Image from Guardian article
Ken Hinds has been a strong voice at BLM protests across London over the last few months. The community leader and advocate has been fighting for community cohesion and against discrimination and misconduct by the police for decades.
It is therefore unsurprising that he has also taken up the call for a peaceful protest on the 30th August for the Million Person March. This peaceful protest is intended to celebrate the unity of black and white protesters during the BLM protests and continue the push against institutional racism. The date is also no accident. As Mr Hinds explains, the March is “intended to revive the original spirit of the [Notting Hill] carnival, which began as an attempt to resolve racial tensions in the capital”.
However, the Metropolitan police have continued their pattern of unlawful and draconian use of Coronavirus powers to stifle peaceful protest. The institutional racism, highlighted in the MacPherson Report over 20 years ago, is still blatantly present.
Outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people (although official government advice says six people, or two households), for public health reasons. However, there is an exemption in place for “events in public outdoor spaces that are organised by businesses, charitable or political organisations, and public bodies”. This works on the understanding that political and societal engagement is still vital, and should only be restricted in proportion to the public health risk.
When Mr Hinds, and a number of campaigners, organised the March on 30th August, he expected this fairly clear exemption to apply. Instead, the Metropolitan police claimed that he was being investigated for an offence because he was not “a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution, a public body, or a political body” and therefore he does not come under the exception.
As Mr Hinds’ lawyer points out, “Communities Against Violence, a registered community interest company set up by Hinds and others, which is organising the protest, was focused on changing the law around racism – an explicitly political goal”.
Unsurprisingly, this is not the first time the Metropolitan police have tried to unlawfully limit Mr Hinds’ work. In April of 2018 he was wrongfully accused of assaulting a police officer (an appeal judge confirmed that the assault never happened) and in 2009 he was wrongfully arrested for simply watching a Stop-and-Search. The police have consistently put these cases of misconduct down to human error, but you have to wonder how many times that can happen to a black community leader before we start asking questions.
BPLS will have LOs at the 30th August March to look out for any more police misconduct, or ‘human error’.