Racial ProfilingSpeech of Liz Fekete at the KOP-Conference “Racial Profiling Reloaded”

2. November 2012by KOP Importer0


Before talking about what’s happening in Europe, and particularly the UK where we are currently experiencing the biggest spending cuts since the 1930s, and where only last year we witnessed devastating disturbances in 66 towns and cities across England, the most widespread public disorders in England’s history, in which five people died,  I want to make four opening preliminary  remarks about the struggle against racial profiling – in order to provide some sort of framework for our discussions.

  1. Racial Profiling does not occur just because of the individual attitudes of police officers.  The targeting of certain minorities for identity checks and controls is part and parcel of the way the police are organised as an institution.   So any struggle against racial profiling is, in and of itself, a struggle against institutionalised racism. And any struggle against institutionalised racism is part of a wider struggle for police accountability – which means democratic policing, that does not discriminate against any section of society, is transparent, and is open and accountable. For racial profiling cannot be considered in isolation: it is merely one key component of a wider, integrated system of policing that treats minority communities as second class citizens, and regards those without European passports as demanding of excessive surveillance and control, that deems it acceptable to use lethal force against certain people, because they are a deportee, because of their skin colour, because of their religion, etc.
  2. Racism is always about demonising the other – we demonise them before we can exclude them – and we exclude them by targeting them for special measures such as racial profiling. This is the unifying factor. But racism is not the same as it was in the 1930s, and nor are its target. Today state racism does not affect the Jewish community in the same way it affected them in the 1930s. Today, state and criminal justice systems of racial profiling have in their sights, the Roma, migrants, refugees, Muslims, North Africans, Asians, Black communities (And remember these are not discrete categories).
  3. Racial profiling does not stay the same – it is something that is being constantly refined, under pressure from within and without, from grassroots pressure, on the other hand, or domestic or international imperatives, on the other. And the context for racial profiling today is – in the international context – both the war against migration, and the war against terror – and in the domestic context – the war against the poor. And the wider context for all these is the neo-liberal economic climate we are living in where war and increasing militarisation and patriotism is being offered as the glue to hold societies together. This development is creeping on us bit by bit, seeping into our political culture, and we are insufficiently aware of it – but our societies are increasingly marching to a military drum, and to a nationalistic tune.
  4. In Europe today, police targeting of specific groups is determined not just by race but also religion, the struggle is against both racial and religious profiling (although what determines a person’s religion is often perceived racial characteristics). And from my researches, Germany has the most extensive system of religious profiling in Europe. And so we need to link any campaign against racial profiling in policing, to racial profiling in the intelligence services and media frameworks for reporting on minority communities – but also to be self-critical, and ask could it be that we, as movements, have inadvertently internalised frameworks that stereotype particular communities – and in the German context, I am thinking particularly of Muslims.

So, to sum up,  I want to talk today not just about the levels of racial profiling in Europe, and how it differs from country to country, but also about the context of any campaign/or litigation in this field.

The context is critical, and the context today is quite extreme, paradoxically, it is when things become so extreme, that movements can become more focussed.

These are critical times – upsurge in protest – how to capture the moment, how to be most effective? 

Overview of the European situation

For an overview of the European field, particularly in terms of litigation, consult the work of the Open Justice Initiative.

But I want to draw out a few examples that show the massive impact of racial profiling on the ground, and also tell you a bit about the situation in the UK where there has grown up a misconception that we are in advance of other countries.

  • Greece – Operation Zeus
  • France – current limited struggle for change meeting resistance from police trades unions.
  • Germany
  • Czech Republic – media frameworks that profile Roma as criminals leading to increasing violence in everyday encounters, and an alarming number of deaths.
  • Slovakia
  • A look at the UK – where the popular perception is – shows that we are further along the road in the struggle against institutionalised racism.

