In the struggle against racism, changing public attitudes to racial difference is not the place to start, we have to go to the foundation which is the British State itself. In the United Kingdom people encounter extreme forms of violence not only at the hands of racist street thugs but by State employees. This is how it is. Racism is given birth by the British State and fostered within the wider UK society. The significance of the Report of the MacPherson Inquiry, published in 1999, was its straightforward declaration that one particular State insitution, the Metropolitan Police, was racist. People knew this anyway but hearing the authorities concede the point was worthwhile, even as “news”.
It is ironic that one elemental piece of “news” regarding the Report only surfaced years later. This was dynamite, or would have been had we learned at the time it happened. We were kept in ignorance but, as usual. The Home Secretary who ordered the Inquiry discovered that evidence relating to the machinations of the Metropolitan Police was concealed from the team who compiled the Report. Who concealed the crucial evidence? The Metropolitan Police. The Home Secretary was Labour MP Jack Straw. It is enough to make a horse laugh. Old Jack – he’s younger than me – was greatly irritated to discover the information. After all, he was the Home Secretary: surely he was the police authority! Here he was finding out that it wasn’t him after all. The real authority lay someplace else. What a surprise! Old Jack there, a proper parliamentarian for all these years, privy to all the goings-on, and here he was astounded to learn that a State authority already known to kill people in the so-called line of duty should not scruple on withholding evidence against themself.
Clearly the explosive piece of “news” is not that evidence should have been concealed from the MacPherson Inquiry but that Jack Straw should have been so surprised.
These are the situations wherein elected politicians discover the true nature of authority, of temporary versus permanent; the reality of the place in the scheme of things of the House of Commons, in respect of the State. Apparently Straw was “furious” when he discovered the truth some fifteen years after ordering the Inquiry.1 It is difficult to imagine a parliamentarian of his experience being found guilty of such naivety, but ye never know. Chomsky made the point decades ago that these people are not telling lies, they are so far gone they believe what they say.
Information of this kind is rarely discussed in public forums. Through it we gain insight into why we must distinguish between the workings of the Whitehall Government which is temporary and the British State which is permanent. If a permanent State institution empowers the act of murder it isn’t hard to predict they might withold evidence from the work of a temporary administration. Any form of external meddling in State affairs is unacceptable and Government meddling is external meddling whether from the so-called right or so-called left, it makes little difference. Stability is what counts, survival is primary.
Each generation or so Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition (the Labour Party) wins a General Election and becomes Her Majesty’s Party of Government. When this phenomenon takes place another stack of folk learn that the Whitehall Government may govern but the British State rules. Some folk go away and join other parties; some start wee parties of their own. A few don clerical robes and chant praise songs. Other folk get up to whatever it is they get up to, helping their families and communities survive, trying to avoid the lapse into cynicism.
But why ever did they regard the Labour Party as left-wing in the first place, given its allegiance to monarchy, hierarchy, hereditary privilege; landed rights to wealth and property, and the inviolable unity of the United Kingdom? The one thing they must acknowledge is the mainstream perception of the Labour Party as “‘left-wing” is an almighty triumph of Public Relations.
Jack Straw became Home Secretary in 1997, in the Labour Party of Government led by Anthony Blair. This followed eighteeen years of Tory rule. In the history of the labour movement Jack Straw, like Anthony Blair, will occupy a place to the right of the right of the right of the centre right of the UK centre-mainstream. After serving his time as a parliamentarian it was thought he might achieve a move ‘upwards; a peerage, a seat in the House of Lords. This wasn’t to be and his time in politics ended in ignominy.2
Nevertheless he will be remembered for that one positive intervention from his first year in office. He accepted that matters surrounding the death of Stephen Lawrence and the failure of the legal authorities to convict his killers required clarification. Unfortunately, but not inconsistently, he appears to have been spurred into action by the Daily Mail’s position which, whatever their motives, seemed to accept the public’s right to an answer on why the police and the Crown Prosection Service failed to prosecute the “five white murderers.”3
The Report of the MacPherson Inquiry was published in 1999, two years after the Inquiry began, and there is no question of its importance. But, the way I see it, any critique of the Inquiry should begin from the beginning which is the basic terms of reference. What was the purpose of this Inquiry? Home Secretary Jack Straw set up the
judicial inquiry into the killing and subsequent investigation – to identify lessons for police in dealing with racially motivated crimes.4
These are the basic terms of reference. This is how the Home Secretary, acting on behalf of Her Majesty’s Party of Government, saw the Inquiry’s essential function. Whether proposals derived from the MacPherson Inquiry were to prove positive or negative they began from exclusion and served to illustrate the very racism at the root of UK society.
At that early stage Jack Straw might have been asked by fellow MPs Diane Abbot and Bernie Grant in what way the MacPherson Inquiry would help black police officers deal with “racially-motivated crimes” against themselves? Not only those crimes committed by racist members of the public but those committed by their racist colleagues within the police-force? The factor here is the Home Secretary’s presumption that black people are not doing the policing, they are the ones being policed. Maybe Jack Straw was just being honest. These forms of exclusion are at the core of institutional racism and other forms of prejudicial strategies and policies.
According to these terms of reference the MacPherson Inquiry might have succeeded yet failed to make any impact whatsoever on the institutional prejudice at the heart of the British State. For the various Departments of State, for authorities such as the police, immigration, education, health, welfare and social security, it was a case of as you were. Those sections of the establishment that seek to extol how the MacPherson Inquiry “changed the face of Britain” are engaged in the usual humbug that masquerades as unbiased reportage.
Yet there is no denying that within the United Kingdom the Report of the Inquiry, despite its flawed terms of reference, was a step in the struggle for racial justice. How significant the step is a question for racial, ethnic and other minorities. As far as I can see the struggle remains. All sections of the public, in solidarity with the minority groups under attack, must carry this struggle for justice. They have no option but to get to the root of it, and admit reality, which is basic: the British State is rotten at the core. How could it not be? How else could it sustain the extraordinary inequalities that prevail in this society?
But it is beyond foolishness to expect that the British State will ‘change’ to rectify this. There is as much chance of that as there was of the Metropolitan Police submitting to the supoosed authority of the Home Secretary.
The Report produced by the MacPherson Inquiry went further than most would have anticipated. Following its submission in 1999, Jack Straw advised the ‘House of “the main findings of the first part of the inquiry:
The conclusions to be drawn from all the evidence in connection with the investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s racist murder are clear. There is no doubt that there were fundamental errors. The investigation was marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers. A flawed Metropolitan Police review failed to expose these inadequacies. The second investigation could not salvage the faults of the first investigation.”
Those who persist with the argument that the MacPherson Inquiry as “changed the face of our nation” should explain why it took another fifteen years to convict anyone of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, and even then only two of the “five white murderers.”
But here we can return to the terms of reference of the Inquiry “into the killing and subsequent investigation – to identify lessons for police in dealing with racially motivated crimes.” The police authorities were to use the “Stephen Lawrence case ” that they might learn how best to deal with this most sensitive area in the fight for law and order. The murder of this 18 year old young fellow was to become a casework example in regard to future policing in racially-motivated crimes.
Imagine telling that to the boy’s parents.
Almost twenty years after Stephen was murdered two of the “five white murderers” were finally brought to trial and found guilty. Twenty five years after the murder his mother, Doreen Lawrence, asked the authorities to “be honest”, and admit that the remaining three of the “five white murderers” had got off scot free, they have escaped justice altogether.5
This is what the Lawrence family were still having to deal with all these years later. This was stated clearly in the Report of the MacPherson Inquiry, published back in 1999.
