Friday, 18 December 2015

Jermaine Baker. The Death Rattle of Metropolitan Police Black Community Relations In London

Last nights Tottenham meeting on the shooting by an armed Metropolitan Police officer of 28 year black man father of two, Jermaine Blake gave those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the opportunity to glimpse the residual anger of London black communities.  Though many would describe the  meeting as 'angry' most would have no idea how deep and entrenched this anger is. We are tired of the trite paternalism of the formulaic corporate response and the glib political soundbite from elected politicians.

With over 30 years experience in dealing with Police/Black community policing crisis I can say that things have never been so bad as they are in London right now. I have attended far too many of this type of meeting, where our community suffers in pain after receiving tragic news that yet another black men has died in police custody. And just as in 2011  the wider white community has failed to recognise and or acknowledge our anger and pain

You can see the questions I asked to the expert panel of assembled dignitaries here.

'If a monkey can use a smart phone to take an a award winning selfie why can't get to work?

I  want to state for the purposes of clarity from the get go.

I believe that another round of civil disturbance in London are almost inevitable. Here's why.

Jermaine Blake shot by police. .whilst asleep in his car' 

Alienation has now become entrenched,  austerity is the lens through which an already discriminated community see ever rising levels of homelessness, poverty and unemployment.

My community cannot physically endure anymore and when black peoples backs are against the wall we are forced to come out fighting for truth and justice. The reality is a poor community is now under acute pressure  economically, politically, judicially and out there on the streets.

Such is the situation we face unprecedented and immense social, political, ethical pressure/ Against this backdrop we  also face a crisis of ethical black leadership. These realities cannot be divorced from each other.

Ethical black leadership is absent without leave, the leadership we do endure is, by and large accommodationist,  gatekeeping, dusty negroes whose interests lie in maintaining the status quo.

The Voice speaks for an entire community. 

The meeting was chaired by my good friend, Stafford Scott and the radical Tottenham preacher Pastor Nimms. The meeting heard from the assembled expert panel and was addressed principally by David Lammy MP, the Independant Police Complaints Commissioner Cindy, the MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen King and Borough Supt Dr Victor Olisa.

I was impressed with Davids Lammy MP's action in supporting the family and instantly contacting the Attorney General's office that prompted an note of advice being sent to editors of newspapers and wider media that were reporting that Jermaine Baker was a 'gangster' he was not. The meeting accused the MPs of leaking that information despite their trenchant denials on the night.

The most dramatic moment of the evening was the announcement of IPCC Commissioner responsible for the now criminal homicide investigation into the murder of Jermaine  Cindy Butts announced that the Police Officer concerned (when are we going to have his name?) had been formally arrested.

Cindy Butt IOCC make history. 

Lets be clear here, whatever the criticisms of the IPCC and Lord knows I have been vociferously critical of their many failings, on this occasion. I think we should applaud them for taking such swift and decisive action.
Both I and many victims families have been campaigning for over 30 years for police officers involved in contentious deaths in custody to be routinely and automatically suspended.

This demand to provide community reassurance had been doggedly resisted by the MPS and yet on this occasion the officer was first suspended, as a result of a request made by the IPCC, then the officer was arrested. Unprecedented in recent time. I note the welter of social media comments from ex or serving officers seeking to play things down by stating ' officer suspension' post any shooting incident is 'normal procedure' This is MPS spin and reflects the atmosphere of sheer panic in New Scotland Yard and among officer more generally.

Assuming these are evidenced based decisions, the action taken by the IPCC should be applauded as precisely the type or response we had all envisaged when we campaigned for the abolition of the discredited Police Complaints Authority and the creation of the IPCC.

However, a note of caution. In the annuals of British Policing only thirteen Police Officers have actually been arrested and charged with either murder and or manslaughter of members of the public.

British juries, the majority of whom have been white have, despite on occasion compelling evidence, refused to convict a single officer of any homicide crimes. I have long been of the view that the irrational nature of racial prejudice means that majority white juries trying complicate race cases, find it difficult to objectively identifying their own sub conscious and sometimes conscious racism. This results in perverse justice with juries reaching bizarre and perverse conclusions.The inquest juries decision in the Mark Duggan case provides a good example of this culture.

