Tuesday, 15 September 2009


As I approached the carnival along the canal from Harrow Road, a Police helicopter circled menacingly over head, a large video camera protruded from the front of the copter like the stinger on a bee. I quite rightly felt like I was being watched. I could hear the music even though I was still a few blocks away.

As soon as I reached Westbourne park I could see the rows of the Police, outside the road by the station there was at least one policemen every five meters. Is carnival really that much of a 'crime hot spot' that it requires a policemen to be stationed every 5 meters along the carnival route? Surely they could hire security or ushers like at other festivals or public events?
This year was worse than last year. Police formed human chains across roads in an attempt to control the flow of human traffic. Judging by the time it took to get anywhere, they were slowing things down enormously. I know that the mets finest were only there for my protection but carnival is meant to be a joyous affair, and I find it hard to enjoy myself when police are eyeing me up like I'm their next suspect.

There were even police fully padded out in riot gear, with helmets, padded out from head to toe, ready I assume if a war were to break out. I could see them standing at the side of the road, fidgeting with their batons, waiting for someone to make the first move.

Funny story, my friend who a is a young mixed-race chap was walking home from Carnival along the Harrow Rd with my another friend of mine who is incidentally white. Both were decked out in brightly hued, extravagant old school hip hop gear. As they walked along, six police officers pounced on my mixed race friend as if he was Jean De Menzes at Stockwell tube station. The officers informed my mixed-race friend who was wearing a multi colored adidas jacket at the time, that they recognised him. When he replied that this was preposterous as he had never seen any of the officers before in his life. They berated him and informed him he was to be searched under some bogus act, they ignored my white friend. My mixed race friend handed over his small bag of green (the substance of choice at Carnival) and the police informed him he was a 'good boy', a bit like a dog or something. When he asked for a written report of the stop I believe the officers told him to 'F*ck off' and they had better things to do.

My friend's pleasant encounter highlights the rudeness and racist attitudes of the police. Carnival should have less police, and the police that are there should be there to help and have a good time not assert their authority. Carnival is not a chance for the police to experiment with new crowd control techniques, it's meant to be a celebration.

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