Authorities in the UK are looking into an incident involving a Black mother who was handcuffed and arrested in front of her crying son after she was falsely accused of evading a bus fare. According to the Independent, the July 21 incident was captured on video and shared on social media.
Police claimed the woman was arrested in Croydon, South London, after she did not confirm the payment of her bus fare with the Transport for London (TfL) ticket inspector. In the video of the woman’s arrest by two Metropolitan Police officers, the woman’s child is seen crying as his mother is heard saying, “What the hell, get off me, what are you doing? What the f*** is going on?”
But the Metropolitan Police in a statement claimed the video represented just a “snapshot” of what transpired, adding that the Black woman became “abusive” prior to her arrest for allegedly dodging the bus fare.
The woman was ultimately released and reunited with her child after it was established she had actually paid the fare. In the wake of the incident, Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said they were conducting a pre-planned operation at the time, and the TfL ticket inspectors were receiving assistance from Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command.
“Anyone without a valid ticket is required to provide their details to a TfL inspector so a penalty fare can be issued. This is not a policing matter. Officers only become involved where details are not provided or where someone tries to leave when challenged,” Twist said.
“The woman involved in this incident was asked to provide her ticket as she got off the bus, but did not do so. She was spoken to by a TfL inspector, then by a PCSO [Police community support officer] and finally by a police officer. She continued to try to walk away and did not provide her ticket for inspection.”
Twist also said a PCSO consoled the minor, adding that the force “regret” any effect the child may have experienced from the incident, Independent reported. “The most disrespected person is the Black woman. The most unprotected person is the Black woman. The most neglected person is the Black woman,” Labour MP for Leicester East, Claudia Webbe, said. “The Met Police is the boot of the state; they do not care about Black people, and Black women in particular.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has since received a complaint about the incident. “The complaint alleges the woman was racially profiled and verbally abused by an officer. We will now assess the referral and decide if any further action is required from us,” a spokesperson for the IOPC said.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London also said the video of the incident was “troubling to watch and the Mayor is clear that it is right that this matter has been referred to the IOPC so that the full circumstances can be independently reviewed.”