Letter: Young, black and stereotyped

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The Independent Online
From Mr Naurajudin Gabisi

Sir: Sir Paul Condon said (report, 8 July) that evidence shows that 80 per cent of muggings in London are carried out by young black males. He suggests that a forum between the police and the community should take place to discuss the problem before a new operation starts in early August to tackle street crimes. How am I as a young black male to take this?

Living in the UK it is not long before young black males realise that they are stereotyped as the dangerous black mugger. When I walk down the high street, women clutch their handbags; I enter shops only to be followed everywhere I go; police question me and ask for identification.

I have never committed a crime or been in trouble but these things happen to me, purely and simply because I am black. Thus the comments of Sir Paul only increase the false images of black men, which creates resentment in the law-abiding majority of black males like myself.

The acquittal of police officers in the Joy Gardner case, the death of Brian Douglas in police hands, evidence showing that black males are eight times more likely to be stopped by police and are disproportionately represented in prison has created a storm of criticism of the police. Now the police can say, 'Look, black people are more likely to commit crimes', thus excusing the behaviour of the police towards innocent people.

It goes without saying that blacks abhor muggers as much as anyone, especially as we are also more likely to be the victims. To suggest otherwise, is to deny contributing factors of crime; in London, young black men are three times more likely to be unemployed, and more likely to be expelled from school.

While by no means excusing street crimes, the problems underlying them are far too complex to be targeted in such a crude, race-specific way. It panders to racists, alienates the leaders whose support the police claim to want, and subjects more innocent young black men like myself to constant questioning and heavy treatment by the police. Whites fear that I'm a potential mugger and the view of society at large is that because of the colour of my skin I can aspire to nothing but criminality.

Yours sincerely

Naurajudin Gabisi

London, E1

8 July