THE POLICE AND RACIAL PROFILING…PRESUMED GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

NWA“Fuck Tha Police” by N.W.A came out when I was only five years old, and of course I didn’t under­stand it as a child. Grow­ing up I wondered why these black men so angry with the law. At that time the only way I could make sense of it was to assume they were crim­in­als, why else would they have prob­lems with the law? But as I grew older I real­ised it was not that sim­ple and that there was a deep­er root to their anger. Sadly, through exper­i­ences of my friends and fam­ily, soci­ety has made me under­stand this track to a whole new level. It didn’t just apply to the black com­munity, it applied to all eth­nic minor­it­ies such as myself. I used to give the law the bene­fit of the doubt, it’s easy to get con­fused some­times right? But some­times hap­pens far too often. In the last two years my view on the law have com­pleted changed.

I think it was two years ago that I finally snapped out of the dream that the police are here to pro­tect us. They are here to pro­tect the State not civil­ians. From what I have seen in Palestine (which is a police state in the mak­ing) as well as my own exper­i­ences and those of my fam­ily. Dis­crim­in­at­ory acts are all too com­mon to not know someone who has been affected, but when it impacts you dir­ectly, that’s when it hits you the most. You are the one pre­sumed guilty until proven inno­cent and it’s your life that is worth less than that of oth­ers. You will nev­er be an equal. You have worked hard your whole life and been a mod­el cit­izen but noth­ing you will ever do or say will change the pre­con­cep­tion that the law has of you because of the col­our of your skin.

Most recently I had the glass in my front door smashed in the middle of the night. Prob­ably ran­dom kids but scary none the less to be left with a gap­ing hole into my home, a viol­a­tion of my per­son­al space. Per­son­ally, I would not have even bothered to call the police, but my father did. I wish he hadn’t because I will nev­er for­get that feel­ing of dis­ap­point­ment when I saw his face drop when the police told him they weren’t com­ing over. He was hurt. He had worked hard his whole life even now past the age of retire­ment, pay­ing his taxes but no one was com­ing to reas­sur­ance him that he would be kept safe in his own home. This was a low level crime, but was it pos­sibly down­graded even more for oth­er reas­ons? We will nev­er know.

Only a few days later I was fol­lowed by armed police officers down oxford street on the hot­test day of the year in Lon­don, you can ima­gine the streets were packed. Whil­st shop­ping I was inter­cep­ted mid-pur­chase without any pro­fes­sion­al­ism or respect and told I had been repor­ted by someone for fight­ing and pick­pock­et­ing. In a store full of people, I was wrongly pro­filed, assumed guilty and made to feel dirty. Con­grat­u­la­tions to the police officers for mak­ing me feel like I was worth less than every­one else that day because of the col­our of my skin. And for embed­ding that mis­con­cep­tion in every­one around me as they looked at me like I didn’t belong in a ‘civil soci­ety’. Adding insult to injury, the officer was then sur­prised that I had a Brit­ish accent and as someone who has been born and bred in Lon­don I find that offens­ive. The implic­a­tion that I do not look like I could be a Brit­ish cit­izen because I am not white. Any­one who knows me knows I would be the first one to help the vic­tim of pick­pock­et­ing as injustice is the one thing I can­not stand. Thus, being pro­filed as one myself was a huge slap in the face. The officer would not give me a descrip­tion of who he was look­ing for but insisted it was me, the little inform­a­tion he did give me, I did not match. The col­our of my ruck­sack was wrong and I poin­ted out three oth­er people in the vicin­ity with ruck­sacks which matched the descrip­tion more than mine. He had no reas­on to stop and humi­li­ate me with a false nar­rat­ive. My leni­ency and com­pas­sion­ate nature had worn tired that day. I could not for­give this incid­ent as it was coupled with unpro­fes­sion­al­ism and frankly a very poor use of the Eng­lish lan­guage on his side, iron­ic­ally as he assumed as I was not the Brit­ish one. Even more iron­ic­ally on my way home I told a fel­low com­muter on the tube plat­form his bag was open as I feared he would be pick­pock­eted. Angry and upset, I still refused to let the abus­ive nature of the police lower my own per­son­al mor­al stand­ards or my self-worth. That is the real battle.

I could not help but think back to the pre­vi­ous year where I had been phys­ic­ally assaul­ted by a white girl, who even flashed a gun at me. I had a video of her strik­ing me and there were sev­er­al wit­nesses and even CCTV foot­age. I took to social media, I found her name and the col­lage she went too but the police didn’t have enough inform­a­tion to fol­low it up. When they finally found her, why did they let her go. Why? They needed to find her ‘black friend’. Her Black friend who had tried to dif­fuse the situ­ation. I asked the police why she was rel­ev­ant as she was not the sus­pect, their respon­se was, “we need to build a case”. The murder unit of the police for­ce were unable to ques­tion a four­teen year old girl due to their lack of skills. I was then told if it went to court I would have to defend myself as now I was the one being accused of assault. Later due to the lack of care of the police the case was later dropped due to lack of evid­ence.

I’ve had sev­er­al sim­il­ar incid­ents with the police per­son­ally. In every single case they have been unne­ces­sar­ily aggress­ive and accus­at­ory towards me dis­pute my full coöper­a­tion. They accuse without evid­ence or prob­ably cause for no oth­er reas­on than the col­our of my skin. I’ve been made to feel like a second class cit­izen time and time again. Whenev­er I’ve been the vic­tim of crime, I’ve still always some­how been the guilty party. My well­being has always been down­graded and brushed off. There is noth­ing I can do to change the world’s per­cep­tion of me, but I need to keep ques­tion­ing why soci­ety expects indi­vidu­als to keep sup­port­ing a sys­tem that does not sup­port them. That does not pro­tect all people equally and makes assump­tions about us until proven oth­er­wise. We can­not allow such dis­crim­in­a­tion to become nor­mal­ized. We must stand our ground.

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About Khadija Jones