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Cherry Groce - Met apologises 29 years later
End police racism
Early one morning in September 1985, police smashed their way into a family home with a sledgehammer and shot an innocent, unarmed mother in front of her children. The person they were after, her son, was not in the house and was in fact no longer wanted by the police.
The raid should never have happened. Instead Cherry Groce was paralysed, her young family traumatised, and after 26 years in a wheelchair she died as a result of the injuries.
This is appalling enough. But obscenely, through 29 years of the family battling for justice, an internal report exposing a series of failings was buried until it came to light at the recent inquest.
Incredibly the family even had to fight for legal aid for the inquest, as it was initially refused.
Eventually, following the inquest verdict, Metropolitan police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has now apologised "unreservedly" that police "actions and omissions" had put the family of an innocent woman through "years of suffering".
This shooting led to riots in Brixton, following the riots of 1981. They were followed by the killing of Joy Gardener by police in Tottenham and the Broadwater Farm riots, and then the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the breathtaking police racism exposed then.
Incidents of police brutality were the spark to massive anger against conditions of poverty and racism - as with the riots that swept Tottenham and other parts of London in 2011 following the police killing of Mark Duggan.
Brutality, killings and deaths
There is a long, long list of cases of police brutality, killings and deaths in custody of black people. And neither is this a case of 'it's all in the past'. Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg and Azelle Rodney are among many more recent cases of deaths of black men at the hands of the police.
Since 1998, 333 people have died in police custody. Black people are 28 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people and are also disproportionately more likely to be tasered or injured on arrest or in police custody.
This case also highlights the attacks on legal aid which the Con-Dems are set to drastically reduce even further thereby denying access to justice for ordinary people.
Adding to the litany of cover-ups and scandals of the police, capitalist politicians and press - child abuse, sexual assaults, expenses, phone hacking, perjury, Hillsborough, Orgreave, police spying on anti-racist and other campaigners - this will serve again to undermine confidence in the 'establishment', especially among black, Asian and migrant communities.
The Socialist Party unequivocally opposes police harassment and racism. We call for an end to discriminatory stop and search and section 60 and an end to repressive police powers. We demand an independent trade union-led inquiry into police brutality and killings. Stop the police investigating themselves.
We need measures to establish democratic checks on the police through elected committees involving trade union and community representatives.
In The Socialist 16 July 2014:
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