The Students’ Union Executive is aware that on 25th February 2015, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has been invited to speak at the University of Sussex. This event is run by the University, and is in no way connected to the Students’ Union. However, the Students’ Union is aware that some students have called a demonstration to be held outside the lecture in the Jubilee building, and we have been asked to make a statement regarding the situation.
The Students’ Union is committed to the principles of social justice and equality, and believes that nobody should be discriminated against because of their gender, sexuality, race, nationality, religion, or on any other grounds.
Only a few weeks ago, the Students’ Union co-hosted an event with the student society I, Too, Am Sussex, where students, guests and the local community came together to discuss state violence. We heard from speakers including Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean Rigg died in Metropolitan police custody in 2008.
Since 1990, there have been 1505 deaths in police custody or following contact with the police, and yet no officers have been convicted. Research by Release showed that black people were 6.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs than white people.
In 1999 the Metropolitan Police were branded ‘institutionally racist’ by a public enquiry, and in 2014 the chair of the Met's Black Police Association called on the commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, to admit that the force was still institutionally racist.
Only a few months ago students at the University of Warwick had CS spray and tasers used on them as they partook in a peaceful protest on their campus, currently being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
These are just an example of the worrying stories and statistics that inform the public perception of the police being racist, unaccountable and violent. Sir Bernard Hagan Howe is the highest-ranking officer in the Metropolitan police, and is a figurehead for the force nationwide.
Many of the Students’ Union officers will be attending the demonstration to show support for those still demanding justice, and call for an end to police racism and violence.
- The Students' Union's Executive Committee
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