We refer to (the gang) as (five white) murderers because that is exactly what they were; young men bent on violence of this sort rarely act on their own. They are cowards and need the support of at least a small group in order to bolster their actions. There is little doubt that all (five) would have been held to be responsible for the murder had they been in court together with viable evidence against them.6
But what did that matter, an Inquiry initiated by a Home Secretary? The British State still had not convicted those who had murdered Stephen Lawrence, and there was nothing further to say. And everybody had known who they were only three months after he had been killed.
There is much to read online and in bookform about the Stephen Lawrence case, but very little on the campaign itself which some might find surprising.7 Here I concentrate on that earlier period in its development, from the time of Stephen’s death in the spring of 1993 through the summer of 1995. The wider significance of Stephen’s murder had yet to force itself to the attention of the public. It did not happen by a fluke. Nor did it begin through an act of magnanimity by the authorities. There was none of that. The State authorities had denied justice to the Lawrence family, as a matter of course; or so it seemed, that if they had had their way they would have put an end to the campaign, and sent the family home. Except this is where they were, home. Ironically, after the murder of their son and in the wake of their campaign for justice, Doreen and Neville Lawrence received such a high level of hate-mail and racist abuse that they “considering emigrating to the Caribbean.”8
In April 1993 their 18 year old son had been murdered while standing at a bus-stop. Five white youths were arrested. Three short months later the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) halted the prosecution, dropped the case and released them ” through lack of evidence. “9 “Scotland Yard refused to comment . . . but said ‘the murder hunt will continue.'”10
And the family were left to get on with it – with life, whatever that might mean for parents whose son had just been stabbed to death by a gang of “five white murderers” who didn’t bother to conceal their contempt for the legal process and were later seen laughing together. Their contempt for the system was justified. The inherent racism of the British State had been expressed not only by an act of barbarism on a London street but in the response of the police and legal authorities who had failed to prosecute the murderers although everyone knew who they were.
Why had “crucial details . . . been lost due to the police failure to gather forensic evidence from the scene of the crime”? Was such a failure the rule or the exception to the rule? Such a question must be confronted. Unfortunately, whether it was the rule or exception is of no consolation to a grieving family. Questions of this nature only serve to transform the uniquely personal end of this human tragedy into something other than that. No one is asked to forget the tragedy, that a young man was stabbed to death. A tragedy, yes, but time to move on. This is what the authorities are requesting of the bereaved family, and given no right of reply.
The dead child is now a casework example. The authorities will make use of his death for future reference: Dear Parents, We regret if Her Majesty’s Judicial System did not work for you on this occasion. Please rest assured that the death of your son is not in vain and if it happens again a different outcome may well occur. Through his death we shall have learned more thoroughly how to deal with future cases of this nature in respect of evidence-gathering and inquisitorial strategies.
That was in July 1993. Case closed.
By early autumn the Lawrence family campaign had begun, and developed. Their friends and support group were versed in gathering evidence and relevant information in cases of racially-motivated crime, then passing it on to the police and legal authorities.
The public associate these skills with the dogged determination of highly-motivated detectives for whom justice for all is the sole motivation. Such is the stuff of television drama. Heroic officers with idiosyncratic behavioural patterns work eighteen hours a day in pursuit of the truth. They solve crimes by meticulous deductive reasoning coupled with brilliant flashes of insight. Having brought the villains to book they drag themselves wearily home to solitary musings beneath a night-sky, sipping a fine malt whisky, with interesting background music. In real life the primary work of the police is policing the public.
Stephen’s father, Neville, spoke clearly and unequivocally that there could be no rest until “the killers and the hidden perpetrators of all racial attacks and murders are brought to justice, and for the whole truth to be known.” When Neville Lawrence spoke in these terms he was making public what the establishment has failed so dismally and consistently to acknowledge, let alone confront, that the British State advanced the cause of racism directly through its institutional policies and strategies, and by the failure of its employees, the police, to carry out adequate investigation.
In those years evidence suggested that victims and survivors of the vilest forms of racist harassment were liable to receive negative, even hostile receptions from the police. The burden of proof was on them. What do you mean you are being harassed? Explain what you mean. Prove to us that you are being harassed. Prove to us that you are targeted. Prove to us that these violations are happening. Prove to us that what you regard as harassment are not just a few incidents between two sets of feuding neighbours. Prove to us that these things you say are happening are crimes against you and your family and that you have been targeted through racially-motivated hatred.
If the benefit of the doubt can be given to the police officers, it may lie in their failure to grasp the concept “harassment”. In general people find the concept difficult, and tend to confuse it with bullying. It pays to be aware that in law harassment is a crime, bullying isn’t. The victims of racist harassment who complain of bullying may be passed on to Community Police for advice and counselling.
There is no one act of harassment. Harassment is an indefinite set of actions and activities. These could include overlooking someone for promotion who warrants promotion; spitting at them in the office toilet, glaring at them; shoving excrement into their bags and coat pockets; name-calling in the street, elbowing someone in a shop queue; stamping on the home ceiling, kicking the walls to frighten people; blaring audio volume so children cannot sleep; breaking windows, pushing lighted newspapers through letter boxes; slapping babies in prams; urinating on the doorstep; knocking over elderly women on the pavement, beating up elderly men; smashing up stores, gang-shoplifting; driving towards groups of young people and forcing them to jump to safety.
Those are some of the violations that minorities must prove criminal, not just detrimental to the health and well-being of their families and communities. Not all of these actions and activites are crimes; they may be morally and socially monstrous yet individually some will not be classified as crimes if reported to the police.
But they do indicate a patttern. Occurrences of that nature require to be noted, monitored, reported. No civilized society should stand for it. In the United Kingdom the authorities did stand for it. At one time more than 80% of racially-motivated crime went unreported. How many perpetrators of these depraved forms of behaviour that appear in the set “harassment” have ever been charged with a racially-motived crime?
Towards the end of the summer of 1993 the bereaved family of Stephen Lawrence were being supported in their campaign by the Monitoring Group of Southall. For so many people under attack this group had been the last line of defence in the struggle for justice against racial discrimination and racially-motivated crime.
But it is important to recognize that sections of the British State perceived the Monitoring Group of Southall as a threat, they were already reacting hostilely to this support group, and had done for years prior to the death of Stephen Lawrence. Its very existence was seen as a criticism. And so it was. The existence of the Monitoring Group highlighted the ineffectuality of the State authorities on law and order; the failure of the police and legal system to support the victims of racial harassment, barbaric violation, to the point of death, and beyond, to the extent that bereaved families were themselves being victimized and stigmatized. This was shown in the case of the Lawrence family who were subject to extraordinary levels of abuse and hatred following their decision to stand up and assert their right to justice, and show their determination to struggle for as long as that might take.
Families and others who assisted by the Monitoring Group of Southall had been left bereft by the effects of these vile, race-hate crimes, and more often than not had nowhere else to turn. Some of the racist criminals responsible would have been brought to justice had the State forces of law and order followed through properly on their investigative work. There can be no question of that.
In Scotland support for the Lawrence Family Campaign had begun in October 1993.11 This was in the aftermath of the State authorities’ decision to drop the case and release the “five white murderers.” A benefit night was held in McChuils Bar, Glasgow in support of the family campaign. But it was a joint benefit. It was also on behalf their support group, the Monitoring Group of Southall.
