20 July, 2008
So what did happen in Croydon?
A majority of commenters are absolutely clear that the police incited the trouble, whereas others are equally adamant the litter-dropper and her friend kicked it off by attacking the policemen, who were compelled to defend themselves.
Perhaps the discrepancy is not so puzzling after all.
In the first place, how many of these "witnesses" were close enough to the action to see and hear it in detail? How many saw the entire incident, from the policeman's instruction to the schoolgirl to pick up the dropped litter and her reaction? Or was their attention first attracted by the ruckus when the violence kicked off?
I suspect it was generally the latter, at which point people's prejudices begin to colour their judgement and their memory. At this stage you are watching a loose fight involving an escalating number of people. If you dislike the police, you will see policemen striking a schoolgirl with his baton and see typical police brutality. If you are a Left-Liberal, you will see policemen attacking a Black schoolgirl and see out-of-control police brutality and police racism. If you are a Black, immersed in the Victim culture that the White Liberal Elite has worked so assiduously to foster, you will see the racist Babylon brutalizing innocent sistren as part of the ongoing White Racist campaign to keep the Black Man in subjugation. If you are an ordinary White English person, fed up of what you perceive as a disintegrating social infrastructure and fed up of "the benefits of our vibrant diversity", you will see shocking but typical and arrogant Black yoof committing "mindless" violence against policemen just doing their job. And, pace commenter Poonam, who is "Indian and therefore not racist", if you are South Asian you will see typical Black barbarism and monkey behaviour. And if you are Chinese, you will just shake your head at such typically incomprehensible gwei-lo barbarism and go quietly about your business of accumulating wealth.
So what's the truth? Perhaps CCTV evidence will help to resolve the issue, but I am not particularly sanguine. The Croydon Guardian's comment thread certainly raises questions in my mind and I would like to know more, but frankly my prejudices in the matter are merely stirred a little, not shaken.