Counter-terrorism policing in Woolwich
September 19, 2013 — News
Written by Betsy Barkas
Is racial profiling being carried out by counter-terrorism police in South London following the death of Lee Rigby?
On 1 June 2013, a group of friends driving through Woolwich in the early evening were intercepted by police officers apparently from the Met’s Counter Terrorism command, SO15. According to youth worker Husani Williams, who was driving the car, the officers shot out the tyres, smashed its windows and dragged him and his brother Asanti out of the car. Officers used tasers and ‘pain compliance’ techniques on the men, who say they did not resist.
Police told the two other passengers that the car had been targeted because it had come from an address associated with the Lee Rigby murder. The address in question was that of Mr Williams’ cousin, a black Muslim, who has not been approached by police to date.
Speaking to IRR News, Husani Williams stated: ‘I was in shock. The officers did not identify themselves, they just dragged me out of the car and held me down. At one point I asked them why they were doing this. They said, “We’ve got you down as Mr. Nasty, and this is what we do to Mr. Nasty”.’
One of the brothers, Asanti Williams, was taken straight to hospital as a result of the injuries sustained in the stop by police.
The arrest resulted in no charges relating to terrorism – the group were not even questioned about terrorism.
Husani has been charged with minor drugs offences. It seems likely his trial will not take place until spring next year. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the incident, but has said that its investigation will only get under way once criminal proceedings against Husani have finished.
Husani is being supported by the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence (LCAPSV). So far, the group has attended court in solidarity with Husani, and has helped to collect evidence from witnesses. LCAPSV supports the victims of police assault, and monitors the policing of communities, and of BME communities in particular.
The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.