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South London Legal Surgery

This Summer the London Campaign Against Police Violence and StopWatch are launching a monthly legal surgery in South London to support the local community in making complaints and taking legal action against the police. To do this, we need people to get involved who can volunteer a small amount of their time to support victims of police violence in their demand for justice. Volunteering your time will be vital to the success of this project, and will be a rewarding way of fighting injustice where you live.

What’s the context?

Violence, harrassment, intimidation, discrimination and racism are all serious issues that the police in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham have continuously failed to address for the last hundred years. It has long been acknowledged that the Metropolitan Police are institutionally racist, and have done little to change this state of affairs since the murder of Stephen Lawrence over twenty years ago.

In the last few years, LCAPSV has dealt with everything from racial profiling, to the misuse of stop and search powers, to the use of the controversial ‘hard stop’ tactic and the application of a punitive anti-gang initiative in Lambeth named ‘Operation Shield’. Each of these is an instance of racist and abusive policing oppressing BME communities in South London. We believe it is important to build the capacity and institutions that help to resist this history of oppression. To do this effectively it is vital to provide support for people who are the victim of injustice and want to seek redress.

What are our aims?

One way to combat this problem is to increase the volume of complaints being made, and increase the support complainants are given when they want to demand justice from the police. We can do this by providing a legal surgery that addresses police abuse as a political issue, giving free assistance and support so that complaints are harder to dismiss.It is also important to make complaints of abuse against the police a bigger deal through increased protest and publicity. We can also encourage people with more serious complaints to find professional, committed lawyers who are particularly good at holding the police to account through the legal system.

The more complaints that we support, the more we will also be able to build up a picture of the state of policing across South London, and particular areas or activities of concern to the local community.
To do this, LCAPSV and StopWatch are setting up a legal surgery where a mixture of professional lawyers and trained ‘buddies’ can support people making a complaint, and help them find the best course of action for getting justice.
What is a buddy?
Buddies can be anybody, with any or no level of previous experience. The most important thing is to be committed to opposing the racist and abusive policing of South London’s communities, and willingness to share a small amount of your time to make this happen.

Buddies will be given training by lawyers whose expertise is in actions against the police. They will also be supported and advised at thesurgeries by these lawyers.

Buddies will be expected to give up some of their time to attend at least two or three surgeries a year, and to provide support to individuals who are making complaints (such as drafting statements, attending meetings with lawyers, helping with correspondence).

How you can help?

Sign up to be a buddy! Once you’ve done that, we’ll be in contact about providing training and support so that you know what you’re doing, and how to help the people coming to the surgery for support.

Being a buddy doesn’t mean attending every surgery every month, and at the lowest estimate shouldn’t take up more than a couple of hours a month.

Where cases are more serious, more time a month (up to 10 hours) may be needed, but we can share these out together so nobody feels overwhelmed or isolated.

Everything will be monitored and supported by the legal team, and the LCAPSV casework support officers.

Next steps

Contact lcapsv@gmail.com to register your interest or to ask any further questions.

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The London Campaign Against Police and State Violence 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. This could include intrusions such as constant stop and search, or physical violence, or the everyday stress of being made to feel you somehow have to account for yourself and your experiences of racism. We’re now back from our Easter break and we’ve planned a great line-up of Black British films for the spring and summer months.

We kick off this new run with Menelik Shabazz’s classic 1981 film Burning an Illusion. Burning an Illusion is about a young British-born Black woman’s love life, mostly shot in London’s Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove communities. It was only the second British feature to have been made by a black director, following Horace Ové’s 1975 Pressure, and is described by Stephen Bourne as “the first British film to give a black woman a voice of any kind.” Burning an Illusion is notable for breaking the tradition of placing white males at the centre of the story. It is also unique in prioritizing the personal drama of a black woman over the socio-economic and political conflicts traditionally associated with such films. As Ade Solanke writes: “Like all drama, the film is about characters facing conflicts. But unlike most dramas about black people up till then, for most of the story it dramatises personal conflicts, not socio-economic or political ones.” (from Wikipedia) We’ll follow Burning an Illusion with Shabazz’s short film ‘Blood Ah Goh Run’, which documents the impact of the New Cross massacre in 1981.

Fruitvale Film Club takes place at “The Field” in New Cross on the last Sunday of every month at 3pm and will last a few hours. We’ve shown a diverse range of films so far (Fruitvale Station, Pressure, Candyman, Poetic Justice and the anti-psychiatric abuse documentary Whose Mind is it Anyway – John’s Story). Anyone is welcome at our events and anyone is welcome to suggest future films for us to show and discuss.

You can find the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1580467362266597/

We will be ending the year with two final events to mark the end of 2015:

CANDYMAN AT FRUITVALE FILM CLUB

Sunday 27th December, 3pm at The Field, 385 New Cross Road, London SE14 5HD
Fruitvale Film Club presents CandyMan – made in 1992, it is about the ghost of a lynched Black man who takes revenge on anyone who calls him by his name. Join us in (re)discovering the film in a friendly atmosphere.

FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1031749636864894/

BRIXTON PRISON DEMO: MAKE SOME NOISE

Friday 31st December, 6pm
HMP Brixton

HOSTED BY:
– London Campaign Against Police Violence
– Defend the Right to Protest
– NUS Black Students
– Black Dissidents
– Community Action on Prison Expansion

Noise demos outside of prisons are a continuing tradition across the world. A way of expressing solidarity for people imprisoned during the New Year, remembering those held captive by the state. A noise demo breaks the isolation and alienation of the cells our enemies create, but it does not have to stop at that. It is time to imagine a world without incarceration, without detention, without racism and injustice.

The proportion of people of African-Caribbean and African descent incarcerated here is almost seven times greater to their share of the population. In the United States, the proportion of black prisoners to population is about four times greater.

FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1650029808594377/

In North London there will be a demo at 8pm Pentonville Prison and 9.30pm at Holloway Prison https://www.facebook.com/events/483674028483728/

Hope to see you there!

Content Note: Video footage of an aggressive arrest on a man of South Asian heritage

On Sunday 19th December, a young man of South Asian heritage is accosted by Thames Valley Police in the Buckinghamshire area.

The Police asked for his details, he was under no legal obligation to provide it unless he was driving a car. Apparently the Police forcefully and perhaps unnecessarily put him on the ground to arrest him and claimed that his refusal to identify himself was the reason for the arrest, on these facts alone, we believe this arrest is unlawful. We post the video, purely for the audio as the footage is poor and will support any further action the man decided to take against Thames Valley Police.

Watch for yourself and share this video.

By Stafford Scott

Following the fatal shooting of Jermaine Baker and with the subsequent on going homicide investigation by the IPCC, the Peace Alliance and Tottenham Rights will be hosting a community meeting to address any emerging community concerns.

This will be held at 6:30pm on Thursday 17th December 2015 at the Tottenham Town Hall, Town Hall Approach, London, N15 4RY.

The IPCC will be in attendance along with Haringey Council and the Metropolitan Police. The local MPs have been invited and will most likely be In attendance. The solicitors for Jermaine Baker’s family will be attending  and continue to urge that the media respect the wishes of the family for privacy.

This Sunday, come and join London Campaign Against Police & State Violence for end of year drinks and refreshments!

Date & Time: Sunday 13th December, 3pm – 7pm
Location: Hootananny, 95 Effra Road, Brixton, SW2 1DF
Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/196162920722876/

All newcomers will be offered a free beverage of their choice and have an opportunity to speak with our activists and organisers.

Throughout the year, LCAPSV has continued to support several individuals who faced bogus charges of police obstruction and assaulting a Police Officer, in all of these cases they resulted in those charges being either dropped or acquitted.

We have also worked with others to lead a campaign against Operation Shield, a police pilot enabling the police to evict families from social housing on the basis of suspicion of criminal activity. Two councils since have officially claimed to have pulled out, read about that here

In May, we worked with Defend the Right to Protest and NUS Black Students Campaign to hold a vigil for Julian Cole and Freddie Gray

Below is a video from the vigil:

In August, we ran our Brixton Splash Cop Watch for the second year with volunteers and monitored police activity.

In October, we worked with Cherry Groce’s family to hold a memorial event for the 30th anniversary of her shooting and our members exposed that zero complaints about police racism were upheld over the last 12 months.

We have also worked to run lunch clubs with Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth and now our own Fruitvale Film clubs at the Field in New Cross

2016 will come with more challenges not least due to the new powers to search drivers for immigration status under the Government’s Immigration Bill 2015-16.

We hope you can join us to reflect over the year and look towards the new one!

Below is LCAPSV’s introductory text for Reclaim Justice Network’s event: Abolition or Reform? Dismantling Criminal Justice, which is next Thursday, 6:30pm at University College London. More details here: https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/event-abolition-or-reform-dismantling-criminal-justice-19-november-2015/

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London Campaign Against Police & State Violence came together after our Chair, Steffney’s son had been Tasered, sprayed with CS gas and severely beaten for being black while in a public phone-box. Steffney made a call for a community response and people gathered to support her son’s appearance at a South London police station, as he faced charges. Eventually he was acquitted of all charges against him.

Her son’s case was a familiar one, predominately young black men being harassed, assaulted, even killed by police officers. Only for the victim of police brutality to be charged as if they were the aggressor.

We are interested in criminal justice because it directly affects us, black people are disproportionately represented at every level. This is inseparable from structural racism in housing, health, employment, education and more. Today we live in a society in which black people are the most likely to be expelled from school, become unemployed, stop and searched, Tasered, stripped-searched by police, prison staff and airport immigration, convicted and receive the harshest sentences including imprisonment.

We deem these outcomes not just as class oppression but also as white British supremacist, where white British people are at the top of a social hierarchy and the black is at the bottom. The governing structures that produce these outcomes are founded upon racialised laws and enforcement, exemplified particularly by drug laws. By racialised, we mean that power is constructed in a way that makes black life and particularly black Muslim life at the moment, targeted as suspect. It is not hoodies, nor the music that we create that criminalises us, to be black is to be regarded criminal by default.

We are for reform in the short-term and radical change in the long term, but if we eliminated these racial biases in the system, we would still be campaigning. We do not seek an equality of violence within the criminal justice system. We want to end the violence that it creates and perpetuates.