No Justice – No Peace!

The British State Murders with impunity: ‘to Protect and Serve’ the Capitalist Class. Not only the Met, but the whole capitalist system is inherently racist and anti-working class, and needs to be dismantled. This is the core truth that underlies Police Injustice.

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RACISM

For much of Britain’s working class, long shackled by unemployment, debt and neglect, and particularly for black and immigrant workers, who are also subject to ingrained institutional persecution, incessant harassment and arbitrary arrest, the oppressive character of the British state requires no elucidation. A host of recent events make it clear that institutional racism remains rampant in Britain today.

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This is but one example of many. We could just as easily look at housing, education, income or unemployment statistics.

When we look at our brothers and sisters across the sea, in the USA, we can see just how deep is the irony that that they call themselves “the land of the free and the home of the Brave.” There have been a host  of racist police assaults and murders in the US, from Rodney King to Michael Brown, sparking the Fergusson conflict between the civilian population and a police force so heavily armed they may as well be invading another country.

But the fact that Black and immigrant workers live under a double oppression, is also meant to distract and appease white workers – dividing us from our common interests as workers, and distracting us from the fact that our enemy is the employing class, the capital owning class. White workers are encouraged to see immigration, instead of rich capitalists stealing wealth produced, by the working class as a whole – as ‘the main problem’. We must not be misled by the anti-immigrant, racist ranting of the Daily mail, UKIP, Labour or the Tory party.

THE BRITISH STATE

Institutions of the British state do not serve the people, and practices such as cover-ups and corruption are part of the very logic of their operations, rather than the results of ‘extraordinary’ actions by a few ‘bad apples’.

ECONOMIC VIOLENCE

The violence of the state must be seen in the context of the economic violence of a system that sabotages and destroys the lives of billions world-wide, and millions in Britain, in order to concentrate the entire wealth of humanity in a tiny number of people’s hands. The 65 richest multi-billionaires today, control as much wealth as HALF THE WORLD’S POPULATION! Between 20 and 25 percent of all 16-24 year olds across the UK are unemployed. As an index of discrimination, it merits attention that a staggering 60 percent of young black men are jobless. As a result of endemic unemployment and under- employment, declining and often derisory wages, 3.6 million British children are growing up in poverty (between a quarter and a third of all children in the UK), and that this figure is set to rise. A recent report indicates that 1,000,000 children go hungry in Britain every day. How long will British workers accept this meekly? Our ruling class are already preparing for the violence they think will arise from this unjust and appalling inequality.

They know that they would not stand for it – so why should we?

STEPHEN LAWRENCE – CORRUPTION AND RACISM IN THE MET

On 18 March 2014, it was revealed that the Metropolitan Police in 2003 destroyed a vast cache of documents connected to an ongoing corruption investigation, including documents relating to a detective involved in the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

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In an interview in the Guardian on 28 January 2012, Doreen Lawrence underlined that the police failed to find her son’s murderers, but stopped his brother 20 times as a criminal suspect! She herself was stopped a year after the murder, ‘suspected of driving a stolen car’.

MARK DUGGAN

This disclosure came just weeks after a coroner’s inquest ruled that the murder of Mark Duggan in August 2011 was ‘lawful’, despite the jury agreeing that Duggan was unarmed at the time. The two-and-a-half years following his murder have not only seen the usual attempts at cover-up and the giving of false evidence by the officers involved, but also a sustained media smear campaign against Mr Duggan and his family.

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These are just some of the most high-profile cases, which need to be understood in the context of the daily discrimination and harassment suffered by black and Asian communities at the hands of the British police.

STOP AND SEARCH

One of the most striking examples of this is the disproportionate use of ‘stop and search’ powers. These attacks on the black community have been ongoing since the notorious ‘sus’ (Suspicion) powers police used to target them since the 1970s.

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Despite black people being around half as likely to be using drugs as other members of the public, in 2009-10 black people in England and Wales were more than six times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs possession.

In addition to this, they are treated far more harshly by the ‘justice’ system after arrest, and are much more likely to be charged for minor offences (as opposed to being merely cautioned).

[See ‘The numbers in black and white: ethnic disparities in the policing and prosecution of drug offences in England and  Wales’, release.org.uk, 2013]

DEATHS IN POLICE CUSTODY

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The numbers relating to deaths in custody also display the same disturbing features at a national level. Since 1990, there have been 82 deaths of members of an ethnic minority at the hands of the Metropolitan Police. None of these have to date resulted in a conviction. There have been a further 63 in other forces in the rest of England and Wales.

