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In Defence Of Notting Hill Carnival #NottinghillCarnival

August 31, 2016

In Defence Of Notting Hill Carnival & Black Culture: IF You Want To Ban Carnival Due To Crime Then Ban Football, Nightclubs and Epsom Derby Day

People fighting during the Notting Hill Carnival parade, London. The Notting Hill Carnival is the largest street festival in Europe and originated in 1964 as a way for Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their own cultures and traditions. 29 August 2016.When people talk about crime during Notting Hill Carnival; they are really commenting, generalizing and judging black people and culture. The media would have people believe Carnival was ‘The Purge”; two days of non-stop violence and debauchery. Whilst making out like criminality is unique to Carnival and does not take place at other popular events.

It seems like the discussions on the increase in crime at the Notting Hill Carnival have been founded upon a passive aggressive racism that stereotypes and generalises Black people and our culture as “violent destructive, nihilistic gangster”.

Since 1964, Notting Hill Carnival has been the two-day celebration and expression of Caribbean and Black culture. As I have said in a previous article, the carnival roots came from the desires for unity, celebration and strengthening Caribbean culture and people in Britain. This was after race riots and the murder of Kelso Cochrane. However, with each year, the historical inspiration and cultural relevance of Carnival gets a little less. Especially, when the media focuses their attention and headlines on increasing crime-related arrests and incidents. Rather than 99.99% of people enjoying themselves and going home unharmed.


One of the leading voices of this exaggeration has been Katie Hopkins, with her pandering to her supporters and questioning whether Carnival should continue.

“We’ve tried to find comparable statistics and we can’t. This seems to be one of the most violent events Michael,” said Katie. “We’ve tried to find statistics that make it look OK, it doesn’t look OK.”

Michael replied: “This is a London event, it’s multicultural – ” and that’s what really kicked Katie off.
“I don’t buy multiculturalism at all.”

Turns out there ‘we’ didn’t try very hard to find comparable statistics. Derek Richards said this on facebook:

‘2,000,000 people attend Notting Hill carnival, 440 get arrested which works out 0.022%. The event is described in the media as “marred”.

At Glastonbury 2015, 75 people arrested, 175,000 attend, this works out 0.043%. The police describe the event as “low crime”, the Daily Mail praise Glastonbury for cutting crime in half.

Notting Hill Carnival brings millions of pounds into the local economy. Glastonbury displaces wildlife and brings disruption to surrounding villages, but no income.

So racism and the lobby of gentrifying insurgents wouldn’t have anything to do with this anomaly would it?’


Well said, Mr Richards!

This whole discussion smacks of the Black on Black Crime discussion that does not mention White on White crime. Everything Black people get stereotyped for White people and every other race also do. Just as the vast majority of all those people will not participate in any of those negative activities.

Carnival is no different to the rest of society. Most people who attend do not cause any trouble. There is a whole host of influential factors that impact crime at Notting Hill Carnival and in the wider community/society. Such as: heighten policing, education, poverty, lack of funding for youth sentence, lack of job opportunity and many other reasons.

England fans gather in Saint Etienne - EURO 2016This current insidious discussion of Black people and a carnival’s crime statistics reminded me of David Starkey’s comments after the London Riots:

“The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion and black and white boys and girls operate in this language together… This language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has been intruded in England and that is why so many of us have this sense of literally of a foreign country.”

In Starkey’s Britain, before Caribbean people arrived here everyone lived in utopian Britain without crime and working class people all spoke like his Cambridge and Etonian friends. Black people arrived with their reggae music, gyrating hips and chocolate skin and corrupted Britain’s youth and destroyed ‘Britishness’. Ignoring the fact Caribbean people helped rebuild Britain’s public services after World War 2 and have subsequently played a continued part in working for the interest of the British people. Through multiculturalism, Britain has developed into a diverse, tolerate and before Brexit, what would seemed like a welcoming society.

Yet, this summer saw the most glaring example of the racial hypocrisy in the media’s and Starkey’s discussion on race, riots and crime. What David Starkey did not acknowledge is that football hooliganism was an exclusively Caucasian pass time for much of his lifetime and even to current day.

57600e48c46188ae3b8b459fThe 2016 Euros showed speaking ‘Jamaican patois’ and Black culture could not be blamed for the horrendous acts of criminality seen in France. ESPN reported there had been 1000 arrests. A figure, that is more than twice the number of Notting Hill Carnival. Even without those stats, most people could see the stark difference in violence and hooliganism between football fans, when compared to the dancing of the majority of Carnival attendees.

Moreover, Black people aren’t significant attendees of racing days either. However, the riot police were still called into Epsom Racing Day where bottle throwing and fighting erupted between people not of Jamaican or African decent. Turns out being Black is not a prerequisite for ‘violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture’.

