Okay, everybody, calm down. Just take a breath and simmer down. A Black woman has been handcuffed and arrested by the Metropolitan Police, amid distressing scenes in front of her young son. Video taken of this incident almost brought down Twitter (although it probably doesn’t take much these days to do that, but I digress). Such was the brouhaha of what folks could see on the video that the Twitterati, including prominent politicians of the United Kingdom parliament, had to stick their oars in.
Yes, I know, on the face of it this sounds bad. Looks bad. Really bad. Because this appears to all and sundry that here we go again, the (officially) institutional racist Metropolitan Police have taken against Black people. Again. A Black woman at that. Travelling with her young son.
So back to the video, all one minute, twenty-eight seconds of it, showing the woman, even while handcuffed, trying to pull away from the police. Various news outlets state that the woman was arrested by officers in Croydon, south London, after they thought she hadn’t paid for a bus ticket.
Whe’hey! Nobody gets arrested by the police for not paying their bus fare. This is not 1865. So, something else must be going on. Of course, what we don’t see on the video, all one minute and twenty-eight seconds of it, is what transpired before that. Revenue inspectors are all around, checking to see whether those travelling on public transport have duly paid their rightful fare. The story goes that when this woman was asked by the revenue inspector to show that she had paid her fare, she refused to. Police officers, who regularly accompany the revenue inspectors on their rounds, apparently handcuffed and arrested her on suspicion of fare evasion. Really!
I think there is more to this story than meets the eye. As far as I know, there is nowhere in the law that police officers arrest passengers just because they haven’t paid their fare. Those of us who have the privilege of using public transport from time to time can testify to the announcement that comes over the train and bus public address (PA) system, that you must have a valid ticket for your journey and if you do not have a valid ticket for your travels, you may be liable to pay a penalty fare. There’s nothing said about being arrested. And ‘cuffed.
As it turned out, the woman had paid her rightful fare, so why did she refuse to confirm that? And what led the police to arrest her in the first place? She was then unceremoniously de-arrested and sent on her way. Nothing to see here!