While many of the black and ethnic-minority deaths have been concentrated in the Metropolitan Police area, the number of deaths in custody generally have been quite consistently higher

for ethnic minorities than for white Britons across the country. (See ‘Datablog: deaths after police contact or in police custody’, guardian.co.uk, 19 July 2012)

KILLING THE VULNERABLE

Particularly shocking is the number of black people suffering from mental-health problems who have died in police custody, often after having suffered disproportionate violence.

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Typical of this racially aggravated assault and police murder are the cases of Roger Sylvester (who died after being ‘restrained’ and asphyxiated by 11 police officers in 1999, while trying to gain access to his own home), and Rocky Bennett  (who expressed his desire to leave voluntary psychiatric treatment, was promptly sectioned, then ‘restrained’ and asphyxiated by a gang of police who effectively murdered him in 1998).

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BRIXTON, BROADWATER FARM, & the 2011 Youth Uprisings

Add this systematic mistreatment and harassment to the wider economic inequalities that exist along ethnic lines and it is quite understandable how even a single incident can spark a drastic reaction; be it the police killings that sparked the Brixton and Broadwater Farm uprisings in 1981 and 1985 or the shooting of Mark Duggan that sparked the youth uprising of 2011.

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While all this is deeply troubling, it is unfortunately not surprising. Marxists have long understood that imperialism survives by creating division among workers at home as well as abroad – the partition of the world and exploitation of its masses goes hand in hand with racism and oppression of workers in the centres of imperialism itself

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As the old trade-union adage goes, “United we stand, divided we fall”. Or as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels so succinctly put it in the Communist Manifesto, “Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!”

POLICE VIOLENCE AGAINST PROTESTORS

The police and Army in Britain have a long history of violence against the organized working class movement, from the Llanelli railway strikers in 1911, to the British General Strike of 1926, the battle of Cable Street in 1936, the Miners Strike of 1984 – 1985, or the more recent anti G11 , Anti-NATO, or student demonstrations against sky-rocketing tuition Fees and the abolition of the EMA, that effectively barred access of the working class to further and higher education.

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In December 2011, responding to increased public unrest and clearly anticipating more, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published a report highlighting the existing legal power of police to shoot ‘arsonists’ if they are deemed to be ‘endangering life’. Whilst lip-service was paid to this tactic being a ‘last resort’, its inclusion within the report, and its subsequent promotion in the bourgeois press, is a thinly- veiled endorsement of the use of live ammunition by police against protestors who are deemed threatening to the British state.

It is a blueprint that authorises the murder of those who deviate from the usual routine and futile avenues of protest, and it must be made clear to workers that, as seductive as the rhetoric on ‘protection of the public’ is, it is a fig-leaf intended to disarm us.

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The police were not concerned about the protection of Mark Duggan as they publicly executed him, or of so many of our loved ones who have died at their hands, or languish unjustly in their jails. Claims that he was armed and dangerous have been shown up as false, since the gun it was said he was carrying about his person had no trace of his DNA on it.

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The police shot to kill in order to intimidate that section of the local population who are inclined to rebellion, no longer meekly swallowing the bourgeois propaganda and lies that generally serve to hold the working-class population in check.

The police are equally unconcerned about the dozens of people who have died in their custody or in immigration detention camps.

IRELAND

The British state has a long history of violence, oppression, rape and robbery in its colonial possessions, from India and China, to the Americas and Africa. Ireland is its oldest colony, and it still occupies and polices the northern part of that nation.

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The British army had no compunction about freely murdering the participants of national liberation struggles in all its colonies over hundreds of years. Just as little were the British military concerned about the protection of the 14 civil rights potestors civilians they murdered in Derry in 1972, or the many others killed and wounded by them over the years of occupation, in Ireland and in Britain. The briefest of inquiry would reveal that their loyal concern lies with the protection of British capitalists’ interests and above all their private property and the perpetuation of the system of class exploitation itself.

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The treatment of Harry Stanley, shot dead by police officers in 1999, for having an ‘Irish accent’ (he was Scottish), and reported carrying a shotgun (in fact a wooden table-leg, which he was carrying home in a plastic bag) is instructive in this regard, as was the police execution of Diarmuid O’Neill in 1996.

THE SOLUTION?

