BPLS Legal Observers have both witnessed and been victim to police discrimination

Image courtesy of Stefan Weil – support his work here

In a powerful essay, Patricia Daley and Queenie Djan have explained the experience of our Legal Observers at BLM protests, and how the police officers’ reactions have only illustrated the need for us to be there.

“Our Black and Brown legal observers were repeatedly threatened for noting officers’ publicly visible badge numbers… On 11 July 2020 a legal observer was subjected to verbal transphobic abuse by officers while carrying out their duties… . Unsurprisingly for us, our white legal observers reported a much more positive experience during their interaction with the police.”

The police’s interaction with Black and Brown protesters and Legal Observers alike has been starkly different to their interaction with white protesters. This is symptomatic of the institutional racism which was first highlighted in the Macpherson report 20 years ago.

Our Legal Observers attend these protests to monitor the police. They take objective notes of what happens, offer basic legal information so that protesters understand events, and do not obstruct the police. Nevertheless, the aggressive response of many police officers shows just how much they rely on having an imbalance of power, and just how adversarial they intend to be.

“during a team briefing regarding health and safety, police officers standing nearby taunted and mocked our volunteers making remarks such as, ‘Are you here to ensure social distancing or just cause trouble?’, ‘Do you really think you have any powers because of hi vis jackets?’, ‘You’re on the wrong side?’”

Click on the image below to read the full essay.

Our work is intended to level the playing field.

By taking notes of police actions we ensure that they can be held to account for any misconduct.

By providing legal information to protesters we prevent the police from using information imbalance to act unlawfully.

By attending in “hi vis” we ensure that protesters do not feel intimidated into giving up their legal right to protest.

With our network of expert lawyers we offer pro bono legal support to any protester who the police try to mistreat.

If you would like to sign up as a Legal Observer, or if you have suffered police misconduct or any other legal issues arising from your part in a BLM protest, please contact us here.

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