Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Dalston Junction Police Assault: School Girls Mum Makes Witness Appeal.

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Mum Joy McIntosh Witness Appeal.

Black youth in London are increasingly subject to disproportionate and violent arrests at the hands of the Metropolitan Police. Such was the case this weekend where a video of the violent arrest by Metropolitan Police officers, of a16-year-old black girl at Dalston Junction, went viral, attracting strong criticism of police force that appears out of control. 

No doubt, many will sigh at this point, drop their heads and think, "Here we go again, another gross exaggeration, and yet another anti-police critic, inflating a legitimate arrests, into some overblown political bandwagon.

Of course if you're black and fully awoke, you will know, that history records, that all claims of serious racism, are always and routinely furiously denied in the first instance. So first of all let's deal with the objective and broader context of my statement.

The extent of the deterioration of relationships between the Metropolitan Police Force and London black communities has sunk to a new low, as increased levels of institutional racism in policing, continues to poison relations between black communities and an increasingly notorious Metropolitan Police Force.

Using this descriptor “force” will no doubt surprise some, but for many of London black communities, the Met is no longer perceived as a public service, and increasingly seen, by many communities as an, aggressive and hostile occupying force.

And today, relations are pretty bad indeed. Earlier this year as a result of a series of freedom of information requests, I discovered that, according to annual public confidence survey data supplied to me by the police themselves, in London’s  black communities, trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police Force, rarely rises above 50%, and disturbingly in some of the key areas – such as Lambeth, Newham, Haringey and Hackney – regularly drops to as low as 30%.

In terms of violent arrests, the overwhelming picture is that the Met is particularly violent when arresting black suspects, according to their own figures.  These  show that whilst the black community makes only 13% of London’s population, they represent a staggering 36 % of all police violent arrests in London in a three-month period.  

This represents around 20,000 violent arrests of black people every single year, and that assumes all violence arrests are reported by police officers, something I personally doubt. There could be many more. 

And where the police have to rely on supporting partner agencies, then we often see these agencies, themselves infected with racist practices, actively colluding with police violence and racism to mask their own failures.  TfL is a case in point. 

Now lets consider the case of 16 year old, London black college student, and daughter of Mum Joy McIntosh, who on Friday 1st December was travelling on the bus 149 around 6pm heading toward Dalston Junction. Let's call her A. 
While on the bus A was approached by a couple of TfL ticket inspectors, what then followed seemed to be a huge misunderstanding. 

As a result TfL ticket inspectors then, followed her off the bus and began physically restraining her. A is just 4 ft.11 and weighs around seven stones. 

By this time a crowd had gathered concerned at the apparent treatment of this tiny black schoolgirl being aggressively manhandled. 

Increasingly intimidated by a gathering crowd who were appalled at the disproportionately violent treatment of A, the TfL inspectors called for police back up. 

Meanwhile the growing  crowds became increasing angry and hostile. The inspectors then bizarrely began shouting ‘stop resisting’ as they violently restrained A. 

This is, of course, an age-old police tactic of attempting to create a public impression of a suspect resisting arrest or restraint, whilst violently attacking said suspect. 

A, was then kneed in the stomach by one of the Inspectors and started to cry out for help. As the crowd started to react, one of the Inspectors then inexplicably escalated this situation and violently secured A in a head lock – all the time shouting ‘stop resisting’ A was frightened, terrified and distraught. 

The police then arrived and placed her in handcuffs forcing her hands way up her back and placing her in a police van.

Throughout the time she was being assaulted, by the police officers and TfL inspector’s, the crowd were filming and becoming increasingly agitated. 

A solitary white woman who witnessed the police violence (black people, particularly black men, please take note) tried to intervene. She was violently abused and pushed by a police officer, who then placed her in a headlock and repeatedly punched her. She was subsequently arrested and charged with police assault.  

At this point a larger crowd had gathered and A was calling out for some one to call her mother. A bystander did so and told her mother “Hello, hello ?... I've been ask to ring you urgently, I'm here at Dalston Junction and the police are assaulting your daughter.”  