As ever, for workers, our only option is to Struggle. But we must realize who are our enemies and who can be won to our cause. British youth need a Marxist-Leninist education that will enable us to adopt leadership positions in our communities, break down the walls of suspicion between workers of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, unite with other communities in common struggle against our oppressors, and advance the struggle against capitalist imperialism.

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The CPGB-ML stands in solidarity with all those who are fighting for justice against the tyranny, and murderous oppression of the British State. But also issues a word of caution. The imperialist leopard cannot change his spots. ‘Financial compensation’ is an insult. Police ‘apologies’ are rare, admissions of guilt or reprimand of the officers concerned almost never happen. Why? Because the capitalist’s need the strong arm of the law firmly held to our throats. In the last analysis, the only redress that can be won for the British workers, is the overthrow of the decadent, rotten, corrupt and moribund system of exploitation of one man by another and one nation by another that has landed humanity in this Sorry state of affairs.

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Only the working class in power can solve these issues for themselves. We will guarantee that our society is built upon humane and just lines, that allow the development and flourishing of all individuals within our rich and diverse country and usher in an era that is truly peaceful and prosperous.

Red Youth on the 2011 Riots:

Understanding the State:

Antisocial behaviour, crime and policing bill

Another inch of liberty is in the process of being clawed away. It seems the Oligarchs bang bangare securing their position for the long haul, and it is a long haul, as shown by the Tories proposed cuts for the next term they are confident of winning. They plan to implement deeper cuts to the benefits of the most vulnerable in society, when they are at their most vulnerable and sinking deeper and deeper into despair, destitution and poverty. And to safeguard this utopia of the bourgeoisie they are introducing laws with ever more vague parameters to criminalize the malcontents who will inevitably rise up against such oppression, because to paraphrase Karl Marx, the bourgeoisie creates its own gravediggers.

Red Youth reproduces here the article written by George Monbiot in the Guardian:

Until the late 19th century much of our city space was owned by private landlords. Squares were gated, streets were controlled by turnpikes. The great unwashed, many of whom had been expelled from the countryside by acts of enclosure, were also excluded from desirable parts of town.

Social reformers and democratic movements tore down the barriers, and public space became a right, not a privilege. But social exclusion follows inequality as night follows day, and now, with little public debate, our city centres are again being privatised or semi-privatised. They are being turned by the companies that run them into soulless, cheerless, pasteurised piazzas, in which plastic policemen harry anyone loitering without intent to shop.

Street life in these places is reduced to a trance-world of consumerism, of conformity and atomisation in which nothing unpredictable or disconcerting happens, a world made safe for selling mountains of pointless junk to tranquillised shoppers. Spontaneous gatherings of any other kind – unruly, exuberant, open-ended, oppositional – are banned. Young, homeless and eccentric people are, in the eyes of those upholding this dead-eyed, sanitised version of public order, guilty until proven innocent.

Now this dreary ethos is creeping into places that are not, ostensibly, owned or controlled by corporations. It is enforced less by gates and barriers (though plenty of these are reappearing) than by legal instruments, used to exclude or control the ever widening class of undesirables.

The existing rules are bad enough. Introduced by the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, antisocial behaviour orders (asbos) have criminalised an apparently endless range of activities, subjecting thousands – mostly young and poor – to bespoke laws. They have been used to enforce a kind of caste prohibition: personalised rules which prevent the untouchables from intruding into the lives of others.

You get an asbo for behaving in a manner deemed by a magistrate as likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to other people. Under this injunction, the proscribed behaviour becomes a criminal offence. Asbos have been granted which forbid the carrying of condoms by a prostitute, homeless alcoholics from possessing alcohol in a public place, a soup kitchen from giving food to the poor, a young man from walking down any road other than his own, children from playing football in the street. They were used to ban peaceful protests against the Olympic clearances.

Inevitably, more than half the people subject to asbos break them. As Liberty says, these injunctions “set the young, vulnerable or mentally ill up to fail”, and fast-track them into the criminal justice system. They allow the courts to imprison people for offences which are not otherwise imprisonable. One homeless young man was sentenced to five years in jail for begging: an offence for which no custodial sentence exists. Asbos permit the police and courts to create their own laws and their own penal codes.

All this is about to get much worse. On Wednesday the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill reaches its report stage (close to the end of the process) in the House of Lords. It is remarkable how little fuss has been made about it, and how little we know of what is about to hit us.