Greece – Operation Zeus

Operation Xenios Zeus is the name of a nationwide campaign, named after the ancient Greek god of guests and travellers. It was started in Athens in Athens at the beginning of August, but on 28 August, the Minister for Public Order and Citizen’s Protection, Nikos Dendias, announced that it will continue until the end of the year and extended to other cities where the numbers of undocumented are. In addition, patrols have been increased along the country’s land and sea frontier with Turkey. By 16 August, more than 8,000 migrants had been detained, and 1,673 arrested. (Only one in five are detained, as the others have residence papers according to the police.). In the first week of September, the Greek police announced that during the first month of Xenios Zeus, 16,836 foreign nationals had been brought in for questioning. 2,144 were arrested for not fulfilling their legal requirements to reside in the country. According to ECRE, this suggests that eighty per cent of those brought in for country were legal residents and had been subjected to this treatment due to their perceived ethnicity. (ECRE statement 7 September 2012)

  • Aim: According to police, ‘to seal the borders, return undocumented immigrants to their countries of origin, and ‘reinstate the rule of law’ in the centre of Athens.
  • Deportation of Pakistanis: Following the roundup in Athens, the police announced that it was preparing to deport some 1,600 Pakistanis. (Migration News Sheet, September 2012)
  • Police violence: Gul Zeb and Khaled Musad, detained at Aegaleo police station in Athens, were abused, according to the Pakistani Community of Greece. Officers allegedly gripped Zeb’s fingers with pliers and shaved off Musad’s moustache. Migrants Workers Union, United Against Racism and the Fascist Threat and the Pakistani community group planned a demonstration. (Kathimerini 16 August 2012).
  • Operation Zeus extended: on 23 August 2012, it was extended to Korinthos, northeast Peloponnese where a further 350 irregular migrants were arrested.
  • Corinth: There were protests after police rounded up hundreds of people in Corinth and held them in a nearby military camp – and also clashes between the police and the far Right, as Golden Dawn hurled bottles at a deputy who had come to visit the camp, and obstructed police bringing migrants in. Golden Dawn issued a statement saying it opposed military centres being turned into ‘tourism centres for illegal immigrants’ (Digital Journal 23 August 2012). The local authority and protestors rallied outside the army camp to protest its conversion into an immigrant detention centre. Corinth’s mayor Alexandros Pnevmatikos told Skai TV ‘We don’t want the camp, which is in the centre of the city close to densely-populated neighbourhoods, to become a holding centre. He threatened to cut the camp’s water supply and rubbish disposal if the 350 migrants held were not released. (Reuters 24, 25 August 2012)
  • Racial profiling and discrimination: ECRE, AI, Human Rights Watch and the Greek Council for Refugees have all condemned the operation as discriminatory. ‘The scale of the police operation in Athens … raises serious concerns about discrimination on the basis of perceived ethnicity’ said the Greek Section of AI.   The UNHCR made special mention of Syrians in Greece who should be protected, at least until the situation in Syria is normal.
  • Effects on asylum seekers: The UNHCR representative for South-Eastern Europe, Laurens Jolles, met with Nikos Dendias, the Greek Minister for Citizen’s Protection, and warned him that there was a risk that those caught in the police operation were asylum seekers in need of protection. (MNS September 2012) In one case, an Iraqi national, residing lawfully in Greece, was rounded up in Athens and taken to Komotini, 380 km from the capital. On release, he had to hitch-hike back to Athens, as he had no financial means. On 12 August, he was found on the motorway outside Xanthi (not far from Komotini) in a serious condition, having been seriously beaten up. Staff at the hospital raised the money for him to return to Athens. (MNS September 2012)
  • Perverse effects: Representatives of migrant organisations aid the round ups have resulted in substantial increases of fees demanded by traffickers to smuggle people from Turkey into Greece or from Greece to Italy. (Migration News Sheet September 2012)
  • Justification: Authorities claim that the operation has reduced the influx of illegals into the area of Evros by 84 per cent. The newspaper To Vima says that the operation has resulted in a dramatic increase in smuggling tariffs for entering Greece from Turkey, and leaving Greece from Italy.

Fact file – state collusion

*Profile of Nikolaos Michaloliakos, founder and leader, was jailed for terrorist offences, including illegal possession of explosives, and in prison met leaders of the 1967-74 junta. On release launched Golden Dawn as a magazine, and formed as a party in 1985, although not officially registered until 1993. (Hope Not Hate) Michaloliakos claims to have created a Greek nationalist party along the lines of the pre-war fascist dictator Ioannis Metaxas.

