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Take a walk and you’ll see why we feel terrorised

OPINION: Camden Town rapper Awate says police press statements and social media gestures feel hollow after death of George Floyd

05 June, 2020 — By Awate

Awate says the death of George Floyd is not a shock

THE hollow press releases from institutions that cause these tragedies are an insult. For the communities that feel terrorised by the police and state forces on a regular basis, the experiences we’re seeing broadcast are not a shock to us.

And neither is their gaslighting and jumping on the bandwagon with black squares and messages of solidarity.

For the citizens who they protect though, they’re meant to show their compassion and ability to care and change. Do they take you for fools?

Let’s start with the comical joint statement from British police leaders on Wednesday.

“We stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified by the way George Floyd lost his life. Justice and accountability should follow.”

This is coming from a country that has seen nearly 1,750 deaths in police custody in the last 30 years. Reggae artist Smiley Culture died after a supposed self inflicted knife wound during a raid at his home in 2011, months before the police killing of Mark Duggan – the catalyst for nationwide riots.

Both families felt insulted by their treatment and many asked what was going on under the watch of the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer. Remember, we were appalled too when an innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot seven times in the head at Stockwell tube station by the Met.

“In the UK we have a long established tradition of policing by consent, working in communities to prevent crime and solve problems,” the statement adds. “Officers are trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary.”

In 1993, just up the road in Crouch End, the police raided the home of Jamaican student nurse Joy Gardner. She died after they wrapped 13ft of adhesive tape around her head, secured her with leather straps and handcuffed her. The officers were not disciplined professionally or in court.

“We strive to continuously learn and improve. We will tackle bias, racism or discrimination wherever we find it.”

Near Kentish Town in 2016, PC Joshua Savage stopped a black man in a car because he thought it was someone else. He then took out his baton and an illegal pocket knife before smashing the driver’s windows.

At City Hall, the then Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe’s response was in my view disrespectful. Savage was later cleared of destroying property and common assault in court and resigned before a misconduct hearing.

These experiences, mixed with the attitudes of an openly “non-PC” Prime Minister and a President emboldening nationalists while calling for arms to be taken up against the protesters is what we have been fearing.

In the US, we have seen some cops displaying alt-right hand gestures and using tactics against protesters like ramming them down in vehicles.

In response, six US states tried to legalise running over protesters. Seriously? We must not forget the role that governments play in creating these environments with “tough on crime”, “law and order” and “hostile environments” to immigration policies.

If you take a walk around Kentish Town, Chalk Farm, Swiss Cottage or the length of Camden Road, you will see stickers from the National Front, Ulster National Front, Britain First, EDL and other groups. Often with the old adage of “Muslims Go Home”, “Keep Britain White” etc.

What do you do about it?

Black musicians in the UK are coming together to form a union. To get involved, send a “hello” to blackinblackmusic @gmail.com

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