Oppressed fight back

Rioting in Brixton

The riots last week in Brixton exposed the real nature of British society - brutal and hypocritical. The establishment and its tame media were genuinely shocked by the events. Shocked, that is, that the oppressed actually had the audacity to fight back and express their rage.

The death of Wayne Douglas in police custody is something the bourgeois media want to gloss over, if not forget altogether. Even though Douglas died two weeks ago, his name only appeared in the mainstream press ‘thanks’ to the Brixton riot.

Contrast this to the outpouring of soul-searching and angst that followed the murder of the headmaster, Philip Lawrence. The sheer amount of media space dedicated to the unfortunate death of Lawrence bordered on the surreal. This grotesque deification of Lawrence - which, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Philip Lawrence was white and middle class - has reached such a level that Radio Four’s Today programme has short-listed him for ‘Personality of the Year’, alongside the Queen Mother and John Major.

However, if you are black and working class then life is cheap. Accounts suggest that Wayne Douglas was beaten to death by police officers using long-handled batons. Not long after being taken back to the station, he died of a “heart condition”. So would you if you had a dozen or so policemen kicking the living daylights out of you.

Not unreasonably, one of the speakers at the protest rally - Rudy Narayan, a radical disbarred barrister - issued a statement saying: “Brixton police are led and incited from within by the most vicious racist killers the black community has seen.”

This outraged the establishment, which has monolithically closed ranks. Sir Paul Condon, the commissioner of the metropolitan police, blamed all the violence on “thugs and criminals” - and he was not referring to the Brixton police. More sinisterly, the police are collecting evidence to bring ‘incitement to riot’ charges against the speakers and organisers of the rally, which would be a major attack on our democratic rights.

The Labour Party has been in an obscene hurry to ape the Tories’ ‘law and order’ rhetoric. Jack Straw, in tandem with the local MPs Kate Hoey and Keith Hull, thundered: “The police deserve our full support for their courage in handling the situation.”

We must condemn any attempts to victimise Rudy Narayan, or any other speaker at the rally. We put the blame on the “thugs and criminals” in blue, and the bigoted media which manufactures the conditions which led to Wayne Douglas’ death.

Eddie Ford