This is not the sort of blog post I normally post. However, it is time. My colleagues and friends know that I am committed to social justice as a psychologist. But I post here, not because I am a psychologist committed to social equality and inclusion, but because I am human. We sit here in the UK and point at the US as though the problems that are facing their society are not being experienced here in the UK. As though it is an American problem and that here in the UK, we don't have a deathly violence towards our black fellow men and women.
It is not a US problem! It is a world problem, and more specifically, we do have a problem here in the UK.
There have been many black lives brutally lost to inhumane practices, so I am outlining some of the headlines we have seen in the news in the last decade. I must give thanks to someone on FB for sharing them, since I had been saying to my circles to not point fingers, since I was aware of atrocities. But now I want to share their stories. Learn their names, sit with the discomfort and recognise the privileged protection that comes with being white. Indeed I know too, that I have far more privileges than my fellow black men and women, despite being a person of colour. Let's be better, be kind, be human. Do speak out against these atrocities, and take action. It is not enough to say you are not racist, be anti racist. Racism only survives because it is a system that has been created by human beings to denigrate, disadvantage and kill.
Sad to report and repost the following:
Edson da Costa, 2017: A police officer kneeled on his throat, he entered cardiac arrest at the scene, and died in hospital. His family say he suffered a ruptured bladder, collapsed lungs, a fallen diaphragm and loss of sight due to damage from CS spray (used in riot control). https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/edson-da-costa-death-police-force-cs-spray-edir-london-black-man-father-dead-newham-beckton-a7805646.html
Rashan Charles, 2017: Chased down by a police officer after swallowing a package containing caffeine and paracetamol, and thrown to the ground and held down by the neck. He died later that morning, weeks after Edson da Costa. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/04/rashan-charles-inquest-cctv-showing-his-arrest-upsets-family
Darren Cumberbatch, 2017: Reportedly behaving irrationally under the influence of drugs in a toilet cubicle in a bail hostel. Police officers Tasered him twice and struck him with a baton, but he resisted, so an officer punched him 15 times. He died of his injuries. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-48561356
Mark Duggan, 2011: A firearms officer claimed he pulled a handgun from his waist when his taxi was pulled over (he was unarmed). He was shot twice by police and killed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Mark_Duggan
Adrian McDonald, 2014: While attempting to arrest him, he was Tasered and bitten by a police dog. He was recorded saying “I can’t breathe” four times, but the officer believed he could breathe because he was talking, so no ambulance was called. He died at the scene. https://www.inquest.org.uk/adrian-mcdonald-conclusion
Olaseni Lewis, 2010: Voluntarily admitted himself to hospital for mental health treatment. He became agitated and 11 police officers were called to the scene, who used excessive force to restrain him. His brain was starved of oxygen and he died in hospital. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-39863209
Sean Rigg, 2008: Suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Reportedly behaving strangely in the street, police chased him and restrained him, leaning on him for eight minutes. He was placed face-down in a police van and began to lose consciousness, but an officer was recorded saying he was “faking it”. He entered custody unresponsive and died of cardiac arrest. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Sean_Rigg
Trevor Smith, 2019: Shot and killed during an ‘intelligence-led operation’ after he did not respond to requests to leave his bedroom. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/trevor-smith-inquest-hears-how-16030925
Julian Cole, 2013: Tackled outside a nightclub in Bedford by police officers, he suffered a broken neck and spinal cord injury. He has been almost totally paralysed and severely brain damaged, and will not recover. Three of the officers involved were sacked in 2018 for lying about it. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/22/julian-cole-police-officers-face-dismissal-over-incident-in-which-student-was-paralysed
Sarah Reed, 2016: Suspected of shoplifting, a police officer pushed her into a chair, grabbed her by the hair, and punched her in the head, before kneeling on her neck waiting for back-up. She was found unresponsive in her prison cell. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35481787
Sheku Bayoh, 2015: Became unresponsive and died after being detained and restrained by police officers for allegedly wielding a knife. He suffered a broken rib, head wounds, and suffocation. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/sheku-bayoh-death-black-man-scottish-police-custody-190502210128088.html
Kevin Clarke, 2018: While having a mental health crisis, nine police officers restrained him. He died the same day in hospital. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/metropolitan-police-kevin-clarke-investigated-restrained-mentally-ill-a8342326.html
Kinglsey Burrell, 2011: Mental health patient restrained by police, then left handcuffed face-down in hospital for hours with a blanket over his head, later found unresponsive. He was found to have died of cardiac arrest. The officer involved was found guilty of lying about it in 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/18/kingsley-burrell-family-call-for-inquiry-after-sacking-of-police-officer
Jacob Michael, 2011: Called police after telling his father he’d been threated by someone with a gun. Police forced their way into his bedroom, restrained him and pepper sprayed him, before he ran out into the street. Two officers chased him and restrained him using batons while begging for mercy. Left handcuffed face-down on the floor of a cell with an officer standing on his legs. He became unresponsive and died. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/jacob-michael-death-inquest-cctv-shows-young-man-who-died-in-police-custody-pleading-for-mercy-after-8193029.html
Azelle Rodney, 2005: Shot on sight six times by a police officer, four of them in the head. The officer says he was convinced he was reaching for a gun. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/03/azelle-rodney-case-piecing-together-events-10-years-on
As the slogan of anti-apartheid movement goes "Amandla, awethu" - Power to the people. The power is in our hands to bring change and to say "enough'!