UK Black Leadership Wants End to Assault on Youth, Community

Starla Muhammad | 9/7/2011, 12:50 p.m.

This marked 16 Black men killed by police this year alone in the UK. Reports allege the officers repeatedly beat and kicked Michaels while he was handcuffed and on the ground.

The police shooting of Mark Duggan, another Black man, is what activists say sparked the latest round of unrest.Rioters not only looted from stores and set fires, but also vandalized rescue vehicles, like this police wagon. / Courtesy photo

"If a young person is wearing a hooded top, the police have the right to pull them over, question, search. They have the right to ask you to remove any item of clothing they feel can cover your head or your face. Be it baseball caps, be it hats, be it hooded tops," said community activist Trevor Hakim Muhammad. Through how Black youth dress, Hakim Muhammad said, a more extreme level of racial profiling is imminent.

Tottenham is significant to Black Brits because of the wave of civil unrest that occurred here 30 years ago, said Trevor Hakim Muhammad. "This was one of the places back in the mid-80s of the first level of civil unrest and uprisings that happened. When the Black community became frustrated ... wanting a sense of empowerment to fight back against the establishment, mainly the police who were acting under stop and search laws where they could just stop a young Black person and totally racial profile and arrest you just because they felt they had a suspicion you were going to do something," he explains.

Some of the most historic uprisings in the UK have taken place at Broadwater Farm, an area Hakim Muhammad describes as the U.S. equivalent of public housing developments or "the projects."

"The nature of it (the meeting) is to discuss what happened, why it happened and what are we going to do going forward," said Hilary Muhammad, one of many helping organize and coordinate the historic call to organization and action.

Hilary Muhammad hopes representatives from such groups as the Hebrew Israelite Nation, Pan-Africanists, local leaders, community activists, youth leaders and "every strata of representation in the community" will attend the gathering.

"What has happened has showed us that if leadership is divided then we can't speak to division among our youth who may enter into what's known as youth organizations, what's known as gangs and what-not. Our people are fighting each other over turf and different areas wherein we live and they are deriving such a warped perspective from those of us that are supposed to be in leadership who cannot agree on an agenda that will take our community forward," he said.