* Antonios Androutsopoulos (aka Periandos), leading Golden Dawn activist,  jailed for 21 years in September 2006 after being on the run – with police complicity – for seven years, for the attempted murder of three left-wing students in 1998. (Hope Not Hate)

* Golden Dawn linked to a 100-strong unit of Greek Nazis who were in Bosnia as part of the Greek Volunteer Guard (GVG), part of the Drina Corps of Ratko Mladic’s Serb Army. GVB soldiers present in Srebrenica during the mass murder of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims. Golden Dawn members decorated for their services by the war criminal former Serbian president Radovan Karadzic.

*Spyros Marchetos says that GD’s social base is small proprietors, unemployed, members of the security forces, and the criminal underworld. 


Identity checks

In France, there is no material record or recording of identity checks – and police identity checks that disproportionately target young people of African and Arab communities have blighted relations between the country’s police and minority communities for years. Amidst pressure from the police trades unions, a pledge to reform the procedure for identity checks by Hollande has not been met, to the fury of NGOs, who have attacked Manuel Valls for a speech he made at the French Military School Après. (École Militaire). According to Jonathan Birchall and Rachel Neild of the Open Society Justice Initiative ‘after a summer of politics and vociferous opposition from France’s powerful police unions, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault seems to be giving up on substantive change, before he has even started’.


During the presidential campaign, Hollande made thirty pledges, including one to oblige police to issue an acknowledgement (récépissé) every time they are subjected to an identity check (in order to track police stops and ensure an end to endemic ethnic profiling). The pledge came after pressure from a coalition of community activists and the youth wing of the Socialist Party, and ensured that he received considerable support among young voters and ethnic minorities at the election.

The idea behind ‘stop forms’ was that if  an acknowledgement was given each time an identity check is carried out, it would become possible to prove whether or not a person is frequently subjected to such a procedure with the intention not to very identity but to humiliate.  Thus, proposal No. 30 in the electoral manifesto pledged Hollande to ‘fight against “nasty face” based identity checks (délit de faciès), through the establishment of a ‘procedure respectful of citizens’. However, the minister of interior Manuel Valls soon abandoned the idea as ‘ridiculous and unfeasable’. There appears to be divisions in the government about it, and police unions have strongly condemned it, saying it implies that they are racist. Valls favours police officers having identity numbers on their uniforms and for police to be requested to carry miniature-size cameras to record identity check operations.  A review of the method of identity checks will take place after a report on the subject is presented by the Ombudsman (Défenseur des Droits) Dominique Baudis in the summer. (MNS August 2012)

Military Academy speech

On 19 September, Valls made a speech expressing sceptism about reform at the Royal Academy, followed by comments on RTL radio. According to the NGOs (GISTI, Graines de France, Human Rights Watch, La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, la Maison pour un Développement Solidaire, Open Society Justice Initiative, le Syndicat des Avocats de France et le Syndicat de la Magistrature), his statements were all the more disturbing because they ‘came after a simplistic public debate which mainly focused on the issue of stop forms, and which spread inaccurate information about them in a context in which the measure has not been experimented to date’. The NGOs are calling for a number of measures, in addition to stop forms:

  • reforming the law on identity checks (article 72-2 of the Penal Procedures Code)
  • Monitoring of identity checks by supervisors and police managers
  • regular meetings between citizens/residents, the police and elected representatives to discuss control practises
  • Training so that officers reflect on the objectives of identity checks and are more selective when resorting to this practise.
  • Pressure from police trades unions

Following the presidential elections, Prime Minister Ayrault committed himself to testing a system that would include requiring police officers to issue ‘receipts’ or stop forms, to anyone who is stopped. But in the months that followed the politically powerful police unions repeatedly argued that stop forms would prevent them from doing their work effectively. In early September, Manuel Valls, the minister of the interior, told a gathering of senior police officers that he agreed with them, and that issuing record slips would be ‘too bureaucratic and hard to operate’. And on September 27, the prime minister reversed his decision, declaring that he had ‘every confidence in M Valls, who has convinced me that this is not a good response’.

Stop forms do work

The Open Society Justice Initiative says that police opposition to the stop forms was counter-productive, as stop forms do not encumber police work, but increase its efficiency, by ensuring that police officers are not wasting time on pointless stops of innocent people. In a pilot project it coordinated stop forms were introduced in different locations in Spain, Bulgaria and Hungary. In one of the sites, the Fuenlabrada suburb of Madrid, the rate of successful police stops tripled, during the first three months of the experiment, while the total number of stops decreased significantly.

