Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 1 October 2020

‘Racist trolls’ attack UK MP who accused police of profiling black drivers

Row over institutional racism in Britain erupts on social media after black MP Dawn Butler pulled over by police in London

MP Dawn Butler said London's Met Police was institutionally racist. Getty Images
MP Dawn Butler said London's Met Police was institutionally racist. Getty Images

A British MP who accused police of racially profiling black drivers after being pulled over in London has revealed that racist trolls have been spreading conspiracy theories to undermine her story as a row over institutional racism in Britain broke out on Twitter.

Labour MP Dawn Butler said she and a friend were stopped by police in East London on Sunday for no reason “other than the colour of our skin”.

The former shadow equalities minister called the Metropolitan Police “institutionally racist” after the incident, and added that the police told her they had pulled the car over because they believed it to be registered to North Yorkshire.

Early on Monday, Ms Butler said she had been attacked by racist conspiracy theorists: “Good morning Twitter I see the racist trolls are going crazy with conspiracy theories.”

Ms Butler said one user claiming to be a former police officer had challenged her story, claiming that the driver of the car was white.

The opposition MP dismissed the claim as “fake news”. She also rebuffed questions from several users who complained that the video she posted online only featured part of the incident.

Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for London mayor who is also black, waded into the row to defend the police saying: “Yes, police make mistakes. But they’re not racist.”

“Instead of political attacks, let’s improve relations between police and the communities,” he said, and added he had also been stopped and searched by police.

In response, Ms Butler called on Twitter users to “please explain institutional racism to Shaun”.

Several Twitter users accused Ms Butler of “playing the race card” and seeking attention in publicising the incident.

Ms Butler has been a vocal critic of the stop-and-search policy, which she and others have complained discriminates unfairly against people of colour.

Government data shows that, between April 2018 and March 2019, black people had the highest stop and search rates in every police force area for which there was data.

Activists have complained that stop and searches unfairly target people of colour. Courtesy UK government
Activists have complained that stop and searches unfairly target people of colour. Courtesy UK government

The Met Police were forced to issue and apology to black British athlete Bianca Williams and her partner after they were pulled over while driving in London last month.

Footage of the incident was shared widely on social media.

Met Police chief Dame Cressida Dick told MPs that officers had visited Ms Williams to apologise for “distress” caused by the stop.

Ms Williams called for an independent investigation into allegations of racial profiling by the Met Police and said the force had “proved that they cannot be trusted to investigate a complaint themselves”.

Britain’s interior minister Priti Patel is an enthusiastic backer of stop and search, and although the use of the policy has caused controversy it has also increased significantly under the current government.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, British police carried out 13,083 stop and searches compared with only 2,496 in the same period a year earlier, and only 628 in the year before that.

Of the 13,083 stop and searches between 2018 and 2019, 4,858 targeted black people.

Updated: August 10, 2020 08:37 PM

Editor's Picks
THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email