On the evening of 31 October, the eve of the anniversary of medical cannabis legislation, undercover police tackled a young black female to the ground at a London underground tube station, allegedly because they could smell cannabis.
A video of incident, which took place between 12pm and 12.30pm, was posted to Twitter by the girlfriend of the victim, who is being pinned to the ground by two white male police officers. She can be heard saying that they have broken one of her teeth. Someone saying “Put your phone away” can also be heard, presumably from one of the officers.
@Vanillaswirl who posted the footage said that the officers’ cameras were not turned on. She said this was another instance of racist and inappropriate force used by the police against black people.
Black people were stopped and searched at more than eight times the rate of white people in 2016/17. Asian people and those in the ‘mixed’ group were stopped and searched at more than twice the rate of whites. A 2016/17 report by StopWatch, Release and LSE – The Colour of Injustice: ‘Race’, drugs and law enforcement in England and Wales – showed that the use of stop and search has declined, but mainly on white people, indicating that the remaining use of the powers was more heavily concentrated on black and minority ethnic groups. Stop and search powers have been restrengthened anyway, rising by a third in the year to March 2019.
If any other member of the public exerted this kind of force on someone it would be deemed Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH). But just for the smell of a herb it seems to give the police special rights. Does the smell of cannabis really require someone to be tackled to the ground, resulting in breaking their tooth?
This happened on the eve of the one year anniversary of medical cannabis becoming ‘legislated’ in the UK. So far under 10 people have got access to an NHS prescription meaning the million plus that the law was said to be brought in for are still either suffering or having to source unregulated cannabis products, which could land them in a similar situation to what we have just seen.
Regardless of the fact that under 10 people have managed to get an NHS prescription, there are still individuals that have paid to get access to prescription cannabis privately. Now it seriously begs to question – what if the police had just rugby tackled a valid legal prescription-holding patient to the ground, and broken their tooth?
The only thing we can conclude here is that these overzealous and undereducted undercover cops played by the age old game of prejudice, whether conscious or unconscious.
They will be rightly shredded on the internet for being disgustingly racist. The police have a really bad record for picking on black and minority people in the UK and their main excuse is drug laws.
Black people are also more than twice as likely to be charged if any drugs are found, according to Release. In 2009/10, 78% of black people caught in possession of cocaine by the Metropolitan Police were charged and 22% given cautions, while among white people 56% were given cautions and just 44% were charged. Black people are also five times more likely to be charged for possession of cannabis.
Did these two valiant badge flashers really think they were making society safer?
Here’s an example of how Twitter responded to the incident, which is still gaining much attention on the platform.