Twice over the last week, on Friday 18 March and Sunday 20 March, large crowds gathered in Hackney, London, in support of ‘Child Q’ – a black schoolgirl who, in 2020, was subject to a humiliating and traumatising strip search by the Metropolitan Police.
The police had been called after the child had wrongly been accused of possessing cannabis. A safeguarding report found that racism “was likely” to have been a factor in the decision by police officers to carry out the search.
Shocking details of the incident were revealed by speakers at the protests. The teenage victim of this experience was pulled out of an exam to be searched. She was forced to remove her sanitary towel. And after the ordeal, she was then placed back in the exam, where not one teacher asked about her wellbeing.
This brutal and degrading treatment has had a significant impact on Child Q. The girl’s family said that she had become “a shell of her former bubbly self”.
There was an outpouring of grief and anger on display at these recent demonstrations – not just over the scandalous example of Child Q, but at the routine abuses and misconduct carried out by the Met Police, which a majority of Londoners now consider to be institutionally racist and sexist.
Recently, for example, police in Hackney were also in the spotlight for carrying out a similarly sadistic, sexist strip search against a female activist.
Officers at Charing Cross police station, meanwhile, were recently found guilty of sharing a whole series of disgusting, bigoted comments in a group chat, indicating that misogyny and discrimination is endemic within the Met.
Oppression and violence
Socialist Appeal activists were present at the Friday protest, where one comrade gave a speech to the crowd.
This comrade linked the experience of Child Q to the many other racist and sexist crimes committed by the police over the decades, such as the rape and murder of Sarah Everard.
He made the point that the police as an institution cannot be reformed. It exists to defend the capitalist system – a system that relies on racism, sexism, repression, and bigotry in order to divide and exploit the working class.
To end police racism and sexism, therefore, we need to overthrow the oppressive and violent capitalist system that the police serve and protect.
The case of Child Q has the potential to spark a mass movement in schools and colleges against racism and police violence.
Much like with the Black Lives Matter movement that erupted in the USA and across the world two years ago, there have already been spontaneous walkouts and protests of young people in solidarity with Child Q.
Last week, for example, students at Petchey Academy Hackney organised a mass meeting and rally.
And on Monday (21 March), students at City and Islington College walked out in protest.
Capitalism is racist
What happened to Child Q is not a one off. It is not the result of a ‘few bad apples’. The whole system is rotten.
As long as capitalism remains, so will the police and all these horrific abuses of power.
As Malcolm X correctly asserted: “You can’t have capitalism without racism.”
We therefore call on students and workers across the country to organise similar protests and rallies in their areas – and to link these militant mobilisations to the fight against capitalism.