OVER the weekend the bereaved families of Rashan Charles and Edson Da Costa made their pleas for justice.
They did so with restraint and dignity. It is now up to everyone else to see that justice is provided, that it is provided quickly and that it tackles root causes and not just the circumstances of death.
Too many deaths have occurred. Too often investigation takes years, not weeks, and is limited to immediate circumstances.
In May this year the family of Olaseni Lewis, who died in 2010, were told of the inquest conclusion that “excessive force” by the police may have contributed to his death.
However, it is not enough to blame the police — responsible though they are. The police operate within legal structures over which they have no control.
One of the slogans displayed over the weekend was “Jail the immigration enforcers.” Today Britain does indeed have a “director general of immigration enforcement.”
This appointment was made at the beginning of July under the terms of the 2016 Immigration Act — the law that introduced a duty on landlords to police the immigration status of all tenants and which toughened the same rules for employers.
Currently this Act is directed at people almost exclusively of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) origin.
It targets them in a society where racist attacks are escalating and where discrimination, direct or indirect, remains endemic.
According to the House of Commons briefing paper issued in June, unemployment for young people of Pakistani or Bangladeshi extraction is running at 28 per cent, for black young people at 25 per cent and for whites at 12 per cent. The proportion of senior police officers of BAME origin is 3 per cent, of judges 7 per cent — and in the general population 13 per cent.
This why we must welcome the Labour Party manifesto pledge to remake our immigration laws as we leave the EU: “Labour will not scapegoat migrants nor blame them for economic failures. Labour will develop and implement fair immigration rules. We will not discriminate between people of different races or creeds.”
Today, however, as elsewhere in the EU, we effectively have a “whites-only” free movement policy. It is so in Britain. It is also across the EU. For anyone living in Asia or Africa it is almost impossible to join family members settled within EU boundaries unless you have significant wealth or high qualifications.
As in Britain, police across the EU are required to search for “illegals.” Almost all will be from Africa and Asia. Up until last year this enforcement was mainly the work of national police rather than EU border force Frontex. Last year this changed.
Under EU regulation 2016/1624 the EU Border and Coastguard Agency will now take increasing responsibility for ensuring uniform enforcement across the EU. Last year it forcibly deported 10,000. This year the figure is likely to reach 20,000.
This is other side of the EU “free movement” coin. European Council President Donald Tusk, at the same press conference that he announced the new powers for Frontex, also pledged to work for a better future for “young Europeans.” “Young Europeans” are free to move. If you are black, you are suspect.
This is the stereotyping that underpins the institutional racism in our society. It is what must be ended if justice is to be secured for Charles, Costa and Lewis.