|Where is the Justice?|
John Terry has been acquitted of using threatening abusive and insulting remarks in a racially aggravated context contrary to the Public Order and Crime Disorder Acts. For many Black people this will be another case that exemplifies the ways in which the British justice system seems to be incapable of delivering justice for Black British citizens.
This case was important for Britain, it was a litmus test as to the extent to which the dynamics and reality of racism are understood and accepted by the Courts. There was no dispute about the fact of the matter on the 23 October 2011 at the Loftus Road Stadium: John Terry in front of the entire nation called Queen Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand a “fucking black cunt”.
The facts were not disputed but the motivation and context were. The prosecution contended that the words were spoken with venomous intent. Terry argued that he was being ironically sarcastic simply asking Ferdinand if he was accusing him of saying those particular hateful words. Terry admitted that he was ‘angry’ and had used those words but argued he had not meant them by way of insult.
The presiding Senior Court Judge Howard Riddle concluded there was no evidence that John Terry had meant the words to be insulting. He came to this conclusion despite Terry’s own admission, the context of the match itself and the millions who witnessed the events during the live broadcast of the match.
It is bizarre that this Judge accepted Terry’s account and this is part of the problem we face when some Judges who have no experience and understanding of racism, allow the prejudice of white privilege to infect their judgments. The results are that black people are routinely looked on with suspicion and are disbelieved. The root problem here is that institutional racism produces a culture of denial, a culture of doubt, where white racial stereotypes pervert justice.
That dynamic is largely unrecognised in the court room: with so few black magistrates and judges the culture of the British courtroom is loaded against black people attempting to seek justice.
The result is black victims are disbelieved where the perpetrator is white. Black defendants are disbelieved when protesting innocence. If found guilty black people receive disproportionately longer sentences and once in jail are less likely to receive parole.
Both police and the courts treat black prosecution witnesses with appalling callousness and a criminal disregard for their safety.
To many in the black community the criminal justice system seems incapable of treating black people fairly either as victims of crime, witnesses or suspects. Time after time we seek justice and receive nothing but insults and the almost routine denial of justice. One look at the Governments Section 95 reports on racism in the criminal justice system illustrates the ongoing and abiding level of institutional racism that infects the administration of justice.
This judgement will give a green light to “ironic racist abuse”. As black British citizens we will have to rise up and challenge the institutional racism of the criminal justice system. We must take the fight for justice to the streets and press the politicians for criminal justice reforms because otherwise our children will continue to suffer the indignities of being regarded as third class citizens in a supposedly first class democracy.
This perverse judgment should be appealed.
*Lee Jasper will be speaking at:
BARAC PUBLIC MEETING. JOBS AND JUSTICE - OLYMPICS FAIR PLAY FOR WHO?
27th July at 6.00pm at Stratford Advice Arcade