consistently racially profiled by the police, portrayed as potential criminals and prone to violence without provocation by the media. The results are a reflection of the largely white upper class judiciary most of whom are incapable of viewing black defendants dispassionately.

The question remains: can a largely white elitist judiciary and one known for its tendency to hand out harsher sentences to black youth discharge their duties and exercise judicial independence and discretion fairly? My answer is a resounding ‘No!’

How can they make fair decisions that are not influenced by personal or societal racism political and political considerations rather than on the principles of law and justice? Of late I have seen less and less of the tripartite separation of powers. On a visit to Warrington in August Prime Minister David Cameron said: "It's up to the courts to make decisions about sentencing, but they've decided to send a tough message, and it's very good that the courts feel able to do that." This tough message of course was only sent after Mr Cameron as head of state sent his own unequivocal message... "And to the lawless minority, the criminals who've taken what they can get, I say this -- we will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you. You will pay for what you have done."
Could Mr Cameron’s strong words have influenced a judiciary infected with institutional racism in many ways and his endorsement of their flouting sentencing guidelines have given a green light to racism?

Just how much faith should we have in a 95.5% white, male, upper-class judiciary?
"There's no doubt that in certain circumstances a firm sentence is required," said John Cooper, a senior crime and civil liberties barrister. He goes on to say "What concerns me is that the whole range of the sentencing process has been unduly and disproportionately cranked up... influenced implicitly or explicitly by public opinion."
Well this concerns me too. If the sentencing process has been cranked up by institutional racism and political interference where does that leave us?

In the two hundred plus years since the abolition of the slave trade what is different in terms of white dominance in our institutions, in our politics and among our legislators and judiciary? Is the judiciary truly above the racism and the undue influence of politicians?  

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In light of biased media coverage and weighty political involvement and/or opinions about what the judiciary should do with rioters plus proven racial bias in conviction rates of young black men, we cannot allow judicial racism to run rampant just because the judiciary say that they are fair. Amid our ongoing battle for justice that includes our disquiet about arrest and conviction rates, and deaths in custody, we have to be vigilant and willing to challenge racism and injustice.

We as a country have been here before. After the 1981 moral panic on mugging and the uprising that took place that year the judiciary handed out exemplary sentences. The black community became increasing politicised in response to profoundly unjust sentences and we all know what happened in 1986. The issue of race and justice has to be pushed back onto the political agenda and they only way that is gong to happen is when we embark on a determined campaign to ensure that the injustice faced by black people in the dock is right back on the political agenda.

Lee Jasper (Chair of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium).

The Murder of Stephen Ojerinola

On Sunday 20th November 2011, the remains of Stephen Ojerinola aged 18 was found in a back garden in Eltham, South East London. This is the family's story. Please share the link and post this video far and wide in order for the family to have a chance of justice for their precious son.

Stephen Ojerinola body found -  This piece first broadcast on 30 Nov 2011. Televised on UK's regional television BBC1 London. Programme (Program) -- London News

Huffington Post article:
Stephen Ojerinola: Family Visit Eltham Garden Where Remains Found Buried


The family of a teenager whose body was apparently found under a patio with a shed built on top broke down in tears when they visited the scene.

Stephen Ojerinola, 18, from Camberwell, south-east London, went missing in April, his relatives said.
Police searching a semi-detached house in Lynsted Gardens, Eltham, south-east London, found his remains on Sunday and a post-mortem examination revealed he died from stab wounds.

Carrying framed pictures of him, more than a dozen family members, including his mother Olayinka Ojerinola and stepfather Ade Bakare, both 48, visited the quiet residential street where his body was discovered to lay flowers.
His mother collapsed with grief on two occasions and had to be supported by the others. Dressed in black, relatives placed several bunches of lilies in the front garden of the house, lit a candle and said a prayer.

They described Mr Ojerinola as a "bright, articulate and intelligent boy whose family adored him" and said he was a "loving son and brother" to his two sisters and three brothers.
Community activist Lee Jasper, who is supporting the family, read out a statement on their behalf, while the young man's mother continued to sob.

"Stephen was our beautiful son whose callous and brutal murder has left his entire family in a state of profound shock and disbelief," the statement said. "Stephen was a teenager that faced challenges typical for someone of his age. Nevertheless Stephen had both huge potential and his entire life before him."

Two men - Lee Davies, 35, of Chiswell Square, Greenwich, and William Regan, 36, of Lynsted Gardens, Eltham - have been charged with the murder of Mr Ojerinola and are due to appear via video-link at Camberwell Magistrates' Court. Regan has also been charged with two counts of residential burglary.
Three women, one in her 60s and two in their 40s, along with a man in his 40s, were detained by police as well and bailed to return next month, pending further inquiries. They were arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

(First published at:

Smiley Culture: Only the truth can justify this pain

March for Justice - London March 2011 - picture by Jerry Barnett
The inevitable conclusion of the Independent Police Complaints Commission that no police officer will face any charges or disciplinary charges as a result of the death of world reggae icon Smiley Culture aka David Emmanuel, illustrates both the inadequacy of the IPCC and the cold stone reality that for the British black community, justice remains a burning illusion.

Mark Duggan, David Emmanuel, Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser and the horrific desecration and foul abuse suffered recently by the Christopher Adler family all represent cases that have left the black community and many white people who understand their significance reeling in shock and anger.

L - R: Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, David Emanuel

Government to apologise to Alder family over police cell death
Christopher Alder -

Failure to tackle institutional racism costs us all.