Wider issues need to be discussed

OSI also regrets the fact that the debate about stop forms ‘has been distorted by the narrow focus on the question of stop forms, which were always envisaged as part of a raft of reforms that would work to change discriminatory practises. ‘Stop forms are only part of the solution. They need to be introduced as part of a wider set of steps  including dialogue and consultation with minority organisations, training police on the manner they carry out stops, and a change in the legal framework regulating stops, so that police may only stop an individual where there are reasonable grounds of suspicion’. (OSI 28 September 2012) 


Campaigners in Germany demand that the death of Ousman Sey in police custody be properly investigated.

On 7 July Ousman Sey, a 45-year-old man of Gambian origin, died after being taken into the custody of the Dortmund police. This is the third death of a Black in police custody in Germany since 2005. Already, the indications are that those seeking a rigorous investigation into the circumstances of Sey’s death will be ignored.

In January we reported that seven years after the death in custody of the African refugee Oury Jalloh, the trial of several officers who were on duty on the night he burned to death in a Dessau police station, had just begun. The piece, written for IRR News by Eddie Bruce-Jones, a member of the Oury Jalloh International Independent Commission, was circulated in Germany by the organisation Concerned Nigerians. They, in turn, contacted IRR News to tell us of their concerns about another black death in custody, this time of a 39-year-old Nigerian German woman.[1] In May 2011, Christy Schwundeck was fatally shot in a job centre in Frankfurt-am-Main after an argument with one of the centre’s employees. Police say that she was armed with a knife and that shooting her was an act of self-defence. Then, on 7 July 2012 came Sey’s death. Sey had fallen ill, was experiencing heart palpitations and had called emergency services. But when paramedics arrived on the scene they assessed his condition not serious enough for him to be hospitalised. Sey’s condition worsened, and he phoned for emergency services again. By this time, he was having convulsions and his behaviour had become erratic. Police were called to the scene and police and paramedics judged that Sey did not need to be taken to hospital; instead he was handcuffed and taken to a police station where he collapsed and died.

How stereotyping informs policing

According to Eddie Bruce-Jones, all these cases ‘suggest that criminalising black people is a structural problem in Germany.’ In the case of Ousman Sey it is both ‘logical and reasonable for concerned citizens to ask why a man who called the paramedics repeatedly complaining of severe chest pains was not brought to a hospital by paramedics, but rather handcuffed and detained by police.‘ One issue that has been taken up by the Oury Jalloh International Independent Commission is the lack of proper mechanisms to ensure justice, such as a mandatory inquest system following an unexplained death in custody, or an independent police complaints process. Jalloh burned to death while chained by his hands and feet to a fireproof mattress in a tiled cell, but his screams for assistance do not seem to have been heard. A police autopsy, furthermore, failed to detect the broken nose and burst eardrum that the community-sponsored independent autopsy managed to later find.

In the case of Christy Schwundeck, no one is disputing that she was distressed and angry when an official at the Jobcenter Gallus refused to issue her unemployment benefit in cash (he could have done so, but allegedly refused, even though Christy Schwundeck said she had no financial means whatsoever). But there are a series of questions that campaigners have asked, that have not been answered. Why did the police officer shoot Christy Schwundeck dead at point-blank range rather than trying to disarm her, or otherwise de-escalate the situation? And why did the Public Prosecutor’s Office call a press conference within hours of Schwundeck’s death at which he stated categorically that the police officer had acted in self-defence? (Apparently, there are witness statements that indicate that the police officer who fired the fatal shot was quite a distance away, and under no immediate threat.)

