Cops have arrested a woman in Croydon, south London, for not paying her bus fare. People have been kicking off on social media, and rightly so – not least because the woman had actually paid, but also because the cops’ response was disproportionate in the extreme. A number of officers tussle with the woman, yanking her, and ignoring her pleas. Her young son is visibly distressed, crying loudly at the treatment of his mother.
You’d be forgiven for asking, what the fuck is wrong with the police? Why did they feel the need to be this heavy-handed over a bus fare – one that had actually been paid? But of course. There’s nothing wrong with the police. They’re functioning exactly how they’re supposed to: as anti-Black, racist, and misogynist thugs.
Moreover, we’re hearing the same old tropes about an “abusive” Black women who didn’t STFU when she was told to.
The Met: arresting a Black woman for paying her bus fare
On Friday 21 July, cops arrested the woman. The video of the incident is being widely shared on social media. However, the Canary is choosing not to include it in our reporting. The state and its actors are often shown brutalising Black women. We think repeating those violent images doesn’t serve the people being harmed – so, we’re not going to share it.
As LBC reported:
Police arrested the woman, they said, because she was asked to confirm with a revenue inspector that she had paid her bus fare, but did not agree.
They handcuffed and arrested her on suspicion of fare evasion because, as they claimed, she became abusive.
It then emerged she had paid, and she was “de-arrested” and let go.
The officers were part of the Met Police’s Roads and Transport Policing Command (RTPC). It works with Transport for London (TfL), and is jointly funded by it. TfL says on its website that the RTPC’s duties include:
- Keep crime low and reduce fear of crime on the surface transport network
- Reduce road collisions…
- Investigate the most serious KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) collisions with their specialist investigation skills
- Carry out cycle safety events
However, nowhere on TfL’s site does it say that RTPC nicks people for skipping bus fares – which is what its cops did to this woman. Even in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Met makes no mention of this being part of the remit. The British state has truly lost the plot in focusing its time and energy on catching bus fare-skippers like some jumped-up school teacher. How does harassing a woman and her son over a little bus fare serve the community?
TfL’s good little bitches: ignorant in the extreme
The cop’s good little bitch from TfL, a bus worker called Joe, defended the police’s actions. He alleged to LBC‘s right-wing gobshite Nick Ferrari that after a ticket inspector in Croydon asked for the woman’s bus pass, she became “abusive”:
And when the police asked her to show the pass, she started abusing the police as well. She could have just shown the pass and walked away – and that would have been the end of the matter.
Yes, that old chestnut: a Black person defends themselves, therefore they must be abusive. As one Twitter user commented, these:
responses of ‘she should have stopped,’ ‘just cooperated,’ ‘abusive’ are… unsurprising. Those responses come from those who, from a young age, have not witnessed their loved ones manhandled without dignity, whose body does not stiffen in fear of being accused because of what their skin colour represents to others, who are not adultified… as children, who have to ensure they print a receipt for a bottle of milk to show to a uniformed person in the supermarket…
As the Canary‘s Sophia Purdy Moore previously wrote:
Institutionalised misogynoir – ingrained prejudice against Black women and girls – came to the fore when Met police officers shared selfies with the dead bodies of murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.
Day after day, cops show what they think of Black women. They systemically disrespect and dehumanise them. Then, the foot soldiers of white supremacy (in this instance, TfL) run along to defend the biggest gang in London: the Met Police.
Misogynoir: alive and well in the UK
So, you know – against a backdrop of cops murdering women, institutionalised racism, and prejudice pervading every corner of UK society, and misogyny and misogynoir thrown into the mix too – maybe, just maybe, the woman on the bus was, as one Twitter user said, ‘triggered into a reaction’ that TfL lackeys and the cops then ‘used against her’. As Zeze Millz wrote for Marie Claire, Black women “feel suffocated by the misogynoir, disregard and disrespect in UK society”:
Imagine continuously seeing people that look like you, your friends or your family being killed, murdered by the very people entrusted to serve and protect you. Imagine the fatigue that is deeply embedded in our very psyche from being continuously gaslit for feelings that we know are real. Imagine seeing constant content that confirms, and affirms, the feelings and notion that Black women are at the bottom of the barrel.
Not that the racist and misogynistic Met Police (nor their sidemen at TfL) would recognise any of this. The police’s excuse for officers’ ridiculous response to the woman was the usual bullshit: she “became abusive“, the video on social media doesn’t “show the full interaction“, blah, blah, blah.
Black women are, as Millz wrote, at the “bottom” of UK society. When racism and misogynoir pervade your waking life, it must be exhausting. So, being at first indirectly, and then directly, accused of criminality when there was none was clearly too much for the woman in Croydon. And who can blame her?
Police and TfL staff did. They did nothing to dispel the idea that the UK is systemically racist and filled to its very core with misogynoir.
The cycle repeats
But the saddest part of this story is that the young boy was witness to cops’ treatment of his mother – and with institutional change unlikely, society will allow this cycle to repeat itself throughout his life also. If this is how police treat Black adults, how are young Black children supposed to feel safe around them? This child witnessed police brutalising his mother – and then, days later, it was revealed another Black man has died after contact with cops, also in Croydon.
That is, of course, the point of the police. They’re not there to ‘protect and serve’. The state puts them there to make Black people feel unsafe, paint them as dangerous, and dehumanise them – just like they did to this woman in Croydon.
Featured image via Saskia Cole – screengrab