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Exclusive: ‘I was there. You weren’t’ Metropolitan Police Officer speaks out about Sarah Everard Vigil

There have been calls for the Commissioner of the Met Police to resign and for the police to be “defunded”. However, as always, there are two sides to every story…

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On Saturday 13th March 2021, people across the world watched on in horror and shock as police officers manhandled and detained female protestors at the vigil to remember Sarah Everard at Clapham Common. Politicians, celebrities as well as millions of people on social media, have been quick to condemn the actions of the London Metropolitan Police Service. There have been calls for the Commissioner of the Met Police to resign and for the police to be “defunded”. However, as always, there are two sides to every story… 

I am serving as a police officer in the London Metropolitan Police. I wish to share with you some things from the events of Saturday evening that the media and social media very conveniently forgot to share with you. 

Rewind the clock to midday on the 13th March and the scenes at Clapham Common were very peaceful. Members of the public were coming to the common, laying flowers and candles, whilst taking a few minutes to reflect on the life of an innocent woman who was murdered by an evil man. Sarah Everard was amongst thousands of women who have been the victim of male violence. Many female officers from the Met asked to be assigned to the common so that they could also pay their respects, and provide support to any members of the public who wished to talk about their personal experiences of abuse by men. At that point there were no concerns over social distancing rules, as members of the public co-ordinated with the officers on duty. It was the sort of planned scenario that could show the best of humanity.

At approximately 6pm, the crowd had become much larger. More police officers had been brought in to try and engage with the crowd and ensure that social distancing and Covid rules were adhered to. The Met Police’s policy of the “4 E’s” has been vital in helping police officers maintain order throughout the pandemic. At first police officers will ‘Engage’ with the public and ‘Explain’ to them what Covid rules are being broken by them. This is followed by ‘Encouraging’ them to change their behaviour to reduce the risk to public safety and health. And, as a last resort if people still do not wish to comply with the Covid Rules, then police officers ‘Enforce’ their legal power to disperse people or to issue fines. If this fails, then police officers have the right to arrest people and prevent further harm to the health and safety of the public. 

In my personal experience I have never had to issue any Covid fines as members of the public have been very understanding of the rules in place and are happy to comply. However, the crowd at Clapham Common from 6pm onwards was anything but compliant. Some people had started delivering emotional speeches from the bandstand, which resulted in a large crowd pulling closer to them and thus social distancing rules were completely ignored. As a result, the police officers on duty began to quickly Engage, Explain and Encourage members of the crowd to go home. It was no longer safe for them to be there whilst a pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world. At this point the crowd became hostile and felt that their freedoms were being trampled on. I have seen numerous and well-respected doctors and healthcare professionals on Twitter commenting on the police taking away the rights of women to protest male related violence on females. The irony is that these same doctors and healthcare professionals know better than anyone, that the UK and more specifically the NHS cannot afford another 6-month lockdown with Covid cases and Covid related deaths shooting through the roof! 

This wasn’t even the worst part of that evening. All of us on duty that day had to stand there and listen to members of the crowd, including women, telling female police officers that they “deserved to be raped” and that “your colleague should’ve murdered you instead of Sarah”. How would you feel if you had to stand there and listen to people telling your female colleagues who are mothers, sisters, wives and partners, that they deserved to be raped and murdered? Some of my colleagues were spat on, some were pushed and assaulted and all of us were called “murderers”, “rapists” and every offensive word under the sun. But it’s odd how the various media outlets and their cameras failed to play these scenes on the news and across social media. Just imagine for a second, if a police officer had told a female member of the public, that she deserved to be raped and murdered? So why is it acceptable for people to make such comments to female police officers? I have nothing but respect for my colleagues who were on duty that day and the way we controlled our emotions and only arrested those individuals who had exceeded all bounds of decency. 

Since the murder of Sarah Everard, I have closed my social media accounts after receiving messages and DMs from friends and family alike asking me how I felt about “your colleague murdering an innocent woman”. The truth is, “he” is no colleague of ours. I refuse to use his name because he doesn’t deserve any mention. Like all police officers in the UK, I hope and pray that he is given the harshest possible sentence. His actions were horrible and disgusting, we have all sworn an oath to serve and protect our country and he did anything but that. The public have no idea how many officers it took, the 100s of hours of CCTV footage and door to door enquiries piecing together micro sized bits of information to find the murderer who took Sarah Everard’s life. It has been a horrible week for police officers; none of us want to be associated with that vile creature. Why is it okay to label police officers as murderers and rapists because of the actions of one or two individuals? Most police officers joined to protect the vulnerable and to help shape a safer world for our future generations to live in. Politicians have been quick to condemn the actions of the police, yet it is these same politicians who voted for the Covid laws and demand that the police to enforce them. 

