Movements First, Solutions Later

Demands to “defund the police” begin with grassroots organising, rather than thinking we have all the answers

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Photo: Black Lives Matter protest in London in 2020 [Shutterstock]

Important differences

However, it is equally important that we do not ignore the real differences that exist between US and British policing. Across the Atlantic, America’s police departments are engaged in what amounts to a highly militarised open war with the nation’s black, minority and working-class communities.

Grinding and relentless

Instead, what we experience here is perhaps best characterised as “low-intensity warfare”. Disproportionate use of police stop and search powers is the most common interaction with officers on the streets. This is the kind of policing that is grinding and relentless: the kind that means black people routinely face vehicle stops, are more likely to have force used against them by officers and that under the cover of the coronavirus lockdown last year subjected a quarter of all black 15- to 24-year-old Londoners to drugs-related searches.

Organising from the bottom up

Faced with the unrelenting harassment and petty indignities of everyday policing in many British towns and cities, what we don’t yet have, unlike the United States, is the network of grassroots organisations who are able to counter police propaganda with hard evidence, individual testimonies and stories and with local protests and community mobilisation.

Coordinator of @Netpol │ @INQUEST_ORG trustee│Serious cinephile │Treasurer, @ClaptonCFC | He/him | Economics is astrology for capitalists

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