POLICE ABUSE OF POWER LEAVES THE 4FRONT PROJECT WITH NO OPTION BUT LEGAL ACTION
Today, The 4Front Project is commencing legal action against the Metropolitan Police. When we believe members of our team have been treated unlawfully by the police, we will seek legal advice and take legal action where necessary. [15/06/2020]
The actions of the police on 12 April 2020, and their treatment of Kusai Rahal, Head of Community Support at The 4Front Project, was completely unacceptable, and left us with no choice but to take legal action. It is vital to us that we send a clear message to our team and to the young people that we support, that we have a legal team ready to take action when their human rights are abused. The 4Front Project is appalled by the daily abuse, violence and harm inflicted specifically on young Black people by the police. The campaign by police to criminalise young Black people is so robust that all those in proximity to them are subjected to maltreatment and criminalisation.
On 12 April 2020, Kusai received a distressed call from a 4Front member, advising him that another member (hereinafter referred to as “Z”) had been stopped by police and was being arrested on suspicion of an offence of possessing drugs - which he denied. Z had been stopped by police whilst visiting a friend’s grave and was approached and apprehended by the Territorial Support Group (TSG) of the Metropolitan police. The 4Front Project has been supporting Z since 2016 and when approached by TSG, asked that his 4Front youth worker be contacted for support. The police refused this request so other members called The 4Front Project on his behalf whilst he was being arrested, handcuffed and placed in a police van.
In response to this request for crisis support, Kusai drove to the scene in order to assist Z. On arrival, Kusai was immediately confronted and challenged by officers who requested his driving license and information about where he had come from. He calmly spoke to the officers, identifying himself as a key worker and a staff member at The 4Front Project; attending in respect of the young person that they had arrested. He was wearing a 4Front T-shirt bearing a large and visible 4Front Project logo. He also was wearing a lanyard around his neck displaying his ID card with his name, job title and contact details for The 4Front Project. Kusai understood that in this context he was not required to provide his license. The detailed law surrounding this is set out in the attached legal letter.
Despite this, the police proceeded to arrest Kusai under the Road Traffic Act for declining to provide these details. Despite being calm throughout, he was handcuffed behind his back, and video evidence (linked above) shows four officers grabbing him and twisting his arm, whilst the handcuffs are tightened. This was completely outrageous and excessive in the circumstances. This occurred in front of the young people who Kusai had been called to support, in a public place in full view of members of the public. It was the young 4Front members who filmed this interaction and they were visibly distressed by this. They were so concerned and upset that they called another member of The 4Front Project to assist. It is hard to fully comprehend the full scale of the impact that this blatant abuse of power and discrimination by police has on young Black people and our wider community.
Kusai was then taken into a police van. Once inside, for some reason, the issue of the arrest seemed to disappear without explanation. Despite repeatedly identifying himself as a key worker, and whilst still under arrest for the alleged road traffic offence, the police unlawfully and illegally issued Kusai with a Fixed Penalty Notice (“FPN”), stating that he had breached the coronavirus regulations. The police completely failed to follow the government guidance in relation to Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce, with enforcement being an absolute last resort, where policing by consent is a priority. The details of why this FPN was unlawful is set out in the attached letter. We have requested a response from the police by 29th June 2020, in relation to the proposed legal action.
Unfortunately, this case is one of many - on numerous occasions, whilst providing crucial support services and in the presence of the young people we support, our staff members have been assaulted, abused and disrespected by the police. These incidents not only undermine our efforts to build our members’ confidence in dealing with the police, but fundamentally reinforce their distrust and hatred of the police. The pervasiveness of institutional racism within policing is evident in the way the police repeatedly subject our staff to racial discrimination, harassment and violence - all whilst they are doing their job and safeguarding our members. The 4Front Project will do all within our power to ensure that the rights of our staff, our members and other Black youth are protected and upheld, utilising the extensive legal advice and support freely available to us. We are unwavering in our commitment to empower young people and communities to fight for justice, peace and freedom.
You can find the full legal letter attached here, for your information.