It could also be argued that the tragic death of Ousman Sey could have been prevented if the emergency services had treated him sympathetically and professionally when he called for help. Hannah Piehl of the Dortmund Anti-Fascist Alliance (Dortmunder Antifa Bündnis) asks whether this failure to render assistance is due to racism or incompetence. The police and emergency services (which includes the ambulance and fire services) immediately reacted to the racism charge, issuing statements denying that racism could ever influence their actions. Police Chief Norbert Wessler said, ‘I vehemently oppose the assumption that the police did not provide medical aid because of Sey’s skin colour. This accusation affects the Dortmund police greatly because it gives the impression that the reaction of the police was influenced by racist beliefs …. We do not differentiate between skin colour, religion or country of origin. Such accusation is completely unfounded. Wherever the police intervenes, wherever the police helps, wherever we fulfil our legal duties, there is no place for racism. ’But for Piehl, the police’s denial of racism is nonsensical, given the centrality of racial profiling in every day policing, ensuring that black people are singled out for identity checks. The claim of the head of the fire department that there is no institutionalised racism within the fire-fighting services is equally incredible, she said, given that the head of the Institute for Firefighter and Rescue Technology was forced to step down after links between him and the far-Right Autonomous Nationalists were exposed. ‘Racism is found in all corners of society. It does not only exist within the far right or amongst “uneducated” people’, states the Dortmund Anti-Fascist Alliance. ’Whosoever denies that racism exists in “middle society” closes their eyes to all the empirical data concerning this topic.’

Unity and protest

On 17 July, members of the Christy Schwundeck Initiative Frankfurt staged a rally in memory of Ousman Sey. No doubt protestors recalled the long struggle to ensure police accountability for deaths in custody in Germany, and discussed contemporary realities. This May, the Attorney General ruled that there were no grounds to reopen the inquiry into the death of Christy Schwundeck, forcing the lawyers to launch criminal proceedings on behalf of Schwundeck’s brother. Meanwhile, the trial of the police officer accused of the death of Oury Jalloh is still ongoing, seven years after he burnt to death in a Dessau police cell.

Counter-radicalisation programme criticised

New poster campaign launched by the Interior Ministry’s Advice Centre against Radicalisation has been highly criticised by the Green Party and Muslim organizations who say they see no point in continuing their partnership with the Interior Ministry.  The campaign is part of the government initiative “Partnership for Safety and Security” in which Muslim organisations and the government work together against Islamist radicalisation. The cultural centre VIKZ, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, the mosque association Ditib and the Islamic association of Bosniaks have issued a joint declaration in which they state that from the outset they have voiced criticisms of the campaign, but these have been consistently ignored by the interior minister Friedrich.

Details of posters

The poster campaign advertises the new help hotline for friends and families of young Muslims who drift towards Islamist radicalization. On the posters is a picture of a young person called Hassan, Ahmad, Tim or Fatima. The lines below the picture read: ‘We are Hassan’s father/ sister/friend. We miss him. We do not recognise him anymore.  He becomes more and more radical every day. We are afraid of losing him, maybe he will become part of a terrorist organisation or he will become a fanatic.  If you have the same problem pleases contact …’

The posters, despite the critique from different sides, will be put up in Bonn, Berlin and Hamburg.

Support for posters questioned: The interior ministry said the campaign was crafted with the help of Muslim interest groups as part of a larger initiative to improve ties between security agencies and Muslim communities. However, four of the six groups have now issued a joint statement withdrawing their support. ‘Constantly associating Islam with issues of violence and security police can only lead to false perceptions’, it said. Erol Puerlue, Association of Muslim Cultural Centres, said that ‘Addressing extremism only among Muslims risks putting them under a general suspicion… We also have to talk about protecting Muslims. They can fall victim to extremism too.’ (Reuters 5 September 2012)

Following the debate over whether ‘Innocence of Muslims’ should be banned, the authors of Migazin called for a ban on the ‘Vermisst’ (Missing) campaign. In contrast to the movie, which has clearly been identified as a cheap right wing provocation, the ‘Missing’ posters might actually be taken seriously and are thus even more dangerous.

Court rules in favour of “racial profiling“ in search for undocumented migrants

The administrative court in Koblenz issued a judgment on 27 March 2012 in which it confirms that the police practice of checking people on the basis of their skin colour and appearance without any concrete suspicion is legal. To detect breaches of residence law, police officers carry out spot checks (in trains, in train stations, in areas close to the borders) based on physical appearance among other factors. The court sentence was passed in reaction to a claim filed by someone who had become the target of such scrutiny.  The ‘Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte’ (German Institute for Human Rights) criticised the police practice as being in violation of basic and human rights. (Source: taz, 28 March 2012)

Czech Republic

Romea News states in July 2012

During the past six months, the Czech Republic has seen the violent deaths of at least five Romani people under circumstances that have yet to be clarified … This unusually high number of Romani people dying violent deaths during such a brief period of time cannot be considered accidental. The demonstrations against Romani people in B?eclav and Šluknov have exacerbated the atmosphere in Czech society. People are taking some sort of imaginary justice into their own hands. They are tolerating intolerance of Romani people and are inclined to show clemency toward the perpetrators of crimes that target Romani people’.

