A black drama student in the United Kingdom was leaving a London pub with a white friend when the student says six police officers tackled him and accused him of “doing a deal.”
Moses Alexander, 21, a student at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, saw a police car approaching at about 11:10 p.m. on June 21, according to the Standard.
He and his friend, Mark, had reportedly left Ye Olde Swiss Cottage pub about 40 minutes earlier.
“Supposedly we looked like we were doing a deal,” Alexander told Ham and High news. “Six officers stopped me — and not my friend — in the middle of a zebra crossing.”
“I was immediately grabbed and forced to the floor, all the while being told to ‘stop resisting’ while a knee was placed on my chest and my hands were held down.”
He said the incident lasted about 25 minutes and that he was “humiliated” and never experienced such “raw aggression from the police.”
“The main officer said: ‘There are a lot of crimes in the area,’ and: ‘If someone reported that someone had a knife, we wouldn’t go and ask […] – we’d go in, grab him and be ready to throw punches,'” Alexander said.
The student said he was confused by the reference of a knife “especially since this wasn’t the crime they supposedly stopped me for.”
There’s been a recent uptick in incidents of law enforcement officers stopping and searching people after a broad expansion of stop-and-search law in England.
Overall use of the stop-and-search law more than doubled from 15,557 instances in March 2017 to 33,022 in March 2019, according to The Guardian.
Where the law formerly required police officers to reasonably suspect a crime was committed, that changed in March when Home Secretary Sajid Javid gave officers more power to stop and search people without reasonable suspicion a crime had been committed to combat knife crime.
Officers can also stop and search people if they believe a crime is about to be committed, according to Met police rules.
Critics have argued the rules disproportionately target Black people, who are 40 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched in England and Wales, The Guardian reported.
In Alexander’s case, the arresting officer does not state an offense Alexander was suspected of in a police document the Standard obtained, and no drugs were found in the incident.
“It’s upsetting that this is something that can happen to anyone who, in their eyes, is seen as untrustworthy,” Alexander told the Standard.
Both Alexander and his friend told the news outlet they’ve never been in trouble with police, but police said the drama student was “not compliant” and “appeared under the influence of drink.”
“I’m 100 percent certain force was used against me because I am black,” Alexander said. “The police reports described Mark’s movements as ‘shifty,’ yet they came for me.”
Katrina Ffrench, the chief executive of a fair policing charity called StopWatch, has spoken out about the incident in local media reports.
“This is a prime example of the racial profiling that happens with stop and search,” she said.