Why the UK needs its own Black Lives Matter moment to wake up to police racism
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Gang culture, social media, drug-market violence, funding cuts to policing and youth clubs, and poverty and social inequality, have all been blamed for the current knife crime “epidemic” in London.More recently, however, it’s UK drill, a new black British music genre, that has been accused of promoting gun and knife crime, much like UK grime and garage before it. In the last two
Controversial crackdownDesigning crime prevention strategies based on decoding lyrics seems ill-advised to say the least. The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, however, has publicly defended such responses. As has the Met’s gang crime chief, who also supported the revisiting of the Terrorism Act to pursue “drillers” as terror suspects. The use of the act allows the police to bring convictions against people featured in drill videos without any proof that the targeted music videos are linked to specific acts of violence. The government’s Serious Violence
Racist responses?Punitive responses to a public health emergency are clearly counterproductive. As is the reluctance of the Youth Violence Commission to treat the issue as a racial justice priority – given that discriminatory responses cannot be separated from the mentality that informs them. Popular “crime-fighting” measures, such as arbitrary stops and searches and police gang lists, for example, routinely profile young black people who are logged as suspects in police databases on the flimsiest of evidence.
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Fighting fire with
Seven years have passed since the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan that sparked the 2011 riots. Yet British society does not seem to have recovered from or discovered the reality of police racism. Many were alarmed during England’s “summer of disorder”, which echoed the 1970s and 1980s when discriminatory policing sparked disturbances in Notting Hill, Brixton and elsewhere. However, much of this shock should not occasion surprise. As my research shows, the policing of black British culture claims a long history.
As does the
Read more: Knife crime: I spoke to young people who carry blades – and they want to stop the
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