- Created: Tuesday, 15 November 2016 14:55
- Written by Manchester correspondent
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 1 – November/December 1979
Every day, in every town, the British state pursues its campaign of harassment against black people. As the following three cases show, no black person is safe — the old, the sick, the young — all are victims of this campaign. We are publishing the following reports of police harassment not because they represent something exceptional but precisely because they are normal and typical examples of what black people are suffering. What the police did at Southall on April 23rd they did on one day in one concerted attack. What they have done to the X family, whose case is reported below, they have done over a period of years. The results for the X family are as shattering as those suffered by the victims of April 23rd in Southall. The X family now has one son in prison, one son facing charges and one son who is threatened with spending the rest of his life in a mental institution.
These attacks cannot be explained by the racism of individual policemen. No doubt the police are racist bullies. Only people of a brutish nature could be attracted to work in the police force. But that is not the main point. The fact is that such attacks are being carried out systematically. They form part of the British state's campaign against black people. British imperialism, having forced black people to be the victims of a racist society must then use its state, its police and courts to contain and control all threats of resistance and rebellion. It must use every weapon in its extensive armoury to attempt to crush resistance and grind black people down. The weapons, as well as immigration laws, Sus laws, frame ups, beatings by police, also include unofficial encouragement to the gangs of white racists who have been responsible for numerous murderous attacks against black people.
The view of the British state was made clear by Metropolitan Police Commissioner McNee when he said: ‘If you keep off the streets and behave yourselves you won't have the SPG to worry about.'
When black people organise to fight racism the British state is threatened and therefore unleashes the frenzied assault that we saw at Southall on April 23rd. But even when black people are simply going about their daily business they are regarded as a threat and a menace. Like warders fearing rebellion by the prisoners in some foul gaol, the British police interpret every action by black people, walking on the streets, looking in a shop window, as threatening. The use of Sus laws against black youths shows that for the British state every black person is suspicious. The result, as the following cases show, is that black people on the street and in their homes are subjected to a harrowing process of harassment and intimidation.
A recent case shows that for the British police, the encouragement of the activities of racist 'irregulars', as in the case of the Virk brothers, is not enough. On June 2 this year, Lindi Toussaint was repairing his car outside his home in East London when he was approached by two policemen. They demanded evidence of ownership of the car which he gave to them, upon which one of the policemen called Lindi a 'clever nigger'. Lindi objected to this racist abuse, at which point the police officers proceeded to search his car. Finding a piece of rag and a funnel, they accused him of syphoning petrol from other vehicles. When Lindi refused to accompany them to the police station on the basis of this trumped-up charge, the police attempted to force him to their car. Lindi's younger brother, Kennis (16), on hearing the noise, rushed out of the house and was coshed over the head by one of the police-men, causing a severe head wound. Within minutes the street was full of police. The two brothers, one of them by now badly injured, ran indoors and were pursued by the police who battered down the door, severely frightening the Toussaint's sister who is handicapped. The brothers were then arrested.
Later, Mr Toussaint, on learning all this, went to the police station and was himself threatened with arrest for demanding to know the grounds of his sons' arrests. Kennis Toussaint was left without medical attention to his head wound for 24 hours.
The Toussaint brothers are now charged with Actual Bodily Harm and theft of a police truncheon. This incident is not a rare or extreme occurrence. It is a fact of life in Britain today that black youth, going about their everyday business, become in the eyes of the police potential criminals. Their everyday possessions become, at the whim of the police, the tools of potential crime. The Newham Defence Committee are taking up the Toussaint case and are asking for support
POLICE HARASSMENT IN MANCHESTER
The following report details police harassment and racist attacks on one black family in Manchester. These attacks are only a small part of what the family has suffered at the hands of the police in the last few months. They show the day to day reality of state racism for black people in Britain today.
In July the police gained access to the family's home by pretending a piece of card was a warrant. They then deliberately smashed in the front door, broke windows and smashed open the bedroom door. R describes what happened then:
‘I was asleep under the sheets, they pulled the sheets off me, dragged me out of bed, and said, "Get out of bed you black bastard." I said, "There's no need for that, why didn't you just tell me to get out of bed?" He was going on giving cheek and my mam was going mad there, so he pushed her. I told him to leave her alone. He said, "What are you going to do about it?" I said, "I can't do anything at the moment, but one day " They dragged me down the stairs and when they got me outside, one of the coppers was choking me. The other copper said, "Hey, you're choking him." He said, "Never mind." And carried on. He punched me in the eye seven or eight times, then they threw me in the Black Maria. They pulled my mam in and tried to arrest her.
We got down to the station, got out of the Black Maria and they had my arms twisted behind my back. There was one of them in front of me and as I was walking in he was back-heeling me in the shins. They got me in the cell and they started asking me about so-and-so, and I don't even know these people. Then this copper starts hitting me in the same eye, then he said, "I'm sorry, I'll hit you in the other eye instead!" I couldn't do nothing about it. After that we got charged (for stealing forty cigarettes). We came out and all four police were standing there laughing, "I wonder how he got that eye?" My eye was blood-shot for a week and I couldn't do nothing about it.
Mrs X, R's mother, who is white, was subjected to racist abuse by the police who called her a 'nigger lover' and told her ‘You'll do well if the NF gets in, you and your niggers.' She also suffered severe bruising to the foot because of a beating with a police truncheon.