That cold denial of justice, which is epitome of the lived black experience here in Britain, is the reason I'm personally in favour of ensuring black Jury representation in cases where race is a complicating or motivating factor.

AC Helen King and Supt Olisa's shame and embarrasement is obvious

What was clear from last night's meeting was the both Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Borough Superintendent Dr Victor Olisa were desperately poor in providing reassurance to an anxious and angry public. Their performance was poor and inflamed the audience with their patronising defensive comments

They sought to impress or implore, I know not which, the assembled audience with glowing references to the police as ' hard working public servants'  who ' put their life on the line to protect you'. This was not the time.

The response of the audience was to periodically shout them down forcing them to stop before continuing, which they did with great difficulty.

It was an appalling demonstration of the chasm of misunderstanding between the Metropolitan Police and London's Black communities.  Their contributions were rigid formulaic and defensive. They had to be pushed by the audience to offer an apology to the family and community for the shooting of Jermaine. The MOS haven't even offered that most basic of human courtesies and steadfastly refused to do so, despite appeals on the night.

Tottenham Supt Olisa did however, formally confirm that Jermaine was not a 'gangster' as misrepreported by the media and a nast allegation that is still circulating on twitter and MSM ( see , nor was he a member of a gang', neither was he on the MPS Gang Matrix, that unusually given that 78% of the Matrix is made up of Black Gangs fulfilling my prophecy that Trident Anti Gang Command has concluded that all gang criminality in London is conducted by black men.

A close friend of Jermaine repeated that allegation that ' Jermaine was shot whilst sleeping, that he was not a gangster and that the two men arrested with him were entirely innocent of allegations of being part of a prison break escape as reported.

Dr Darren Henry. 'Jermaine was asleep when he was shot' 

That charge was repeated by Dr Danny Henry Vice Chair of Haringey Stop and Search Monitoring. A group that reports directly to the Mayor of London (also missing in  action on this issue) .

Mr Henry repeated the allegation that Jermaine was asleep when shot. He also stated that eyewitnesses were afraid to come forward because they say what happened in the Mark Duggan case are petrified of being negatively targeted by the police and the press.

He alleges that no warning was given by officers.  He went onto say that the Met were refusing to deal with Turkish organised crime that is so powerful that its able to recruit and coerce black boys into doing their bidding. Powerful stuff from one so close to the Mayor Boris Johnson.

So it looks like, as I perviously stated in an earlier article that Jermaine may have been asleep when shot. That if true, this will lead to appalling and long term consequences for London. In the wake of  deaths in police custody of Smiley Culture, Sean Rigg, Azelle Rodney, Mark Duggan and now Jermaine Baker, the festering weeping sore that is London's black/police relations has become septic and is likely to mature into gangrene.

The impending London Mayoral elections probably saw Boris Johnson ruthlessly calculate that his toxic policing legacy to London is one that is likely explode all over someone elses watch. He may be disappointed.

Its not all bad news however, In addition to the IPCC taking such strong action I am told by a reliable source that rather remarkably,  the key witnesses in determining the officers eventual arrest were the statements and testimony of his fellow officers.  Now if true, that would be hugely welcomed by all right minded people committed to justice. I hope its true, however we will have to wait and see.

In relation to Police Bodycams these technology saviours and restorers of public confidence have been a resolute failure in relation to police shootings. Ironically introduce in the aftermath of the killing of Mark Duggan in 2011, body cams were announced by Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe to  a fanfare publicity amid claims that the Metropolitan Police wanted to be the 'most transparent in the police service in the world'  in attempts to restore public confidence.

In August this year Nathaniel Brophy was shot by the Met Police in a dispute about rent arrears in community meetings it was revealed that the specialist firearms officers don't wear them, not all regular officers have them. It has become clear that all firearms officers don't wear them and those who did positioned them in the wrong place on their uniforms'. As a result the IPCC has lots of film of officers boots.  The IPCC has asked the the MPS address this issue urgently, the MPS in response drags is foot.

