1 – 2 June Update

POLICING

Disproportionate numbers of ethnic minority groups in London were fined for alleged breaches of lockdown, figures of the Metropolitan Police show: 48.6% were issued to Black & Asian individuals. Between March 27 and May 14, 26% of fines (253) were issued to black people, who make up 12% of the capital’s population. Asian people were given 22.6% of fines (220) though they represent 18% of Londoners. Black people were also more likely to be arrested for Covid-19 offences & crimes where C-19 breaches were suspected, BBC’s Danny Shaw wrote.

This is extremely hugh even compared to the national figures which suggest a high proportion of black and Asian being fined under the lockdown laws – see Adam Wagner’s thread for details we published earlier.

Is this disproportionality inherited from stop and search? Channel4 News Simon Israel asks. This is not a rethorical question. With the amount of cases pulled together for this diairy, we knew this level of disroportionality was extremely likely. Racial profiling by police in Britain is not a myth.

Many people at the demonstrations on Sunday expressed anger and frustration at the increased use of stop and search. The Met has increased stop and searches by 50% in a year. In April 2019 Met officers carried out 20,981 stops. This April, with lockdown fully in place, the Met carried out 30,608 stops, against 20,981 in the same month last year. The Met says one in five searches led to further action.

Coronavirus police powers must be narrowed to stop racial disproportionality; Netpol was one of the 20 signatories to the letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock coordinated by @libertyhq, @OSFJustice & @StopWatchUK.

Abena Oppong-Asare MP has also written to the Home Office to address abuse of police powers urgently.

Jovan Nepaul, the chair of Lewisham Deptford constituency Labour party, wrote to the Mayor of Lewisham and the three MP’s for the borough of Lewisham, expressing his concern about “the disproportionate policing of black people in our area” after an ambulance driver waiting for his friend in south London was stopped and searched recently.

Lawyers call for police investigation into Dominic Cummings affair to be reopened and extended – in this piece ‘The trials of Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson’ by Mike Schwarz and his new colleagues at Hodge, Jones & Allen sollicitors.

The publication of Public Health England’s findings on a disproportionate death toll among ethnic minorities has been delayed so not continue to flare up racial tensions. The fact that information that could save BAME lives was held back, because people are too angry about the futility of black lives caused a wave of outrage on social media. The belated publishing Report led to calls for a proper government response.

The government has rushed through new regulations on Sunday, before Parliament had had a chance to look at it. Alex Nice at the Institute for Goverment explains why the government should should stop avoiding parliamentary scrutiny of the laws that give effect to them.

SURVEILLANCE

Minnesota’s public safety commissioner, John Harrington, said in a press conference Sunday that police were starting to contact-trace the demonstrators they’ve arrested, to see what platforms and organisations they were linked to. He used white supremacsists as an example, but ‘antifa’ might very well be added soon, now that Trump has tweeted he wants them designated as a terrorist organisation. Contact tracing is a public health effort to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, using phone apps and interviewing people. The biggest hurdle is gaining public trust.

“Any blurring of police work with contact tracing can undermine public health”, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said on Monday. Interrogating arrested protesters about their beliefs and associations is a longstanding police practice. So is social media surveillance by police of dissident movements. We must not allow police to “COVID wash” controversial police practices.

RESOURCES

Alex Vitale asks why we think policing is the answer to so many social problems and proposes a way to change the situation. The answer to police violence is not ‘reform’. It’s defunding. Here’s why. His book The End of Policing is now free to download at Verso Books.

Great video made by the Rainbow Collective of the #BlackLivesMatter protests in London, Trafalgar Sq, Sun 31 May, in solidarity with US protesters. Highlighting racism in society, justice system & the number of BAME people who have died at the hands of British police. And here is an impression by Real Media.  (Next protests: 6 Jun, 1pm, Parliament Sq; 7 Jun 2pm, US Embassy.)

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