We felt it was crucial to name the Monitoring Group and express our recognition of their work publicly. This is why we made it a joint benefit. We were aware of the hostility towards the Lawrence family now shown because of their association with the Monitoring Group. It was essential to show solidarity and to acknowledge the merit of their work of which we had known for several years.
In another essay I spoke of the death of Kuldip Singh Sekhon in a racist atrocity that took place in 198812 Kuldip Singh, father of seven daughters, was murdered in a most savage and brutal attack. The post mortem showed that he had been stabbed 58 times. The inhuman brutality of this shocked people. Many were further shocked by the reaction of the authorities. The family of the dead man had been given full support by the Monitoring Group. During their campaign for justice a full day of protest took placed in Southall’s town centre in January 1989. Every shop in the long main street – including betting offices – closed as a mark of respect. An Edinburgh busload of supporters in support of the family campaign made the trip to Southall13 and took part in this march and major demonstration of solidarity.
On the same evening a benefit night took place.14 This had an additional significance. It marked the 10th Anniversary of the murder of Blair Peach, a schoolteacher from New Zealand who was working in England. He had come to Southall in solidarity, on a day of protest against racism. During this he was battered to death by an elite unit of the Metropolitan police. A year later an investigation took place into this criminal behaviour.
The investigation into this criminal behaviour of the Metropolitan Police was conducted by the Metropolitan Polics. Finally they “concluded that Peach had had his skull crushed by an ‘unauthorised weapon’ . . . ‘almost certainly’ delivered by a member of its elite riot squad, the Special Patrol Group, but the individual’s identity could not be determined with certainty because of collusion among SPG members.”15 So the police looked after their own. Who cares about the murder of a schoolteacher from New Zealand. Who cares about that, about justice so-called. Shield the killer. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, supporting a bunch of pakies and darkies, what was that all about!
But at least the Metropolitan Police had arrived at that conclusion. Yes, and the British State did not release these findings for thirty years.
. . .
Another of those sentences people need to read at least twice, then go for a coffee, then come back and read for a third or fourth time. It took the British State thirty years to release the findings of the Metropolitan Police inquiry into the death of Blair Peach at the hands of an elite group of the Metropolitan Police.
1979 was remembered north of the border for the chicanery of the 40-60% stipulation on the Scottish Referendum but known generally for the advent of a far-right Whitehall Government. Under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher the Conservative Party had moved so far to the right that it won most all of the votes normally reserved for racists, fascists and ultra-nationalists of one description or another. What was happening on the streets of Great Britain and the north of Ireland was an expression of the free-for-all racism and other prejudical strategies and policies now at liberty within its permanent infrastructure. Even so, and it is important to see that attacks on “racial difference” were not the pregorative of the Tories alone. During Her Majesty’s Labour Party of Government back in 1972 tough anti-immigration legislation had been introduced.
Why did Blair Peach die? What was his crime? He had a belief in justice, that the plight of people having to deal with the worst forms of racist violence should be shown support and solidarity by every section of society, and that sometimes the most powerful support of all is solidarity. It is solidarity that cuts through all these spurious divisions of race, ethnicity, religion and the rest. It was solidarity that the British State had taken on in a major fight with large sections of the British population from the mid 1970s through the 1980s. This was a fight to the death literally, on several occasions where people stood their ground in opposition to this hardline approach and were battered by the police, and some died for their beliefs.
At the inquest into Blair Peach’s murder “The jury was shown 23 items, including knives, iron bars, and wooden staves, which were found in the lockers of two (Special Patrol Group) units.” The SPG Inspector explained to the jury that “traditional truncheon was too flimsy and officers would often take out pick-axe handles. Sledge hammers and jemmies would also be brought from home to execute search warrants, as this type of equipment was not issued.”16 It was also revealed here that “the six police officers who were present when the fatal blow was struck (had been) identified. These findings however were not disclosed to the inquest and remained hidden from Peach’s family, and the public for thirty years.”17
The State authorities concealed the murder. The criminal brutality of what had occured that day in a town in Middlesex had been carried out by their employees. Through his concern for justice and for truth a young man on a visit from New Zealand met a violent and horrible death at the hands of the a group described as “elite” by the police authorities. The British State empowered this elite unit to carry most any weapon they wanted on the understanding that they would be accountable only to their own management, and might expect exemption from prosecution for any action performed in the line of duty.
How do we define any action in the line of duty? We don’t. They do. Things change according to necessity: the needs of the British State.
It was later reported that “the Metropolitan Police paid an out-of-court settlement to the family of Peach.”18
Sections of the UK public will be surprised to learn that out-of-court settlements can apply in Criminal Law, even in the case of murder. Some may see this as a “development” with worrying implications. On reflection, they should be familiar with the idea. The State authorities consistently allow the perpetrators of the worst forms of sexual abuse on children to be punished “in-house” by the religious institutions who employ them. Occasionally cash sums are paid to the victims and their families on condition they keep their mouth shut. Other than that who knows what happens. The State leaves it to the religious institutions to sort it out with the children and families their employees have abused, terrorized and even driven to suicide. The Crown Prosecution Service appears to see nothing illegitimate in this. Commit the crime and pay the dough. The State and the Church learn from one another: self defence is no offence; the power structure defends against the imposition of justice.
Some will find this extraordinary. Others might wonder what the fuss is about, given that it happens in Civil Law all the time. Captains of Industry regularly escape charges of manslaughter and even murder, settling cash deals that allow them to stay out-of-court. Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service finds it acceptable and never brings a criminal charge against them.
There is a greater can of worms to be opened than that. But so what? This can is opened continually. The worms crawl in and out as they please. It leads anywhere and everywhere, in particular the shadowy area described as “secret State activities.” Here anything goes. Apparently the authorities spied on the Lawrence family themselves, and did their best to undermine and discredit them, never mind their friends and individual members of their support group. They are empowered to do as they see fit, whatever it takes in the line of duty, as Jack Straw appears to have discovered about the Metropolitan Police authority fifteen years later. He was entitled to ask for clarification on “line of duty” To what? To whom? Not the Whitehall Government anyway.
The peculiar part is that most of these “secret activities” are known by the public anyway; and known so well they remain unremarked, and not even secret except in a kind of jokey, populist manner. Terrorists are “taken out” or “popped” by State employees regularly in day-time television, and on children’s television too where cartoon goodies target and obliterate foreign (alien) baddies with all manner of sophisticated weapons. Killings are romanticized, even glorified. Mass murderers who are paid to murder people, haven’t been described as mass murderers for decades. Most everything depends on who does the murder and who is being murdered. They are known as professional hit-men if they are coldly efficient psychopaths; technically gifted, very well paid and will not rest until their target is taken out.
Look at him, he is a serial killing professional hit-man sonofagun, cool as fuck, look at his clothes and the labels he favour! Off he goes and pops the terrorists, then home, has a shag with the girlfriend and takes his holidays in Bermuda.
Serial killers if they are baddies, members of secret-State agencies if they are halfway goodies, eg. Mossad, Boss, Smersh, CIA, MI5 or MI6. Queen and Country, m’boy, here’s your gun, a beautiful 3.4477 silver-mounted Magnum-Baretta furnished by weaponry manufacturers of superior provenance. See its handle, consisting of the finest 18 carat gold with a rolex trigger-device powered and tipped by two tiny rubies for reliability. Retain this pistol within the secret compartment of your prototype boys-own convertible speed launch-helicoptereal submarine which “M” is about to reveal to you as a reward for wiping out “justice-terrorists” of every description, in particular an entire company of no good hook-nosed anarchist hardline muslims in partnership with cold war-inspired communist fundamentalists during your last sorté. And do straighten your tie, there’s a good chap; the wives of certain higher-ups have complained. Very good sir.
