After a rigorous and interesting conversation with an Indian friend of mine about the current situation in Kashmir at a nearby café, I decided to make my way back to my house in Brixton.
I live in the Loughborough estate, referred to in the local area as ‘Gaza’. After living in the real Gaza for three months, I can say that the comparison is somewhat stretched, but even here, it is clear who the oppressor is.
As I rounded the last corner onto Barrington Road, a dark, unmarked car sped in front of me, and then stopped abruptly. I noticed the siren on it’s roof. Three men jumped out, dressed in plain clothes, and grabbed a young, black boy who happened to be cycling past, pushing him violently onto the pavement. With the boy up and pinned against the wall, the policemen began searching through his pockets. “I think he’s got a knife,” one of them shouted out. There was no knife to be seen.
One of the policemen found some money in the boy’s jacket pocket. “Where did you get this from?” he asked.
“I have just come out of my house, why are you stopping me?” the boy replied.
From their radios, I gathered that a robbery had been reported. With the police station so close to my house, this literally must have been the first person they saw.
“Oh it’s a light-skinned person we’re looking for,” one of the policemen said into his radio, “this guy has dark skin.”
They proceeded to rip off his hat, just to check that he didn’t have the corn-rowed hair to match their description. He didn’t.
The same policeman now went over to the boy. “Look,” he said into his face, “you’re not the person we want, but because you didn’t co-operate it took us this long to work that out.” I guess it’s difficult to “co-operate” when your face is on the pavement.
“If he’s not the person you’re looking for, just let him go.” I said.
The shortest of the three cops turned around, clearly annoyed at my presence. “We know how to do our job,” he replied, “and we don’t need to explain it to you, sir.”
“There’s nothing to explain, just let him go.” I repeated.
“It looks like we’ve got an opinionated one here,” the cop muttered to his colleagues. “Everyone has an opinion,” he said to me, “but yours isn’t valid!”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because you don’t know him.”
“How do you know?”
“Because you obviously don’t know him.”
“He might be my friend,” I suggested.
“OK, what’s his name?” the cop replied.
“Do you think I’m stupid.”
The other two policemen were beginning to let the boy go.
“See!” he said to them, “I told you I’m not a robber!”
The short cop turned away from me, and went back to the boy.
“So your saying you’ve never done anything wrong? I bet you’re known to us…” he threatened.
We have a word for people like him. Coined by the Black Panthers, it still applies today. Pigs.
“Show me your badge,” the boy protested, “show me you’re number! You’ve just stopped me and dashed my face on the floor, for no reason, apart from because I’m black!”
Just another day in Brixton…