Sasha das Gupta, Anam Islam and I put together a letter to Newham Borough Commander Richard Tucker. We sent this to him, but also wanted to give residents a chance to read it and to be transparent about how we are representing local people. Our letter is in full below:
To Borough Commander Richard Tucker,
We write to you in our roles as councillors for Forest Gate North ward, in the London Borough of Newham, asking you to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of PC Charlie Harrison and to encourage you to take firm, actionable steps in pursuing justice for the victim and his family, and ensuring that such acts of racial violence enacted by the police force are a thing of the past in Newham.
According to Judge Gregory Perrins, Harrison stopped Mr Abrahams ‘because he was black’ and having racially targeted the victim, instigated a vicious attack causing serious injury. However, the role of all of us as public officials is not just to condemn the actions of Harrison but to identify a history of inequality in public bodies in Newham, and beyond, to understand the distress and distrust that this creates, and to do something about it.
The BAME community of Newham need assurance that their councillors and their Borough Commander are proactively working to make racist policing and the subsequent violence part of our history not our future.
The steps forward in racial equality over the last few years in this country is a source of pride for all of us. As someone listed in the New Years’ Honours, we know that you would wish to command a borough which represents the very best of Britain’s diversity, antiracism and progress. As such, we implore you to publicly respond to this correspondence with clear, achievable steps that you and your team will take to initiate and maintain stringent standards in Metropolitan Police officers working in Newham, alongside a constructive plan to build much-needed bridges with the black community here who tragically feel the full weight of racialised police violence in their communities.
As we are well aware, central government cuts to local services and community resources has made the challenge of community cohesion and these kinds of constructive initiatives much harder. But we hope that you will agree with us that making this right is a priority, and you will find a way to do this vital work.
Though scandalous and harrowing, Carl Abrahams will walk away from this incident and continue his life. Without change, other black men may not be so lucky. In the memory of Edson Da Costa, Jean Charles De Menezes, Mark Duggan, George Floyd and countless others, please use your significant influence and public platform to enact real change now.
Sasha Das Gupta