Colin Brazier: Anyone who thinks Black Lives Matter lunacy doesn’t have supporters in the UK wasn’t paying attention
'Bad people do bad things to good people, and their skin colour is neither here nor there.'
Today is the anniversary of the murder, the unsolved murder, of Police Constable Keith Blakelock.
He was born in Sunderland, but died in London 36 years ago at the age of 40, leaving behind a widow and three children.
He died a truly horrific death. Forty-three wounds to his body and face, delivered by machetes or an axe. And a knife. We know that because, when fellow officers eventually got to him, there was a six inch blade protruding from his neck.
It was 1985 and Keith Blakelock had been ordered to the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham, to help deal with one of several race riots that convulsed English inner cities in the 1980s. His job was to protect firemen who were coming under attack, but he became separated from his colleagues. When a group of men and youths charged, he fell and was hacked to death.
He became the first police officer to be killed by a mob in Britain for 150 years. Many arrests were made but every conviction was subsequently overturned.
Keith Blakelock today is largely forgotten. That’s mainly the passage of time, but it’s also because his death doesn’t fit the prevailing race relations narrative. A defenceless white police officer put to death by angry black men. How does, how can, that image conform to the settled opinion of government that the force Keith Blakelock served-in was “institutionally racist”.
This is not to deny the grievances of those who have long campaigned, successfully, to prove that the police, especially the Metropolitan Police, have a problem with black men. The infamous killing of Steven Lawrence and the under-representation of black and ethnic minority officers in the ranks, has led to some necessary soul-searching and reform.
But none of that means that Keith Blakelock, as a proxy for all police, somehow got what he deserved. And yet, for years, any mention of his name was met with half-hearted denunciations of his murder.
Before his killing, for instance, a 49-year-old black woman, Cynthia Jarrett, had died of a heart attack on the Broadwater Farm Estate while police were searching her flat. This wasn’t used to justify his killing, but it was often cited for context. But the truth is, that there is no context for hacking to death a fellow human being. And race hate is never just a one-way street, for all that some activists assert that it is.
Last night, I interviewed the former mayor of Cincinnati, a black Republican, who told me about the campaign by Black Lives Matter to defund the police. It would see police officers replaced by peace officers, social workers answering not to a police department, but a department of public safety.
Anyone who thinks this lunacy doesn’t have supporters in the UK — increasingly influential supporters — wasn’t paying attention when Britain took the knee after the killing of George Floyd.
On this anniversary of the killing of someone closer to home, we should remember the lesson provided by Keith Blakelock’s violent end. His killers are still at large. But nobody’s weaponising his death to advance an overtly revolutionary political project. His family and friends haven’t spent years yelling: no justice, no peace.
In so far as we can tell, they’ve got on with their lives and accepted that in life, bad people do bad things to good people, and their skin colour is neither here nor there.