Sunday, January 15, 2012

add your voice for justice for kevin williams

Even as people were dying, the official lies about the Hillsborough Disaster started. Fans were massed outside the 1989 football match with minutes to go until kick-off, so police ordered gates open and there was a crush that pinned people up against the fences at the front of the crowd.

Watching it unfold from the police control box the man who'd ordered the gates open, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, told officials that the gates had been forced open by fans. Afterwards, laywers and senior police edited hundreds witness statements to remove material damaging to the police.

The inquest into the 96 deaths made two indefensible decisions that served to cover up the truth. They ruled that everybody had died of the same cause, traumatic asphyxia, and they decided that everyone was dead by 3.15pm. This latter decision meant that any evidence from after this time was not admissable and so was kept from the public.

At a stroke this denied any place for a vast array of accounts from medical professionals, police and others who had seen people suffer and die after 3.15. It meant that nobody got to question why the police would not let ambulances into the ground.

Fifteen year old Kevin Williams was pulled out from the crush alive at 3.28pm. An off-duty police officer who found a pulse at 3.37pm tried to flag an ambulance down. Kevin was saveable, but they cordoned off the care on the day.

Kevin's mother Anne has long campaigned for a new inquest into her son's death. The evidence is extremely strong, both that he was alive after 3.15 and that he died from other injuries than traumatic asphyxia; injuries that could have been treated.

If a new inquest rules that these things are indeed true, it means the original inquest is proven false. This, in turn, means a reopening of the inquest into the other 95 victims and a demolition of the cruel whitewashed stonewalling that the families of the victims have faced for so long.

Here's where you come in.

Anne Williams has launched a government e-petition to force a parliamentary discussion of the case. A previous e-petition asked for disclosure of Cabinet files relating to Hillsborough. A four hour Commons debate and unanimous vote agreed. Even though it will expose police and politicians lies, there is huge momentum for the truth about Hillsborough to be revealed. How long that momentum will last is unknown; certainly, our best shot at proving that the inquest was a cover up is this petition that has only days to go.

There needs to be over 100,000 signatures to force the parliamentary debate. There are 25,000 on Kevin Williams' petition and only four days left.

This is not about football. This is about justice. This is about holding the state and its agents to account for a massive arse-covering abuse of power. If you are a British citizen or UK resident you can sign the petition here. It needs to be done - signed and the confirmation email clicked - before 19th January.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

don't bite the hand that beats you

It is gratifying that two of Stephen Lawrence's racist killers have been convicted, but as they were part of a five strong gang and have eluded justice for 18 years, it is far too little far too late.

Amongst the reasons for the delays were a Tory government deeply committed to defending the police from criticism no matter how valid; we had to wait until the Blair government before a proper inquiry was launched.

The Metropolitan Police were forced to admit to 'institutional racism' and have a serious crackdown on overt racism in the force. A Home Office report of 2005 assessed the impact of the Lawrence Inquiry on the Met and found that overt racism amongst officers at work is indeed largely unacceptable these days, though homophobia, transphobia, sexism and other bigotry are all still alive and well.

There has been a lot written about the police not taking racist attacks seriously, and strong allegations of the father of one of Lawrence's killers bribing officers. What I haven't seen mentioned is the police actively attacking the campaigns for justice.

Almost two years ago, a year before the outing of Mark Kennedy put the issue into the spotlight, an undercover Metropolitan police officer gave an interview to the Observer. Deployed by his boss Bob Lambert, the officer infiltrated far left and anti-racist groups for four years in the mid-1990s; exactly the time when the Lawrence campaign was actively working for justice from a heads-in-the-sand police force. He said

At first, I could convince myself that my job was about fighting subversion, but once I began targeting the groups set up to win justice for those who had died in police custody or had been victims of racism, it was clear that what the loved ones of the deceased wanted was justice. My presence in the groups made that justice harder to obtain.

The officer - identified in the piece only as 'Officer A' but subsequently "named"as Peter Black - does not specify which campaigns he infiltrated and undermined. The use of the plural is interesting and, given that the Lawrence campaign was by far the most prominent, it would be surprising if he had not targetted them.

Even if the Lawrence campaign was not amongst those Peter Black infiltrated, he will have disrupted others just as serious and deserving of justice. Whichever campaigns they were, it is one of the starkest illustrations of unaccountable political policing yet unearthed in the whole undercover scandal. Whilst infiltrated groups like Climate Camp did not riot (even to the extent of putting their hands in the air chanting 'this is not a riot' whilst being batoned by police), there is undeniably some crossover between anti-capitalist environmental groups and public order situations that kick off into riots.

But with campaigns for justice for those who died in custody, or those whose attacks were under-investigated and dismissed, there is no such hardcore element. The police sent in an officer to grieving relatives pretending to befriend and support them when he was actually there to make their plight worse. The twisted callousness, the absolute lack of conscience and compassion, beggars belief.

Why would the police deploy vastly expensive operatives to these families and their campaigns, what were those groups planning that could possibly warrant such deceit and intrusion? Put simply, they could make the police look as incompetent, belligerent and racist as they actually are. The one thing that power does above all other concerns is protect its position.

So never mind the validity of your cause, never mind the plain documented truth of what happened, if you're going to make police look bad then you can expect the most unaccountable, invasive tactics available to be used against you.