Brophy's Father has said his son, who survived, told him that he'd been shot with his hands up, with no weapon in his hand.

Nathaniel Brophy shot over rent arrears in Brixton. 
We were offered body cams by the Commissioner Hogan Howe and Mayor Boris Johnson as a solution to rising police community tensions, yet there is no MPS policy in relation to sharing of the videos with the public for reassurance purposes.  Further the IPCC does not have the technology to download the videos from MPS servers so are entirely reliant on the MPS to provide them with film.

These cases illustrates the toxic nature of Police/Black community relations in London.

Responsibility for this bitter state of affairs, can in large part, be laid at the door of Mayor Boris Johnson. It was he who abolished borough based Police Consultative Groups instigated by Lord Scarman specifically to plug what he observed as a ' dangerous information vacuum' that led to the 1986 uprising in Brixton. The lack of information was cited again as a key factor in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Mark Duggan. It was he who sanctioned huge increases in stop and search in London until Home Secretary Thersea May reigned him in and yet the Met remains defiant increasing stop and search numbers even higher despite Mays protestations.

It is he who has failed and it us that pays the price.

Boris Johnson Poisonous policing legacy for London

Today, the open monthly public meetings, where anyone could challenge the local police in relation to racism, brutality or professional failures is over, done. These groups were membership based and anyone could join and stand for election. These are now replaced by woefully funded, cheap replacements called Safer Neighbourhood Boards (SNB's) made up of hand picked people chosen and agreed by the merry Eton Mess that is Boris Johnson.

The first project of the hapless Mayor and the local SNB's was to roll out the Mayors new flagship response to knife crime Operation Shield. Its been a total disaster rejected by Lambeth, Haringey and many others who have charged the Mayor of seeking to criminalise poor black families and communities. Also gone is the '1000 black mentors for 1000 black boys' flagship policy, that died a death along with Boris's much trumpeted commitment to tackle youth violence in London.

No lessons learned form Mark Duggan. 
This is message to all London and UK politicians. Take heed and act fast, given the critical  circumstances it may be even now too late to avert further widespread disturbances.

The arena of police community relations and consultation in London is now a desolate landscape, largely absent of real community accountable representation from credible local community representatives.

The Metropolitan Police's failure in this regard will cost London dear and was no doubt the motivation behind calls for the resignation of the Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe at last night meeting. This is the single worst period of London's turbulent policing history.

My advice is simple for what its worth.

Spend £10 million in re-establishing race equality as an urgent policy priority for London now. Get yourself a radical race equality plan that targets race inequality, religious bigotry and discrimination. Avert the impending crisis and save the nation 200 million.

Lamentably the story of London's African Caribbean community is not an isolated issue. Much the same state of affairs can be said to exist in relation to London's Muslim community. As a result of 'anti terror' arrests and the Governments disastrous 'Prevent' strategy has resulted in the deep alienation of the Muslim community.

The MPS need to positively repair their parlous relationship with London's Muslim and African Caribbean communities  Thats two ticking time bombs.

If London doesn't learn it will burn. These issues continue to ferment for the next Mayor under the malign and wilful neglect of police institutional racism by Boris Johnson.

What is required is not some half arsed policy proposals, warm reheat's of previous failed initiatives,  designed to o catch headlines rather than save lives. What we need is the adoption of radical policies anti violence policies and a urgent repair of the relationship between police and community in London.

If I were you I'd pay close and particular attention.

Watch this space...

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

London will burn, if it does not learn. The Shooting Of Jermaine Baker

IPCC Criminal Investigation into the Met Police shooting of Jermaine Baker

There is rising anger in London’s black communities in the wake of the police shooting of Jermaine Baker in Wood Green Tottenham and Nathaniel Brophy in Brixton. Both were shot and by Metropolitan Police Officers. 

This will have gone largely unnoticed by most in the media and our myopic politicians and London MP’s.  