Mr X, R's father told what happened when he sent a younger son S, to the shops recently.
‘I sent him one afternoon, the mother was at work, to the shops to get a tin of stewing steak and some potatoes. He was looking in the window to see what the prices were and the police saw him and picked him up. They picked him up just for looking in the shop window and I had sent him for some groceries.'
This son was held overnight and charged, the police claiming that he was about to break into the shop. The police regularly harass this young man, picking him up, holding him for a few hours then releasing him with no charges. Because of such harassment it has become impossible for young men like S and R to walk the streets. In the shopping centre black youths are constantly moved on by the police.
R says, 'You can't do nothing there, they shift you on sight. That's why I stopped going there. Now it's getting the same in the town.'
Mr X sums it up: 'When the black lads decide to go to the disco, you'll find they go around and knock on doors, calling for their mates. They don't dare go out on their own anymore at night. If it's not the white lads it's the coppers. Somewhere along the line they get hounded.'
Only occasionally a major police assault on black people, such as at Southall, is reported in the press. Yet every day the police force shows itself to be racist from top to bottom. As a major agency of the British imperialist, racist state, the police force continually abuses, terrorises and assaults black people, then drags them before the courts for imprisonment on trumped-up charges.
The following account is an example of police racism and the methods they employ to try and convict the victims of such attacks. Just after midnight on 3 July last year, six men and a woman burst into the home of Mr Nazir Ahmed above his shop in Manchester. Two doors were smashed down, five children sleeping in the house were terrified, and, as Nazir tried to ring the Police for help, the phone was ripped off the wall. Rightly thinking themselves to be under racist attack, Nazir and his son Munir tried to defend themselves and their family. Their mistake was in thinking their attackers to be National Front, they were in fact plain-clothes police. Nazir was dragged downstairs by the police, he was beaten up and his face was ground into a metal grating. As a result he suffered cuts and bruises to the face and a cut forehead requiring eight stitches. Still believing a National Front attack to be in progress, Munir tried to defend his father. In the course of the attack not only was Nazir injured, but the children were terrified, doors broken down and the phone and furniture vandalised. Nazir and Munir were arrested, taken to Levenshulme Police station where Nazir was charged with assault on a constable and wounding with intent and Munir with carrying an offensive weapon and two counts of assault on a constable. The police then set about fabricating evidence to convict their victims on these charges, claiming that the Ahmeds knew the men were police from the outset.
There are usually only two ways that black people facing such trumped-up charges are acquitted in a British court. One is, as in the case of George Undo, that the police concerned are caught framing someone in another case; the other is what happened in this case—that the police evidence is so ridiculous and so contradictory, that the trial is stopped to protect the 'reputation' of the police.
The case came to court in July this year, and it soon became obvious that the police evidence was a pack of lies. The first contradiction in their evidence arose after Sgt Barlow claimed that Nazir had come down to the shop in answer to his knock, switched on the light, and seeing the search warrant, ran back upstairs to the flat. PC Thompson, a later police witness could not remember the light going on, and Sgt Barlow himself made no mention of the light in his written statement. The con-fusion arose because the incident never occurred, the police did not knock, they broke the door down without warning. After forcing the door to the flat the police were attacked by Nazir with a bottle and shovel, said Sgt Barlow. He was contradicted by PC Thompson who named (and described) the attacker as Munir: this is rather odd as Nazir is at least twenty years older than Munir, is several stones heavier, and has a full beard while Munir is clean shaven. Sgt Barlow next asked the court to believe that the response of the police to this vicious attack was to produce their identification and say, 'We are Police Officers, we have a warrant to search your premises'! Sgt Barlow who said that Nazir was led quietly down the stairs was contradicted by PC Thompson for the third time when Thompson said Nazir was dragged down the stairs. Fourthly Sgt Barlow denied that Nazir was shouting ‘Help, National Front!' while PC Thompson admitted that he was. The police claimed that Munir was arrested as soon as he came out of the shop to try and free his father, but a neighbour gave evidence that Munir had aroused him by knocking on his door at the time when he was allegedly under arrest six doors and a side street away. The sixth contradiction in the prosecution case concerned the phone; the police denied even seeing a phone, but a neighbour who entered the flat immediately after the Police left gave evidence that the phone lead had been torn out.
Finally Thompson claimed he charged Nazir at about 4am before going off duty at 5am, but the charge sheet (witnessed by Sgt Barry Shaw — since sacked for various irregularities) maintained he was charged at 6.10am. Everyone agreed that Nazir had been interviewed by CID man Lowmass at 5.30am. If Thompson was right, ie if Nazir was charged at 4am, Lowmass had inter-viewed Nazir after he had been charged with the offense — a breach of Judge's Rules, and Sgt Shaw had falsified the charge sheet to cover this up. At this point the Judge had two options, he could proceed with the trial, in which case one or more of the police would be shown to have falsified documents, or he could stop the trial and so cover up for the police. He chose the latter and instructed the jury to find the Ahmeds not guilty.
So this case ended in a victory, but how many hundreds of black people are in prison at the moment through the connivance of the police and the courts? The Ahmeds were spared prison only because of the contradictions in the mountain of lies, distortions, perjury and corruption that the police presented as evidence. The Ahmeds suffered physical injury, distress, anxiety, and damage to their property while their racist attackers—the police—went free. This, along with imprisonment, is what ‘British Justice' means for black people in this country.