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Riot panel whitewashes racist police

By Andy Yorke

The media and Tory ministers have jumped on this week’s report on the August riots to cover up police repression and blame the poorest youth and their families.

The ‘Riots Communities and Victims Panel’ didn’t include anyone from the community. Set up by the Coalition with Labour backing, the hand-picked panel of four included three rich business people, with knighthoods, and a bureaucrat from the Treasury. The Panel predictably dismissed the real causes of the uprisings: government cuts, systemic unemployment and daily harassment of young people by the police.

“The answers lie in different places: some are about personal or family responsibility and others are about what the state or the private or voluntary sectors should do better or differently.”

The panel’s piecemeal proposals were aimed at everyone but the police: fining schools that don’t teach kids to read enough, a “champion” to mediate between the big brands and the government about excessive marketing, the usual empty promises about more jobs for the youth.

So the real root of the riots , they tell us, was not the police murder of Mark Duggan, in the context of mass unemployment, poverty and daily police harassment and racism, but ‘individuals without character’ in communities that don’t work.

It blamed “500,000 ‘forgotten families’ … ‘bumping along the bottom’, unable to change their lives. When people don’t feel they have a reason to stay out of trouble, the consequences for communities can be devastating.”

It was ‘poor parenting’ that ‘created’ youth ‘prone to criminality’. Whether a young person rioted or not was based on making “the right choice in the heat of the moment”, due to one’s “character…self-discipline, application, the ability to defer gratification and resilience in recovering from setbacks”. As if youth without the hope of jobs or education should learn to ‘defer gratification’ and show discipline, rather than reject the discipline imposed by a hopeless system and its racist courts and police.

This is nothing more than a liberal gloss on Cameron’s insistence that the riots were due to “criminality, pure and simple”.  It was down to the Tory communities secretary, Eric Pickles, to make explicit the plan to criminalise and discipline the poor with benefits cuts, forced workfare, and more of the same from the police: “My department’s Troubled Families programme will tackle some of the most entrenched social problems in our country by getting members of 120,000 families off the streets, back into school and on a pathway to work.”

And the police and IPCC’s support for them?  They need to “review their protocols” to get their message out quicker and  “help ensure that deliberate false rumours and unintended inaccuracies do not go unchallenged in future.” Not a word about police lies claiming Mark Duggan shot at the police.  The panel recommends that the “police services proactively engage directly with their communities to debunk myths on issues that affect the perception of their integrity, in particular around deaths of black men in police custody”.

 

The report is not just a whitewash of the real roots of the riots – it defends the police to the hilt and is an attack on the youth and the black community.

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