(By Richard Sudan)
In the UK, since the late 1960s there have been more than 3000 unexplained deaths in police custody.
Countless deaths at the hands of the police, remained unexplained, and the police themselves seem immune from facing justice.
The names of those who have died while in the custody of the police, and the families affected are too numerous to list.
Here are just some of the names of those who have died while in police custody.
The recent verdict of ‘lawful killing’ recorded in the case of Mark Duggan, who was brutally gunned down on the streets of London by an armed gang, the metropolitan police, in 2011 set a dangerous precedent for the future.
It seems now, that there is nothing from stopping the police shooting and killing anyone they suspect will commit a crime before they have actually committed a crime-the thought police if you will.
Any notion of due process or of a fair hearing has been rendered obsolete, and what is also worrying is how quickly the media trip over themselves to follow suit, and that is to say, they presume guilt on the part of the victim, to justify the crime of the criminal.
Following the killing of Mark Duggan, the mainstream media presented Duggan as guilty, the implication being that his shooting was somehow justified, thereby absolutely towing the line of the state.
The police, who are meant to be civil servants, claim that the killing of Mark Duggan, an unarmed man, was justified.
The corporate media, by and large presented the killing of Mark Duggan as justified.
The jury in this case decided that Duggan’s murder was lawful.
However, Mark Duggan was not one of the most wanted criminals in Europe, contrary to the claims made by that bastion of fairness and impartiality, the Daily Mail.
Mark Duggan was not carrying a weapon when he was murdered.
The perverse outcome, and the fact Mark Duggan’ death could be deemed lawful, when all the evidence suggests he wasn’t armed is literally unbelievable.
The police continue to act as if Duggan’s death is not part of a wider backdrop of deaths in custody.
But there is a wider backdrop.
The media and the politicians want to treat Duggan’s killing in isolation, just as they did with the riots which were ultimately triggered by Duggan’s death.
Before Duggan’s family were even informed of his death or afforded the most basic modicum of respect, the media were busy presenting Mark Duggan as guilty, implying he got what he deserved.
They wish to ignore the factors which contribute to this wider problem, ignoring the experience of black communities, and the disproportionate level of aggression and harassment that is faced by many by the police.
If the IPCC and the government continue to refuse to confront the reasons as to why many in the police are allowed to behave as they do while evading justice, while supposedly working to implement it, then they are simply and wilfully burying their heads in the sand.
It seems at times that no one is willing to confront these issues and the elephant in the room. Politicians play lip service to the issues to get elected. Every so often they’ll be a renewed promise to reform the police, from politicians and the police themselves.
Every so often the occasional head will roll. But the narrative continues. Yesterday it was Mark Duggan who was gunned down in broad daylight. Nobody went to jail. Who will it be tomorrow?
As long as the culture of non-accountability in the police continues, those who would act with violence, like the riot officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson to the ground in 2009 which led to his death, know they can behave in such a way without the likelihood of finding themselves behind bars.
Institutional corruption is endemic within police forces. We have an idea of where much of this corruption comes from.
For example, it shouldn’t be taboo anymore, but in recent years a few mainstream news outlets have published articles discussing the role of freemasons within the police.
One report described how gangs have used freemasons within the police to gather information on cases against them, and to recruit corrupt officers from within the police to work for them.
Such was the extent of the problem, that former labour government minister Jack Straw called for serving officers in police forces to declare whether or not they were masons, acknowledging the conflict of interest that exists between police officers supposedly acting as public servants while working for the interests of another fraternity.
This blog has focused on the police. But equally worrying is the number of freemasons operating in the judiciary has also been well documented.
If most people are not masons, then why are masons so strongly represented among the corridors of power, including the police?
If it’s a non-issue to be dismissed why does the problem keep surfacing, to the point that Jack Straw would seek to make it compulsory for officers to declare if they are freemasons?
The question of who polices the police is an essential one. Reforming this institution and challenging the way it works, and calling for full transparency and accountability will be crucial in restoring relations between some of Britain’s most marginalised communities, and the civil servants supposed to protect and serve them, if it is still possible.
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