My kid got attacked on Saturday. Two adults tried to steal his phone and hit him over the head with a brick.
On his way home he was picked up and searched by the police. They shoved him up against the side of the van and slung his mate in the back when he asked why they were being stopped. After nearly an hour of questioning and low-level racist abuse (look - black kids know what it means when a copper calls them "boy") they were released. At no point did they comment on the fact that my son had a large bleeding head wound.
At the hospital. T. had a CT scan and had his head stitched up. When the doctor asked him if he wanted to contact the police about the original attack he just looked at her in disbelief.
Last edited by Ted on Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
That's awful, Ted. Two adults and a brick are sickening. I hope your kid is alright.
This whole thread is too eye-opening for comfort.
No doubt about it. I've been gone a long time and don't really know what's happening on the streets in the UK.
Recently, the cops in Oakland, CA, shot a young man in the back when he was down on the ground in BART (the tube). Mass riots followed. Apparently much police brutality was recorded on phones, which were then routinely confiscated in any personal searches without warrant, etc. Some footage survived, much of which is supposedly up on YouTube and stoking the anger of the youth. One interesting thing that came to light was that many of the cops were the sons and grandsons of "southern crackers" (excuse the shorthand) who had come out to the Bay Area from the South as cops in WWII at the same time as vast numbers of blacks came to work in the shipbuilding industry. So the whole cop department in Oakland, a very black city, was this little isolated subculture of complete racist goons for years and years and years. Anyone interested could google for more info, I'm sure. But I always wonder why cops always end up on the side of the bosses and those in power.
Sorry to hear that Ted. I wish him well. If there is a scar, I hope it will only be a physical one. I have a 17 year old who is always wandering about north London so can empathize. He has been set upon several times but still insists on wearing his trousers round his knees which makes it almost impossible to run away from trouble!
It's bitterly ironic that this should coincide with Trevor Phillips' remarks:
Phillips clears police of racism By Dominic Casciani
BBC News home affairs
The police should no longer be accused of institutional racism, the UK's equalities chief has said.
In a speech marking 10 years since the Stephen Lawrence murder report, Trevor Phillips said the UK and the police have changed massively.
He said that Britain is "by far the best place in Europe to live if you are not white".
But Mr Phillips also criticised Prince Harry's use of the word Paki to describe a fellow officer.
In a wide-ranging speech on Monday, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission chief said the UK is now a much changed place at ease with racial diversity - even if problems still remain.
He said the accusation of institutionalised racism levelled against the Metropolitan Police by the Macpherson Report into Stephen Lawrence's death was no longer appropriate.
"The use of the term was incendiary," he said. "It rocked the foundations of the police service and caused widespread anguish in government.
"Today most people would argue that despite the controversy, on balance the positive changes provoked by Macpherson have outweighed the cost of the political turmoil.
"But does this mean that I believe that the Met, or any force for that matter, should be pilloried with the single blanket accusation of being institutionally racist? I don't think so. That would imply that nothing has changed.
"Would the police deal with Stephen Lawrence's murder differently today? Evidence from the murder of Anthony Walker in Merseyside in 2005 indicates they would."
Eighteen-year-old Anthony Walker was killed with an ice axe in a park at Huyton in July 2005. Two men were convicted of his murder.
Det Ch Supt Peter Currie, who led the investigation into the racist murder, was later awarded the Queen's Police Medal.
Mr Phillips called for a national debate on equality, saying the agenda must shift from single issues, such as racism or age, and a red-tape box-ticking culture that has developed around racism law.
In its place must come a broader drive for equality, based on forthcoming reforms, which ensures anyone from any background has the same chances in life as anybody else.
'One of the boys'
Mr Phillips' speech highlights data and surveys indicating that younger people are increasingly relaxed about ethnic diversity because they have grown up with it.
In contrast, he turned to Prince Harry's recently-revealed casual use of the word "Paki" while an officer cadet.
"Few of us feel that Prince Harry is some kind of racist or homophobic bigot, however ill-judged his choice of fancy dress costume, however crude and offensive his remarks," Mr Phillips said.
"But we can see he likes to be one of the boys. And as one of the boys, he operates by the unwritten code of his environment - a code that didn't once cause him to question whether calling fellow officers 'Paki', 'raghead' or 'queer' was insulting or inappropriate.
"Our nation is changing dramatically. We are becoming more diverse by the day. The trend is clear: the younger you are, the less prejudiced you are."
2 weeks ago I was cycling thru Burgess Park just after 8 and got jumped by a gang of black youths. I tried to dodge around them when i saw them coming at me but one kicked me off the bike and I hit the ground hard. I figured I was done for - there were at least 6 of them - but it became quite comic with one of them saying "it's not him. It's the wrong guy!" They gave me my bike back (kept my phone) and asked "you alright bossman?" I told them i was fine and that I wouldn't call the police and we said goodbye and I got back on my bike and cycled off to Flo's.
