On the 5th of September, Chris Kaba, a 24-year old Black man, was killed by the Metropolitan Police, as they shot through his car windscreen, in Streatham Hill, London. This tragedy has sent shock waves across the country.
Kaba was driving through south London when his car was picked up by a police Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera. This notified the police that this car was linked to a previous ‘firearms incident’, however the car was not registered to Kaba. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) are now investigating this murder, so far they have confirmed Kaba had no weapon and was not registered to the car. So here we see a Black man, driving, unarmed, not linked to the ‘firearms incident’, nevertheless killed by police. This highlights two major issues within UK policing, the disproportionate use of force and death in police custody against Black communities, as well as the inaccurate and racist technology that is now being widely used amongst UK police forces.
Kaba’s family released a statement to Inquest, a charity which provides expertise on state-related deaths, saying
“We are devastated; we need answers and we need accountability. We are worried that if Chris had not been Black, he would have been arrested on Monday evening and not had his life cut short.”
This is a concern many people have raised since the murder of Chris Kaba. However, this is not an isolated incident, it reminds us of many others who have lost their lives due to racist state violence, like Oladeji Omishore, Jermaine Baker, Mark Duggan and many more. Black Lives Matter has been pivotal in raising public consciousness in questioning the racist policing in the UK and beyond.
The barbarity of this death highlights another concerning element of UK policing, the implementation and heavy reliance on ineffective policing technologies. We must recognise the prejudices of the officers involved in the killing of Chris Kaba, whilst also understanding the role the ANPR had to play in his death. The assumption that the ANPR was entirely accurate, and a lack of will to question and investigate beyond this technology, highlights a worrying turning point in UK policing. This is just one of many technologies used to surveil and police UK society.
CAAT and Netpol’s new report states ‘Increasingly, the police are relying on high-tech, data-driven, and military-grade technology to surveil the British population’, including mobile fingerprint scanners, centralised databases, social media surveillance, facial recognition and military-grade drones. All of these technologies are of particular concern for Black and brown communities.
The utilisation of mobile finger scanners is linked to the biometric immigration and asylum database and amplifies racist police practices such as stop and searches; centralised databases such as the Met police Gang Matrix criminalises young Black men through racist stereotyping and vague definition of ‘gangs’; social media surveillance has been used to criminalise young people by ‘guilt through association’ which is predominately targeting young Black and brown people; the use of facial recognition has repeatedly shown racist and sexist bias in identifying people; and military drones are being used to surveil migrant crossings at the borders, with the government expanding drone use into civilian space.
Tomorrow, Saturday, 17th of September, is the national day of action for Chris Kaba. There will be people at New Scotland’s Yard in London, as well as various locations across the UK.
To find out what is going on in your local area or to organise a mobilisation in your area then get in contact with [email protected].