4FRONT VOICES - Testimony: Police brutality under lockdown

By 4FRONT Member (Anonymised):

It was the middle of the night. I didn't have anything to drink in the house so I went to my local corner shop - thinking that it would be open, but it wasn't. I did a U-turn and started walking back towards my house. I was on my road when I was approached by two police officers in a car. They stopped the car right next to me and asked “Where are you going?” I told them that I was walking home and that my flat is on this road. “You can check it" I said "I don't mind giving you my name or details.” At this point, a police officer got out of the car and looked at me like I was going to run - I wasn't planning to. She said “Do you have anything you shouldn't have on you? Do you have a knife on you or drugs?” I told her that I had a small bag of weed in my pocket and that I was willing to hand it over. That’s when she changed her tone.

She immediately started trying to put me in handcuffs. I was complying, I wasn’t shouting or resisting. I told her exactly where the bag of weed was. I said “I haven't got a problem with you searching me, but why put me in cuffs?” She said that she needed to search me. I didn't have a problem with that, I was just confused as to why they were putting me in handcuffs. I was asking “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” I became alarmed... I didn't think being handcuffed was right, that's why I became upset. Why was I being put in handcuffs when I haven’t resisted and I was complying?

I was trying to record her with my phone, but the police officer was adamant on grabbing it - she didn’t want to be recorded. I told her to get off my phone and I began raising my voice. She called for backup - three more police cars arrived. I saw a group of police officers walking towards me, they didn't say a word, they just grabbed me and threw me to the floor. I fell on my face. They had thrown me and not even broken my fall - they just threw me to the floor then tried to put me in handcuffs.

This was the part I cannot forget - the part when they began assaulting me. They had me on the floor with my face down. One of the officers was a short bald guy who had my head locked in his inner thighs and he was tightening his grip and pushing my face into the ground. As I'm laying down, he's screaming, “STOP RESISTING!” I started feeling thumps in my back. I could definitely feel kicks. I didn't know what else it was but someone was definitely hitting me with something else - fists or a baton - it was strong enough to the point where I dropped my phone and just gave in. I couldn't take the pain. I was in hospital only a week and half before this incident because of my back - I was still in pain and taking medication at this point.

I was shouting, “I CAN’T BREATH, I CAN’T BREATH!”. I was saying “Are you even allowed to do this?” I was literally screaming and praying that someone would come out and see what these people were doing to me. When I couldn’t breathe, I was just thinking to myself that I didn’t want to be the next statistic, another story... That's why it got to the point where I just gave in - I couldn’t physically put up a fight.

They lifted me off the floor and said I was under arrest. I have never received a cannabis warning before but they went to the extent of charging me with Possession of Class B. It was only £10 worth of weed - it wasn’t worth it. They took me to the police station and had a conversation with the sergeant about whether they should strip search me. The sergeant said, “Because he is resisting arrest, you have grounds to strip search him.” I was so baffled - I was just thinking, what are you talking about? I didn't put up a fight, or even resist. I asked them “Do you have fun doing this? You do this everyday, find Black kids and beat them up” - because that's what they did. I told them that they could have just spoken to me and been frank when they found out about the weed. They could have just said something like 'I can't lie to you, we're gonna need to take you down to the police station'. I would have just said cool let’s go - it's just weed. I didn't have a problem with them arresting me. I had a problem with what they did to me. After they strip-searched me, they kept me in the cell for hours.

At first, when they arrested me, they said it was for Possession of Class B and Obstructing a Drug Search. But when I was charged 10 hours later, they dropped the obstruction charge and instead said that because of coronavirus, I shouldn’t have been outside (even though I had already explained to them that I was walking to the shop to get a drink). They didn’t mention coronavirus or anything like that when I got arrested. I wasn’t trying to chill out on the roads or the corners, I was literally on my way home. That whole day I had been inside. If I was smoking weed, I was smoking weed, it's not that deep - at least I was in my house self-isolating and smoking my weed. They didn’t even give me the fine for coronavirus - they just charged me under the new law straight away.

I have been arrested before but I have never been assaulted like this. Every time I have been searched or arrested, I just let them do their thing. I know the difference between lawful arrest and police brutality. This was so unnecessary - they didn't have to do any of that.

Now my back hurts, I can't even sit up properly. The kidney pain that I already had is just worse, in my lower back it is just immense. I’m basically bed-bound. Sitting down here hurts my back, walking around hurts my back, laying down hurts my back. I can't really do anything else can I? I want an apology for my back. I want more than an apology. This is why I see why people are tired of the police, and I don’t blame them. I won’t tarnish every officer’s name but it’s this incident that has given me a bad experience. This is why people don’t like the police.

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