Of course the British State sanctions murder. The death of Blair Peach and its surrounding circumstances reinforced a truth which people continue to find difficult to accept, that the British State kills people at home or abroad, and will carry out whatever else is required. This is enmeshed in institutional practice and institutional authorities are empowered to decide necessary courses of action.
Members of the public will recognize necessity on occasion and might wish to add the rider, Only in appropriate circumstances.
Who defines “appropriate”? Who arrives at such decisions? Are there criteria? Are there codes, policies and guidelines for the State killing of innocent people? Must we define innocent? Should we accept the concept “collateral damage” in regard to the death of innocent members of the public?
Nowadays we do, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Elderly folk and persons with underlying health issues are advised to look after themselves. Society has prepared to lose a few. Resources are limited. Some must suffer for the greater good of the greater rich. This is how things are. The good old poor are always with us, working fingers to the bone on behalf of the good old ruling elite. Three cheers for the cooks, governesses, pantry-butlers, silver-service waiters, bin-emptying, corpse-carrying laborers who convey the black polybags to the bin-lorry. Let them unite shoulder to shoulder within pandemic guidelines respecting the rule of law and minimum-maximum wage entitlements. Three cheers for those who give their lives that we might live in the manner to which we are accustomed in this Land of Hope and Glory. Please die at home to protect the National Health Servants. Hope for the best, here’s yer gong, empires ahoy.
As far back as 1993, only one month after Stephen’s murder, Nelson Mandela had been pictured with Doreen and Neville Lawrence in an alliance that saw common ground in the struggle against an ugly, racist mentality of the sort generally associated with fascism.
In the United Kingdom this is part of our own history, whether official or radical, at the receiving end. We don’t call it fascism. We think of it as imperialism. We are still dealing with its effects. The Union of Parliaments occurred in 1707 but the power-base had been established by then, during the previous hundred years. From their earliest days in power (1603), the new British monarch and his ruling elite determined to establish control of the new United Kingdom; they would plunder what they could from whom they could.
An early strategy was the assimilation or removal of the Gáidhilg peoples of Ireland and Scotland: if extermination was necessary then so be it. A similar move occurred in north America, with the same plans for the locals; then on to wherever else was possible in Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, Australiasia. All were considered inferior forms of humankind. The powerful took what they could, fighting others of their kind for the spoils.
People lost everything. It was all taken. Wealth, property, identity, culture, life itself. Communities, cultures and peoples were exterminated. Men, women and children were killed as animals are killed. And the ruling elites and upper orders could go to their religious houses and give thanks to a god who bestowed upon them the privilege of belonging to the chosen ones. What luck to be part of it all! How providential it all was. They invented polities, religions and philosophies grounded on their own rights and entitlement to power. They did not think of themselves in any sense hypocritical. It isn’t as if they were raping, plundering and murderering other human beings. The ones they were raping, plundering and murderering were sub-human, perhaps even sub-species, not even human at all.
This is British State history. In South Africa a similar mentality remained rooted in its powerbase, an avowedly white racist, fascist regime. These people were still in power when Nelson Mandela met with Doreen and Neville Lawrence in London. What was it about the circumstances surrounding the murder of their son that had drawn his interest? What was it about seeing the three standing together that made such an impression, deepening a sense of shame about what was happening to the family of the dead youth. This, after all, was England! And here was a horrible reality, that this was the reality, this, this taking place right now, right under our nose. The nature of this and other killings, the vile acts of barbarism that were coming to light; the criminal negligence and inefficiency of the police; the idea of the “five white murderers” walking free – all of that: this was life, this was it, the reality of what it meant to be living in London, in England, in the United Kingdom.
And was it true the Lawrence family were having to cope with even more abuse, more hatred, because they had had the courage to take action? Here was an ordinary family who had been let down so utterly by the authorities. And what about the boy himself, was he not English? Okay he was black but was he born here? Where was he born? His parents were from Jamaica but what about Stephen himself? First generation English. Okay. What about that, did that mean English, or did it just mean – what? what did that mean? Was he English or was he – what was he? He was black but if he was born in London – what, what was he?
Dead. The boy was murdered. And humbug and hypocrisy were rampant. Here being exposed was a society founded on a psychology we have come to associate with fascism. Because it is easier to accept, because it keeps it at a distance. These fundamental aspects of fascism are also fundamental within imperialism. The basis is difference. Once people can be shown to be different then their rights are gone. They have none. And if violence and horrors are perpetrated upon them they have no right to expect protection under the law or that the criminal perpetrators will be brought to account for their actions. And if they want justice, why then, forget the legal system, go to Whitehall; the authorities will advise them to check it out with their political representatives.
Following the Crown Prosecution Service’s dismissal of the case in July 1993 the Monitoring Group offered support to the Lawrence family. The hostility of the State authorities toward the family campaign would have begun from then, if not earlier. This serves to introduce a wider context which, at the time, went unnoticed, unremarked or concealed. This wider context remains marginalised to such an extent that “news” of it has yet to hit the mainstream media.
Years prior to the killing of Stephen Lawrence the State authorities had made public their opinion of the Monitoring Group. The hostility towards the group had been in place since the Metropolitan Police killed Blair Peach at the anti-racist day-of-protest in Southall. This town in Middlesex was to a significant extent a home and refuge for immigrants and asylum seekers. The community was its own protection. People could walk down the street with less fear of racial harassment than most anywhere else in the United Kingdom. There is a strength gained from that. This diversity within a community allows individuals to ask such awkward questions as, Why did the police bludgeon to death the schoolteacher? without seeing a need to ask, Was he English, was he white, what was he?
He was dead. The Metropolitan Police described the Monitoring Group as a “pernicious organisation spewing out lies and propaganda in pursuance of their own ideological aims.”19 Yes, and if not for the work of their campaign for justice the Metropolitan Police authority’s very own Special Patrol Group would have got away with murder altogether; unnoticed, unremarked; without being forced to account for their actions let alone brought to trial, let alone anyone being charged and imprisoned.
The British State kept the findings of the inquiry into the death of Blair Peach hidden from the public gaze for thirty years, helping conceal from the public the debased and cynical disregard for human life and the rights of natural justice by one of its major police authorities. I cannot recall any campaigning journalist, nor anyone else within the mainstream media ever pursuing the truth, of fighting to disclose relevant information to the public when it should have been disclosed to the public. This is not to say there was no news. Perhaps there was and it escaped me.
The State authorities operate as every section of the establishment operates. There is no need to discuss with each other the suppression or marginalization of suspect, negative or hostile news features. It operates in like manner to class interest. It begin from the same place, from the same perspective and renders consistent that parallel lines of action are derived. There is no conspiracy involved. Nothing too mysterious.
Campaigns for justice are all very well. The trouble is that they suggest there is a lack of justice in the first place. Why should the establishment seek to encourage such a thing? Essentially, any campaign for justice is a campaign against the interests of the British State.
