When they say gangs, they mean the poor: Armed patrols to begin in London

At nine o’clock in the morning on December 11th, police shot a man dead on Bracknell Close in Wood Green. As part of an “intelligence-led” operation, armed officers in balaclavas shot him as he waited in a car. There currently has been no accusation that the man was armed. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was on the scene to search for signs of firearms.

Days earlier, Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth appealed to the everyday Londoner to join in the snitching game: “We need people’s help,” he says: “Londoners will know of hiding places and some will know of those in their community who are carrying guns.”

The interview by the commanding officer of the Trident and Area Crime Command unit was given to communicate the Met’s plan to carry out other “intelligence-led” operations, such as the one in Wood Green, and specifically armed patrols in areas in London where “gun and knife crime” are highest. “Operation Kestrel” is expected to also deter such crime, DCS Southworth continues, as “villains recognise [police] armed response vehicles.”

The targeted areas are wards in Lambeth, Lewisham, Enfield, Haringey, Brent and Hackney. When DCS Southworth says “gangs” he means the poor. Gang violence is self-inflicted in the poorest communities. In areas where existence is anxiety – where living means degrading labour, mental health problems and precarious housing – gang violence is the collective self-harm of an already harmed class.

The solution to this violence is clearly not to shoot unarmed people in the street. It is not the Met’s intention to prevent violence but exercise their monopoly on it. The planned armed patrols in London’s “crime boroughs” are a blatant expression of the class hatred of ruling politicians and top coppers and their war against London’s poorest.

Despite signalling increasing police violence, the Met has not chosen to target areas, such as Tower Hamlets, in which armed patrols would hopefully provoke something much more serious for them than the gang violence they seek to confront. The Met’s finest have managed to spring-board a policy of armed patrol in the context of a police murder of an unarmed man. If in Enfield, nearby to the shooting in Wood Green, the social contradictions could not be tight enough already, this might just push it to the breaking point.