'We're all considered suspects'

Alister Morgan finds a heated reaction from young blacks in London
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The Independent Online
Steve Campbell, 24, is a civil servant and lives in Wandsworth.

One time I had gone to my sister's house because she has Sky Sports and I wanted to watch the basketball. Her video was busted so I brought one from my house. I knew that I would look a bit strange walking down the street with a video under my arm so I put it in a sports bag.

The game finished about 2am and I started the three minute walk back to my house. The next thing I knew, a car screeched up alongside me and two policemen jumped out and asked me what was in the bag. I knew that they had stopped me because I'm a single black male out in the street late at night but I didn't say anything. For the next 15 minutes, I tried to convince them that the video belonged to me. I gave them a lot of minute detail about the video to prove it was mine, but they wouldn't listen. They were trying to get me to take them to where I lived. I didn't want to get busted but I didn't want to take them home because it was the middle of the night and my family would not appreciate being woken up. I told them my address and showed them my house but they insisted, and we ended up going inside the house and waking up my entire family.

This crackdown will legitimise stopping black people. The majority of black people already think they get stopped more than whites. When it used to happen you at least felt that you were the victim of racism. Now, it seems, policemen have been given a licence - almost an order - to stop young blacks because now we're all being considered suspects.

As someone who considers himself British, I'm dismayed that colour is still an issue. I was brought up in England but as soon as any trouble happens I stop being British and become black.'

Kane, 21, is unemployed and lives in Brixton

I'm not denying that some blacks commit muggings but the statistics tell only part of the story. You've got to read between the lines. I've been stopped by the police, but I don't let it worry me. I look them in the eye and scowl at them because I have no respect for them. You have to earn respect and the police don't bother trying because they know they can do what they want. That Bernard Manning stuff is a perfect example...how many black people were shocked by all those policemen shitting themselves with laughter listening to racist jokes? They should have been arresting Manning for inciting racial hatred but instead they paid him money.

If they catch more criminals, black or white, in this new crackdown then that's good but they are going to sweat a lot of innocent blacks trying to do it. I love it when the police stop me and ask me questions. They check my name, run it through their computers and then they find out that I don't have a record. It's like saying: 'Yeah, you think you know me but you know nothing about me'. That's a good feeling.'

Robert, 18, is unemployed and lives in Brixton.

I've heard it all before; black kids are into thieving and drapesing [robbing] old ladies. Everyone believes the police - that's the problem. If I'm out with my mates, the police drive by slowly, giving us that 'we've got our eyes on you' look. Sometimes they stop and search us...you get used to it after a while. One night they stopped some of us. They had us up against the car a were searching us and going through our pockets. We started running [cursing] them under our breath. One of them got vexed and started slapping us about.

I've never mugged anyone but I do know some older boys from school who have mugged people, but half of the offenders are white. This crackdown won't really affect me because I've got nothing to hide. I think those crime figures were bogus anyway, but people will believe anything the police say or what they see in the papers.

You can't walk down the street at night without grannies clutching their handbags as you pass by. I think that the older generation of whites are frightened of young blacks. Condon is going to step up the harassment and make life harder.'

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