Just as being a White football or racing day fan does not mean you are going to throw a punch or bottle at a stranger. Just as being Muslim does not mean you are a terrorist. Yet, people of colour seem to be the only ones who get stereotyped so heavily by the actions of the minority of those who tick the same box as them on the censor form.

If we are going generalize and demonise a whole culture and set of people; let us doing it accurately for everyone. However, it would be better that we acknowledge that a minority of people will always act inappropriately at big events. Especially a free and open one like Notting Hill Carnival.

Just as the 2011 riots weren’t just Black people, Notting Hil Carnival isn’t just Black people. Nor are all the arrests related to violent behavior.

2011: ‘Taking all 3,051 individuals taken to a ‘first hearing’ and excluding those who had no recorded ethnicity, 41 per cent were white, 38 per cent black, 12 per cent mixed, 7 per cent Asian and 2 per cent Chinese or other.’

I would love to know the statistics for Carnival attendees because it seems each year the demographic of whom attends seems to be changing. (see my article on Carnival Gentrification).

Most people would attest that there is a significant difference in the driving force for public disorder between people protesting police brutality and people fighting for the sake of a football game.

Yet, no matter who attends or how statistics are shown, it will always be associated with Black culture. That association went from Trinidad culture to Caribbean culture to Black culture in general. But it is this generality that ends up stereotyping us all as one people who think and act the same. Like a plague of Black Ants whom swarm Notting Hill for 2 days and then scurry back to the ghettos we came.

Sorry, this simply is not the case. The majority of Black people who attend do not cause any trouble or engage in criminality. Just like the majority of people of all ethnicities simply embrace the carnival spirit and want to have a good time. Much like we do not consider all football fans as hooligans automatically.

With that said, there is no excuse for the violence, stabbings, assaults, thefts or other Notting-Hill-Carnival-2015-Reuters2violent offences that have taken place this year. We should denounce such behavior at all events. However, the question at Carnival is, is this a problem with carnival, Black people or simply London Culture?

Leeds carnival isn’t known for such trouble. Nor is Canada’s Caribana or Rio’s carnival.

I say some of ‘London Culture’: Far too many London youths carry blades and weapons. However, 90 arrests means 90 people no longer have their blades and hopefully after prosecution will think twice about doing it again. That’s a good thing!

Moreover, despite some of their complaints, it seems like the Met Police are using carnival as two-day event to make significant inroads into London’s knife crime problem in such a short space of time.

The Guardian reported “A section 60 order, which covered the entire carnival area, allowed officers to execute random searches”

  • Ninety arrests were made for alleged possession of points and bladesCpHNmMNWcAAtEQV
  • 169 for drugs
  • 38 arrests under the new Psychoactive Substances Act (balloons)
  • 40 arrests were made for alleged public order offences
  • 25 arrests were made on suspicion of assaulting a police officer
  • 7 for common assault or actual bodily harm;
  • 13 for sexual offences;
  • 10 for theft from the person,
  • 8 going equipped for theft; six for grievous bodily harm;
  • 3 for drink or drug driving;
  • 2 for criminal damage;
  • 1 for robbery
  • 32 others that the Met did not specify

Yet, if the police used their Section 60 order powers to police festivals like Glastonbury then they would find significant Class A Drug use. Enough to film  Scarface remake and a couple seasons of Narcos. However, they do not. Therefore, festivals like Glastonbury cannot be used as a fair comparison to the most policed event of the calendar year. Even though technically the crime rate is higher at Glastonbury despite nowhere near the level of policing.

Yet, this disparity in policing practices can be found further afield than carnival two days of celebrations. From Britain to America there is significantly more policing of Black communities than White. Even though in America it has been proven that the rate of drug use from both communities si the same. However, because the Black Community is policed more, Black people get arrested more which greatly impacts our perception in statistics.

Yet the point here is not to judge an event or a people by 0.022% of the attendees and population. Carnival is not and was not a ‘battlefield’. Black people and Jamaican culture specifically is not ‘violent destructive, nihilistic gangster’ in nature. We must not lose sight of the fact that riots, violence and public disorder takes place around the world by all ethnicities of people. The trigger for this can be political, sporting, reactionary, protesting and it can be fuelled by alcohol, mob mentality, youth and a whole host of other reasons. None of them are specific to one race.

I would love a Notting Hill Carnival where there was 0% crime. But each Saturday night around Britain the basic foundations of Carnivals result in the same equations.

Music + Drink + People = Good Times – a small amount of public disorder

With 2 million people attending carnival over a two day period, it is ridiculous to expect there not to be any public disorder. Especially in a city that does have some problems that need working on.

Let us not let the actions of a small minority ruin it for the vast majority.

Let us know your thoughts

Do you think Carnival is unfairly judged?
Did you go to Carnival and see any trouble?
Please like and share challenge someone to think a little deeper
By Antoine Allen


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