Child Q: Hundreds protest against “disgusting” strip search outside London police station

‘You’re just gonna just take away a 15-year-old girl’s dignity like that and nothing’s going to happen? That’s a problem,’ one protester said

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Friday 18 March 2022 23:18
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Hundreds of protesters have descended on a police station in London in solidarity with a Black teenager who was strip-searched by officers while on her period after a false accusation of drug possession.

Crowds gathered outside Stoke Newington Police station, in north London, on Friday afternoon during the protest, which was sparked by the treatment of a schoolgirl known as Child Q.

The pupil, who was 15 at the time, was forced to comply with a cavity search by Metropolitan Police officers in 2020 after teachers at a Hackney secondary school called the force onto the premises.

She was strip-searched by officers - who knew she was menstruating – after teachers suspected that the girl was in possession of cannabis, a safeguarding report said.

Child Q’s mother was not informed of the search, while teachers remained outside the room while it took place. This came weeks after the teenager was wrongly accused by staff of drug possession and threatened with expulsion.

The teenager and family have now launched civil action against the force and her school, law firm Bhatt Murphy announced on Friday.

Protesters gathered on Friday chanted “no justice, no peace, abolish the police” and “racist cops, out of schools” at the police station.

Speakers from various organisations addressed the crowd including Sistah Space, activist group Forever Family, the National Education Union’s Black Educators Network and Merseyside BLM Alliance. Politicians including local MP Diane Abbott and Mandu Reid - leader of the Women’s Equality Party - were also in attendance.

A few students who said they attended the same school where the search took place also spoke, as well as children of some campaigners who turned up to show their support. One girl, no older than five years old, said: “We will all stand together to stop racism.”

“You’re just gonna just take away a 15-year-old girl’s dignity like that and nothing’s going to happen? That’s a problem. And where are these police officers now - they’re at work, still getting paid,” anti-knife campaigner Faron Alex Paul told the crowd.

“We can be angry but it’s going to take persistence and organisation to deal with these people. We live in England; it’s a proper racist country. One minute we’re rioting  - George Floyd - and then the next it’s gone quiet. Then this.”

Gesturing up at two police officers in the station who were observing the protest from the top floor, Mr Paul continued: “Keep your foot on the gas people; officers are looking at us now thinking ‘don’t worry, they’ll be gone by tomorrow’.”

One former educator said she became a teacher during the 1990s expecting to attend the weddings and graduations of her students - but instead she goes to prison visits and attends the funerals of Black boys who are ex pupils.

Speaking to the crowd, a mother implored parents to advocate for their children at all times - especially within their schools. “We need to put ourselves in those schools and stop letting these teachers parent our children because they’re not their parents - we are,” she said. “Mothers need to go in and confront that teacher when our children complain.”

People in the crowd also held up signs reading “no to racist police, justice for Child Q” and “we say no to police in schools”, as well as Black Lives Matter banners. They also chanted “shame on you” at officers outside the station.

Addressing the attendees, a teacher explained that hasn’t been in the classroom in three years because she refuses to be an “agent of state violence”, adding that academies yield autonomy to “act as agents of the police”.

Speaking to The Independent after the protest, activist and singer Jermaine Jackman said: “There’s a lot of anger in the air. There’s a lot of anger at protests but this one was particularly rooted in a space of disgust and disbelief that we’re here again. Of exhaustion. We have a right to be angry. We have a right to be here.”

People outside Stoke Newington Police Station in London

Mr Jackman, who is also chair of Black Men 4 Change, added: “This is two years ago and it’s now that the review came out - that’s not justice. That’s only shedding light - so when will the family receive justice and when will our community heal?

“Today was a time to express anger, learn, gather knowledge and stand in solidarity with one another saying ‘enough is enough’. But we need to follow this up with change and action.”

Adam Pugh, an activist and a former Met Police officer who left the force in  2014 over concerns of racism, was also present and told The Independent: “For me, everything about this case is disturbing.

“At what point are we just going to say enough is enough? For the last two years it’s been violation after violation; from the (handling of) pandemic and Sarah Everard to the Met Police officers taking selfies with the dead bodies of Black women Nicola Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

“You cannot reform the police - it should be abolished and the money spent on policing, redirected back into communities. The safest communities in London aren’t the ones that are the most heavily policed; they’re the ones that are most heavily resourced. We always hear talk about bad apples; how many more bad apples do we need to hear about? The whole apple cart is rotten so it doesn’t matter how many good apples are in it.”

Child Q’s case has sparked national outrage with London mayor Sadiq Khan sharing his “dismay and disgust” and campaigner Patrick Vernon describing the incident as “state rape”. Further protests are planned over the weekend in London, Glasgow and Cardiff ahead of the UN Anti-Racism Day on 21 March.

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