The UK has reached crisis point and many activists and community leaders can see that we are on a collision course to national riots. Economic downturn, racist Policing and hostility towards migrants and minorities are often the standard preludes to uprisings. We currently have all 3 elements of this toxic cocktail prevalent throughout the UK. There are eerie similarities to Mark Duggan’s case in this week’s Police admission that Oladeji Adeyemi, who was tasered 3 times in the moments before he fell to his death from Chelsea Bridge, did not have a weapon in his hand, as was widely circulated.
The killing and defaming of Duggan, who Police initially said was holding a gun before they shot and killed him (this was later found to be untrue) are believed to have been the cause of the 2011 riots. Just over a decade later, Adeyemi’s case shows that we are in danger of history repeating itself. However, one thing that has changed since 2011 is that black people aren’t the only ones who can see the Police for what they truly are, a racist, misogynistic white boys club. The UK’s biggest gang.
The Police are currently facing a crisis of legitimacy and public confidence is at an all time low. A recent strategic review of Policing in England and Wales reported that only 55% of the population think the police are doing a good job. The 2020 wave of the BLM movement highlighted the deep rooted racism that lies at the heart of policing. While the black community has always known this to be true, it appears the rest of the country has woken up to this reality too. The tragic murder of Sarah Everard in 2021, by a serving met police officer who used his warrant card to assist in his kidnap, rape and murder of Everard, exposed the misogynistic underbelly of the force and their violent opposition to women protesting against them.
Police brutality, misogyny, corruption and racism has continued to dominate conversations over the past year, with countless social media posts and news reports highlighting incidents such as the Child Q Report. Throughout all of this the government seemed happy to look the other way, ignoring calls for reform and a better police service – but why would they intervene when their new BFF’s are securing politicians £50 fines for illegal lockdown parties, while our brave NHS Nurses were fined £10,000 for protesting for better pay.
The police and government further targeting black and minority communities through draconian immigration policies such as the Nationality and Borders Act and infringements to our rights to free speech and assembly (via the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act) was only ever going to end one way, resistance. The Child Q report lit a fire in the bellies of black communities, showing us that not even our babies are safe from state and police violence.
Since then, campaigns such as Operation Withdraw Consent have been calling for radical police reform, community refunding and better accountability. While we endeavour for this to be a formalised, community led process, it is clear that people are already voting with their feet, withdrawing consent to the state waging war on their neighbours through immigration policies. Videos from Peckham and Dalston show the Police being chased out of communities by crowds of hundreds of people. The walk of shame they endured was truly a thing of beauty. While these videos are inspiring sights to behold, it is clear that they have not deterred the police who continue to violently target marginalised communities.
We have an institutionally defensive force that is blatant and unapologetic in its racism, misogyny and corruption protected by an equally corrupt government that has, seemingly, declared war on minority communities. All of the signs say that there’s only one way this is going to end, but nobody wants it to come to civil unrest and community uprisings. The government often uses these as an excuse to roll out harsher legislation and hand down arbitrary sentences to those who dare fight back – 10 years for damaging a statue anyone?
What we want is communication and meaningful policy changes that not only serves but uplifts our communities. Until this happens we will continue along this collision course. With RMT transport workers on strike this week they are already calling this the summer of discontent, if, or when, communities follow suit don’t say that you weren’t warned.