No-one should be surprised racism is embedded in police culture around the country, writes Nish Morris.
If you don’t understand (or believe in) structural white supremacy, consider that when people of colour and First Nations people have filed complaints about police harassment, targeting and abuse THIS FUCKING GUY has been overseeing the cases.
And if that’s not bad enough, then people get to throw around the blatantly misleading misconduct stats to – again – deny the prevalence of racism in our criminal justice system.
On Monday The Age revealed that former top cop Brett Guerin had a habit of posting gratuitously racist commentary on social media under the pseudonym ‘Vernon Demerest’.
Here is a taste, and just a warning that this is seriously disturbing stuff.
“I’m afraid this is what happens when the lash is abolished. The jigaboo runs riot and out of control. The ‘boo needs the lash. The ‘boo wants the lash. Deep, deep down the ‘boo knows the lash provides the governance and stability.”
Since then, he has offered his resignation from his roles as Assistant Commissioner and head of the Ethical Standards division at Victoria Police. It was publicly accepted by chief commissioner Graham Ashton.
Ashton was also quick to distance Victoria Police as an organisation from the controversy, with the frustratingly familiar ‘bad apples’ rhetoric that cops routinely use to avoid accountability every time they get sprung for being violent and/or discriminatory.
Ashton claimed that Guerin’s behaviour was “not consistent with our values and the work we’ve been doing with community”, but how true is that? Not only do numerous misconduct complaints get filed, particularly from migrant communities, with a frankly astoundingly low substantiation rate, but lawyers are now actively discouraging people from reporting police misconduct through official channels due to the conflict of interest borne from the lack of the truly independent process.
As a result, it seems safe to assume instances of police misconduct and discrimination are in excess of those that are reported, and certainly far outweigh the number of successful complaints. Now there are people understandably calling for any complaints filed by racial minorities that were overseen by Guerin to be reopened and reviewed, including Anthony Kelly at the Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre.
A racist top cop was found working in, and protected by, a system which imprisons Aboriginal Victorians at a rate 11 times everyone else and I’m supposed to be be shocked? #vicpol
— Celeste Liddle (@Utopiana) February 27, 2018
Why are you surprised by Brett Guerin when this is the evidence we’ve had all along on the endemic racism within Vic Pol pic.twitter.com/4WggYbsDR7
— Su Dharmapala 🏳️🌈 (@SuDharmapala) February 27, 2018
It’s worth questioning how Guerin came to hold such high-ranking positions within an organisation like Victoria Police when they apparently have such diametrically opposing values.
Guerin created fake social media profiles, so maybe he was some kind of incredible character actor who was able to completely hide his explosive xenophobia from his colleagues over the course of decades? Or maybe he actually was just a respectable nice bloke during working hours and would slip into his alter ego night job of abusing people of colour on the internet when he got home?
Feasible, I guess, if it wasn’t for him having an already reported history of offensive behaviour and the fact that the fake account that eventually got him fired was reported to commissioner Ashton last May, and was deemed to “not warrant investigation”.
In 2006, complaints were filed about Guerin using racist language while addressing a room of officers in a meeting, and in 2008 Victoria Police was forced to pay a settlement as a result of him calling a colleague a “fucking wog”.
All of this was public knowledge well before Guerin was appointed head of the professional standards command in 2015.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so shocked at the apparent absurdity of a man like this being in charge of any sort of ethical oversight and consider that his personal characteristics might be exactly what uniquely qualified him for the job.
If you are an organisation that stands regularly accused of racist misconduct, it is surely in your interest if your “watchdog” has no problem with it.
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