Brixton policing event scaled back after criticism from activist group


The operation included a heavy police presence and four arrests were made.


By Jaskaran Bahia

A planned police operation in Brixton was allegedly scaled back yesterday after heavy criticism from an activist group.

‘Brixton Unite’, a police and council day of action, was apparently set to include a heavy Border Agency presence as well as a truancy sweep and tenancy evictions, but campaigner Lee Jasper says these were cut after his group Black Activists Rising Against Cuts protested against the plans.

Despite the so-called cancellation of the main event, there was still a heavy police presence in the area, particularly at Brixton Tube Station where a number of arrests were made.

Twenty stalls were also set up in Windrush Square to hand out information to encourage young people into training and work.

Mr Jasper, co-chair of BARAC, said that the original plans for the day were similar to the infamous Operation Swamp tactics in 1981, which led to wide-scale riots.

“The event was reduced to something we can be relatively happy with, although the drug enforcement aspect of the operation was simply a way for the council and police to save face,” he said.

He added that events such as ‘Brixton Unite’ are inherently tied to issues of race and gentrification in Brixton.

“We’re putting the police and the mayor on notice. The black community won’t put up with this entirely toxic system. There needs to be fundamental change and reform,” he said.

Mr Jasper added that British Transport Police attempted to arrest him, something which was aborted after ‘vociferous public support’ from those around him.

Lambeth Council defended the event as a successful demonstration of their desire to clampdown on gang related activity following two recent fatal stabbings, while also engaging the community.

Wesley Walters-Stephenson, Lambeth Community Police Consultative Group chairman, said: “It’s important to give people reassurance that crime in Lambeth is not being ignored.”

The British Transport Police (BTP) confirmed four arrests were made for possession of Class A drugs, possession of Class B drugs, possession of an offensive weapon and an outstanding warrant for actual bodily harm, respectively.

Photo courtesy of sharkbait, with thanks.

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