These are the cases that involved the police.

Romani man suffering from schizophrenia, December 2011, D??in

In December 2011, a Romani man suffering from an extreme form of schizophrenia died after police intervened against him in his apartment in D??in. (Romea)

Ludovit Kašpar, 6 May 2012, Sokolov.

On 6 May, Ludovít Kašpar, a 33 year old Roma father of three died of his injuries after an incident involving police officers in the town of Kynšperk nad Oh?i. According to eye witnesses, police officers arrested LK, handcuffed him and then attacked him, kicking and beating him.  Official sources have made no comment on the case, saying that it was under investigation and any remarks would be purely speculative. (Open Society Foundations 18 July 2012)

On 23 June, a protest organised by the family of LK and the Hate is No Solution Initiative was held in Sokolov calling for an investigation into LK’s death. One of the issues highlighted at the rally was the pressure placed on LK’s family and the future of his children, and other Romani people who have recently passed away under either unclear or violent circumstances. The DSSS attempted to disrupt the gathering with anti-Romani signs. The rally was not mentioned in the media. (Statement from ?en?k R?ži?ka, chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust in the Czech Republic and Vice-Chair of the Equal Opportunities Party, Roma Solidarity News.) 


Case of Milan Juhász: three Roma dead in Hurbanova

  • Facts if the Shooting: Milan Juhász, an off-duty 51 year old municipal policeman, shoots dead three members of a Roma family in Hurbanova, a small town in southern Slovakia, part of an ethnically mixed Slovak Hungarian Roma region, on the plain of the River Danube. Two other Roma injured in the attack. When brought before a judge, he said ‘I woke up in the morning with the thought that I have to restore order’. He has been charged with premeditated murder, home intrusion and carrying a concealed weapon. Police initially said that that the shooting was not racially motivated, on the grounds that in such cases more people would have been killed.
  • The dead are Gabriel Lakatoš, 44 year old man, his 19 year old son Mário and 24 (26)-year-old sons in law, Július. The killer reportedly knew the residents of Komáròanská Street, where two Roma families live in neighbouring houses. Interior minister made a statement, adding that four of the five victims of the shooting had criminal records.
  • Public glorification: People Against Racism state that online public discussions have ‘turned into mass glorifications of the murderer and hateful responses towards the victims’. Several media outlets disabled and deleted online public comments after readers posted a large number of offensive comments about the victims. Irena Bihariová said that it was symptomatic that no politician or public authority rejected this tone of discourse or expressed at least elementary solidarity with the victims. Some media outlets have compared the shooting to an August 2010 event in Devinska NováVes in which a Slovak man killed several members of one Roma family, injured several other people in the street and later committed suicide. ‘In both, the media, but also the wider public, sought evidence to ease the gravity of the offenders’ act and elevate him to the position of a martyr… At the same time, evidence was sought regarding the victims’ ‘problematic nature’. (Slovak Sepctator 4 July 2012)
  • Problematic family: Speculation that the police officer could have been connected to the family through business. ‘That was a problematic family. During less than one year we intervened there 13 times. They disturbed public order, burned their garbage, committed shoplifting and other misdemeanours’ says Marián Botos, Chief of the Hurbanovo Municipal police. (Romea 24 June 2012)
  • Opposition: Roma Institute, Centre for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture, Slovak Institute for Mediation sent an open letter to the President, Prime Minister, and Parliament and after state authorities asking for a proper investigation of the shootings and for action against intolerance towards Roma.


Stephen Lawrence inquiry brought about recognition of institutionalised racism and a change in the policing of racial violence.

The highly unpopular power to stop and search was left virtually untouched by Macpherson (officers had merely to account on paper for their action).