When A’s mother, 36-year-old Joy McIntosh and her 18 yr old son arrived on the scene, she was confronted with utter chaos. Joy reports seeing massive angry crowds and tens of police officers, all shouting and milling around. 

When Joy, a woman of strong faith, saw her distraught daughter in the back of a police van, she sought to approach and comfort her, but was immediately pushed back by police officers. Joy was then kettled by officers who refused her access to her daughter or her son

When her son protested at the treatment of his mum, the 18yr old was pinned to the ground by police and violently arrested, aggravating the crowd even more. 
© Joy McIntosh 

“The level of violence I saw from the police officers at the scene shocked me to the core. It was unbelievable. I was so frightened for his life that although surrounded by police I just kept shouting “keep calm son, stay alive” repeatedly.”

Both her children were taken to Stoke Newington Police Station, where A says she was denied her rights as a juvenile and subjected to bullying and intimidation by police officers. 

She demanded her mother be present as an appropriate adult, whilst she was being interviewed, the police refused, and instead brought in a preferred social worker and a local stranger from the boroughs appropriate adult scheme, and this despite her mother being in attendance at Stoke Newington Police station at all times. 

A was arrested on Friday evening around 6pm, interviewed around 11pm, kept in a cell overnight and finally released on bail on Saturday around 6pm. Her brother was released later that day and both were given bail conditions not to stay at their mother’s house and subjected to a nightly curfew from 3am to 7pm. They are both due to return in two weeks time. Again a massive, punitive over reaction. 

The frequency of these types of incidents, where we see Met officers, engaged in the violent arrest of London black folks is increasing.

Each month thousands of London's black communities find themselves experiencing disproportionate violence, whilst being arrested. It's just a fact of life, that the Met in particular, are arresting black youth's in such numbers that feelings on the streets today, are strongly reminiscent of London circa 1986. 

Met officers, seem to have no regard for whether black suspects are children, young adults or elderly pensioners, the response of far too many officers is routinely violent. (remember Bristol, St Paul’s pensioner Ras Judah?) 

Institutional racism has resulted in the British Police more generally, and the Met in this particular instance, losing public legitimacy. The Met, whether tackling criminals or racially profiling back youth, are viewed with such deep suspicion as a direct consequence, of their worsening and unacknowledged institutionalised racism. Such public opposition to perceived racist policing is becoming increasingly common in London. The principle of policing by consent requires the Met and the Mayor to urgently address this crisis of confidence of London's black communities. 

The deep irony here, is that it's Tory Prime Minister Thersea May who has been much more vocal on this issue of police racism, and to be fair, she at least has a semblance of a coherent policy focus. Why not the Mayor of London? Surely we would expect a Muslim Mayor, elected in large part with support from London's black communities, to have a policy to tackle police racism that is in advance of a Tory Prime Minister?

He, the London Assembly and the Commissioner must explain why it was necessary for a 16-year-old child, to be subjected to the kind of arrest, usually reserved for the most serious and dangerous of criminals, for nothing more than failing to be in possession of an Oyster card that, in any event, entitles all London 16 yr olds in study to free travel anyway? She lives in London. Its an administrative technicality not a major crime. 

The fact is that both TfL Inspectors and Met Police unnecessary use of violence unduly provoked and inflamed this situation. Given the public interest, and in the interests of good community relations, all charges against A, her brother and the brave woman who sought to intervene, should be dropped immediately.

Still questions remain for example why was A mother denied access to her 16-year-old daughter whilst at Stoke Newington police station?

Why, was it thought necessary, to hold a16-year-old child for 24 hours for such a minor offence? I have long raised the issue of the undue detention of black children by the Metropolitan Police Force.

Huge changes to London's bail system is resulting, in far too many young, vulnerable suspects, being unduly detained for long periods of time. As black public support for the Metropolitan Police Force wanes, so the potential increases for relatively minor incidents, to spark widespread civil uprisings. 

