|The News Line: Editorial
Saturday, 5 August 2017
Workers must mobilise to disarm the capitalist state to end police killings of workers and youth
RASHAN Jermaine Charles died after being arrested by the police in the early hours of Saturday morning, July 22 on Kingsland Road, Hackney, east London. He was only 20 years old. Just a month earlier another young black man, Edir Frederico da Costa, also known as Edson, died six days after he was detained by police in Woodcocks, Beckton, in Newham.
The family of Edson da Costa said that he was brutally beaten and left in a coma following a police stop in east London. They said that his neck had been broken in two places, CS gas sprayed in his eyes to the extent that he went blind. He had suffered a fractured skull, fallen voice box and ruptured bladder, leaving him in a coma and braindead.
After they switched off Edson’s life support, angry demonstrations erupted on the streets of Forest Gate and Stratford where masses of youth marched on Forest Gate police station shouting ‘murderers!’
In the case of the tragic death of Rashan Jermaine Charles, the police claimed that he was trying to swallow drugs and that was the cause of his death. However, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) admitted on Thursday that there were no drugs.
The IPCC said in a statement: ‘The IPCC has now received results of forensic analysis of an object that was removed from Rashan’s airway by paramedics. The object did not contain a controlled substance.’
Earlier in the week, three police officers were ‘removed from frontline duties’ after a film taken on a mobile phone shows plainclothes officers stopping a car, searching it for drugs and then kicking a young Asian man to the ground while officers gather around. He is then beaten repeatedly with a baton.
Inquest says that since 1990, 1,060 people have died in police custody. The number of police officers convicted of murder remains zero. Meanwhile, more and more police officers are being armed. Under the guise of ‘a response to terrorist threats’ police state measures are being introduced in the UK with an armed wing acting as a death squad.
The capitalist state has shed its ‘democratic’ and ‘peaceful’ skin as it prepares to have it out with workers determined to fight for their rights. In fact, in Greater Manchester evidence has emerged that police have been trained to kill and have got into the habit of it. Anthony Grainger, PC Ian Terry and Jordan Begley were all killed in separate incidents by police officers.
Greater Manchester police’s former head of training, John Foxcroft, has said he left the firearms unit because of its ‘aggressive’ tactics. Foxcroft, who ran the firearms training unit at Greater Manchester Police until 2006, before retiring in 2008, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme he left the position believing that the force was ‘getting a little bit too much into the aggressive tactics. The more aggressive you get, the more likely you are to have people shot.’
Anthony Grainger was unarmed in a car when he was shot dead by Greater Manchester police in Cheshire, in March 2012. Ian Terry was a firearms officer with Greater Manchester Police. In 2008, during a practice exercise at a disused factory, he volunteered to play the role of a criminal fleeing in a car. Unusually, the decision – made just that morning – had been taken to use live rounds to make the exercise more realistic. Terry was shot by an officer using a shotgun loaded with a so-called Rip round cartridge – deadly at close range. He died within minutes. The father-of-two was not wearing body armour.
The IPCC was scathing, calling the case ‘a shocking wake-up call for Greater Manchester Police firearms unit’. An inquest jury in 2010 ruled Ian Terry had been unlawfully killed and that he ‘would have been saved’ if the training had been properly prepared.
Jordan Begley was 23. On the night of his death, in July 2013, he had been involved in a drunken argument with his neighbours, and was threatening to attack them with a knife. His mother called the police.
A patrol officer calmed him down – then other officers arrived, 11 in total, including armed police. Begley was Tasered and restrained by armed officers. He was punched while he was on the ground and died from heart failure. At a 2015 inquest, the jury found police failings played a part in his death and said he had been unlawfully killed.
Now UK capitalism is in a huge crisis with millions of workers in revolt against savage wage cuts, benefit cuts, privatisation and general pauperisation as capitalism crashes. To keep order in this developing revolutionary situation, the bodies of armed men of the capitalist state, including its armed police, will come to the fore with major repressions of the working class.
There is only one way forward. The working class must mobilise in its trade unions for general strike action to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers government and socialism. In this action, the formation of workers’ defence squads to disarm the armed police gangs and prepare the way for the smashing of the capitalist state will be vital for the working class taking power and the victory of socialism!
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