People who seek justice are suspect. Anyone without a direct family link in campaigns for justice is under suspicion. Supporters of these campaigns are the enemy. Forget solidarity: friendship itself is suspect. State authorities confuse the concept with covering one another’s back. They deny the possibility that someone may be motivated by the claim of natural right. Motivation, as far as the State is concerned, can only be ideologically grounded and this means left-wing.
The British State sees anti-racism as an ideology. The phrase “justice-seeker” is used sarcastically. The phrase “justice-terrorist” will have been coined and lies in waiting for the right time. Authorities cannot admit their humanity which is seen as a weakness. The instinctive drive of the survival of our species has been subsumed, not by any governing principle, by any theological, philosophical or even political position, the only drive is dual-purposed: the security and survival of the ruling elite.
Here were these Monitoring Group volunteer people “spewing out lies and propaganda in pursuance” of all these left-wing ideological claims of justice and the natural rights of all human beings not to be tortured, violated and treated as something less than human. And what about them anyway, so-called volunteers? Were they even English? First generation, second generation, third generation: what are we talking about here? What about their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents? What test cricket team did they support? Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, the West Indies?
The one thing the Minitoring Group was used to doing was gathering evidence in racially motivated crime. The legal authorities had set the inquest on the death of Stephen Lawrence for the end of the year. Now enough fresh evidence was procured by the family campaign to bring to the attention of the authorities. On the basis of the new evidence the family’s legal team20 asked that the inquest be postponed. This was allowed. The Crown Prosecution Service would consider the evidence and reach a verdict in April 1994.
This is what happened. But the CPS found the new evidence insufficient to proceed further. They had no alternative but to drop the case again.
Doreen and Neville Lawrence had major decisions to face. Eventually it came down to one: if the State authorities were unable to prosecute the guilty could the family campaign go it alone? Yes, with the help of their support group. They set out to do what the British State had failed to do: to commit to trial “the five white murderers” of their son. In September of 1994 they launched a private prosecution. They made their position clear. “Unlike the CPS . . . their legal team (would) mount an ‘enlightened prosecution,’ respecting the rules of evidence and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.”21
Some condemned this private prosecution as an attack on British justice. It suggested that the forces of law and order were incompetent, or racist, or both. Criticism such as this implied that choices were available. What choice did the family have, apart from wait and see, and trust the police authority who in July 1993 told them that “the murder hunt will continue.”22
People were wondering why the parents of the dead boy had had to bring a criminal prosecution forward by themselves when “everybody” knew the identity of the murderers. Did everybody include Her Majesty’s Metropolitan Police authority and Crown Prosecution Service? If so how come it was left to the bereaved family to make the case? Other folk were wondering what on earth a private prosecution for murder actually meant?
Well, it meant what it said. The State authorities were unable to prosecute the “five white muderers”, due to an “investigation . . . marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers.”23 The family were going to do it themselves, helped by their friends and supporters. The campaign group may not have been versed in the role of prosecution but they were in dealing with the worst forms of racist crime. They would gather the evidence and present it to the legal authorities who would then examine it, and determine whether or not it was sufficient to commit the five to trial.
The work of the Monitoring Group in these areas could be construed as indicative of the failure of the British State forces of law and order. More than that, in racially motivated crime this failure was consistent, perhaps even the rule. If this was the case then there was more to it than inefficiency.
The next stage in the campaign was the Committal Proceedings, scheduled for the summer of 1995. Here the family’s legal team would submit their evidence and hope the State authorities would judge it strong enough to bring the guilty to trial. In the event the campaign group could not procure enough evidence to bring the “five white murderers” to trial but they had enough to charge three of them. They presented this evidence in August 1995.
The fact that the Committal Proceedings were happening at all was seen as a positive step for the family. Surely private prosecutions of this nature were unprecedented? People had never heard of such a thing. The authorities deflected this side of it. Not unique, they said, not at all – it was the fourth time. It was, yes, the fourth in 130 years. Meanwhile rumours persisted that the campaign was being undermined by the authorities.Was it true? Obviously. Why else make such petty points as the foregoing? The central feature of this case certainly did make it unique. The British State was being taken to task at its very core, its inherent and infrastrucual racism.
Media interest also focused on the difficulties people have with the Crown Prosecution Service generally which suited the British State. If the murder of Stephen Lawrence could have been transformed into a matter of law and order then they would avoid having to deal with the failure of the police and legal authorities in dealing with targeted acts of criminal violence against black people.
More than two years after the murder of their boy Neville and Doreen Lawrence had had no respite. The day-to-day grind of a campaign such as this drained all energy, physical, intellectual and emotional. This further twist in a never-ending nightmare had the family were being forced to endure publicly a blow-by-blow account of the horror perpetrated on Stephen while given daily reminders of the indifference of the authorities, an indifference that to many seemed depraved. Each time his parents appeared in public, whether individually or as a couple, their honesty and integrity were obvious. What were “these people” after?
The police and legal authorities had already determined that there was insufficient evidence to warrant criminal prosecution. Now here was this bunch in off the street trying to show that sufficient evidence might exist after all. Who were these people?
A family in search of justice. That was all. Nothing more and nothing less. It was always justice. It was inescapable. How long would it take the authorities to grasp the truth of it? The public knew long before the Report of the Macpherson Inquiry confirmed that
Stephen Lawrence’s murder was simply and solely and unequivocally motivated by racism. It was the deepest tragedy for his family. It was an affront to society, and especially to the local black community in Greenwich (that) nobody has been convicted of this awful crime.24
During the period between the freeing of the “five white murderers” of Stephen Lawrence in the summer of 1993 and the Committal Proceedings of the summer of 1995 horrific cases were coming to light of barbaric behaviour by the authorities themselves. These were being forced into the public domain through the spread of information. The more news began to surface the more inept the State authorities had proven, and the more sickened people became. There was a kind of creeping inference, that such ineptitude was too gross to be believed. Perhaps some of what was happening, if not calculated, was more than unintentional inefficiency.
The Committal Proceedings took place at Belmarsh Prison, the top-level security prison in London where terrorist suspects of any and all descriptions are detained, some “held in conditions condemned as barbaric by the Home Office’s own medical experts and described by lawyers who have visited them as ‘concrete coffins.'”25 A trial of “IRA terrorists” was then in progress. From the different courts housed inside the Belmarsh complex “high risk” prisoners can be escorted on foot from their cells to the dock.
The public gallery was a small room inside the Court, screened by a form of reinforced or armoured glass; set high above the Court itself. The view was restricted and because of the reinforced glass sound was distorted. The stenographer’s clack-clacking only added to the difficulties. All that could be witnessed was the front third of the Court; the magistrate, the stenographer and a number of clerks, and the top of a barrister’s head. Numbers were controlled strictly. Security people and members of both the Lawrence family and the families of his suspected killers were confined together in that same small room, three or four at a time being allowed entry.
It rained heavily that day but people managed along to express solidarity. Campaigns for justice draw this form of support. There is little in it for anybody, other than that primary aim, which is justice. The authorities will attempt to undermine expressions of solidarity which for them can be nothing other than suspect. Their own position is in defence of injustice. They have neither moral nor ethical standing. There is no support through the search for justice, for truth. Any support they have is political, or worse, an expression of racial discrimination. “Why don’t they go back to their country if they hate us so much” is one of the more printable. Their ways of gaining public sympathy are very restricted. About the only route they have is to undermine “the enemy”, the bereaved family and their campaign for justice. One straightforward method is to question the motivation of its supporters: “far-left extremist infiltrators” “spewing their ideological poison” in favour of so-called justice,etc. leading the poor misguided family of ignoprant dumblucks by the nose, and so on and so forth.