The bill would permit injunctions against anyone of 10 or older who “has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person”. It would replace asbos with ipnas (injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance), which would not only forbid certain forms of behaviour, but also force the recipient to discharge positive obligations. In other words, they can impose a kind of community service order on people who have committed no crime, which could, the law proposes, remain in force for the rest of their lives.

The bill also introduces public space protection orders, which can prevent either everybody or particular kinds of people from doing certain things in certain places. It creates new dispersal powers, which can be used by the police to exclude people from an area (there is no size limit), whether or not they have done anything wrong.

While, as a result of a successful legal challenge, asbos can be granted only if a court is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that antisocial behaviour took place, ipnas can be granted on the balance of probabilities. Breaching them will not be classed as a criminal offence, but can still carry a custodial sentence: without committing a crime, you can be imprisoned for up to two years. Children, who cannot currently be detained for contempt of court, will be subject to an inspiring new range of punishments for breaking an ipna, including three months in a young offenders’ centre.

Lord Macdonald, formerly the director of public prosecutions, points out that “it is difficult to imagine a broader concept than causing ‘nuisance’ or ‘annoyance'”. The phrase is apt to catch a vast range of everyday behaviours to an extent that may have serious implications for the rule of law”. Protesters, buskers, preachers: all, he argues, could end up with ipnas.

The Home Office minister, Norman Baker, once a defender of civil liberties, now the architect of the most oppressive bill pushed through any recent parliament, claims that the amendments he offered in December will “reassure people that basic liberties will not be affected”. But Liberty describes them as “a little bit of window-dressing: nothing substantial has changed.”

The new injunctions and the new dispersal orders create a system in which the authorities can prevent anyone from doing more or less anything. But they won’t be deployed against anyone. Advertisers, who cause plenty of nuisance and annoyance, have nothing to fear; nor do opera lovers hogging the pavements of Covent Garden. Annoyance and nuisance are what young people cause; they are inflicted by oddballs, the underclass, those who dispute the claims of power.

These laws will be used to stamp out plurality and difference, to douse the exuberance of youth, to pursue children for the crime of being young and together in a public place, to help turn this nation into a money-making monoculture, controlled, homogenised, lifeless, strifeless and bland. For a government which represents the old and the rich, that must sound like paradise.

Second march for Justice for Kingsley Burrell 2012

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Comrades and friends from across Birmingham and the country came to Camp Hill on Saturday to protest against the ongoing disgrace which is being perpetrated by West Midlands Police. Kingsley Burrell called police to his home last summer to deal with a disturbance being created by youths outside his home. When police arrived they arrested Kingsley and took him off to the notorious Mary Seacole House next to Winson Green gaol in Birmingham. Three days later, Kingsley (with no history of mental illness) was pronounced dead and no body has yet been released to the family.

Birmingham cpgb-ml and Red Youth marched last year with Kingsley’s family and we turned out again this year. The pictures are courtesy of Stalingrad O’Neill and the following article is reproduced from Proletarian 2012:

Lessons of the murder of Stephen Lawrence

Police racism can no more be abolished under capitalism than can racism generally – it is a vital weapon in the bourgeois armoury of divide-and-rule tactics that keep the working class weak and impotent.

Two of the murderers of Stephen Lawrence are behind bars – at last. Gary Dobson and David Norris will spend a considerable period of time in prison. But we cannot now heave a sigh of relief and say, “justice has been done – all is now well”.

This is not only because at least three other murderers of Stephen Lawrence are still free, nor just because minimum sentences of 14 and 15 years for Dobson and Norris cannot be described as severe (certainly not when compared with draconian sentences handed out for such offences as taking a bottle of water from a shop during the uprising last summer!)

It is because the struggle is by no means over. All is not well. Racism continues to rear its ugly head. And the context is a working class that is being burdened with the effects of the crisis of capitalism, and receiving heavy treatment from the state, not least the police, when it resists. The intention to divide and thus weaken the working class by fomenting racism has to be fought against and overcome.

Racist murder

Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death on the night of 22 April 1993 by a gang of at least five young white men, who attacked him and his friend Duwayne Brooks at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London. It was clear, not only from the nature of the attack but very explicitly from words used during it, that it was a racist attack. Stephen Lawrence was murdered for the sole reason that he was black.

Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s mother put it very succinctly after the guilty verdict on Dobson and Norris on 3 January this year, following a trial that began on 15 November 2011. She was quoted in the Guardian of 4 January as follows:

“How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police, who were meant to find my son’s killers, had not failed so miserably to do so?

