Monday 22 October 2007

Black police showing out for the white cop?

The outgoing (good riddance!) president of the National Black Police Association has called for an increase in the stop-and-search of young people by Police (BBC News: Call to increase stop and search). Such a move would not only alienate young people, who have already seen their rights eroded by dispersal orders, ASBOs, increasingly strict age restrictions, etc. Even some senior black police officers have warned that it would, in effect, lead to more black kids being targeted, as a result of racial profiling - already, black youth are 6 times more likely to be stopped and searched than whites.

Before I go any further, I'd like to point out two points.

First, I have no sympathy for gang members who engage in criminal activity, or carry weapons such as guns and knives - one only has to look at America to see the horrendous results of guns being in common use (freely available in the USA), namely an appallingly high murder rate, including the horrendous school campus shootings which are becoming increasinly common.

Secondly, I have no animosity towards individual Police officers - many joined the Police with the laudable aim of making their communities safer, many are from working class backgrounds (it should be noted that crime disproportionately affects working class communities).

My argument is with the Police as an institution - an arm of the state, which is run by the capitalist Establishment, the Police's job is to do the bidding of said Establishment. Indeed, the same capitalist Establishment, and its puppet political parties, are responsible for the increasingly unjust and repressive laws which the Police's job is to enforce.

In addition, the alienated (in the Marxist sense) nature of policing tends to make police officers see people as either victims or criminals, rather than as people. This can encourage stereotyping of groups of people (eg racial profiling), and is exacerbated by the "canteen culture" which is notably strong in the Police.

It is these factors which have led not only to the call for more stop and search, and for increasing Police powers in the form of ASBOs etc, but also to horrific mistakes such as the killing of Brazilian "terror suspect" Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, and the botched hunt for the murderers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in the early 1990s.

At the same time, the Police are not immune from the pressures affecting other public sector (and most private sector) workers, to meet targets. The resulting need to "keep the numbers up" on arrests etc runs the risk of Police anding up chasing easy targets, often petty criminals, rather than the real scumbags whose arrest and conviction takes more time, effort and resources. The need to meet targets may also lead to the increasing use of police informants (a practice which is locally nick-named the "green giro"), which can sometimes do more harm than good to the community when these informants abuse their near-immunity from arrest and prosecution.

So what is the answer? We don't agree with vigilanteism, which leads to self-appointed vigilantes meting out their own definition of "justice". The dangers of vigilante "justice" were epitomised by the "anti-paedophile" mobs of the early 200s, which led to innocent people being killed due to hearsay, and even a paediatrician (child doctor, for any News of the World readers out there!) being hounded out of his home by threats.

What I would like to see, is the laws being made by working class people for working class people, to protect us and our community rather than the Establishment and the capitalist system. The enforcement of these laws could not be carried out by the existing state - it would necessitate the creation of a workers' militia, run by and for workers.

For this to happen, workers would first need a revolution to overthrow the capitalist Establishment and smash the capitalist system.

No comments: