A cop being charged with Chris Kaba’s murder doesn’t change the racism of the British state

Chris Kaba protest Met Police
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The cop who shot Chris Kaba dead in south London on 5 September 2022 has been charged with murder. People are labelling the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as “historic”. However, others are being cautious and reminding us that the Met Police are still institutionally racist.

Chris Kaba: a cop up on a murder charge

As the Canary previously reported:

Police shot Chris in Streatham, south London, on Monday 5 September. He wasn’t carrying a firearm. BBC News reported the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) excuse for Kaba’s death as being that the car he was driving was linked to a previous firearms incident. Chris’s father, Prosper, said his son’s killing was “racist” and “criminal”.

The IOPC carried out a homicide investigation into Chris’s killing. In March 2023, it passed its conclusions to the CPS. Now, as campaign group INQUEST wrote, the cop who fired the shot that killed Chris has been charged with murder:

The officer will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court tomorrow (21 September). The officer is known only as NX121 at this stage.

Chris’s family has been waiting over a year for this decision. During this time, the family, their supporters, and Black communities have had to repeatedly protest to ensure Chris’s case stays in the public eye:

Read on...

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However, Canary writer Ife Thompson still rightly pointed out the length of time it took to charge the cop:

The CPS charging this cop is “historic” as people noted. However, there’s little doubt that the odds of a conviction are stacked against the family.

Institutional violence – yet no one is accountable

INQUEST pointed out that since 1990, no cop has ever been successfully prosecuted for murder. Only one has been successfully prosecuted for manslaughter. The CPS has only ever brought ten other murder or manslaughter charges against cops – and none of these were successful. This is despite there being, as INQUEST noted, “1,871 deaths in or following police custody or contact in England and Wales”. That’s a conviction rate of 0.05%.

So, as author Dr Muna Abdi noted, the CPS charging a cop should be viewed with caution – as it doesn’t mean they’ll be convicted:

Moreover, campaigner Tashmia Owen pointed out what the predictable response from the press might be:

Of course, the UK corporate media has form on this – as does the criminal justice system. Cops killed Mark Duggan in August 2011, and as the Canary previously reported:

Despite police claiming he had a gun in a sock, the inquest into his death found he was unarmed at the time he was killed… he was smeared in the press as a gangster, this was aided by police officers, one of whom testified at his inquest that he was “among Europe’s most violent criminals”. However, no evidence was given to back up this claim, and Duggan only had two convictions for minor offences. Furthermore, an image of Duggan grieving at his daughter’s funeral was deliberately cropped to accompany gang related articles. Despite being unarmed, the inquest jury still ruled it was a lawful killing.

Ultimately though, as Michael Morgan noted:

Charging one cop with a Black man’s murder doesn’t address the Met Police’s institutional racism. Nor does the Met’s current campaign around its tattered reputation.

The Met: broken beyond repair

Currently, the force is conducting a purge of what the media has branded “rogue officers” – like Wayne Couzens, who kidnapped, raped, and murdered Sarah Everard. However, the idea that the Met’s problems are due to rogue officers or ‘bad apples’ is preposterous.

Even by its own metrics, the Met has suspended 201 officers and put 860 more on restricted duties as it investigates them. That’s over 3 in every 100 officers who have done something so serious it warrants action against them. And that’s just the ones we know about.

It’s institutional racism, misogyny, and homophobia which pervades the Met Police, not bad apples – and which ultimately comes from the state itself. The CPS is charging a cop with Chris’s murder against this backdrop.

This changes nothing

The CPS’s decision is a huge move forward for Chris’s family. It is also a significant moment for Black communities.

But let’s be clear: this changes nothing. The Met, and ultimately the British state, are still racist, colonialist endeavours which subject Black people to violence in a society that has white supremacy as its lynchpin. Charging one cop won’t change this – and to think it will is just enabling the subjugation of marginalised communities to continue.

Featured image via the Canary

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  • Show Comments
    1. Given the substantial proportion of non-white officers and managers in the police, it’s difficult to substantiate a claim of white supremacy in the forces as a whole. This is all about class, as usual. In a capitalist state, the police were created and exist to protect the interests of the owners of capital against the workers. Racism is enjoyable and a useful tool for many coppers of all ethnic backgrounds, of course.

    2. Almost every week young black men are murdered in London usually by other young black men.Within 5 miles of where I live I can think of 3 14 year old black kids murdered in the last few years.Needless to say thr Canary and BLM couldnt care less because it doesnt fit their political agenda.As for all the people who died in police custody,how did they die?Some will have died of drug overdoses,some of natural causes,some will have choked on drugs they tried to conceal by swallowing.The case of Chris Kaba will go to trial but the Canary and all the usual suspects made their minds up long ago without knowing the facts.I dont know what happened either but I would trust a jury that has heard all the evidence over Steve Topple and co anytime.

      1. Given your blithe unconcern for the people who have died whilst in police custody – when the police have a duty of care – it is likely you support the utterly catastrophic War on Drugs that Conservative and Labour governments have prosecuted so relentlessly for decades against the working class. It isn’t wealthy politicians who end up in a cell, charged with possession of a substance that is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco. Middle class users of recreational drugs can live their lives in a haze of addictions, free from the fear of arrest, assault, conviction and years in a stinking, dangerous prison.

      2. If your child goes to shool one day, and is stabbed to death by another kid, obviously you’d want tighter security at that school, and would expect some form of retribution to the murderer.

        However if your kid goes to school one day, and is stabbed to death by a TEACHER at that school, you’d go absolutely ballistic.

        What is the difference?

        The difference, as Airlane said, is that the teacher has a DUTY OF CARE, as well as shouldn’t be murdering people anyway. This is why parents who murder their kids get stronger sentences.

        Now imagine that teacher keeps working at the school, with no punishments or retribution, as though YOUR KID’S life had zero meaning.

        That’s not ‘salt in the wound’, its an absolute avalanche of Himalayan salt being sanded into your flesh.

        Your innate assumption that you personally are above any such behaviour by the police screams volumes. As to not only your ‘race’ but also your Class status.

        Even individual police officers themselves will admit there are serious institutional racism problems, and its a rare ‘white’ working class community that hasn’t faced severe discrimination in Britain too.

        One does not improve a situation by ignoring or sweeping problems under the carpet – unless, in some way you think you benefit from the current corruption. How do YOU benefit from this police corruption, “Shredni”?

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