Week 75 – Another Day in Brixton

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…


33 responses to “Week 75 – Another Day in Brixton

  1. Is this fiction or real ?

  2. They’re actually dickheads 😐

  3. just as another day in Clichy, Sartrouville, Pantin… (Paris suburb…)

  4. Not surprised one bit! them pigs like to jump onto certain people due to the way they look!

  5. As a friend and as your experience in Gaza i love you Jody..
    But i find your attitude towards the Police disgraceful..
    You should lighten up your way of stereotyping police you are no different
    to the EDL and their attitude towards muslims.

  6. I see the same shit every day too. A few weeks ago I came home to find 8 pigs searching a young black lad on my doorstep. I hung back and watched to check he was ok, which made the coppers mad, I was told I had to leave as I may be on a crime scene (it later transpired they were looking for a small bag of weed he may or maynot have thrown as he was being chased by the 8 pigs – not sure they would send 8 pigs after a white guy for the heinous crime of possessing a small amount of weed). I was told if I didnt leave id be arrested, I asked what for and was told they would invent something, really fucking wished i had a tape recorder secretly recording that day!

  7. Run from your opinions, the thought police are coming.

  8. Jody,
    This is my first visit to your site, having been reading about your blog in the guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/nov/28/internet-radicals-world-wide-web .
    As a lad with disability, I have been physically and mentally abused by the police on more than one occasion, often directly related to my disability. I have personally witnessed police brutality at marches, conferences and parties. Yet the instances of my black and asian friends “run-ins” with the Met are far more numerous and pale my experiences into insignificance.
    I undanderstand your frustration and I am insensed that the last post even contemplates the misappropriation of your experience with that of the fascist right wing English Defence League, whilst maintaining a pretence of friendship.
    Continuing to have your voice heard is more powerful than you imagine and your observations contribute to our struggle for independent thought and personal freedoms.
    Thank you.

  9. If you do some research, you will find that the police’s role and the reason for their creation was to protect the government and the “propertied classes” (i.e. wealthy people). Of course, I cannot brand every individual policeman/woman with the same brush, but as an institution they are historically (and still today) racist, and for that reason I oppose them, just like I oppose the EDL.

    I think your comparison is highly flawed. The EDL’s attitude towards Muslims is based on their religion, and, above all, the colour of their skin. My attitude towards the police is based on their actions.

  10. I actually never knew such scenarios still exist i thought it was rare, but maybe my view was distorted by the media like others. Honestly, and we’re suppose to be looking upto them, i guess gettin a university degree is necessary or we’ll be wearing their uniform.

  11. You are not the one who has to knock on a door and tell the relative that their family member is dead, or investigate an old person who has been burgled or mugged and then have to leave them to get on with the job,
    there are muggings rapes robberies knifing and shootings going on all day..these cannot be approached with a dixon of dock green attitude..
    this morning a fellow photojournalist friend of mine popped out to do shopping and came back to see everything gone..all £10,000 worth of cameras…. a few weeks ago a 97 year old neighbor of mine got broken into by three youths.. police have a tough job…. but after a while it gets to them…

  12. These incidents you are talking about are incidents of crime, which is a separate issue to that which I am talking about, which is institutionalised racism. One does not excuse the other.

  13. a lot of us won’t be getting a degree if the fees go up!

  14. ‘oh lets not stop him he is black’ i dont buy that, they cant win with your attitude, they have a job to do and some of the scum they come across they have to treat like scum, you talk as if the boy was cycling through the streets as if it was ‘little house on the prairy’ the majority of people in Brixton are black, so they have to stop who ever fits the discription or near it, if the innocent boy is carrying crack then i want him of the streets, you would probley let him go the vast majority wouldnt, the recent event in whitehall, i witnessed gangs fighting amongst each other and a group of girls surrounding other girls mugging them for their money and mobiles…they were all black……would you like me to write a column ‘Another day in london by racist blacks? well i wouldnt…i dont have an attitude and each person despite their colour or job is an individual.

  15. He didn’t fit the description or come close to it. And he wasn’t carry anything, let alone crack. No amount of rhetoric can justify stopping someone who has done nothing wrong and smashing his face onto the ground. They used the same kind of argument to justify the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes. If you fail to understand that the police is a historically racist institution [I am talking about the police as an INSTITUTION, not as individuals], then I don’t really see how this debate can progress.

  16. This issue is as prominent today as it has ever been. Institutional racism is embedded in so much of the system that many of us have grown to accept it as the norm. Look at the representation of ethnic ‘minorities’ in parliament and the house of ‘lords’ that represents nobody. It filters all the way down to the streets, where we witness police brutality resulting in the maltreatment of many based on their colour and even of their deaths.

    Thanks for the article Jody, it highlights the reality in an excellent way. Ash, with respect, I think your arguments are naive at best. As Akala, a fantastic lyricist, says in a track: “…by definition opinions are positioned to authority.”

  17. I dont think so Bobby, I stand by every word., i have seen Jody’s attitude towards police on the streets…., I would like to see you stroll around the estates in Brixton and see how safe you feel.