Only three weeks ago, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said “This is not the time to take our foot off the table…we must as a city remain on high alert.” After praising the work of the Emergency services he further said “We must repay them (Emergency Services) by continuing to follow the rules.” Mr Khan was one of the first political figures to criticise the Met Police after Saturday’s events, unfortunately for Mr Khan Covid doesn’t care if a vigil is taking place for a worthy cause. He should know better than this! Similarly, the criminal justice system is desperately in need of reform! Every year the police arrest thousands of men who commit crimes against women, whether that be rape or sexual offences, harassment, domestic violence etc. However, the percentage of convictions is horrifyingly low. If you want to get angry, then vent your anger at the people you elect and at the criminal justice system which is outdated and in need of reform! 

A few days after the events of Saturday 13th March, myself and my colleague were on our way to arrest a male suspect who had been accused of harassing their female ex-partner on social media; threatening to release intimate photos and videos of her. Whilst on our way to his address, we received all sorts of verbal abuse from members of the public. I was called a “murderer” “woman beater” “scumbag” “rapist” amongst many other things. I couldn’t help but share a quick smile with my colleague, because the irony was that we were on our way to arrest a male suspected of abusing their female ex-partner.

The one comment that hurt me the most was when a little girl who couldn’t have been more than five years old, ran up to us and shouted: “Hello Officer! How are you?” Before we could reply, however, her mother shouted: “Come here sweetie, stay away from them. They are horrible people; they will arrest you and hurt you”. The smile on the little girl’s face vanished, and with a horrified look in her eyes she ran back to her mother. I thought to myself, that If there was no Covid I would probably offer a high five to the girl. Sadly, her mother had now scared her from the police and, heaven forbid, if she was ever in trouble then who would she turn to for help? 

The commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, Dame Cressida, herself said that “had it been lawful, I myself would have attended the vigil”. As police officers, we want nothing more than to stand side by side with our fellow citizens to demand justice and equality for women. However, due to the pandemic, it is neither safe nor right to be holding such protests. I find it astonishing, that people are asking for Dame Cressida to resign from her position, considering she is the first female commissioner in the Met Police’s long history. The blame does not lie with the Met Police, we were simply doing our job according to the laws set out by the people that you elected. 

The events of this week have certainly shaken police officers. We have even at times questioned whether it’s worth us staying in a job that we love. We have wondered how is it fair for us to be labelled as murderers and rapists when all we want to do is help serve and protect our country. However, like most police officers my resolve has only strengthened. I am more determined now than ever to rid our streets of evil people – especially violent men – so that our women and girls can walk in peace. 

Disclaimer: The identity of the Police Officer has been changed for security purposes.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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  1. A A

    18 March 2021 at 1:56 pm

    This is a very moving write up from the police’s perspective, something we don’t often hear.

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Health

Quest of breaking the fourth wave: Germany’s new Covid restrictions

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Kuhlmann /MSC, CC BY 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons. Changes to the photo was made for this article.

With the rising number of Covid cases in Germany, the German government has announced a new set of restrictions. These restrictions will directly influence unvaccinated people. The decision came on Thursday as one of the last announcements made by the outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the announcement, she called for an “act of national solidarity” to fight the fourth wave of Covid in the country which is being predicted to get worse during winter. German Vice-Chancellor and incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged the nation to get vaccinated to prevent more loss of lives and to control this “very difficult situation”

According to the latest report of the Robert Koch Institute Germany, more than 300 new deaths have been reported taking the national incidence rate to 442.1 cases per 100,000 population. 71% of the total population is vaccinated while 14.7 % have received a booster vaccination. 

The German Federal Minister for Health Jens Spahn raised his concerns over the growing number of Covid cases in the country and warned in a press conference that the situation kept growing “By the end of this winter everyone in Germany will either be vaccinated, recovered or dead.” In his recent press briefing, his last as a Health Minister, Spahn told the press that Germany has enough stock of vaccines to reach its goal of providing 30 million booster doses.

The new covid restrictions will limit the activity of the unvaccinated people in Germany and will put them in lockdown. The unvaccinated people will be barred from entering “cultural and leisure institutions and events (cinemas, theatres, restaurants, etc.) is only possible for those who are vaccinated or recovered (2G), irrespective of the incidence rates.” The new actions will also include changing the duration period of the vaccination status which will be valid for nine months after getting the second dose of vaccine unless a booster shot has been received. 

The number of participants and attendees of the community events has also been limited. Masks have been made mandatory in the classrooms of the schools. New restrictions will also affect the new year celebrations where gatherings and large crowds have been banned,

Germany is the second European country after Austria to take measures specifically against unvaccinated people. Both countries are currently dealing with anti-vaccination protests and resistance from people – as a result of which vaccine rates remain low while Covid cases are rising. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Politics

Australia proposes new anti-troll laws

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Australia proposes new anti-troll laws

New defamation anti-troll laws have been proposed by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison through which social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. could be forced to reveal the identities of anonymous online users in an effort to combat online trolling.

