Saturday 8 August 2020

Colindale Police Station 4Front protest - lessons for Brent?

4Front is a youth project based in Grahaeme Park, Barnet.  Yesterday the project hit social media when a 14 year old youth was arrested by police and youth workers intervened.

This was the police account of the incident.
A 14-year-old boy [A] was arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis. As officers carried out the arrest, a group began to gather around officers and obstructed the police vehicle from leaving the scene. Further police units attended.

A further two people, a 23-year-old man [B] and a 25-year-old man [C] were arrested on suspicion of obstruction of a constable. The police vehicle left the scene and the group followed on foot to Colindale Police Station; a group of approximately 30 to 40 people remained outside the building.
A cordon is in place around the police station and a Section 35 dispersal order was authorised and further officers are supporting the dispersal of the group. 
4Front have previously complained about 'over policing' of the area and they are taking legal action over a previous incident when head of Community Support, Kusia Rahul, was arrested when he went to support a user of the project being questioned by police.  He had showed his ID on a 4Front lanyard but police demanded his car licence, which he said was not necessary as he'd established his ID. DETAILS

4Front released a video and preliminary statement about yesterday's event on Instagram HERE

According to the Huffington Post LINK, Project member Temi Mwale, named by September's Vogue as one of Britain's most influential activists, said at the scene:
We’ve been assaulted so many times here today. We have two members of my staff team that have been arrested.

We have several young people who have also been arrested. This is what we’re dealing with and I’ve told them we want it to be deescalated and yet they’ve refused.

This community is sick and tired of the way we’re being treated and now we need your support. We’re meant to be out there tomorrow, Tottenham police station, but instead we’re out here at Colindale police station right now.
Those arrested have been released pending investigation.

Co-leader of the Green Party, Sian Berry said on Twitter:
This news that police are raiding a well-respected London community project the day before a protest about police violence is extremely concerning. Strong arm tactics are not the way to reduce tension or build confidence.
The incident is relevant because, although it happened in the London Borough of Barnet, the police Basic Control Unit (NorthWestBCU) also covers Brent and Harrow.

A number of factors combine at the moment: oppressive summer heat, Black Lives Matter concern over police conduct towards the black community (not helped by the Fryent Country Park incident), and frustration at the continuing lockdown.

Good police-community relations  really matter at such a time. Back in 1986 with riots in Brixton and Bristol, Brent avoided riots because of the action of a small group of black youngsters in  setting up the Bridge Park project.  Significantly at the time their efforts were strongly backed by Brent Council and the local police commander.

Now in Brent we are awaiting the court's judgment on the battle in which Brent Council is fighting the original Bridge Park campaigners and their successors for possession of the site, and people are waiting to see if the police, who took pictures of the bodies of the women at the Fryent Country Park murder scene, are going to be brought to justice.

Borough youth facilities have been cut back  rwith just a remnant at Roundwood,  Stonebridge Adventure Playground has been closed and the land sold off, the playschemes that used to operate across the borough in the summer, are now largely closed.

Section 60 orders are creating tension in some areas of the borough.

It was not clear at the Bridge Park trial that the current Brent Council understands what a formidable achievement it was that the young campaigners of the time addressed groups of youth on our estates stopping a riot with the slogan, 'Build Don't Burn.'  The presentation of the Council case paid lip service to the founders of Bridge Park but there were moments when the mask slipped: 'Answer my question - this is not a street meeting' to one of the founders  and a reference to the new development catering for the demographic of today - not the 1980s.  Both QCs, the judge and most of the council witnesses were white. The defendants black.  None of the current Harlesden or Stonebridge councillors supported the Bridge Park campaign in court.

Surely there is a need for councillors at this crucial moment to get out into the community, make links with the young, hear about their concerns and act on them.   The network they build may be vital over the hot summer ahead.

1 comment:

News Items Forwarded by Alan Wheatley said...

Martin writes:

----extract starts----
A number of factors combine at the moment: oppressive summer heat, Black Lives Matter concern over police conduct towards the black community (not helped by the Fryent Country Park incident), and frustration at the continuing lockdown.
----extract ends----

A much more intense situation from the 1960s is illustrated in Phil Ochs' song sung by July Collins: 'In the Heat of the Summer'.

Were the demonstrators White, I suspect that the police would not have been nearly as heavy handed -- To my viewpoint, making an arrest for cannabis possession on a nonviolent demonstration against heavy handed policing is clearly bad Public Relations and a mark of desperation in response to community flagging up the base location of trouble-makers for that community.

I am glad that the community involved are now taking legal action in response to the Barnet police response to being put under public scrutiny.

Alan Wheatley
Hereford, England