Across London, there is emerging consistent anecdotal evidence, that black parents and adults are being denied the opportunity to act as an appropriate adults when in attendance at London’s police stations, and that black children are being held for excessively long periods of time,as a result. In the current context the violent arrest of children could be the spark that ignites wider opposition to perceived or actual police racism. 

There are serious questions to be asked of local appropriate adult schemes who seem happy to collude with this abuse presumably being paid per child. They must be held accountable and must now inquire whether or not a parent or significant other, is in attendance at police stations. I would welcome the publication of monitoring figures detailing the numbers and length of time young people are sending in custody, by ethnic group and gender. 

In terms of a London political response to the culture of known racism within the Met, its simply not there in any substantive form. Its simply not an item for discussion. Don't believe me? Try doing a basic search for Mayoral policy or London Assembly debate on this issue. The challenge is simple and straight forward for the Mayor Sadiq Khan and that is to respond to the David Lammy MP Review challenge of “explain or change.” 

Rather than genuine dialogue and community engagement, we have endured  increasingly desperate attempts, by the Met to justify, the unjustifiable, quoting knife and violent crime as their operational rationale for their obvious racism. 

Except it isn't any justification at all and as most informed observers know, there is no relationship between the incidence of violence and rates of stop and search. 

Terrell Decosta Jones Burton a child form another family of faith.
Disproportionate stop and search; disproportionate violence; disproportionate arrests; disproportionate refusal of bail; disproportionate charging for like-for-like offences when compared with white suspects with worse or similar previous antecedents; disproportionate deaths in police custody; disproportionate number of Met black officers subject to disciplinary investigations by their fellow officers. 

Nuno Cardoso 25 law student.

Since the trauma of this incident Joy has been inundated with support of the wider community.  

Tensions are high across London, in the wake of the notorious incidents including Sarah ReedEdson Da Costa, Rashan Charles and what appears to be the savage beating by police of another 15 year old Terrell Decosta Jones_Burton

And now we hear of the case of 25 year old law student, Nuno Cardoso who is the latest young black man, who died after being detained by police.

This is what his Mrs dos Santos, Nuno's grieving mother had to say,

Doroteia dos Santos

'The boys feel they are being attacked – and I feel the same. They stop and search all the boys. Not just because they have dreadlocks or long hair, but every black and mixed race boy in this country – they have the same problem. The police need to involve themselves more in communities. They need to give more space for the parents. They are not talking to us. They need to be holding meetings, public meetings, on the estates. From September until now there have been three deaths in custody. This shows something is wrong. Maybe they are not being trained.”

I could go on, but you get the picture. London is experiencing a resurgence of institutionalised racism within the Metropolitan Police force. This important, but as yet largely unrecognised fact, is clearly discernible from the discreditable and undisputed figures, detailing significant disproportionality and discrimination in all significant aspects of London policing.  

This situation as it stands today, is that black Londoners are no longer prepared to give the Met police the benefit of doubt, when judging the appropriateness of police interventions involving black people. The reason a relatively minor incident such as occurred at Dalston, provoked such a strong reaction, is because very few black people, or indeed many ordinary Londoners, now trust the police to do the right thing where black people are concerned.  In this context even a legitimate police intervention could lead to widespread disorder as a result. 

The Mayor of London has to reign in the Met. He has to get a grip of the real reality he faces, namely a level of resurgent institutional racism that has become re-energised, as a direct result, of the abandonment of the  recommendations outlined within the McPherson report on racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. Race is no longer a political priority in London.

From a Labour Mayor and former 'campaigning' solicitor, a man who represented Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, this is a scandal, and mistake for which the City, and the country at large will pay a heavy price.

Further it is equally bizarre that a Tory Prime Minster talks more about these issues than both Labours leading lights, the London Mayor and the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Is Labour ducking the issue of police racism? In the absence of any substantive evidence to the contrary, its a reasonable conclusion. 

Only by tackling Met institutional racism head on, can we hope to avoid an almost inevitable backlash from a London Black community that feels itself under siege from a hostile, aggressive an all-powerful Metropolitan Police Force. 

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