In recent years, especially since the death of Mark Duggan, the Met have called several community liaison meetings, were members of the community are allowed to air their concerns. I humbly suggest that we need to dictate the direction of the conversation, not them.
The black community is consistently encouraged to lessen our animosity towards the police. As if we are obstructing a healthy relationship that would otherwise exist if only we dropped our illogical distrust. I find this to be hugely insulting. Black people’s experience in this country has seen us brutalised and often even killed at the hands of police, but yet very scarcely is there a conviction. I even find it insulting when it is suggested that we need to sit around the table to sort out our differences. This is not a story of two groups of people who have trouble with communication and have thus fallen out. Rather it is the story of an oppressive organisation abusing its power and mistreating those whom they can get away with mistreating. How possibly can the abused and the abuser sit at the same table as equals? Is it not the responsibility of the abuser to reform his abusive ways then come back with a different proposition to those whom they had previously done wrong by?
I say this not as a dogmatic, anti-establishment radical. Believe it or not I am actually a moderate, with a very pragmatic approach to this situation. (However many will label me a radical for simply acknowledging there is a situation.) Just as Malcolm X suggested that white america hear the message of Martin Luther King before they have to answer to him, I humbly suggest (and in no way comparing myself to MLK) that the police heed the message that people like myself are giving them. I suggest they respect our affirmation of our humanity because people like me who are willing to engage in discourse are depleting heavily by the day. What is emerging on the ground is a generation of impatient black youth less inclined to use diplomacy and conversation as a means of conflict resolution. They have seen this tactic tried and failed consistently by their elders. This generation is ferociously motivated to changing their current situation. These individuals are willing to pay the ultimate price to their right to life. Community meetings and olive branches just aren’t going to be enough for them.
I sincerely believe if a drastic change within the Met police is not started very soon, then a repeat of August 2011 shall occur. The difference this time being that the young people on the street will be mobilised behind a cause, and they will have a clear sense of direction.
I say this all in a week where 36 days after the death of Sheku Bayou’s death we still don’t know why he has died. Also in a week where we have seen the brutal attack of a 14 year old girl in the US at the hands of a police man.
As I’m sure you can tell from this fairly erratic and impassioned piece of writing, I didn’t start this with a clear sense of direction, as a young black man who has been the victim of police brutality and harassment on multiple occasions, I felt it necessary to lend my voice to the discussion.
But I digress. Maybe the saying “A system cannot fail those it was never intended to protect” never rings truer than it does right now