Last nights Tottenham meeting on the shooting by an armed Metropolitan Police officer of 28 year black man father of two, Jermaine Blake gave those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the opportunity to glimpse the residual anger of London black communities. Though many would describe the meeting as 'angry' most would have no idea how deep and entrenched this anger is. We are tired of the trite paternalism of the formulaic corporate response and the glib political soundbite from elected politicians.
With over 30 years experience in dealing with Police/Black community policing crisis I can say that things have never been so bad as they are in London right now. I have attended far too many of this type of meeting, where our community suffers in pain after receiving tragic news that yet another black men has died in police custody. And just as in 2011 the wider white community has failed to recognise and or acknowledge our anger and pain
You can see the questions I asked to the expert panel of assembled dignitaries here.
'If a monkey can use a smart phone to take an a award winning selfie why can't @metpoliceuk get #Bodycams to work? #JermaineBaker
I want to state for the purposes of clarity from the get go.
I believe that another round of civil disturbance in London are almost inevitable. Here's why.
|Jermaine Blake shot by police. .whilst asleep in his car'|
Alienation has now become entrenched, austerity is the lens through which an already discriminated community see ever rising levels of homelessness, poverty and unemployment.
My community cannot physically endure anymore and when black peoples backs are against the wall we are forced to come out fighting for truth and justice. The reality is a poor community is now under acute pressure economically, politically, judicially and out there on the streets.
Such is the situation we face unprecedented and immense social, political, ethical pressure/ Against this backdrop we also face a crisis of ethical black leadership. These realities cannot be divorced from each other.
Ethical black leadership is absent without leave, the leadership we do endure is, by and large accommodationist, gatekeeping, dusty negroes whose interests lie in maintaining the status quo.
|The Voice speaks for an entire community.|
The meeting was chaired by my good friend, Stafford Scott and the radical Tottenham preacher Pastor Nimms. The meeting heard from the assembled expert panel and was addressed principally by David Lammy MP, the Independant Police Complaints Commissioner Cindy, the MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen King and Borough Supt Dr Victor Olisa.
I was impressed with Davids Lammy MP's action in supporting the family and instantly contacting the Attorney General's office that prompted an note of advice being sent to editors of newspapers and wider media that were reporting that Jermaine Baker was a 'gangster' he was not. The meeting accused the MPs of leaking that information despite their trenchant denials on the night.
The most dramatic moment of the evening was the announcement of IPCC Commissioner responsible for the now criminal homicide investigation into the murder of Jermaine Cindy Butts announced that the Police Officer concerned (when are we going to have his name?) had been formally arrested.
|Cindy Butt IOCC make history.|
Lets be clear here, whatever the criticisms of the IPCC and Lord knows I have been vociferously critical of their many failings, on this occasion. I think we should applaud them for taking such swift and decisive action.
Both I and many victims families have been campaigning for over 30 years for police officers involved in contentious deaths in custody to be routinely and automatically suspended.
This demand to provide community reassurance had been doggedly resisted by the MPS and yet on this occasion the officer was first suspended, as a result of a request made by the IPCC, then the officer was arrested. Unprecedented in recent time. I note the welter of social media comments from ex or serving officers seeking to play things down by stating ' officer suspension' post any shooting incident is 'normal procedure' This is MPS spin and reflects the atmosphere of sheer panic in New Scotland Yard and among officer more generally.
Assuming these are evidenced based decisions, the action taken by the IPCC should be applauded as precisely the type or response we had all envisaged when we campaigned for the abolition of the discredited Police Complaints Authority and the creation of the IPCC.
However, a note of caution. In the annuals of British Policing only thirteen Police Officers have actually been arrested and charged with either murder and or manslaughter of members of the public.
British juries, the majority of whom have been white have, despite on occasion compelling evidence, refused to convict a single officer of any homicide crimes. I have long been of the view that the irrational nature of racial prejudice means that majority white juries trying complicate race cases, find it difficult to objectively identifying their own sub conscious and sometimes conscious racism. This results in perverse justice with juries reaching bizarre and perverse conclusions.The inquest juries decision in the Mark Duggan case provides a good example of this culture.
That cold denial of justice, which is epitome of the lived black experience here in Britain, is the reason I'm personally in favour of ensuring black Jury representation in cases where race is a complicating or motivating factor.
|AC Helen King and Supt Olisa's shame and embarrasement is obvious|
What was clear from last night's meeting was the both Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Borough Superintendent Dr Victor Olisa were desperately poor in providing reassurance to an anxious and angry public. Their performance was poor and inflamed the audience with their patronising defensive comments
They sought to impress or implore, I know not which, the assembled audience with glowing references to the police as ' hard working public servants' who ' put their life on the line to protect you'. This was not the time.
The response of the audience was to periodically shout them down forcing them to stop before continuing, which they did with great difficulty.
It was an appalling demonstration of the chasm of misunderstanding between the Metropolitan Police and London's Black communities. Their contributions were rigid formulaic and defensive. They had to be pushed by the audience to offer an apology to the family and community for the shooting of Jermaine. The MOS haven't even offered that most basic of human courtesies and steadfastly refused to do so, despite appeals on the night.