I didn't call the police - no point. My shoulder still hurts (tissue damage). Beyond that I look back on it and reflect that I got off easily; cycling through the wastelands of Burgess Park - a huge expanse that runs from the Old Kent Rd to Camberwell Rd and has no lighting - at night is, i have always been aware, tempting fate. Do I feel anger at the kids? No. I've lived on south london estates since 94 and generally found my neighbours of all ages to be pretty decent. Young males together tend to do stupid things.
That London is an increasingly violent city is depressing. That the police contribute to that violence and alienation is even more so.
Well, thankfully you're OK Garth (and, despite the following remarks, I do mean that). Things could've been worse, I suppose. After all, they might have made some cutting remarks about Balkan brass bands, and that would really have got your gander up.
I just can't help feeling sorry for the police in all this. As I see it, they're the ones who didn't knock you off your bike. And they're also the ones who didn't steal your 'phone. And yet they're the ones, apparently, who contribute to the violence and alienation. Meanwhile, the guys that did actually knock you off your bike and steal your 'phone are forgiven as they're males who just do stupid things. Who'd be a rozzer, eh?
I can't help feeling that there's a cultural divide between (and I'm guessing here) London and most of the rest of the UK. In my few direct dealings with the police (suspicion of being in possession of foreign records with an intent to use them etc...) , I've always been impressed with their innate decent commonsense and reasonableness. I don't think I'm being rosy-eyed (or misty-tinted) about it, and I daresay there are several mass-murderers who'd complain that the arresting officers were quite brusque with them. But I'd always have one policeman, rather than seven estate agents, 59 politicians, or 415,239 lawyers.
And yet there is a consistently hostile tone in the despatches from our various London correspondents. Is it that London is a significantly more violent place than the rest of the UK? Or is it that the cost of living in London means that police recruitment standards have to be lowered? Or is London just too large and diverse and 24/7 to make law and order and social cohesion innately more difficult? Or am I just talking crap? (Actually, on reflection, none of the options are mutually exclusive!).
But, seriously, is London such a violent, lawless place?
I'd tread carefully, tone wise, if I were you Gordon. A man's kid has had his balls squeezed by a complete **** of a policeman who thought it was enjoyable to abuse his authority and exercise a nasty little sadistic streak on someone who has no possible redress. It's ugly and it happens. What? You think Ted's kid is making it up? Get real. I live surrounded by millionaires but all I have to do is walk ten minutes down the road to Trellick Tower and there are streets run by Morrocan gangs where I have to tread very carefully - or at least I would if I were black and 16. But funnily enough, being white, middle aged and middle class makes me fairly invisible to gang members and policemen alike. Perhaps if you lived here you'd find it was much the same for you.
This is almost too much to take in. I cannot, don't want to, imagine what went through Garth's mind or accept what young T. and subsequently his family have experienced. The increasing poverty and it's rotten attendants are bad enough and ugly enough already with thirdhand information which should tell us all something whether we want to know it or not. Frankly, I'd say it's all f.....d up.
Coincidentally, just now, from the street outside, I can hear a steady line of marching, drumming and chanting. Tonight is "Take Back The Night" (for those who aren't familiar http://tinyurl.com/d89gx5).
I'd tread carefully, tone wise, if I were you Gordon.... It's ugly and it happens. What? You think Ted's kid is making it up? Get real.
I don't think any of the anecdotes are made up. They're real events experienced by real people. And I suspect that, if I lived in London, I'd start developing the same attitudes.
But I don't live in London and struggle to identify with the unrelentingly bleak view of policing that gets expressed here. I'm not denying that there aren't problems elsewhere in the country, but I think there would be a much more balanced view of people who work at the grubby sharp end of life.
I'm just trying to understand why it is so different in London. Perhaps the sharp differences in wealth, which has been referrred to, is another factor?
I'm really sorry to hear Ted's story. Garth also has my sympathy.
We are lucky here in inner city Bristol - I live next door to St Pauls which had the very first (and we always think the best) 'race' riots back in April 1980. Now it feels safer and the largely Afro-Caribbean community generally support the police against drug-dealers and other criminals. My own neighbourhood is a gentrified area which has been compared to Camden in the past, and community police officers are good at keeping it reasonably safe after the periodic mugging sprees that happen.
I've been at the wrong end of the police strong-arm tactics after being arrested for a CND direct action in the 80s - I was harassed continually for months after. Since then I have been stopped and searched for obviously spurious reasons and the police can be wilfully nasty and intimidating on such occasions. There again I'm a white middle aged bloke - a black colleague at work is routinely stopped by the police for no reason and he's a middle manager in the civil service for chrissakes.
I take on board what Gordon says - we speak as we find. The local community copper and his team are great - if my only experience of the police were dealing with him then I would feel like Gordon. Sadly, the reality is often very different.