However, the appalling truth is that within Government, the London Mayors Office and the senior ranks of the police, there is no real appreciation or understanding of the depth of anger and injustice that these tragic cases generate in our communities.

That’s because racism and institutional racism are no longer considered priorities and the results are, that the invaluable lessons learned from the inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder have now been discarded as "political correctness gone mad."  That fundamental mistake has cost London and the country dear and will do so again in the future.

What’s not understood is that a black death in police custody represents the perennial fault line in relations between the British police and black communities. When Mark Duggan was shot he was the fourth black man to die in suspicious circumstances since January this year. Since then more have died. Had that raw sensitivity and anger relating to these tragic events been better understood then maybe the riots that took place this summer could have been avoided.

R.I.P Mark Duggan
Picture from R.I.P Mark Duggan

The critical fault line in police black community relations

Deaths in police custody remains the one issue that can transform police and community relations in an instant. This issue above almost all others' taps into the deep psyche of the British black community

The very idea of black men and women being statutorily detained, treated like animals and dying at the brutal hands of callous and arrogant racists protected by unjust and inequitable laws sends a shiver down the spine of every black family in the land.

It’s a story we know well; engrained as it is deep in our DNA and collective memories. A modern day equivalent of a Jim Crow lynching in America’s old Deep South or the brutality of the South African Apartheid regime or the beating of Rodney King. Brutal white racism backed up by institutionally racist organisations of state that conspire to deny black people the justice they deserve.

In modern-day Britain very few police officers have ever been charged and none convicted of manslaughter or murder. What we see those effected experience are the impenetrable barriers of ancient laws, lengthy and complex procedures and enormous costs that make the attainment of justice seem like an unobtainable dream.

The systemic racism and innate injustice of the institutions of state are the real problem.

The overwhelming perception of black communities is that the current system of IPCC investigation and Coroner inquests is so stacked against all citizens that in effect, it protects the guilty and denies access to justice to the victims.

Whether one looks at the investigative procedures of the IPCC, hidebound and contingent on a phalanx of Byzantine rules and procedures, or one examines the medieval coroner inquest system whose creaking and ancient procedures leave families aghast at the way this system of inquiry fails to meet the basic test of justice and liberty in the 21st century, the outcome is the same: a routine and consistent denial of justice and a failure to enable an exacting search for the truth.

The institution under the greatest strain in terms of its effectiveness and credibility is the IPCC. With a predictable monotony they routinely fail to assist in the search for the truth. The case of Mark Duggan has torn their battered credibility to shreds. What we have seen in the IPCC investigation of Duggan’s shooting is an enfeebled organisation with weak leadership in deep collusion with the police. 

March against deaths in custody - police reinforcements in front of Downing Street
Heavy handed policing at the UFFC march last month. (Photo by  Delroy Constantine Simms)
Independent Police Complaint Cover (Up)

The IPCC was used to legitimise and corroborate a web of lies and misinformation surrounding the shooting of Mark Duggan. The majority of the IPCC community reference group designed to provide community reassurance about the rigor, effectiveness course and direction of the investigation resigned in utter disgust at the consistent and systemic failure of the IPCC to disclose critical information regarding this tragic event and hold the police to proper account.

Bizarrely, the IPCC treated the police officers involved in the Smiley arrest, as witnesses not suspects. This meant that the officers were allowed to refuse interviews or provide an adequate account under questioning and therefore, failed to provide proper explanations of their actions and the IPCC. They point blank refused to give a formal interview to the IPCC. The question is why? I believe the only reasonable answer is that they had something to hide.

Here is another massive anomaly. Why, according to the police officer accounts, did they handcuff Smiley after he stabbed himself through the heart? It is incomprehensible and unbelievable that they did so and no one I have spoken to believes that’s what happened. I believe this is a mendacious and malicious false account of what happened that day.

Everyone knows and understands that in a serious police raid, everyone is arrested and handcuffed whilst the property is searched. That’s standard police procedure.

In plain English, I believe the police officers involved are lying.

The Emanuel family struggling for justice against the odds

The David Emanuel family has acted with great dignity and restraint throughout the last 9 months. They initially expressed serious doubts about the ability of the IPCC to aid them in the search for the truth, and they were absolutely right in their assessment.

Speaking to the Guardian and expressed with great eloquence Merlin Emanuel speaks for all families when he says,

"We firmly believe Smiley was murdered and that the IPCC have let us down and treated us miserably," said Merlin Emanuel.
They promised us a thorough investigation, and that they would get to the bottom of what happened. Nevertheless, there are still so many unanswered questions – and the IPCC have now made sure that the officers who saw what happened are never going to be pressed to tell the truth about what happened that day," he said.

Summing up he said,

"Our experience has led us to the sad and awful conclusion that not only will there continue to be deaths in police custody but that grieving families will not receive justice or empathy from the system as it currently operates”.

One is a full and independent public judicial inquiry into deaths in police custody and the process of inquest. This could seek to draw a line under the past 50 years that have seen family after family doubly victimized as they are broken in the endless search for the truth. Such an inquiry would offer a new opportunity to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done.

The other is parliamentary and legislative reform of the now discredited IPCC. Such reform could grant more powers, authority and true independence to these investigations and the work of the IPCC enabling the forensic search for the truth.

My own assessment of the future is that none of this will happen soon, and it is therefore, inevitable that we will see more suspicious deaths followed by an enfeebled inconclusive IPCC cover up investigations. If I am right that we have not seen the last of riotous disturbance for where there is no justice, there can be no peace. 

Lee Jasper