Protest over police treatment of Black mother handcuffed and wrongly accused of dodging bus fare

Benjamin Clement, 53, who filmed the arrest told The Independent: “I saw just another Black person being abused by the police.”

Nadine White
Race Correspondent in Croydon
Tuesday 25 July 2023 22:46 BST
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Protest over Black mother wrongly accused of dodging bus fare

Anti-racism protesters gathered in Croydon on Tuesday night in response to the wrongful arrest of a Black mother for bus fare evasion in front of her tearful young son.

Video footage of the woman shouting as two male Metropolitan Police officers hold her arms and handcuffed her in the south London town on 21 July has sparked fierce criticism and prompted an investigation by the police watchdog the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The woman was arrested after being accused of failing to pay a bus fare but was later de-arrested when it was confirmed she had paid.

Around 100 people joined a demonstration outside the town’s police station to call out her treatment, organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), Black Lives Matter Croydon, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and RMT Black & Ethnic Minority Members on Tuesday night.

Speakers addressed the crowd to voice concerns about how the woman was treated amid a national discussion about the lack of trust in policing among Black communities.

Benjamin Clement, 53, who filmed the woman’s arrest told The Independent: “I saw just another Black person being abused by the police.”

“I just couldn’t believe the way they were handling the woman. They were trying to get her onto the floor at one point – she was so distressed and it just seemed like no one cared. Everyone was just standing around watching. So, I felt like I had to start filming.”

Anti-racism protesters came out to demonstrate against the woman’s treatment
Anti-racism protesters came out to demonstrate against the woman’s treatment (The Independent)

While Mr Clement said he was “blown away” by the public response to the video and solidarity with the woman, he said he expects similar incidents to happen in the future while a crisis in policing prevails.

“I’ve been stopped and searched; it’s happened to my kids who are in their early twenties. Nothing’s really going to change. But as a father of six, with four daughters, I had to do something.”

Following the protest, Glen Hart, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Croydon, told The Independent: “We feel that the way this woman was treated was a total abuse of authority, an act of race discrimination with impunity – and the officers tend to get away with this all the time.

“It doesn’t make sense that they would handcuff her in front of her crying child – she wasn’t a threat.

Benjamin Clement said he was shocked but not surprised by the woman’s treatment
Benjamin Clement said he was shocked but not surprised by the woman’s treatment (The Independent)

Marc Wadsworth, founder of The Liberation Movement, said: “As a Black parent in Croydon, I’m appalled at what has happened with a Black mother at a bus stop with a valid ticket to travel in front of a young child.

“But this will keep happening sadly, because there’s something rotten at the heart of the Metropolitan Police as the Louise Casey report uncovered saying that it is institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic.”

Mr Wadsworth, who founded the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991 which went on to become Europe’s largest Black-led movement, continued: “There will be many more cases like this: the George Floyd’s, Chris Kaba, Mark Duggan, Roger Sylvester until we clear up the s**t house which is the Met police.”

Campaigners called for change amid wider concerns about police treatment of Black communities
Campaigners called for change amid wider concerns about police treatment of Black communities (The Independent)

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed on Tuesday that it would investigate the response of the officers involved after it received a complaint accusing police of racially profiling the woman.

Footage posted online of the arrest shows the woman shouting “What the hell?” and “What the f*** is going on?” while handcuffed, as two male officers hold her arms.

She repeatedly asks one of the officers to let go and says “I haven’t done anything wrong”, while a member of the public filmed what is happening and asked why she is being arrested.

On Monday, Met Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “It is clear from the video that has been shared online that this incident was distressing for the woman involved and particularly for her child.

“We understand why it has prompted significant public concern and we want to be transparent about our position and the role of our officers.”

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