From the foolish bleating of “I’m very sorry” from top brass Cressida Dick, to disconnected and out of touch advice like “run away” or “flag down a bus”, the Met Police has shown itself to be an institution awash in corruption and unable to fulfil it’s purposes of truly protecting and serving the public.
When an institution is corrupt in the way the met police is, the obvious signs are an unwillingness to change even in the face of the evidence that this is required. Some would say that enforcing new laws which prohibit protest is a condemnation of any police force- that a police force which serves the public should- MUST allow protest to be undertaken as a show of the civil rights and liberties of the citizens of the country. The BLM protests in the UK were vitally and correctly aimed squarely at the doorstep of a government who perpetuates the kind of insidious, quiet but ever present racism that continues to propagate poor reception to people of colour, all the while denying that this takes place. But it also pointed the finger of blame directly at the police who are so often involved in horrific incidents of police violence against people of colour for doing nothing more than existing in black skin.
Any institution which was meant to serve the public would rightly have heard the cries of discontent from people of colour and from their supporters and turned their beady eye inward, looking for the causation of this discontent. Independent panels would have been appointed, focus groups set up to engage with communities whose trust in the institution of policing are fractured, new ideas on engagement and constructive policing put forward to allow policing to find its faults and fix them. Those who suffered so terribly under corrupt officers would have their voices elevated.
This did not happen.
In fact, a closing of ranks occurred around the BLM protests and formented the sort of impenetrability of change that is still being fought so hard against, specifically because of what came next; when a woman was murdered and another died in suspicious circumstances, Blessing Olusegun and Sarah Everard, women rightly were both furious and terrified. Little has seemingly been done to solve the mysterious death of Blessing Olusegun- her mother held a vigil recently in her memory and in the article regarding this vigil we read the statement from Sussex’s police force who deny that they failed to investigate the death properly due to ethnicity- put perhaps ethnicity is part of the problem, the next part being that Blessing was a woman.
Everard’s death at the hands of a police officer – and he WAS a police officer at the time no matter how many times the Met Police try to distance themselves from this- has rightly terrified women. At the time it was said that you can do everything right, wear the right clothes, be cautious (and even then those sentences struck me as odd- the blame being laid at the door of the person under threat), but to find out that her killer was a police officer who used his status to kidnap and murder her lent another sickening blow to the news. How are you meant to feel safe when those you’ve been told for so long will protect you are the killer themselves? How do you know what constitutes a “legitimate” arrest, a “legitimate” detainment? The police would of course say “know your rights”- but surely “don’t violate my rights” would be apropos.
Evidence is still emerging that Everard’s murderer was sending vile content to other officers via WhatsApp- misogynistic, homophobic, racist- five officers other than he who seem to find inequality a joking matter- good, then, to know that these are the people we are meant to turn to in the event of being discriminated against. One must question how many conversations Sarah’s name is in right now, and whether these oh so upstanding officers all over the country are treating her name with the gravity it so deserves.
Just look at the response to the vigil- thousands of women gathered, masked and social distanced, to pay their respects to someone they felt connected to, knowing it could have been them but for a random twist of fate. How did the police- one of whom had perpetrated this terrible crime- respond? With handcuffs and violence. Just like he did.
If this doesn’t tell you that policing is fundamentally corrupt, that police will strongarm women at a vigil but allow football hooligans to storm a stadium, that they will prowl the outside of a BLM protest but ignore anti lockdown rioters then you miss the message: that policing is only ever about punishing the noncompliance of those who question the system of policing, not about protecting those who do not break laws.
Look to the knowledge that the police view fundamental stances on human rights- equality for POC, for the LGBTQIA community as “political” standpoints (as proven in the case of Harry Miller who said that his transphobic tweets were just that). These things should NOT be political. Human dignity should be granted to everyone and yet is not- this should be the blazing issue for those whose job is to uphold law and liberty, rather than lobbying for an ever growing budget or working hard to obfuscate the dizzying number of police officers involved in committing their own crimes.
Look too, to the ridiculous advice from the Met: run away or flag down a bus if you’re worried by the officer arresting you… firstly, the white privilege it must have taken to think this an appropriate response when person of colour after person of colour has TOLD US that any noncompliance is met with violence. The met does not care to hear the public’s cacophony of complaints about it’s behaviour in favour of remaining exactly how it is- tight lipped, preferring to protect even those most corrupt of officers- it was even reported on Tuesday that some officers still spoke supportively of Everard’s murderer.
All of these issues fit into a society so determined not to upset the status quo that it is willing to overlook the failings of it. Women feel endangered and must go so far to protect themselves- but it’s not that many women it happens to? Oh but it IS that many women it happens to? Well have they tried to wear different clothes, carry protections, not listen to music, hold their keys in a certain way, make a route, check in with friends?
There will, there must, come a moment where society realises how fundamentally it is letting down women and it must- there is no other way forward- address the behaviour of men- not just policemen though statistics do show (by JUNE 2021 the police had recorded EIGHT HUNDRED CASES of police domestic violence) that the police attract a worrying sub demographic of those who engage in horrific domestic assaults. I cannot find the most up to date figures but almost a thousand reported cases of this crime- knowing how many incidents are not reported, this is a frightening figure- and that was only halfway through the year.
And the injustice continues unabated- anyway – Sabina Nessa, murdered in a London park for the terrible crime of- being a woman alone. The names of these countless women thrown under the runaway train of misogynistic violence must be etched deep in stone for men to see, to take stock and to account for their actions and, indeed, their inaction.
Until society addresses the way men behave and feel is appropriate these heinous crimes will continue and will propagate. Until men realise that it is not women who must change but men must account for their, and their fellows’ problematic practices, this horrific cycle of murdered women written off as isolated incidents, as incels committing terrorist offences in the name of their own repugnance will only go around again, and with a terrifying knot in our collective stomach we must ask – who will the next murdered woman be? Will we know her? And what will become of the man who decides his sexual desires or fantasies are more important than human life.