You may have heard, we're not big on The Police at the best of times, but I have just witnessed the most shocking act of violence I've ever seen in my life and it came at the hands of the Police on Brixton high-street.
Brixton is about as depressing as a place can be this Christmas. Woolworths is haunted. The two high street clothing shops have become a Poundland and a 99p shop respectively. FADS has been replaced by a Pawn shop with a sexy poster on the door that reads "Jewelery? Pawn it!". The local DIY shop of 20 something years 4orce Homecare is now a gutted rug shop until the lease runs its course. H.Samuel has been replaced with a shop that has no doors but the keys to the shutters so sells recession clothing at £1 an item. The legendary sports shop Frank Johnson and neighbouring Jimmy's Cafe have been abandoned next to the new similarly vacant penthouses across the road. Brixton Express hasn't been touched since it burned down in the summer and if the reports are to be believed than I would assume three of our remaining chain shops at least will suffer bankruptcy in the new year. Christmas 2008 in Brixton is a very, very depressing place.
On my way through this afternoon I saw what appeared to be the aftermath of a car crash of some kind. A black Range Rover was pulled over the left of the street opposite the Job Centre Plus behind which were an ambulance and a Police van. As I passed the motorcade I saw what was causing minimal fuss on the high street, a black man in his early to late 30s talking to a Policeman with a woman in her early to late 30s holding crutches watching on. I naturally assumed this had something to do with the incident a couple of yards up the street. I kept my eye on the situation because I've always been fascinated with how people react to the Police and how the Police react to people, especially black people, especially in Brixton. Not much was happening as the young white officer in all blue with a blue Bullet Proof vest talked quietly with the man. I should stress at this point that I do not know why the man had been pulled over or why he was talking to the officer at all. It could have been for any number of reasons. Reasonable deduction would tell you that a traffic violation or a crash of some kind would make the most sense though (it's a very tight street that the Police couldn't be stupid enough to pull somebody over on and it was just beyond a traffic light). With that said, out of nowhere (and I really mean nowhere, no voices were raised, on arms raised, no threatening language was used) the Policeman raised both his palms and exerted a mighty, full-pressure shove to the man's chest (this was not a disabling push, this was a full impact shove). The man took a step back and responded by shouting "Why the fuck did you just push me?" at which point the officer proceeded to repeat the action "What the fuck? Don't touch me" the man shouts, this time with his arms raised above his head in a gesture which could only be interpreted as one of confusion. But with this man's protestation came a (failed) attempt at a grapple, which of course led to the officer kicking the man's shins twice, which again failed to bring the man down, naturally the officer then moved onto the man's groin, which he proceeded to punt as hard as he could; as he kicked, two other officers revealed themselves from inside the parked van to support. By the time they reached the incident the accused man had been pushed twice, kicked in the shins at least twice, kicked in the groin at least twice and had finally had his coat pulled over his head rendering him defenseless. During the three to four second gap in which it becomes apparent to me, those three officers and everybody else who saw (naturally at this point there are 40-50 onlookers all increasingly worried) that this man is now completely harmless (that is to assume he was at any point capable of harm) the original officer wields a small hand held plastic object aloft and charges the man, a loud rattle and a large blue flash shock the man into a crumpled heap on the floor, the two back-up officers cuff and surround the man's body. The original officer then raises up and turns to face his audience, a look of terror strikes his face as he sees what has now become a road full of people upset, outraged and terrified by this incident. Every impulse in my body screamed for me to attack that officer, I had three shopping bags in my hand and put them down twice as I attempted to control my emotions. As the audience increased, the tempers grew (this is Brixton after all, we know what Police brutality looks like), for the good of all those people but mainly for the good of that officer (the other two didn't partake in as much offense as the original Policeman) three Panda cars sped around the corner (this incident literally took place 30 seconds from the Police Station and disbursement commenced). Knowing my own mind and my own frustration at that time I decided it would be best to leave the situation as was.
I'll keep a look out for any mention of the incident in the South London Press, The Evening Standard, The Voice or The Nation because I can't imagine that was a regular incident. It's certainly not something I've ever witnessed, especially not on a high street at Christmas.
I've seen some violence in my time, I think we all have, so for me to say that what I saw today was as disturbing and violent as anything I've ever seen actually does mean something. For those of you who think the Police should not be held accountable by public vote for their actions I say you haven't felt the full force of the law's long arm in Brown's Britain. We were on tour last year with Bizzle when we were told a friend of the group had been savagely attacked in Brixton for filming an over the top arrest, we dedicated our shows in Brighton and Islington to him.
We have to have a Police force we can trust, a Police force we can rely on, not this politicised gang of wide boy career thugs. I am about to make a formal complaint, whatever good that will do.