How many times have I been stopped? I’ve been stopped and searched about twelve
times. Three times. Twenty, twenty-five times. Oh…many times. In excess of thirty-five times. I think it’s close to thirty times. You’re kind of guilty until proved innocent
with stop and search. It’s like harassment. It’s frightening to be viewed with suspicion
at all times. You hear the siren behind you. You stop your car. Where’ve you come from? Where are you going?
What’s your name? They gather you up into a line.
All standing there, one, one, one, one, one. Shouting statutes at me. Section 43 of the Terrorism Act.
Section 60 of the Public Order Act. A stranger that’s putting his hands in your
pockets. They just touch you everywhere. From top to bottom. It feels very uncomfortable. He was pulling my head one direction.
And pushing me down in another direction. There was another guy holding my arm.
There was another guy holding my other arm. Someone was going through my pockets. I was actually asking about some directions.
And then his colleague came in and said, ‘Excuse me, sir, we need to search you.’
I said, ‘For what? I’m asking directions.’ He said, ‘Yeah, we’ll give you directions.
But we need to search you.’ It was just before his 17th birthday.
And I gave him some money to go and visit the new Westfield.
He got on a train. Got off at Stratford, where you have to do the interchange.
And he and his friends were stopped on the platform
and searched in front of people and asked why he had all this money on him.
He tried to explain it was because he was going shopping.
And he was so traumatized that he got back on the train and came home. Four times I’ve been stopped and searched
at airports under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.
You’re asked about your religion, your religious practices, your affiliations
to mosques or centers. I didn’t like the way they they were assuming
everything. They assumed that I’d stolen a phone,
assumed that we were out doing negative things. And then people just coming past…
That in itself is very embarrassing. I’d done nothing wrong.
Yet I’d been manhandled, I’d been accused. I’d had my hands put behind my back.
I’d been embarrassed because people were walking around.
I felt like I needed a shower after. I felt really inadequate. I felt…
I felt really dirty, I did. I felt really bad.
You’re looked at a certain way. You’re treated a certain way.
You are actually guilty. If I’m being stopped by the police
everybody walking past, driving past thinks I’m a criminal.
As far I was concerned, I got stopped because it was a Black guy driving
a car. Black guy with a gold credit card. I look foreign, that was probably why. You wear a track suit. Or you wear a cap.
You might have a hoodie on. They don’t understand the fact that you can
be a young man who dresses in a street manner
and actually not be a criminal. I really didn’t feel like, when I’m walking
down the road, someone would have to stop me
and start ruffling up my clothes and stuff like that.
I was never comfortable with that. I don’t have as much confidence in the police
as maybe wider society does. And that’s not fair, because I’m a British
citizen. There is a kind of feeling of us against them. They make him feel worthless.
They make him feel that he is somebody they can stop
and rough up, whenever they please. To have that continual reminder that
you’re always going to be a little outside of this.
There’s something about you that’s going to make you be stopped and searched
more than a lot of other people. The way it happens so frequently,
you start thinking, okay, something’s not right here. They may think it’s okay to sacrifice
other people’s liberty for their security. But it’s not even increased security. It has a horrible effect on you. It’s belittling. They need to understand the damage that it
causes. It can have such an effect on their sense
of belonging, on their identity.
If that’s normalized, then what kind of state are we living in?