Anti-racism campaigner Stafford Scott told VICE, "Our kids are bearing the brunt of institutional racism and ultimately paying with their lives."
Stafford Scott speaks during a march from Broadwater Farm to Tottenham Police Station for the sixth anniversary of Mark Duggan's death (Thabo Jaiyesimi / Alamy Live News)
The British state's structural racism is causing an epidemic of knife crime, a leading anti-racism campaigner has told VICE.
Speaking on the British Dream, VICE's UK politics podcast, Stafford Scott – Race Advocacy Officer at the Monitoring Group charity – said, "There’s a preoccupation with labelling young black kids as gangsters. They’re taking liberties with our young people and tarring them all with the same brush, which creates an environment where they behave in the way that they do."
Scott slammed the police's denial that this constitutes a crisis. "We're a community in crisis. Over 50 young people have lost their lives on the streets of London in this year," he said.
He noted that the government's reaction after the 2011 riots, sparked by Mark Duggan’s death, still has an effect on today's situation. "They created the bogey man – the gangs," Scott explained. "They said the riots were the works of the gangs to deny any social or economic drivers that underlay the root causes."
The UK has seen a 20 percent annual rise in violent crime, while other types of crime decreased. Earlier this month six teenagers, including a 13-year-old boy, were wounded by knives in the space of just 90 minutes in the capital. Last week, Home Secretary Amber Rudd introduced a £40 million Serious Violence Strategy, vowing to do "whatever it takes" to stop violent crime.
But Scott doubts if more police officers carrying out stop-and-search will actually solve the problem. "I saw them searching older guys for possession," he said. "They are not there to catch the individuals that are carrying out the crimes and are a concern to our community. Our kids are bearing the brunt of institutional racism and ultimately paying with their lives."
Listen to the full interview on the British Dream.
Words: Nana Baah