We would not be talking about Sarah Everard if she was Black.
Or brown. Or disabled. Or gay. Or trans.
The murder of Everard is complex and upsetting because it highlights the fact that women are not safe on the streets, or in their own homes, due to gender-based violence. It is highly unlikely that this would have been reported so widely in the press and shared among the public if the victim belonged to a minority group. The shock experienced by white people, both towards the victim and at the vigil, only demonstrates ignorance about the plight of police brutality towards minority groups. The police do not keep us safe – they are complicit in harming us.
Mourners and activists attended a peaceful vigil to remember Sarah Everard, a woman who was killed by a serving Met officer in London. The violent behaviour towards peaceful women at the vigil by the overwhelming and unnecessary police presence finally showed the white public the ugly side of tougher policing measures, enforced by the Conservative government.
The public and mainstream media only want to listen to issues when a white person is affected. The insinuation is that if a majority group (e.g. white people) are affected, then the issue must be serious enough to warrant action, despite the pleas for help from POC.
Many groups have campaigned to defund the police for a long time for the benefit of the public as a whole, and not just minoritised groups that are disproportionally targeted by police brutality. Yet I, and many other activists, are met with contempt at the suggestion that the police should not be abusing their powers by targeting people due to racism, sexism or any other -ism.
The inability for police to protect people of colour (POC) is disgusting. The Metropolitan police are four times as likely to use force against Black people. Police are racist to victims of racist attacks and fail to do their jobs properly. The last time a police officer was convicted due to the death of a person in custody was in 1969, showing an institutional failure to hold power-hungry, murderous police officers accountable for their acts.
State violence against ANYONE is wrong but it is ignored by the public and media when POC are affected. The Conservatives have drafted a bill called the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to increase police powers against protesters and allow further use of force against those simply exercising their right to protest. This will mean more police brutality, particularly against Black and brown people. It has been delayed for the time being, thanks to organisations such as Sisters Uncut, who organised five consecutive days of action since Saturday 13 March. Perhaps with the stamp of approval from white people, there will be action to protect civil rights and reform the criminal justice system.
The police do not even keep white people safe, let alone Black people. Or brown. Or disabled. Or gay. Or trans.
Please consider signing this petition to the National Police Chiefs Council to adopt a new Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, support can be found here and here.
Featured Image from Unsplash.
Zainab Patel is a second-year Medical Physiology Student from Leicester. She has a passion for all things science and technology, crime novels and plants. Find her on Twitter: @zainabbpatell or Instagram: @zainabb_patell
Zainab Patel is a final year Medical Physiology Student from Leicester. She has a passion for all things science and technology, crime novels and house plants. Find her on Twitter: @zainabbpatell or Instagram: @zainabb_patell