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Monthly Archives: July 2016

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London Campaign Against Police and State Violence would like to announce a Stop and Search / Information Sharing to be held on Sunday 31st July at 2pm at The Field, New Cross (the hour before our monthly Fruitvale Film Club).

The role of this workshop is to provide practical training on your rights and how most effectively to deal with police Stop and Search tactics. Alongside this we will also be hearing from groups such as HASL, East End Sisters Uncut and passing on information about our upcoming Legal Surgeries.

If you are planning on coming to our screening of “The Story of Lovers Rock” at 3pm, please do consider turning up an hour earlier at 2pm for what will be an informative and practical session.

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On Tuesday 19th July 2016 the news cycle came to be dominated by the latest case of fevered panic over the social life of young black people in London. Front page headlines declared “the worst outbreak of youth violence since 2011 riots”. Online news feeds purported to show the moment when “mobs of youths” turned Hyde Park into a “warzone”. Since last Tuesday’s events, police officers across boroughs in London have been issuing hysterical warnings about “organised water fights in parks”.

In spite of the scant detail available about the events on the evening of Tuesday 19th, the consistent line to be pulled from the hyperbole of media reporting on the incident is that this was a peaceful gathering of young people who had organised a free event in an easily accessible public place. Again, these reports state that it was only when the police arrived in order to disperse the group that the disturbances began. We believe there is a direct causal link here. On one side the peaceful gathering of young people in order to enjoy a public park on the hottest day of the year at the start of their school holidays. On the other side the arrival of riot police to forcefully disperse this group, using their full array of weaponry.

Such actions on the part of the Metropolitan Police (MPS) are not without precedent, and in fact we would argue they are a structural feature of London policing. Historically the MPS have shown at best distrust – at worst open hostility – towards the convergence of young black people trying to take part in self-organised leisure activities. One example of this structural distrust from the past decade is Form 696, a piece of bar and nightclub licensing legislation which has been used to effectively remove the performance of Grime music from London’s nightlife. Whilst little to no evidence or accountability is given on the part of the MPS when putting Form 696 into action, it works on the lazy assumption that the music of young black working-class people presents an inherent threat to public order. Looking back even further, we can point to the case of the Mangrove Nine. The Mangrove was a Caribbean restaurant, bar and club designed to serve the needs of the local black community in Notting Hill during the 1960s. Consistently raided by the police for little reason other than its role as a social centre, a march by its patrons to protest against police harassment led to the arrest and charging of nine people.

We believe the incident at Hyde Park on Monday evening can be considered the latest in this pattern of institutionally racist behaviour when it comes to the policing of young black people in London. By extension, we fear that this police induced disturbance represents the latest manifestation of a renewed period of intensified brutality. London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan has signed off on 400 new armed police to patrol the streets, but the idea that this is intended to secure the ‘safety’ of Londoners is ludicrous. An increase of police guns on the streets clearly endangers the lives of working-class black, brown and immigrant communities who have to deal with abuse and harassment by the MPS and Immigration Enforcement officers on a daily basis.

According to the most recently available figures, black people are stopped and searched at just over three times the rate of white people across London and are three times more likely to be tasered by police officers. More black people are imprisoned in England and Wales as a proportion of the general population than in the U.S. However, the MPS time and again proves itself entirely incapable of providing avenues for black people to seek justice or accountability for this systemic violence: an investigation conducted by LCAPSV found that none of the 240 complaints of racial discrimination made against the MPS over a year were upheld. This is not the case of a few rotten apples, the MPS is institutionally racist and a danger to young black people in London.

Finally, we also note that during the disturbances sparked by the arrival of police in Hyde Park that people began chanting “Black Lives Matter”. This is no coincidence: recent weeks have seen the emergence of a BLM UK solidarity movement and demonstrations across the UK. This movement not only seeks to highlight police violence and murder in the U.S. but also speak to the 1561 people who have died in custody in the UK, or following other contact with police, since 1990, for which no police officer has ever been convicted. The dire consequences of this situation was made even more apparent following the recent death in police custody of Mzee Mohammed in Liverpool. As is often the case with the deaths of black and brown people at the hands of the police in this country, little to no information has been released on Mohammed’s death and no action has been taken against officers. For us the chants of “Black Lives Matter” during the altercations with police on Monday evening shows us that young black people are conscious, active and politicised in the U.K. They do not deserve the hysterical demonisation they have received in the media. Instead they deserve our solidarity, respect and support.

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The London Campaign Against Police and State Violence is a friends- and family-led campaign group opposing all forms of police and state brutality against communities in London and beyond. We put on a monthly free film screening at “The Field” in New Cross, to provide a space where it is possible to enjoy an interesting movie but also to share and discuss experiences of violence, objectification, oppression and harassment.

For our July screening we will be showing The Story of Lover’s Rock by Menelik Shabazz. This documentary deals with the Lover’s Rock genre of UK reggae that emerged in South London during the late 1970s and 1980s. Notable for its romantic ballads and the prominence given to a number of young Black British women artists in the scene, the genre is one of the gems of bass culture.

For more details about the film and the scene, see this from the reggae historian David Katz:

“Lover’s rock emerged in the mid-1970s, when the owners of London’s soundsystems began cutting romantic ballads with young women singing: Count Shelly issued Ginger Williams’s Tenderness in 1974, only to be surpassed the following year by 14-year-old Louisa Mark’s Caught You in a Lie, a peculiar rendition of an obscure soul song, put together by Bovell for Lloydie Coxsone’s soundsystem. The emerging genre solidified after a Jamaican immigrant, Dennis Harris, opened a recording studio in south-east London, with Dennis Bovell and guitarist John Kpiaye as the in-house players. They crafted reggae cover versions of Motown and Philadelphia soul ballads with vocals from TT Ross, Cassandra and the harmony trio Brown Sugar, featuring future Soul II Soul vocalist Caron Wheeler. Once Harris formed a label called Lover’s Rock, borrowing the name from an Augustus Pablo dub B-side, the new music had its name.

“The name came from the record label, in the same way that early ska in this country was named after the Blue Beat label,” says Linton Kwesi Johnson, the reggae poet whose regular backing band has featured Bovell and Kpiaye since the late 1970s. “It was a way to give women a voice in reggae music in Britain, and an alternative to the social commentary of the male-dominated productions. Like British reggae in general, lover’s rock provided cultural continuity for the second generation [of black Britons], albeit with a distinctive British sound.”

All are welcome on Sunday 31st July at 3pm for the screening at The Field which will be followed by discussion and refreshments.