Carson Arthur is studying MPhil Criminology at Birkbeck, University of London, School of Law. Supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), he is researching inquests of Black British people killed in police custody with a focus on accountability, testimony, memory, and racial violence.
Widening our understanding of State Racial Violence: In broadening the terms of reference in how we discuss the criminal justice system and looking at how the state also polices black communities in immigration tribunals, detention centres, probation services, education, access to healthcare and the youth justice system Carson argued that we can develop stronger arguments, connections and parallels of the way in which the state discriminates against Black communities that move beyond single issue campaigns.
In this way not only is our understanding of the criminal justice system, policing and the control of Black communities by the state widened, but it also allows us to design more effective lines of solidarity with existing campaigns which tackle state racial violence.
Through the lens of his research into Black British deaths in custody, Carson broadened this point regarding state racial violence in noting how legal justifications in the coroner’s court which defend the killing of Black people have become common sense in the language of decision making. Tying into Charles point regarding Police accountability, Carson asked us to think critically about this legal “common sense” and how we can act to shift the legal and political terrain that enables these decisions.
Testimony as a form of resistance: Referring to Windrush testimonies that were presented earlier in the day, Carson noted the power of testimony as a tool for community organisation, care and resistance against the government. He asked us to think critically about how we, as a community, could think about how to bring together testimony to investigate patterns of injustice and map how violence is meted out against our communities. In this way, he argues testimony becomes stronger as it forms part of a collective effort to cohere and coordinate arguments against discriminatory treatment.
Defunding the Police in the UK: With calls to Defund the Police gaining traction in the US and the UK, Carson cautioned that there is danger in such a narrative that funds are simply directed to civic roles to carry out the enforcement functions of the police rather than a fundamental questioning of the value of these functions and what state funding of public safety should look like.
Noting the importance of the current political moment where the British economy will be reconfigured in light of Brexit, Carson asked what opportunities this juncture provides for Black community organisation in light of the dependence that the state has on Black communities within the UK but also internationally as trade deals are designed and argued for in the public domain