Labour MP Dawn Butler has accused the police of racially profiling her after being stopped while driving with another Black friend on Sunday. This is the third time that has happened to the MP and the incident places renewed focus on the need to end stop and searching black minorities. By Marta Portocarrero.
Former minister for equalities and Labour MP for Brent Central, Dawn Butler, was asked to pull over a BMW in Hackney, driven by her male black friend, on Sunday.
She has accused the police of racial profiling and said they needed to “stop associating being black and driving a nice car with crime”.
According to the MP, police officers said the car was registered in North Yorkshire and took the keys to check the registration. When they realised they had entered the wrong registration number in a computer system and the car was actually registered to the driver’s address in London, they apologised and let them go.
Butler recorded the incident and posted the video on Twitter. In the footage, a white police officer can be heard saying they were carrying out searches because of “gang and knife crime” activities were happening in the area.
But, for the MP, police were clearly “racially profiling” her. “We know that the police is institutionally racist and what we have to do is weed that out. We have to stop seeing black with crime. We have to stop associating being black and driving a nice car with crime.”
Stop and searches are increasing
“It’s exhausting doing things whilst black,” Butler told the Press Association. “Because you’re just doing everyday things and you have to explain yourself away or justify the reason why you’re driving through Hackney. It’s exhausting and I’m tired of it.”
This was the third time the Butler has been stopped by police as an MP. Her friend has also been stopped regularly.
In fact, young black men were stopped and searched by police more than 20,000 times in London during the lockdown; the equivalent of more than a quarter of all black 15- to 24-year-olds in the capital.
Across England, as a whole, there were four stop and searches for every 1,000 white people and 38 for every 1,000 black people in 2018-19.
The MP had previously spoken against stop and searches and called for an end to the tactic.
What has the reaction to Butler’s video been?
MP Diane Abott considered the episode “so unsurprising” and showed her support.
But on Twitter, some followers have accused her of editing the video to not allow police to do their job.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating whether officers in England and Wales racially discriminate against ethnic minority people.
Should the police end stop and searches? Have you noticed episodes of black profiling in your area?