The family support group had erected a marquee tent near the parking area where people could gather and talk. The prison security staff would not allow anybody from the family, friends and supporters to buy food and refreshments from the refrectory although it was supposed to be open to the public. The security staff were asked why this was the case but offered no explanation.
Most of those who attended the Committal Proceedings in support of the family campaign would have had their identity recorded. The State takes these matters very seriously. They see who is involved and look for patterns of behaviour consistent with forms of oppositional activity in general. This will allow them to identify “justice-terrorists” on future occasions. The authorities regard bereaved family members and their friends as potentially suspect. Instead of being “ordinary” these families are “political”, they have been “poisoned”. In other words people become politicized through direct, personal experience. They meet such opposition in their struggle for justice that they are forced to question the motivation of the police and legal authorities altogether.
Among those who attended Belmarsh Prison in solidarity were close relations and friends of Joy Gardner. Joy was the woman whose horrific death was not due to an act of barbarism on a London street, she was killed in the privacy of her own home in the presence of her 5 year old son, at the hands of five members of the Metropolitan Police authority:
at about 7 a.m. on July 28, 1993 (they) broke in to Joy’s Topsfield Avenue home, and used force to restrain her . . . (And) ‘while her five year old son Graeme looked on’ she was restrained with handcuffs and leather straps and gagged with a 13-foot length of adhesive tape wrapped around her head. Unable to breathe, she collapsed and suffered brain-damage due to asphyxia. She was placed on life support but died following a cardiac arrest four days later.
The idea that such bestial treatment might be meted out to another human being by the “forces of law and order” is beyond anything most of us can grasp. Eventually “three of the police officers involved stood trial for Gardner’s manslaughter, but were acquitted.”26 Those who knew of the case were revolted. This was barbaric. The killing of Joy Gardner highlights what “action in the line of duty” entails for two departments of State: one the police and the other the Department of Immigration. Both departments committed, and continue to commit, acts of terror and torture in the name of Her Majesty’s Westminster Government, acting on behalf of the British State.
Yet another unpalatable truth about life in the United Kingdom was becoming evident to a growing section of the public, that particular minorities were always guilty and seemed always to be guilty, each and every time they were charged, and they seemed to be getting charged every day of the week – at least some of them were. Usually the ones that made the news were young folk who were cheeky and insolent. They were always having to establish their innocence, on each and every occasion they were charged.
And it seemed to be happening all the time. Following the Report of the MacPherson Inquiry a change in the law occurred relating to the “double-jeopardy” ruling. For black people there was never any “double-jeopardy”27 ruling in the first place. Every single time they stepped outside the security of their own home and immediate surroundings the burden of proof was on them to explain themselves, to demonstrate their innocence, to justify their presence. Over and over and over and over again, people were always being found to be black. What was the crime? That was the crime. They were “black”. Their crime was racial difference. Keep the term “black” in quotation marks, as befits a physical evaluation that is so crassly superficial it is hard to take seriously, and never would if it had to do with painting the walls of our living room or how we describe a pair of shoes.
Joy Gardner “died as a result of the restraint methods employed by three officers from the Alien Deportation Group . . . The ADG was a secretive police unit that specialised in forcible deportations. Its activities were controlled and authorised by the Home Office and the Home Secretary.”28
It later emerged that letters warning Joy of her impending deportation were ‘deliberately’ delayed so that she had no warning of her removal. ‘They say she was ‘illegal’, but she wasn’t illegal. She came here legally, she paid her fare, but she overstayed her time . . .29
Perhaps a charge of murder would have been more appropriate than manslaughter. What evidence did the British State’s Alien Deportation Group have to suggest that a woman in early middle-age whose medical condition was unknown to them might endure and survive such treatment? She was trussed like an animal within the “safety” of her own home in full awareness that her five year old son was watching and the inevitable consequences this would have on the boy for the rest of his life.
Joy Gardner endured the treatment but did not survive it. What was the likelihood that she might have done so? Had her killers been charged with murder perhaps they would have had less chance of escaping conviction. A charge of murder might have been brought against the five officers rather than three. By intention all five would have been guilty, those who committed the actions and those who “ommitted to act” to stop it from happening.
About the only policy adjustment to occur since the British State murdered Joy Gardner was one that increased the probability that such killings would occur more frequently, further deaths committed by British State employees going about their business, in defence of injustice, in the line of duty. An entire range of public-sector workers (health workers, school teachers, jobcentre clerks, ambulance drivers, etc.) were being “trained to identify illegal immigrants”. And what was the primary identifying feature?
The British State employs hundreds of thousands of people whose work it is to deny justice. That is their actual job. Departments of State dealing with human rights, civil rights, citizens rights and claims in respect of social, medical and welfare benefits, rights and entitlements. All of these groups have in common that they learn and/or are trained to ignore empathy, that which should move their humanity. In the process they inflict pain and suffering, not by intention but because it is unavoidable. It is a direct effect of what is to be done in the line of duty, it is the nature of the job.
This most basic point was substantiated by one police officer providing testimony in the case of the unexplained death of Joseph Crentsil30 during an encounter with the Department of Immigration. The man was not on any “wanted for questioning” list at all. The police and immigration officers had gone to a third storey flat to question somebody else. During these procedures this man, Joseph Crentsil, fell to his death from the balcony. He had nothing to do with anything.
This became known later, when the State authorities were having to account for the man’s death. One particular police officer began his testimony by saying “that he saw ‘a black male appear from the toilet’ and asked him to wait until immigration officers had spoken to him.”
It is easy to miss exactly what is happening here. For the British State it is very convenient that we miss what is happening.
Nothing else about this man returning from the toilet was required to signal a possible issue other than racial difference, in this instance skin-colouring. The police officer marks the difference by referring to it: I saw a black male. Difference is the sole factor. The police officer spots the difference and stops the individual. He will pass him over to the immigration authorities to prove that he is not guilty of the crime. What crime? Any crime. Of being illegally present in “our” country, whatever; what does he have in his pockets anyway, and what about these credit cards and driving licence and is this passport his anyway, the photograph could be anybody..
The burden of proof is on him, the person challenged by authority, the “suspect”. The presumption of guilt applies. There is no presumption of innocence: “sus law” is “black law”. Black people are guilty until proving otherwise. In Criminal Law a person is supposedly innocent till proven guilty. Not for black people and other minorities. The British State has managed to shift presumption to suit their own political agenda. A black person is always guilty until proving that, on this particular occasion, he or she is innocent. Next time they may not be.
Black people can be stopped every day of the week, not only when they step out of the house but when they are inside it, courtesy of the British State immigration authorities. Prove to me that you are not guilty of the charge.
I haven’t decided yet. Difference is the basis of quite a few. Let me see, are you legal? Turn out your pockets.
But you stopped me yesterday to search my person.
Yes and today too, and tomorrow if necessary. You were black yesterday, black today and black tomorrow. And if you continue to prove your innocence you will be okay and have nothing to worry about whateoever.
But what about tomorrow?
You can prove it tomorrow.
Some of the grounds for this appalling and degrading treatment are laid down by the British State as follows:
Chapter 46 of the Immigration Services’ Operation Enforcement Manual (which) allows officers to question people living in a communal residence other than a named offender to ‘eliminate them from their enquiries’. . . This rule basically allows immigration officers to go on ‘fishing raids’ if they have what they consider to be ‘reasonable grounds’ – to suspect that a person is an immigration offender.
