June 05, 2020
Sadiq Khan claims the Met police has made “massive progress” since the Macpherson Report labelled it institutionally racist 20 years ago – but refused to say whether he would use the same label today.
Sadiq Khan Defends Met Polices Massive Progress On Racism, But Admits Theres More To Do
Speaking to HuffPost UK, he also pointed to “unanswered questions” over the death of railway worker Belly Mujinga, whose name was chanted by thousands of Londoners marching peacefully through the streets this week to protest police brutality and racism across society.
And he defended the force, saying it was not perfect but that society itself was structurally unequal and it was unfair to pin all responsibility on those enforcing the law.
Recent data show BAME people have been fined under Coronavirus laws at twice the rate, proportionally, of their white counterparts, while the deaths in recent years of Black men in police custody hang over the Met’s reputation in the minds of many.
In 1999, the landmark Macpherson report found that it was racial prejudice in the force itself that helped allow the murderers of teenage Black boy Stephen Lawrence to evade justice. 
We asked the mayor of London if the Met is still institutionally racist.
“The Met has made massive progress since the death of Stephen Lawrence public enquiry,” Khan said.
“When I speak to the commissioner on a daily basis, and her team, they are light years away from where the police were in the ’90s and before then.
“But I don’t accept we’re perfect; I think the Met Police Service still has got a huge scope for improvement. But the good news is they’re determined to improve and make sure they address the concerns that Londoners have.”
In an interview with ITV on Thursday, Met commissioner Cressida Dick dismissed suggestions officers unfairly target Black people.
The Guardian reported that, between March 27 and May 14, white people, who make up 59% of London’s population, received 444 fines, or 46% of the total; Black people, who make up 12% of London’s population, received 253 fines, or 26%. Asian people, who make up 18% of London’s population, received 23% of the fines.
Acknowledging disproportionality in policing, the mayor said racism was a structural problem in various corners of society – not just the Met.
Nodding to the 2017 Lammy Review, which highlighted disparity in the criminal justice system and the education system – which sees Black children more likely to be excluded – he also acknowledged journalism is 94% white.
“These are systemic structural inequalities that the police by themselves can’t address. It means that we’ve got to recognise this isn’t unique to the police – it’s also seen in the education system, probation service, journalism, politics, in Covid-19,” he said.
“We’ve seen the huge disproportionality in relation to deaths of BAME communities from Covid-19. So I get a bit defensive when all things point to just the police; I think they’re part and parcel of institutions that need to rapidly improve in order to better reflect our society.”Following the murder of George Floyd – a Black man – by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, a wave of Black Lives Matter protests ensued across both the US and UK.
In the UK, protesters took to the streets out of solidarity with the US but also out of frustration at being “over-policed and under-protected”. From police brutality to healthcare disparities during a global pandemic, Black people are discriminated against.
Data published last month revealed that Black people are being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, facing a heightened risk of developing complications from the virus and an increased likelihood of death. Related... 16 Key Events In The History Of Anti-Black Racism In The UK Public outcry prompted the government to commission a Public Health England review into the matter. However the review – published on Tuesday – only confirmed the disproportionate impact and did not carry any life-saving solutions for BAME people. 
In the meantime, at-risk Black people are being encouraged to return to frontline work without proper measures being implemented to guarantee safety.
Khan told HuffPost UK: “I unequivocally endorse the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter. You just look at any criteria of measuring success and [you’ll see] Black communities are being held back from their full potential and actually it starts from the antenatal stage and goes all the way, in relation to mortality rates.“The reasons why Black Lives Matter is so important is because of the systemic racism, discrimination and inequality that’s still taking place in 2020 – and I say this as the mayor of the most progressive city in the world. If you’re born a Black Londoner your life chances and life expectancy are less than if you’re born a white Londoner – that can’t be right.” 
Recalling his own memories of being a young person and feeling incensed over Rodney King’s brutal beating by Los Angeles police officers, which sparked riots in 1992, Khan said of the UK protests: “The younger generation – my daughter’s generation – are fed up and sick and tired of this happening. 
“How many more cases like Rodney King, George Floyd or Stephen Lawrence do there need to be before we reach equality?
“We need to understand that the experience of a Black person, not just in Minnesota, Minneapolis or America but around the world, is very different to the experience of people who aren’t Black. And one of the reasons why George Floyd’s brutal death struck a chord with Black people is the feeling that: ‘But for the grace of God, that could be me, my son, my dad, my brother, my cousin.’
“We’ve got to make people understand why it is that the fury, anguish, frustration, pain, sadness is being felt by Black people – and we should all feel that.”Black Lives Matter is so important because of the systemic racism, discrimination and inequality that’s still taking place in 2020 – and I say this as the mayor of the most progressive city in the worldSadiq KhanSo what is City Hall doing to help remedy the discrimination Black Londoners experience?
Khan said the Met is recruiting more Black police officers with a view to retain and promote them to senior roles within the force. It is addressing concerns around use of data such as the controversial gangs matrix – which identified young people seen as being at risk of falling into gangs, stigmatising many for things as innocent as the music they listened to or their Social Media use. And there is regular training for officers throughout their careers.
The mayor also raised concerns around the impact of an expected recession on Black communities – and chaired a meeting with educational institutions, council leaders and business about this topic on Thursday. 
Far from being the great equaliser it was initially touted as, Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the deeply entrenched inequalities in Britain
“Covid-19 is fascinating,” the mayor said. “Put aside the misery, trauma, deaths – actually it illustrates the inequalities in our society. Who is doing the frontline jobs, who haven’t got the luxury of working from home like I’ve got? Black Londoners who are security guards, cleaners, work in shops, drive buses, work in the NHS, and they’re often on zero-hour contracts, low-paid and they can’t work from home.”
One frontline worker at the forefront of many Black Lives Matter protesters’ minds is Belly Mujinga: many took to the to streets with signs bearing her name on Wednesday.
The 48-year-old died in April after it was reported the railway worker had been spat at on the concourse of London’s Victoria station by a man who said he was infected with Covid-19.
An investigation was opened by the British Transport Police – a full seven weeks after the incident – but officers went on to say they had not found evidence of anyone spitting during the incident and that a 57-year-old man officers interviewed had tested negative for Covid-19.A tentative step forward came on Friday when it emerged that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had been asked to review evidence in “recognition of wider public interest”.
There are calls for accountability to be taken by the British Transport Police (BTP) and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) for the assault she endured, and alleged negligence by her employer.
Khan confirmed he wrote to chief council of BTP earlier this week “to get a better understanding of the details of the case” and the decision not to pursue action.
“People are understandably angry about the handling of her case but also there are many questions which haven’t been answered,” said the mayor.
Describing the PHE review as a “waste of time”, Khan said cases like Mujinga’s who are forced to risk their lives at work show the need for greater accountability from the government and enhanced safeguarding of BAME frontline staff.Related... This Is How To Support Black British People Right Now – And How Not To Belly Mujinga: CPS To Review Evidence Into Coronavirus Death of Rail Worker Opinion: Britain's Race Problem Rivals America's. It's Just Less Visible
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