Monday, 24 June 2013

Special Demonstration Squad, Special Branch, Peter Francis, Whistleblower, Smearing Stephen Lawrence's Family, LA Riots, Joy Gardner

Today, (24 June, 2013), Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer, now turned whistleblower, revealed the Special Branch’s Special Demonstration Squad, spied on members of the Stephen Lawrence family.
Undercover SDS officers, says Francis, were tasked to obtain ‘intelligence’ that could smear Lawrence family members and diminish support for campaigns demanding that the Metropolitan Police do more to bring Stephen Lawrence’s killers to justice.
  Over twenty years ago, Stephen Lawrence, aged 18, was racially murdered on a street in south-east London on the evening of 22 April, 1993. In the following months and years, London’s Metropolitan Police was tarnished with allegations of incompetence, corruption and racism over their investigation of the murder. Stephen Lawrence’s parents – Doreen and Neville – often forcefully made these allegations to the national media.
Francis told reporter Paul Lewis, on tonight’s Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, that SDS ‘uncovered evidence’ that Duwayne Brooks - Stephen Lawrence’s friend who had escaped from being attacked on the night of the murder - was a “violent activist”.
  Francis said police officers were pleased to receive ‘evidence’ against Brooks that could tarnish a Lawrence campaign increasingly critical of the Metropolitan Police’s handling of racially motivated murders, attacks and harassment in the capital. Charges against Brooks were later thrown out of court.
  A Metropolitan Police statement released today said: “A thorough review and investigation into these matters…is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and it would be inappropriate to pre-judge its findings…”
Doreen Lawrence spoke of her shock at the revelations. “Nothing can justify them trying to discredit the family and the people around us,” she said.

Background: In 1993, the Metropolitan Police were still reportedly on a state of alert in London following the fierce rioting in the US city of Los Angeles in Spring 1992, writes Paul Coleman.

The LA riots began after a trial jury acquitted four Los Angeles Police Department officers of a violent and videotaped assault of Rodney King, an African-American.
  In mid-1993, senior London police officers feared rioting might occur in the aftermath of the attempted arrest in July 1993 of Joy Gardner, a Jamaican mother deemed an ‘illegal overstayer’ by immigration police officers. 

Smear campaign

Deportation police squad officers had held Gardner down in front of her five-year-old son at her home in Crouch End, north London.A body belt was placed around Gardner’s waist. 
  Thirteen feet of tape was wrapped around Gardner to stop her screaming. Gardner never recovered from a coma and later died from brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen. 
  In the months and years after Gardner’s death, newspaper reports depicted Joy Gardner as a determined illegal immigrant with a violent temper. Gardner's friends claimed this was a police and media smear campaign.
Three police officers later stood trial, charged with the manslaughter of Joy Gardner, but were acquitted. No disciplinary action was taken against any officers involved in the deportation.

Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, June 2013

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