  18. By the way this is a debate on opinions, Jody is number one…
    there is always room for improvements….
    have a safe day to who ever is going today..

  19. I can only speak of my own experience as a law abiding citizen who also happens to be a black man, living in South London. I don’t object to being searched if a crime has been committed in the area and I fit the description. On the other hand, I’m not sure that the existence of ‘drugs in the area’ is a valid reason for being stopped and searched (this happens to me). Also, I don’t think police should fabricate the reasons for stopping and searching me after the fact e.g. by writing that I could not account for being right outside my own home, incorrectly asserting that I was violating traffic laws or that I smelt of cannabis.

    I would like to state that I am definitely not a troublemaker and I am compliant with police. I have tried the official complaints procedure but it is a joke to be honest. Perhaps my race has nothing to do with it and it is a coincidence that it has been white officers who have harassed me, I don’t know. All I can say is that I know many other young black men in my area who also complain of being treated unfairly by the police (being roughed up unnecessarily etc).

  20. excellent blog Jody. I grew up the other side of loughborough junction from where you are (head down milkwood road towards herne hill station) and yeah I remember seeing shit like that a fair bit as a kid. Irony was they absolutely useless whenever I had a problem.

  21. Hello, not seen your blog before but I guess you might be about to become slightly more famous after your appearance on twitter on which it was stated that you were ‘dragged from your wheelchair’ by riot police. I’ve seen a couple of photos and will be interested to read your side of the story here in the future.

    I hope your okay and I hope no-one got too badly hurt today. It’s very satisfying to see young people across the nation acting to try and secure a decent future for themselves. It’s a shame the powers that be would rather see a riot.

    I like your post. Sadly racism seems very deeply ingrained in British culture at a seemingly subconscious level. I’m English and oppose racism, but still often have to combat initial judgements in my own mind to establish whether I’m unwittingly looking at a situation with an inherent bias based on class or race.

    I think it’s good for people of all races to think deeply about the stereotypes and symbolism that has been impressed upon them by upbringing, government, media, society (and everything basically), and consider how that is reflected in their opinions and behaviour. Snap decisions in high-pressure situations are always tricky, as the bias seems to jump to the fore before the head has had a chance to catch up.

    All the best and again, hope you’re okay after today.

  22. Hey man, you alright? What happened yesterday? x

  23. I grew up in Mile End and saw this happening all the time. It makes you grow up hating the police and seeing them as the enemy – because for most Blacks, Asians, Muslims and working class white people (boys usually) they are indeed the enemy.

  24. It’s called ethnic profiling: that certain ethnic groups are predisposed (by what? genetics?) to a certain type of crime. Black people are predisposed to drug dealing and muggings. Asians are predisposed to acts of terrorism. White people (well, not all white people – only the exceptions from the council estates) are predisposed to acts of vandalism and robbery. I’ve been stopped in the past because I fit the description. I say: “What description is that, Officer?” He says: “Asian man in a hoodie.” As simple as that. Why? Because we all look the same.

  25. Yawn yawn yawn. Another ficticious stop and search of a black youth in Brixton that you just happened to witness.Did you go and complain? Did you get the car registration number?That would have identified them.
    Why don’t you do a freedom of information act request and ask what percentage of robbers in London are black? That would be interesting reading. Oh got to go now,another black youth getting beaten up right outside my door by police,no wait there’s one getting done over the road as well.

  26. What planet are you living on?

  27. Jaded
    My brother, my sister…
    “Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law”. Buddha

  28. The planet I live on is the real world.The real world is where people of all races commit dreadful crimes which the police have to deal with.Unfortunately the odd innocent person may get questioned in the quest to find these suspects.I once saw the police arrest a guilty person for a horrible crime and act really bravely but I don’t suppose you were “passing by” at that time were you?

  29. Police target members of the comunity due to “profiling”. If you fit the profile of a criminal you are more likely to be arrested or stopped. I would no more wish to see young white boys to be pushed to the floor by the police after a buglary committed by a black robber than I would like to see little old white ladies having to remove their shoes at airports.

    Oh hang on a minute….

  30. Oh that makes it alright then. How wrong I have been all these years…

  31. That is genuinely terrible. “Racial profiling” should never be used as an excuse for plain old school racism.

    I live a 30 second walk away from Battersea Police Station and I think I have only ever seen officers about on one occasion, when the woman next door was stabbed. 20 minutes down the road and they just seem too lazy to care, let alone to be racist. Strange.

  32. Quite right Jody. One of the first major cases for the police was the police restoring order after a crowd of people smashed the windows of the Duke of Wellington’s Apsley House.

    Sir Robert Peel is probably the biggest name ever to be associated behind the Met. However, comparing the police back then to how it is now – all police forces have become isolated from the communities. In order to tackle this the Government created police with restricted powers (PCSOs) as it was felt that if people realised they had less powers they would be respected and trusted more. How wrong were they!?

    I think we are getting to the stage where things are going back like Victorian times (etc.) in many different respects – technology has advanced us but has only proportionate between working class, and the middle classes and high society. The World was on improvement after WW2 ended but seems to be heading backwards now,

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