A week or so ago, around midnight, I had been filming in Trafalgar Square. Nothing special, just a few crowd shots, so it was finished fairly quickly, and finished around one am. Despite it being Thursday night, there were crowds of drunks, tourists, home-grown revellers and even a few `ladies` who had stepped out of LiliyWhites (and no doubt hoping to step into The Only Way Is Essex). Walking through Leicester Square, I could see coming towards me a largish (8 – 10) group of policemen. Walking slightly ahead of me were 3 lads in their late teens/early 20`s, and ahead of them were 2 lads of the same age walking towards me.
As the two groups of youths met, I, under the pretext of lighting a cigarette and, being nosey, wanting to know what was going on, listened to their conversation.
`Whats going on?`
`What are they doing?`
`Just walking…fecking hate `em…wankers`
`Yeah…they`re all cnuts…they`ll just nick you for anything`.
`Cnuts, all of them`
And with that, they all went on their way. I, however, was now desperate to find a toilet, which, considering the amount of people around, and venues open, were noticeable by their absence.
It is important at this point to mention how I was dressed. Along with the long hair and beard, I was wearing old trainers, faded jeans, a T-shirt and (probably my favourite item of clothing) an old RAF greatcoat. Now, I`m well aware of the reaction that my appearance sometimes engenders. Wearing that coat (and even more so when I`m wearing a leather jacket), I sometimes get sneers, looks of disdain or contempt and often a smile. Not the `Hello, good to see you,how are you?` smile…more the `Hello, I`m harmless, please don`t hurt me` half-smile. Over the years, I`ve been a hippy, greaser, biker, goth, and I accept that some people will judge me on how I look. But I choose to look this way, and I accept the consequences of that choice. Now, I`m not an aggressive person, I`m certainly not an alpha male, and I`m not a junkie….but….. some people will think I am.
But to return to the story. I walked up to one of the cops and asked for directions to the nearest loo. He thought for a second, and then directed me to either a station nearby, or a McDonalds further down the road. He then complimented me on my coat, and remarked that he wished he had something similar for the cold nights.
And that was it. A 30 second conversation. (I didn`t find out why there was a large body of police in that area. Nor did I find out the purpose of the nearby `tent` with two cops outside), but I digress.
My point is………..?
Those youths saw a `bunch of cnuts`…and acted accordingly. I saw a group of policemen, doing their job, and acted accordingly.
Sophie Khan tweeted that `Met police are racist, BNP scum`, and describes herself as a `Solicitor-advocate specialising in Actions against the Police` Since her original tweet, police and members of the public, have responded angrily, which has led to her using the retorts as `proof` that the police are biased against her.
Melanie Strickland, a solicitor and legal observer stated in an open letter following the Occupy London evictions, ` We believe that a number of assaults may have taken place at St Paul’s on the night of the eviction, both by police and by the High Court Enforcement Officers who were being supervised by police at all times. In the latter case, we observed that police allowed High Court Enforcement Officers to assault activists and facilitated these assaults`…and yet one of the evictees stated afterwards… `That’s what they come here to do. It has been peaceful.`
The family of Kester David now allege that the Met police were racist in the investigation of his death, with claims the Met failed to investigate the case thoroughly because the victim and his family are black. Why? Why racist?….Why not `the Met didn`t do their job properly`? The coroner returned an open verdict after a forensic expert said he could not rule out the involvement of someone else in his death. So where is the racism?
Are some cops racist? Very probably. Are some cops fat and lazy? Undoubtedly. Are some cops incompetent? Quite possibly. But there are racist shopkeepers, homophobic plumbers, fat and lazy tailors, incompetent doctors. But for some reason, its only the police who are `institutionally racist`…a throw-away phrase I hate, by the way. Some say it because they believe it to be true. And why do they believe it to be true?…Because people say it….and the more its said, the more `true` it becomes. But perceptions aren`t truth.
Someone (I can`t remember who) once said something along the lines of ` Everywhere you look, you find what you expect`. Maybe, just maybe, sometimes people should look in the mirror, self-reflect, before they make a statement. Maybe they will find the basis of those perceptions.
And maybe remember the Golden Rule `Do as you would be done by`
Oh, and just a thought….Isn`t it strange that these negative stories are suddenly appearing at the same time that the government is trying to rush through fundemental changes to police pay, terms and conditions BEFORE the olympics. This could not be some deliberate strategy I suppose??