At the time of Joseph (Crentsil’s) death, police officers attended all private-address immigration visits because immigration officers did not have powers of arrest. But they do now. Over 80 per cent of immigration officers in London are now arrest-trained.
Therefore any Immigration Officer is now at liberty to stop “a black male who appears from the toilet” and ask him to account for his presence in “our”country or to turn out his pockets, or provide ID, or hand over the phone, banker’s cards, bla bla bla.
“Lawful residents in Britain will not be affected and have nothing to fear” said the British State. No, they will be able to prove their innocence. What hypocrisy. What humbug. What of the extreme fear that afflicted Kwanele Sziba to such an extent that she fell to her death while attempting to escape a “summons” intended for her brother-in-law?
According to the Home Office the dead woman had nothing to fear if she was lawfully resident. But she did fear. It cannot be doubted that this woman did fear. There is no other possible explanation for the fact that she made a dash to escape the situation. She expressed her fear by her dash to escape. It was the situation she was escaping.
This is basic psychology. If she did fear then there had to have been something that induced the fear. If she was scared she was scared of something. It doesn’t matter one iota if that something did not merit fear in the eyes of everybody else in the world.
What on earth did this Home Secretary, a white member of the British ruling class have to fear from policy guide-lines in respect of the search for illegal aliens? He was party to their incorporation. Why was this most senior member of British State authority allowed to spout a piece of psychological nonsense and get away with it? This was Michael Howard, a Whitehall Parliamentarian for 30 or 40 years who “held Cabinet positions under the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major” and is now Lord Howard, “appointed to the Order of Companion of Honour in 2011.”31
Kwanele Sziba was black. Of racial difference she was always guilty, always to be humiliated, disrespected, dishonoured or violated, manhandled, trussed like an animal.
Was Ibrahima Sey “legal” when he was “unlawfully killed” at Ilford police? Evidence to the inquest established that while the man was
on his knees, with his hands cuffed behind his back, and surrounded by over a dozen police officers in the secure rear yard of the police station, he was sprayed by CS gas, and then, upon being taken into the police station, he was restrained face down on the floor for some 15 minutes or more until he had stopped breathing . . .
The inhumanity of this was illustrated clearly at the inquest when one of the police officers explained how he had swapped the handcuffs he placed on the man with those of a colleague because he did not want to do the overtime involved in accompanying the prisoner to hospital. It is reckoned that Ibrahima Sey would have been dead by that time anyway.32
This lack of humanity is breathtaking. It suggests psychosis but is utterly consistent with the attitude of the authorities. Those who commit, aid and abet these outrages are spurred by a form of reasoning that dehumanises the individual. If the victim can be transformed into something less than human then basic questions conerning ethics, morality and elemental human rights do not apply. Employees of the State need not consider such questions. They dispense with their humanity meantime, in work-hours anyway.
Not long before the horrific murder of Joy Gardner the “unlawful killing” of Shiji Lapite took place within Stoke Newington police station. Shiji Lapite had been strangled or asphyxiated following “his arrest by two plain-clothes policemen.” This London police station was notorious, with an appalling record of racist violation. The catalogue of shame went back more than thirty years at that time. The “long history of corruption, racism and brutality (had) seen officers jailed for involvement in drug dealing and even stealing property from corpses.”
A picket of the police station was organised by Shiji Lapite’s family and friends. It so happens that members of the Hackney Community Defence Campaign were going to attend the picket in solidarity with the bereaved family. Prior to this killing the people in Hackney had “carried out extensive investigations into corruption at Stoke Newington police station.” But now, the very night before the picket, their premises were broken into and “burgled . . . The Hackney Community Defence Campaign members suspect that the Special Branch (or MI5) was responsible”33 If so they were carrying out actions in the line of duty, having sold their humanity, bought and paid by the British State.
One of the first people killed by one of the “new US-style long-handled batons”34 was Brian Douglas, a young black man. Again it was the Metropolitan Police who gave him a horrible beating. They then left him in a cell “for fifteen hours [despite him vomiting and being visited by four doctors]. He was taken to hospital, slipped into a coma and died five days later.”
It later emerged he had a fractured skull and damage to his brain stem. At the inquest PC Tuffy said his baton had accidentally slipped when he hit Douglas on the shoulder. Evidence at the inquest said the force of the blow was equivalent to being dropped from 11 times his own height onto his head.
A “police consultative meeting” was arranged in Brixton so that matters between the authorities and the dead man’s family could be discussed. Immediately after this “consultative meeting” members of the Metropolitan Police were caught making “a clumsy attempt to covertly film” the family as they left the building. It is so utterly shameful, yet consistent. Later the British State authorities trotted out the same old excuses, “insufficient evidence to prosecute the officers involved (and) refused consent to disclosure of statements taken by the investigating officers.”35
In December of the same year another young man died following an action by State employees in the line of duty. He was Wayne Douglas (no relation to Brian). Eyewitness reports indicate he was armed with a knife. He was surrounded by 15 policemen who were screaming at him to “put it down, put it down.” Douglas threw the knife to the ground and was then allegedly attacked by a number of officers. The police treatment of the man was described as “beyond belief” by one of several people who witnessed the incident. According to a PCA press release (5.12.95) “he was found not breathing” in his cell an hour later. “Although the post-mortem . . . revealed that he had died of heart failure, the inquest into his death showed that he had been held face-down with his hands cuffed behind his back on four different occasions.36
This case sparked off what became known as the Brixton Riots: “Violence was triggered by a standoff between the police and about 100 demonstrators. Witnesses have reported hearing groups of black youths shouting “Killers, killers” at the police.”37
Most adults are aware that the British State commit acts of terrorism in the privacy of overseas countries. They may quibble on the terminology and definitions but not on the essentials. They will accept that it is very difficult to disassociate the history of the British Empire with the history of terrorism Some cannot accept that the State also commits acts of terrorism at home upon sections of its own population; in general black people; people from the Indian-subContinent, immigrants and asylum-seekers. Yet there is nothing more clear when the evidence is examined. In the late 1980s Amnesty International published a report which includes their summation of what constitutes a political killing:
Political killings are carried out by order of the government or with its complicity in different parts of the world and in countries of widely differing ideologies . . . [We call] these unlawful and deliberate killings political because victims are selected by reason of their real or imputed beliefs or activities, [their] religion, colour, sex, language or ethnic origin. [It] flouts the absolute principle that governments must protect their citizens against arbitrary deprivation of life, which cannot be abandoned under any circumstances, however grave. It is [their] duty not to commit or condone political killings, but to take all legislative, executive and judicial measures to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. Governments are responsible for these crimes under national and international law.38
Not only are British State authorities not “taking measures to prevent further deaths,” on the contrary, the measures they are taking continue to set the conditions that more people will die, that more “extrajudicial executions” will go unpunished, in the line of duty.
The denial of justice amounts to an attack on those who seek it. Attacks can be physical assaults, violent assaults, including killing people. Obvious examples of State employees paid to defend injustice in this extreme manner are the police and the military; security agencies and so-called “elite units” like the Territorial Support Group (TSG), which replaced the one that killed Blair Peach. A report from 2010 indicated that “TSG officers had been the subject of 5,000 complaint allegations – mostly for ‘oppressive behaviour’ – between 2005 and 2009. Only nine – less than 0.18% – were ‘substantiated’ after an investigation by the force’s complaints department . . . “39 The uniformed and civilian-clothed criminals who perform these acts of barbarism on behalf of the British authorities are using practices and procedures laid down by the British authorities themselves.