Stop and search never went away. It has grown and grown and grown. Police do not carry guns, but violence in everyday encounters continues. There have been 199 deaths of BME people in suspicious circumstances in police custody since 1990, and no police officer has ever been charged with murder.  A culture of impunity has developed amongst police officers. In the case of Mark Duggan, the officers have refused to be interviewed, each given written statement. This lack of justice looms large in Black people’s consciousness.  It is a wound that does not heal.

At the same time, successive anti-terrorist laws have increased the powers of stop and search. There has been something like 98,000 stops at ports under Schedule Seven of the Terrorism Act. (see more details in appendix)

We have seen the growth of covert policing methods, secret evidence and the running of agents. And now we see the importation of the Total Policing model pioneered in the US by the former New York police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe.

To summarise the situation in Europe:

  • In much of Europe a Culture of impunity incorporating collusion with the far Right (Greece, Operation Zeus, Golden Dawns)
  • A lack of democratic norms within intelligence services (Germany, National Socialist Underground)
  • Increasing violence in everyday encounters (Across the whole Europe, examples of deaths in custody)
  • Covert policing and state secrecy is a legacy of the war on terror

So what are the challenges?

The main challenge is to build an approach that sees litigation as one aspect within a political strategy, and builds that strategy up from the grassroots. In relation to this I would like to make three points:

  1. Litigation matters, but good legal advice, at the grassroots is more important still, as well as groups that monitor all aspects of policing – and that those groups come together on a federal level to learn lessons and share experiences. (Model of the Symposium we held in the UK, which could work in German context).  No justice and a sense of victimisation grow, and once a sense of victimisation takes root in a community, it becomes like a wall, that cannot be bridged.   All deaths in custody are important. We do not distinguish between cases. We build cases around families, and communities, and young people, and help them take up these issues themselves. We are facilitators – catalysts – our actions should be about developing leadership. If you fight this in a legal manner, but do not challenge the sense of victimisation, and make things better at a local level, you are doing nothing to challenge the conditions of a ‘perfect storm’ (Oury Jalloy, Ouseman Sey, death of deportees etc).

‘Progress is healing the wound that the blow makes’ (Malcolm X). The law can’t do that alone – we need to do that together. It shouldn’t be left the Black German community to fight police violence – and for the white anti-racists to challenge racial profiling. The campaigns need to be linked up.

  1. Struggle against identity checks, mustn’t just be technical, we have to understand the long term impact of not recognising the humiliation that stop and search engenders.   In the UK, we don’t romanticise the riots. They were not the same as the uprisings of 1981 and 1985.    Five people died, many people lost their homes, their livelihoods etc, these were the most devastating disturbances in England’s history, causing an estimated

The pan-London operation into the riots is expected to last until 2014, to cost at least £33.5 million and involve the scrutinising of over 40,000 hours of CCTV footage to track down each and everyone involved.

  1. All struggles for democratic policing are connected. As I mentioned earlier, the gains we made from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry was better prosecution of hate crimes. But we now find that the prosecution of hate crimes has some perverse effects – for instance we have the highest incarceration rate of young people in the word, we do not want to see more and more young people put in prison due to our campaigns. Furthermore, the State constantly extends the definition of hate crimes to clamp down on political views it does not agree with, and to protect its geo-political alliance in the name of the war on terror.

In this respect, religious profiling has now entered the policing of demonstrations, and in this the police take their lead from foreign policy concerns, and geo-politics.  In the UK, demonstrations were held against the deaths of 1,400 Palestinians including 330 children during Operation Cast Lead in Occupied Palestine. The anti-racist movement mobilised in outrage when we saw large numbers of Muslim youth arrested on these demonstrations and sentenced to long prison sentences for trivial offences.  (One youth got an eighteen month sentence, for throwing a bottle). The fact that there were more arrest of Muslim students, and they got lengthier prison sentences, shows up the religious and racial profiling within our police forces. It was concerted grassroots pressure that showed this up, and many of these sentences were reduced on appeal.  I know that  in Belgium, similar challenges are taking place to religious profiling in the policing of demonstrations against Israeli human rights abuses in Occupied Palestine, as studies of police operations have shown that police discriminated against people from Muslim neighbourhoods, and created a special filter to prevent them even getting to a demonstration, thus denying freedom of assembly. So, I think there are lessons here for you in Germany, in observing the policing of demonstrations in support of Palestine.


