Myth #13: "Black Lives Matter And Police Brutaility Is Only A Problem In The US"
According to the Angiolini Review published in 2017, Black people in the UK are 2.5 times more likely to die in police custody and 9 times more likely to be stopped and searched.
While racism in Britain may not be as overt as it is in the US, it does still exist in all aspects of society including law enforcement. The government’s recent report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities argued that institutional racism does not exist, yet in this post we will share a number of similar cases to George Floyd that have occurred in the UK since 1993, which were not well publicised by the British media.
Joy Gardener in 1993, a Jamaican mature student was arrested being detained for an immigration raid. She was restrained with handcuffs, leather straps and gagged with 13 feet of adhesive tape wrapped around her head. Unable to breathe she suffered brain damage due to asphyxia; was placed on life support but died after a cardiac arrest 4 days later. Three officers were charged with manslaughter but acquitted. No coroner’s inquest or public inquiry was held.
Sheku Bayoh was killed in 2015 in police custody in Scotland. He had several police reports of the details leading to his arrest with fabrications in them which were at the time believed, and after an investigation in 2018 it was decided no criminal proceedings would be brought against the police. After the investigation, new CCTV and bystander footage came to light which disproved crucial aspects of the police reports but the decision to not investigate/reopen that investigation or consider criminal proceedings still stood. An independent inquiry has been set up in Nov 2019 by the Scottish government surrounding this incident. The remit of that enquiry was established in May 2020 and as of writing this, the officers will not be facing repercussions for their actions.
Kevin Clarke was killed in 2018 in a similar way to George Floyd. He was recorded on police body camera footage saying “I can’t breathe” before he died. There were several reports about his conduct that were exaggerated, as later disputed by police body camera footage. He was a vulnerable adult with mental health issues. Proceedings surrounding this police brutality case are still ongoing.
There have been several other people, such as Simeon Francis, Leon Briggs, Mikey Powell, Sean Rigg and Christopher Addler, who died in police custody due to neglect. Christoper Addler, in particular, was laughed at while he died. This year we have seen Richard Okorogheye’s disappearance and death referred to the IOPC due to potential delays in taking his disappearance seriously. We also see this with Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry murder investigation where police took selfies in front of their dead bodies while investigating their murder.
All these cases happened in the UK, in our recent history - and there are many more recent brutality and negligence cases that have not been made accessible to the public eye that are still being investigated.