In the identification of illegal immigrants racial origin is the primary piece of circumstantial evidence. Tens of thousands of ordinary citizens are conscripted into the British State security system as paid-informers. This is not a secret service activity. It is just a job. It is part of their job description that they are to be racists, 8 a.m. through 6 p.m. The British State pays them to be racist as others are paid to drive buses. Are those who are paid to be racist expected to stop being a racist at the end of the working day? Do they return to humanity on their way home from work?
Home Secretary Michael Howard should have been prosecuted on a charge of fomenting racist violation. Through the work of that particular piece of legislation hundreds of thousands of people walk in fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Difference is suspect. Anyone who is different is under suspicion. Anyone who looks like ‘them’ rather than ‘us’ is the primary target. This is what hundreds of thousands of people are paid to do. And if they don’t like it they should look for another job, or get used to the split-personality syndrome.
Oddly enough, this is how society operates, and how it has been operating. This is seen in other forms of infrastructural prejudice, as for example in the struggle by victims of industrial disease, accident or injury to secure what society had advised them were their rights and entitlements. Once they enter a claim in this regard they learn a more harsh reality. What society supposes and the British State proposes are completely different. One offers hope, the other dashes it. The State does not deny that these rights and entitlements exist: they simply place the burden of proof on the citizen to prove that such a right or entitlement applies to their own particular claim. If their entitlement is found then they have nothing to fear.
The idea of the split- or dual- personality of State employees is what we take for granted. It is a cliche. Everyone is familiar with the good cop, bad cop routine. Each bends the rules; one to favour the individual being punished, the other to increase the torment.
The important factor introduced by this is the idea that discretion exists. Discretionary powers are fundamental to the continuation of tyrannies. The existence of such powers create the idea that things will improve if we play our cards right. We mollify the bully. Society is based on this. We don’t rebel too strongly against authority otherwise they’ll set the dog on us, the bad cop. Better we take the bone, touch the forelock, allow ourselves to be pacified; here’s a sugar-coated lollipop, there’s a good fellow, just clock in from 8 till 6, after that you can live your life.
Public debate on politically sensitive areas are forced on the authorities. The value of campaigning lies in the spread of knowledge and making information available. It is the campaign itself that makes the news. Not the tragedy. There are countless tragedies. The world is full of tragedy. Avoiding tragedy is a daily event for hundreds of thousands of people. Immigrants and asylum-seekers are killed on numerous occasions. This is why demonstrations, days-of-protest, benefit events and other shows of solidarity are so important. There is no other way. Don’t appeal to the perpetrator. Make them stop. Nothing changes by its own accord. Media coverage of crimes of racial harassment are sporadic, provoking little discussion, no discourse, no attempt at analysis. Individual incidents of racist violation might be reported but so what if nothing occurs beyond that? The State default position is silence and the mainstream media, in general, colludes in this by what it omits to discuss.
The one fact clearly established by the existence of the Lawrence Family Campaign was its necessity. Without the campaign there was nothing. The guilty parties were free and the State forces of law and order had escaped censure yet again. The dire reality of what the family of Stephen Lawrence had to endure would have gone unremarked.
Campaigns function on the commitment of individual volunteers. The elemental work, energy and emotion is expended on a voluntary basis. People commit to justice and to those who seek it, and this is why they lend support. There is one basic and, for some, strangely surprising conclusion to be drawn, that campaigns organized by families, friends and support groups have only one aim which is justice, they seek justice.
The quest for justice lies at the root of every campaign. One side seeks justice. The other side seeks to deny justice; there is no act of mercy; no sympathy, no empathy; no humanitarian instinct. No one denies justice through any humanitarian motivation. The side who act in defence of injustice do so in the line of duty. They get paid for their efforts. If a Department of State is tyrannical then its employees perform as tyrants during working hours. If a government department or institution is racist its employees perform as racists. This is no theoretical exercise. Their job is to beat justice, in the line of duty. This will be systematic, enmeshed in working practices, laid out in policy and strategy documents; advanced clinically and cynically, in the line of duty. They are paid to sublimate and ignore their own humanity, in the line of duty. Their employers are the British State.
Family campaigns for justice are never about “law and order”. What comes first is the tragedy, not the lesson to be learned. The Whitehall and United Kingdom Governments are very aware of this but seem unable to act on it. This was illustrated by the flawed terms of reference of the MacPherson Inquiry. But was it a flaw? For British State authority it was basic to exclude human beings from the argument. Exclusion is its root, the very foundation, the heart of the whole benighted process.
It takes a while to grasp what clarifies eventually as the obvious: in any struggle for justice the British State is always the opposition. Its authorities act in defence of injustice until there is nowhere else to hide. They do it in the line of duty. There is no alternative. It is their job. Whether they can return to humanity outside working hours is a weird kind of question. I’m sure somebody will have a go at answering. The worst is what happens within.40
3 Jack Straw makes this point himself. He had known the Daily Mail’s editor for several years.
6 See 1.5 of the MacPherson Inquiry as ref above
7 The full Report of the MacPherson Inquiry at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/277111/4262.pdf
9 See Making Anti-Racial Discrimination Law: A Comparative History of Social Action and Anti-Racial Discrimination Law, by Iyiola Solanke. I discussed matters on evidence-gathering relevant to this in my essay, Attack on These People not Racist, says British State.
11 The Artists in Solidarity [AIS] network organised this.
12 For further information see my essay Attack on These People Not Racist, say the British State.
13 Ibid, the same essay: Attack on These People Not Racist, say the British State.
14 Tom Leonard and myself took part in the benefit night. It went ahead a couple of months after my novel A Disaffection had reached the short list of the Booker Prize award. Some of this was worked into press releases but made scarce a ripple!
15 see “New Zealand History” https://nzhistory.govt.nz/page/blair-peach-killed-london
19 See my essay Attack not Racist, say British State, refers to Guardian, 13 December 1989 and the case of ‘Ramesh K.’ annd the abuse meted out to himself and his family..
20 Thefamily’s legal team was led by Mike Mansfield QC, assisted by Imran Khan.
21 From a a campaign press release.
22 See note 10
23 See the Report of the MacPherson Inquiry for this quotation, referenced to Parliament by Jack Straw, then Home Secretary.
24 See para b1.11 of the MacPherson Report
26 Cited in Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Joy_Gardner
27 As a result of the MacPherson Inquiry the old “double-jeopardy” ruling was to be consigned to the dustbin.
28 See socialequality.org.uk of the World Socialist web
29 Joy Gardner’s mother Myra is quoted here. See https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/joy-gardner-25-years-after-crouch-end-woman-died-in-police-custody-her-mother-still-wants-justice-1-5623789
30 For a fuller account of this see http://www.irr.org.uk/news/accidental-death-during-immigration-raid-says-inquest-jury/
32 The incident took place in March 1996, see Statewatch 3, vol. 7, no. 6, November December 1997 for a report on the inquest.
33 This information from my original Guardian article.
37 See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1995_Brixton_riot#cite_note-4 for further information.
38 Political Killings by Governments, introduced by Theo C. van Bowen, former Director of the United Nations Division of Human Rights (Amnesty International, 1983).
40 For further information on what occurred beyond the Committal Proceedings in 1995 please check out https://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Stephen-Lawrence-Timeline.pdf.