A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Given the extreme violence of American life, when compared to other rich nations, why would the Brits consider for even an instant emulating the U.S. criminal justice system? What could American cops teach them?
How to fill prisons to overflowing, make millions of citizens hate authority, and saturate the nation with guns and drugs? But then, why do white Americans tolerate such a system? The answer: the aim of white supremacy is not efficiency or justice, but to keep non-whites in their place. White racists in Britain ‘are jealous of the absolute savagery of the U.S. criminal justice system’s treatment of Black people.’
In the wake of rebellions that spread to much of urban Britain, the ruling Conservative Party government is not only sounding like their racist American cousins, they were at least toying with the idea of importing William Bratton , the former police chief of New York, Los Angeles and Boston, to put the fear of the law into the U.K.’s darker residents. On first examination, it seems counterintuitive that anyone would look to the United States for role models in the criminal justice arena. The U.S. is by far the most violent among the wealthy nations of the world. Gangs are endemic, the U.S. is the drug marketplace of the planet. Guns are everywhere, both legal and illegal. It’s a scary place to live. What could the British possibly find to envy about America, when it comes to law and order?
The United States is the Great Gulag Nation, the planetary prison dungeon, home to 25 percent of its prison inmates. One out of every eight imprisoned persons in the world is a Black American….
Wait a minute! That’s got to be the allure to the white racists in Britain. They are jealous of the absolute savagery of the U.S. criminal justice system’s treatment of Black people. They look with awe on American cops like Bill Bratton whom, they imagine, would punish British Blacks in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester as he did it America’s big cities.
Not that the Brits aren’t trying to live up to American standards of racist law enforcement. Blacks in the U.K. are 26 times more likely to be stopped and frisked  on the streets than whites, and seven times more likely to go to prison. But it’s all in the scale of things. The Americans stop, arrest, and imprison far larger numbers of people, both by percentage and in raw numbers. Whereas 150,000 people were stopped and frisked on all the streets of England and Wales in 2008, nearly 600,000 were stopped in New York City alone. Britain’s total incarcerated population is less than 100,000 people. The U.S. is only five times as large as Britain, but imprisons 24 times as many people: 2.4 million. And, when it comes to shooting Blacks and Latinos down in the street like dogs, nobody beats the American cop, in eagerness to fire his weapon or the number of bullets he’s willing to pump into a Black body.
The Brits, having a ‘special relationship’ with the United States, know all this, but they want to follow in America’s bloody footsteps, anyway. Because, for white racists in Britain, just like their counterparts in the U.S., it’s not about efficient and effective policing, or any civilized notion of justice. It’s about hate. It’s about racial dominance. It’s about keeping Black people in their place.
That’s why the British courts are sending 60 percent of people arrested in the rebellion to jail to await trial , rather than the usual ten percent. That’s why a single mother who accepted the gift of a pair of shorts that turned out to be looted got five months behind bars. And that’s why the prime minister is spouting racist nonsense about the inferior culture of non-whites – especially Blacks – in Britain.
It’s all so very familiar to us on the western side of the Atlantic, in the nation that was built on genocide, slavery and racial supremacy. To the Black people of Britain we say, ‘Welcome to America.’ Welcome to the Terrordome.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to http://www.BlackAgendaReport.com .
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com .