Adam Elliott-Cooper
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All-out war
Surveillance, collective punishment and the cutting edge of police power
in Black resistance to British policing
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This chapter explores the ways in which new powers are reproducing racism in British policing. There is further analysis of the development of the ‘all-out war on gangs and gang culture’ announced by David Cameron in 2011, which is discussed in Chapter 4. The chapter also details the ways in which new technologies, surveillance and injunctions are used to criminalise black communities and expand the use of prisons and other forms of punishment. The chapter begins by analysing counterinsurgency policing in the dying days of Empire, including the use of surveillance, mass incarceration, forced migration and coercive violence against ‘suspect communities’. Interestingly, this colonial policing also used the language of ‘gangs’ to depict the targets of state violence. This power of distortion, to portray groups of people as criminal, influences racist stereotypes in the postcolonial period. This racist ‘grammar’, argues Hortense Spillers, finds its way into our present, ‘from the semantic and iconic folds buried deep in the collective past’. Consequently, racial governance in both the colonies and modern Britain enables these forms of collective punishment to be planned, implemented and justified by state institutions, aided by popular racist cultures.

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