Racism is always about demonising the other – we demonise them before we can exclude them – and we exclude them by targeting them for special measures such as racial profiling. The way the State creates enemy images and demonises different communities creates a ‘brick wall’, between the various communities.  The frontline of any progressive politics is the breathing and vital concept of solidarity. It is only by building our own ‘wall’, not to divide people but to protect them that can ward of f the very real threat that racial profiling poses  to open, democratic, and  non-racist societies.




Racial profiling in UK

(1) Stop and search powers

Section 1: Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (allows search of person or vehicle for stolen or prohibited items, on reasonable suspicion) forms basis for large majority of searches in England and Wales. EHRC report Stop and think (2010) shows black people six to eight times more likely to be stopped.

Section 60: Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (no reasonable suspicion required for stop and search of persons or vehicles for weapons in area where senior police officer has issued an authorisation in anticipation of violence). The use has increased dramatically. LSE and Open Society Justice Initiative investigation in England and Wales found black people 30 times more likely than white to be stopped (2010). EHRC report Race disproportionality in stops and searches under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (2012) also found disproportionate use both of authorisations (targeting certain communities) and of stops. Operation Blunt 2 launched by the Met police in May 2008 to tackle knife crime, used section 60 powers in high-risk areas, amongst other tactics. In the first eight months of Operation Blunt 2 officers made 269 stop and searches predominantly of teenagers and young men.

Section 44: Terrorism Act 2000 → stop and search of persons and vehicles in specified area subject of authorisation given by senior officer (no reasonable suspicion required). Power repealed and replaced in July 2012 after European Court ruled (Gillan and Quinton v UK, 2010) that the breadth of the discretion led to arbitrariness and the risk of discriminatory use (the court noted that ‘black and Asian persons are disproportionately affected by the powers’) and was unlawful. Cageprisoners’ analysis showed that black people were 3.4 times more likely to be arrested than whites. Black and Asian people were much more likely to be stopped under Section 44, and police use of the powers grew fourfold between 2004 and 2008, leading to concerns that ethnic profiling was becoming entrenched in policing practice.

Under the amended legislation, persons and vehicles may still be stopped and searched without reasonable suspicion but authorisation must relate to suspected imminent act of terrorism and must be renewed by Secretary of State after 48 hours. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights reported in June and September 2011 that section 47A did not contain adequate human rights protection.

Schedule 7: Terrorism Act 2000 allows stop and detention for up to nine hours at airport (no reasonable suspicion required). Stop-watch and Open Society Justice Initiative report that in 2010-11 almost 60 per cent of the 65,684 people stopped under Schedule 7 were BME.

The over-representation of BME people as targets of ‘hard’ law enforcement methods cannot be accounted for by reference to differing crime rates or ‘street availability’. According to a Runnymede Trust report, Ethnic profiling: the use of ‘race’ in UK law enforcement (2010), police stereotypes and prejudices inform practice: Asians are regarded as devious, liars and potential illegal immigrants, and Black people are seen by police officers as prone to violent crime and drug abuse, to be incomprehensible, suspicious, aggressive and troublesome.

In September 2011, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that the UK ‘review the impact of ‘stop and search’ powers on ethnic minority groups under various pieces of legislation’. The Committee recommended that all stops are properly recorded, whether or not leading to searches, and that a copy of the record is provided to the person concerned for all such incidents in order to safeguard the rights of the people subject to these laws and to check possible abuse. The Committee warned that the current laws and practices may not only encourage racial and ethnic stereotyping by police officers but may also encourage impunity and fail to promote accountability in the police service for possible abuses.

(2) Targeting of foreign nationals

Scotland Yard has drafted in immigration officials to each of London’s 72 custody suites in a drive to target foreigners arrested in the capital.

Operation Terminus is a pan-London project under which teams of immigration-trained police and UK Border Agency officials have been quietly deployed to every custody suite in London. The force said it was determined to deal more effectively with the 70,000 foreign nationals arrested each year. But organisations like the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL) said the presence of UKBA officials at police stations would put foreign nationals off reporting crime. (From Guardian 5.10.12)

Definition of institutionalised racism

Institutional racism – when a whole organization’s procedures and policies disadvantage BME people. In the UK the 1999 Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence defined institutional racism for the first time: ‘the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture of ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behavior which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping which disadvantaged minority ethnic people.’

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