Tottenham Supt Olisa did however, formally confirm that Jermaine was not a 'gangster' as misrepreported by the media and a nast allegation that is still circulating on twitter and MSM ( see , nor was he a member of a gang', neither was he on the MPS Gang Matrix, that unusually given that 78% of the Matrix is made up of Black Gangs fulfilling my prophecy that Trident Anti Gang Command has concluded that all gang criminality in London is conducted by black men.
A close friend of Jermaine repeated that allegation that ' Jermaine was shot whilst sleeping, that he was not a gangster and that the two men arrested with him were entirely innocent of allegations of being part of a prison break escape as reported.
|Dr Darren Henry. 'Jermaine was asleep when he was shot'|
That charge was repeated by Dr Danny Henry Vice Chair of Haringey Stop and Search Monitoring. A group that reports directly to the Mayor of London (also missing in action on this issue) .
Mr Henry repeated the allegation that Jermaine was asleep when shot. He also stated that eyewitnesses were afraid to come forward because they say what happened in the Mark Duggan case are petrified of being negatively targeted by the police and the press.
He alleges that no warning was given by officers. He went onto say that the Met were refusing to deal with Turkish organised crime that is so powerful that its able to recruit and coerce black boys into doing their bidding. Powerful stuff from one so close to the Mayor Boris Johnson.
So it looks like, as I perviously stated in an earlier article that Jermaine may have been asleep when shot. That if true, this will lead to appalling and long term consequences for London. In the wake of deaths in police custody of Smiley Culture, Sean Rigg, Azelle Rodney, Mark Duggan and now Jermaine Baker, the festering weeping sore that is London's black/police relations has become septic and is likely to mature into gangrene.
The impending London Mayoral elections probably saw Boris Johnson ruthlessly calculate that his toxic policing legacy to London is one that is likely explode all over someone elses watch. He may be disappointed.
Its not all bad news however, In addition to the IPCC taking such strong action I am told by a reliable source that rather remarkably, the key witnesses in determining the officers eventual arrest were the statements and testimony of his fellow officers. Now if true, that would be hugely welcomed by all right minded people committed to justice. I hope its true, however we will have to wait and see.
In relation to Police Bodycams these technology saviours and restorers of public confidence have been a resolute failure in relation to police shootings. Ironically introduce in the aftermath of the killing of Mark Duggan in 2011, body cams were announced by Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe to a fanfare publicity amid claims that the Metropolitan Police wanted to be the 'most transparent in the police service in the world' in attempts to restore public confidence.
In August this year Nathaniel Brophy was shot by the Met Police in a dispute about rent arrears in community meetings it was revealed that the specialist firearms officers don't wear them, not all regular officers have them. It has become clear that all firearms officers don't wear them and those who did positioned them in the wrong place on their uniforms'. As a result the IPCC has lots of film of officers boots. The IPCC has asked the the MPS address this issue urgently, the MPS in response drags is foot.
Brophy's Father has said his son, who survived, told him that he'd been shot with his hands up, with no weapon in his hand.
|Nathaniel Brophy shot over rent arrears in Brixton.|
These cases illustrates the toxic nature of Police/Black community relations in London.
Responsibility for this bitter state of affairs, can in large part, be laid at the door of Mayor Boris Johnson. It was he who abolished borough based Police Consultative Groups instigated by Lord Scarman specifically to plug what he observed as a ' dangerous information vacuum' that led to the 1986 uprising in Brixton. The lack of information was cited again as a key factor in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Mark Duggan. It was he who sanctioned huge increases in stop and search in London until Home Secretary Thersea May reigned him in and yet the Met remains defiant increasing stop and search numbers even higher despite Mays protestations.
It is he who has failed and it us that pays the price.
The first project of the hapless Mayor and the local SNB's was to roll out the Mayors new flagship response to knife crime Operation Shield. Its been a total disaster rejected by Lambeth, Haringey and many others who have charged the Mayor of seeking to criminalise poor black families and communities. Also gone is the '1000 black mentors for 1000 black boys' flagship policy, that died a death along with Boris's much trumpeted commitment to tackle youth violence in London.
|No lessons learned form Mark Duggan.|
The arena of police community relations and consultation in London is now a desolate landscape, largely absent of real community accountable representation from credible local community representatives.
The Metropolitan Police's failure in this regard will cost London dear and was no doubt the motivation behind calls for the resignation of the Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe at last night meeting. This is the single worst period of London's turbulent policing history.
My advice is simple for what its worth.
Spend £10 million in re-establishing race equality as an urgent policy priority for London now. Get yourself a radical race equality plan that targets race inequality, religious bigotry and discrimination. Avert the impending crisis and save the nation 200 million.
Lamentably the story of London's African Caribbean community is not an isolated issue. Much the same state of affairs can be said to exist in relation to London's Muslim community. As a result of 'anti terror' arrests and the Governments disastrous 'Prevent' strategy has resulted in the deep alienation of the Muslim community.
The MPS need to positively repair their parlous relationship with London's Muslim and African Caribbean communities Thats two ticking time bombs.
If London doesn't learn it will burn. These issues continue to ferment for the next Mayor under the malign and wilful neglect of police institutional racism by Boris Johnson.
What is required is not some half arsed policy proposals, warm reheat's of previous failed initiatives, designed to o catch headlines rather than save lives. What we need is the adoption of radical policies anti violence policies and a urgent repair of the relationship between police and community in London.
If I were you I'd pay close and particular attention.
Watch this space...