After last Saturday’s “Reclaim these streets” vigil for Sarah Everard, against men’s violence towards women, police violence hit the headlines.
The mainly middle class women who came together in Clapham via social media, got a shock when police waded into them so aggressively, up close and personal. Under the pretext of upholding a law meant to protect against Covid transmission, the cops broke it.
Yet police violence is something that black youth experience every day when stopped and searched. It’s endemic: last year, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, there were 18 deaths in, or following, police custody, 3 suspects shot and killed, 24 deaths related to police chases, and 54 “apparent suicides” following police custody. Plus another 107 “other” deaths after contact with the police.
What else is this, except being “man”handled, beaten up, or murdered outright by cops who know they’re protected by the system? And they are. Police don’t get convicted for killing their “suspects”. Think of Mark Duggan. Or Jean Charles de Menezes, who, on Cressida Dick’s orders, was shot 7 times because police mistook him for a terror suspect. Dick may have been called to resign over last Saturday’s incident. But despite her role in the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, she was promoted to Met Chief.
And, now Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - having its 2nd reading in the House - will give cops even more powers. It will also increase custodial sentences, and add new ones, e.g., for defacing statues! As those who (futilely) call for “law reform” to protect women, pointed out: the word “statue” appears 8 times in this Bill, and the word “woman” not once! Evidently this Bill is Patel’s “revenge” against Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion protestors, who were able to outwit her “men (and women) in blue” last year!
The role of the police and the law in this society has always been to protect the propertied rich from the poor and propertyless, while they bully, beat up, and act against the poor - and particularly black poor - with impunity. The same Bill even creates a new offence of “residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle”, specifically targeted against Travellers... and pensioners in campervans?
While there may be no point in begging for “reform” of a system whose aim is to defend the social order of the rich, there is every reason to join forces to defend our class, women and men of all ethnicities together, until such day as we can achieve the social revolution which will finally liberate all of us from all of these forms of oppression.
12 months later - a general working class “lock-down” needed!
Exactly a year ago this week, Johnson’s government imposed its first - too late - lockdown against Covid, claiming to be “following science”.
In the light of the current “halt” placed on rolling out the AstraZeneca vaccine, by so many EU governments, without real grounds, the question has to be asked, does any government really “follow science”?
In fact here in Britain it is “modellers” from SPI-M, the “Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling”, who lead the decision-making. Today they admit they didn’t know what they were dealing with 12 months ago.
Of course they didn’t. They are neither virus nor disease experts. Modelling is based on statistics, i.e., on number-crunching. Has everyone forgotten the saying that “there are lies, damn lies... and statistics”? Yes, data can be manipulated and used selectively to prove what you want it to prove. Which is why it has to stand up to general scrutiny.
And from day 1 in this pandemic, the government has tried to get the modellers and their “data” to fit in with its policies, to justify the unjustifiable. Yes, to save, not lives, but the profits of British bosses - and ministers’ political skins. If these two objectives can be called “science” then words, like numbers, can be twisted to serve any purpose!
What happened after the summer proves the point. By then, nobody (least of all the modellers) could argue that they didn’t know what they were dealing with. Even when the belated lockdown came, it was anything but “stringent”- as the working class knows full well - because industry has remained open throughout and workers have caught Covid in unprecedented numbers.
Now, governments abroad, who all operate within this same money-first, human lives second, system, are using a pseudo-scientific question mark placed over the AstraZeneca vaccine, as a cover for their own inadequacy in the face of the 2nd Covid wave. Is it irresponsible towards the populations? For sure it is! Especially when so many people are already uncertain about whether to trust vaccines or not! And especially when there is a general vaccine shortage.
Would politicians really try to control vaccine demand in such a cynical way? Of course they would. Here in Britain, where Covid deaths have reached 126,000 - more than any country in Europe - the working class has learnt through a bitter 12 months’ experience to put nothing past the politicians and the bosses they protect. We know that we will have to save our own lives and livelihoods, and that the only way to do so, is through our collective fightback. And the sooner the better.