“This result shows that the police can do their job properly, but only if they want to.

“The fact is that racism and racist attacks are still happening in this country and the police should not use my son’s name to say that we can move on.”

And Neville Lawrence, Stephen’s father said: “I don’t think I will be able to rest until they are all brought to justice.”

Campaign driven by the Lawrence family

Doreen and Neville Lawrence are remarkable people. It is they who have not let go. They just kept demanding, and made good use of the support they received from the Daily Mail to keep Stephen’s murder in the public eye.

The editor of that paper had come into contact with Neville Lawrence when the latter did some building work at his home. This personal interest in the matter resulted in a campaign in the Daily Mail, including a front page of photographs of five men, including Dobson and Norris, which called them murderers and challenged them to sue.

Driven by Doreen and Neville Lawrence, the British state was forced into mounting the Lawrence Inquiry, which among its findings concluded that there was institutional racism in the police force. And now, 18 years after the murder, there have been two convictions.

These convictions were not owing to the fact that new forensic techniques improved the evidence. They were certainly significant in the trial, but the fact is that so much forensic evidence was ‘lost’ by police inaction at the time of Stephen’s murder.

For instance: a police photographer carrying out surveillance on the Norrises and their associates saw black bags being taken away from their house soon after the murder, which could well have contained bloodied clothing, but the men were not intercepted and the bags were never recovered. And so it goes on.

It is the determination and publicity that makes Stephen’s murder remarkable. Many other racist attacks and murders have taken place, but the treatment received by the Lawrences and by Duwayne Brooks indicates how much pressure there is to silence protest.

When the police arrived at the scene of the murder they concentrated their attention on Duwayne, accusing him of being in a gang, assuming that Stephen’s injury was the result of a gang dispute, that he had started everything, etc. They refused to look for the murderers, although Duwayne told them which way they had gone. Duwayne has since been stopped many times by the police, and there have been many slanderous attempts, not least on the internet, to destroy his character.

In an interview in the Guardian on 28 January 2012, Doreen Lawrence underlined that the police failed to find her son’s murderers, but stopped his brother 20 times as a criminal suspect! She herself was stopped a year after the murder, ‘suspected of driving a stolen car’.

Lessons not learned

Some say that “lessons have been learned”, that “justice has been done” and that “we should now move on”. Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick claimed the convictions were a victory for British justice.

The same Cressida Dick was the officer in charge of ‘anti-terrorist surveillance’ when Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police officers, a fact that was even noted in a letter in the Guardian on 5 January 2012. Another letter on the same day welcomed the convictions and added “Would that the killers of Blair Peach, and those who protected them down the years, might some day occupy the same dock at the Old Bailey.”

How can ‘lines be drawn under’ and ‘moving on’ take place when the United Families of those killed in police custody still campaign without redress? When only recently Mark Duggan was hauled out of a taxi and shot dead through the head by police? The latter sparked a justified uprising, but did not demonstrate ‘lessons learned’ by the police.

Our lessons

So much more could be said, but it is we who need to learn the lessons.

On the one hand, our bourgeois politicians of all shades make pious statements deploring racism. On the other hand, they, at every opportunity, peddle the idea that all the ills of our society are caused by black people, by ‘multiculturalism’, by immigrants. And they preside over detention centres, concentration camps for so-called ‘illegal immigrants’, still incarcerating young children, and over security firms that ‘manage’ deaths of deportees on planes.

It is not that they have failed to learn lessons. The arms of the bourgeois state have learned their lessons well. They know that the aim is to divide the working class as much as possible in order to make it easier to keep it down when it protests against the conditions that imperialism imposes on it. (Remember the draconian sentences following the uprising last summer, and the attempts to blame it, without foundation, on gangs – especially black gangs!)

All power to the Lawrence family and its supporters. Much has been achieved. But we must all take up and continue the fight against racism, which indeed is a fight against imperialism. And we must not be blinded by the fact that the murder of Stephen Lawrence took place 18 years ago so that we do not see what is going on around us now. Unless we understand the reality of the bourgeois state, unless we forge the maximum working-class unity, not least by fighting resolutely against racism, we will never achieve anything.

It is the fashion of the apologist for imperialism to claim the Karl Marx is now irrelevant. That is becoming increasingly a futile claim, as can be shown in so many ways. Suffice it for the moment to just remember that it was he who said, “Labour in the white skin cannot be free where in the black it is branded.” (Capital, Vol 1, 1867)

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