This Black Social History is design for the education of all races about Black People Contribution to world history over the past centuries, even though its well hidden from the masses so that our children dont even know the relationship between Black People and the wealth of their history in terms of what we have contributed to make this world a better place for all.
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Sunday, 26 July 2015
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : TITTENHAM AND BROADWATER FARM - A TALE OF TWO RIOTS :
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY Tottenham and Broadwater Farm: A tale of two riots
Parallels with the Broadwater Farm riots are flawed, says Andrew Gilligan. Despite the riot, Tottenham has changed dramatically for the better since 1985.
Tottenham residents in 1985 had been subject to years of harassment and racism; that is not the case nowPhoto: Getty
Even though no one predicted the Tottenham riot, a surprising number of people already seem to know what caused it. For Chris Williamson, the Labour shadow communities minister, it was the Conservative Party. "Why is it the Tories never take responsibility for the consequences of their party's disastrous policies?" he asked. To Ken Livingstone, Labour's candidate for the London mayoralty, "the economic stagnation and cuts being imposed by the Tory government inevitably create social division". Ken, predictably, was also the first politician to use the riot for electoral purposes, crow-barring three condemnations of his rival Boris Johnson into a 300-word statement.
The violence developed from a peaceful demonstration outside Tottenham police station to protest at the Met's shooting of a local man, Mark Duggan. One of the participants, the Rev Nims Obunge, of the Peace Alliance, said that the local community was "crying out for justice". Symeon Brown, of the perhaps appropriately named local group Haringey Young People Empowered (HYPE), said the community was angry with what he called Mr Duggan's "murder".
On the television and YouTube pictures, it has to be said, most of the rioters and looters didn't look angry. The ones making their way out of the smashed-up shops in Wood Green High Road with boxes full of other people's property actually looked quite pleased. Here, at least, the quest wasn't so much for justice, more for free trainers.
You could see the expressions on the Wood Green looters' faces because by that stage it was daylight. The riot began at 8.20 the previous evening. But more than nine hours later, at 5.30am, there was still little or no police presence there. In the months of post-mortems that now lie ahead, the conduct of the police will be closely examined. But did the weekend's violence stem from the Met's actions in the days and months leading up to the Duggan shooting? Or did it happen because of their failure to act on Saturday night?
Tottenham is, of course, a place with a history. In 1985, on the Broadwater Farm estate, it saw the most serious anti-police riot in modern times. An officer, PC Keith Blakelock, was hacked to death in the culmination of a poisonous cycle of violence that then existed between the police and the black community.
The riot was triggered by another death involving the police. Cynthia Jarrett, a black housewife, collapsed and died during a police search of her home on the estate after her son, Floyd, had been arrested. Her death has never been satisfactorily explained. There had already been serious riots in Brixton – killing a Telegraph journalist – after another innocent black woman, Cherry Groce, was shot and paralysed by police.
The Blakelock murder investigation became a further cause of injustice for the black community after three men were wrongly convicted of it. Heaped on these grievances were years of harassment and racism by the Met towards the people they were supposed to be serving.
"I call them niggers myself," said one Met officer, to the authors of Police and People in London, a 1983 report by the Policy Studies Institute. "Whilst not being very intelligent, they have this low animal cunning," was how another put it. A third said: "Well, they're used to running round in the jungle, plucking what they want from the trees…"
The world has changed dramatically between 1985 and now. Then, the force's racism was unashamed and routine. Now, a single racist remark can end an officer's career. Then, the Met had 180 ethnic minority officers. Now, it has about 3,000. Relations between black people and the force have got better, and conditions in many parts of Tottenham have improved dramatically.
In the third quarter of 1985, Broadwater Farm alone had 875 burglaries. In the same quarter of 2010, there were little more than 30 – in its entire ward – and fewer than 10 on the estate itself. Tottenham's unemployment rate is just over half what it was in 1985.
Far from being a "murder", the shooting of Mark Duggan does not, on the face of it, even seem comparable to the shooting of Cherry Groce and the death of Cynthia Jarrett. Mr Duggan was known to the police – they were trying to arrest him at the time. According to the Met, a non-police firearm was recovered from the scene and an officer's radio which "appeared to have a bullet lodged in it" was also recovered.
Yet concerns remain in the broader picture. Tottenham's unemployment is still among the highest in London. Black people are far more likely to be stopped and searched by the Met than whites. Surveys by the Metropolitan Police Authority show that black victims of crime are noticeably less satisfied with the Met's service. And though London's proportion of ethnic minority officers has risen, it is still less than 10 per cent (the Met makes the figures look better by lumping in community support officers, who are much more diverse).
From bitter experience, we must also treat all Metropolitan Police accounts of deaths at the hands of its officers as untrustworthy until proved otherwise. The force repeatedly misled the public over the deaths of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell, and Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper vendor struck to the ground in an unprovoked police attack during the G20 demonstration. The Met's firearms squad, which was involved in the Duggan operation, kills proportionately far more of its targets than the firearms squads of any other force.
Mistrust in the Duggan case has been fuelled by the behaviour of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the investigating authority, which – again typically – has given almost no concrete information about what happened. It may not, of course, know exactly what happened. But it didn't help itself by failing to make contact with Mr Duggan's family until 48 hours after the shooting.
Yet perhaps the clearest indication that this is no longer 1985 was the statement of Tottenham's black Labour MP, David Lammy. In direct contrast to the political point-scoring of older, white Left-wingers like Livingstone, he said: "The vast majority of people in Tottenham reject what happened here. This is nothing like the sorts of scenes we saw in Tottenham 25 years ago. Then, there was a particular relationship with the police. This is an attack on ordinary people, shopkeepers, women, children… [that] seemed to go on for many hours before we saw the kind of policing that was appropriate."
Mr Lammy, a former barrister still in his thirties who has lived in Tottenham all his life, is the kind of young, university-educated, high-achieving black Englishman who was very rare in 1985, but is rather more common today. And his statement shows how much the black community has moved on.
Though the causes of the riot may still be unclear, the effects are not. A poor area has now got even poorer. Tottenham's commercial heart has been ripped out, its reputation shredded. The Tories, meanwhile, will not be damaged. Civil disorder tends to strengthen the hand of authority, and harm those who challenge it: last year's student protests virtually evaporated after the Parliament Square riot, and the antics of the Black Bloc in the West End undermined the TUC's peaceful anti-cuts protests.
But on a bad night for the people of Tottenham, Mr Lammy offered hope for a better future for the black community, and the Left.