Metropolitan Police and Black community relations in London are now toxic and providing a potentially combustible and explosive environment. 

Why so bad? Well, as a direct consequence of almost eight years of Boris Johnson’s tenure police as Mayo;who abolished of local Police Community Consultative Groups established by Lord Scarman in the wake of the 1986 Brixton uprisings; who declared in June 2009 that the Metropolitan Police were no longer an institutionally racist institutionthe huge spike in the abusive use of Stop and Search; the use of the discredited and discriminatory law of Joint Enterprise; the rise in suspicious deaths in police custody of black men like Sean Rigg, Smiley Culture, Mark Duggan, Nathaniel Brophy and Jermaine Baker; a welter of race police complaints; the falling number and low rank of black officers in the service; the Mayors failure to tackle knife crimeserious violence and rape all aspects of youth violence; all of these issues have lead to dramatically falling levels of confidence of London’s black communities in a police service that remains 90% white in a city that  is 50% Black and ethnic minority

The simple unacknowledged truth is that London’s black communities relations with Met are today the worst they’ve ever been in the last 20 years

Father of two, 28 year old Jermaine Baker was shot whilst alleged waiting to spring a couple of Turkish gangsters from jail. I am have now been told that Jermaine was actually asleep in the car at time with two other friends who were both subsequently arrested. It is reported that  they were woken when they heard the car window being smashed and then a single shot. No one knew who if anyone had been shot as all had been asleep. It was only when the other two were dragged from the car seconds later, that they realised Jermaine had been shot. 

It is said no one moved, no one threatened the police, no one knew they were being targeted by police, all were asleep at the time.

The press have reported that Jermaine ‘ came out firing’ at the police after being challenged whilst sitting alone in his Black Audi. The press have also reported that Jermaine was a ‘close friend of Mark Duggan’ this I’m reliably informed is utter bullshit, but typical of the police and press smearing of the suspect, that now routinely follows all suspicious deaths in police custody. Who gave this information to the press ? Obviously the Met Police who else who have interesting access to feed that line? 

In an unprecedented move, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has launched a criminal investigation.  The IPCC is also said to have requested that the officer concerned be formally suspended.

In 30 years of civil right campaigning I have never seen such strong action taken by the IPCC and or its predecessor body the discredited Police Compliant Authority. 

One can only assume that there must be compelling evidence that has lead the IPCC to take the unheard of decision to launch a criminal investigation. 

We now know that the firearms officers involved were not wearing the much-heralded technological saviours of Police/Black community relations, the world famous police Bodycams. What this points to is the utter confusion about the policy of police bodycams. 

The IPCC doesn’t have the technology to download bodycams video so are totally reliant on the Met for access. Secondly all Met Police officers, in particular and worryingly specialist firearms officers, do not routinely wear the body cams

When the Bodycams are worn and do work as we found out in the case of the August Brixton shooting of Nathaniel Brophy, shot on the Tilson Gardens Estate over a dispute over rent arrears and a planned eviction, the Police bodycams, were not mounted in the right the position by officers and in the case of Brophy much of the captured footage only managed to record officers boots.

In relation to the latest shooting of Jermaine Baker, the IPCC is now meeting Londons black communities and explain why they felt it necessary to take such strong action and what where the general circumstances that led to the killing of Jermaine. 

Cindy Butts former member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, now anIPCC Commissioner must now engage with the local Tottenham community and Londoners more generally and explain what happened. 

The key lesson of the London riots in 2011was the need to ensure good communication with communities. What exists now is a glaring information vacuum 

The absence of information in such a febrile atmosphere is a castrophic error. 

London is teetering on the edge of another riot. All the indicators are flashing red and an s usual the establishment is blindsided, constantly minimising or dismissing the problem and remains as if it has no clue as to the real level of anger out there. 

All activist for justice such be on notice to attend the IPCC/Police community consultation at Thursday 17th December 2015 6.30 Tottenham Town Hall, Tottenham Hall approach London N15 4RW