My own experience suggests a majority of the population are racist to one degree or another. It therefore seems logical to assume that a police force that largely has to deal with an us & them mentality as part of every day working life, will be likely to have a slightly larger proportion of racists, and overt racists at that, than the general population.
There have been hints reported in the same mainstream media that the Police have felt, for a long time that the MacPherson report over-stated the case and unfairly accused the force of being institutionally racist. This is a dangerous indicator of the maintenance of the delusional thinking that allowed that racism to become institutionalised in the first place.
The latest tape recordings of officers arresting a black man, being physically violent and verbally abusive with repetitive racist attacks, is being treated as if it was possibly a one-off, that these individual officers are the sole exception to an otherwise squeaky clean force. This is such obvious, naive whitewash thinking, that I have to call: BULLSHIT.
Any black male in South London, between the ages of 18 and 26 will, I say will have witnessed police being racist or had racist behaviour directed at themselves.
This is not to say that a majority of policemen should be sacked for being racist, but that those who should be, for putting such thoughts into overt racist action, do not spring from within an otherwise anti-racist culture. The Daily Mail has put its populist, if akin to a reformed slave owner, mentality to the fore in condemning these (2) policemen and, in the past, publicly going after the racist attackers of Stephen Lawrence, one of the few initiatives in its past they can be rightly proud about. But in faking pictures of black refugees trying to board Eurostar trains beneath a banner headline on the need to keep immigrants out, it betrays its own racist heart. (White skinned immigrants never seem to feature in this calculated opprobrium) and I have yet to see the Mail acknowledge in any way that it supported Hitler right up to the outbreak of World War 2, this support being based on its cultural identity with the superiority of the white European class structure.
We all have varying degrees of racist attitudes embedded somewhere within us – it comes with the territory of growing up in a culture like the UK, even if since 1969. It has been said in the USA that there was a certain class of young male who grew up to be either a cop or a crook, or often both. The nature of being in a uniform that separates you from the crowd seems bound to encourage that “us & them” mentality in which racist thinking thrives and grows.
In a police station I was waiting in back in 1990 I clearly remember the casual and accepted racist talk that accompanied the chats behind the door about the black bastards that they had nicked the night before… the only difference from 1970 was that, now, they only spoke like this when they thought no one was within earshot.
Change is happening, but it is happening much more slowly than the wishful thinkers currently dominant in the media pretend. The shooting of Mark Duggan and the police approach to young black men and gangs in London give the lie to the idea that Macpherson said anything beyond the simple truth. It is still probably a majority of police who express racist ideas from time to time, the best we can hope for is to moderate the behaviour so well as to make it never emerge into violent or verbal abuse as was caught on tape in this latest case. If we can recruit enough black men to the police so that no force unit has less than two black officers within its ranks, we have a chance.