“The online world provides many great opportunities, but it comes with some real risks, and we must address these or it will continue to have a very harmful and corrosive impact on our society and on our community,” Scott Morrison said while announcing the proposed legislation. 

The proposed laws would require social media companies to collect the details of all users and allow courts to force companies to hand over the identities of users to aid the court proceedings. These companies will also be required to create a complaint system that people can use if they feel that they have been the target of defamation. Through this complaint process, the person who posted the defamatory content will be asked to take it down. if they refuse, or if the victim is interested in legal action, the social media company can legally seek permission from the poster for their contact information to be revealed.

As can be expected, a social media company might not always be successful in getting the poster’s consent for their contact information to be revealed. In these cases, the proposed laws would introduce an “end user information disclosure order” that would allow these companies to reveal a user’s identity without the user’s permission. If the social media companies refuse, they will be held responsible and will be made to pay for the troll’s defamatory comments. It must be noted that these laws are specific to Australia and companies will not have to identify such people  from other countries.

This measure might seem a bit extreme, but this is a global problem and despite many educational campaigns such as Black Lives Matter or players taking a knee before a football match and despite multiple calls for social media companies to take ownership of this problem and address it, they have failed to take any meaningful measure and this has now forced the hand of the Australian government to curb this through legislation. It is natural that if wrong practises are continued despite repeated reminders and education, the laws get stricter. Social media companies might not like this, but they are responsible for bringing this on themselves.

“The online world should not be a wild west where bots and bigots and trolls and others are anonymously going around and harming people,” Morrison said during a press conference. “That is not what can happen in the real world, and there is no case for it to be able to be happening in the digital world”.

A draft of the ‘anti-troll’ bill is expected this week. However, it likely won’t reach Parliament until next year. It may also have implications for individuals running pages on social networks, as they could be potentially held responsible for defamatory comments left on their pages.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Foad is a professional Electrical engineer, avid traveller, always up for an adventure and trying to change the world – one word at a time.

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Health

The Omicron Variant begins to sweep over the world pushing leaders to make tough decisions

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U.S. Secretary of Defense, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The story of the Omicron variant began a week ago, when researchers in southern Africa discovered a new version of the coronavirus. Scientists and world leaders have responded to the latest variant, Omicron, more quickly than to any other. The World Health Organization (WHO) classified Omicron a variant of concern two days after South Africa reported it and stated on Monday that it presented a very serious risk to public health. As the current variant swiftly spreads around the world, Britain has already recorded 32 cases of the Omicron variant, which appears to be extremely contagious. Moreover, several countries, including the United States, have imposed travel bans on South Africa, where the quickly circulating new strain was discovered on 24th November, as well as seven other southern African countries.

Extra testing and self-isolation precautions are also in place for passengers from those nations. Concerns about the variant’s rapid spread have resulted in travel bans from numerous southern African countries. Beginning Monday, the Biden administration announced restrictions on non-US citizens travelling from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi. The State Department also published do not travel warnings to American citizens. In addition, the European Union announced plans to prohibit travel from South Africa and other southern African countries. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a news conference on Saturday announced new restrictions for tourists. Additional steps proposed by Johnson include wearing face coverings in shops and on public transport, as well as isolating all contacts of anyone who tests positive for the omicron variant for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. Moreover, anyone coming into the country will be compelled to undergo a PCR test by the end of the second day, and will be expected to self-isolate until they get a negative result. 

On the other hand, WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, has supported the South African and Botswanan governments in bringing the new variant to attention. “The WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to share life-saving public health information, helping to protect the world against the spread of Covid-19,” added Moeti. The omicron variant is the first new concern since the delta variant swept the world earlier in the summer. Thus, In the meanwhile, people should continue to take precautions to reduce their risk of infection and the spread of the virus. This involves wearing a mask and receiving the vaccine when it’s your turn.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Politics

With no end in sight, violent protests continue in Sudan

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Anti-coup protests have been going on in Sudan since last month to oppose the government’s military rule after an agreement to reinstate civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. This peaceful protest soon turned violent when the Sudanese Security Forces began to fire tear gas at the protestors.

The Sudanese Security Forces tried to stop the pro-democracy protests when they reached near the presidential palace in the Sudan capital, Khartoum. Protests have been taking place all over the country including cities like Port Sudan, Kassala, Nyala, and Atbara. Tens of thousands of people have been joining the protests since October. The capital has been surrounded by the heavily armed police force that started firing tear gas as well as stun grenades as soon as people got within a kilometer of the palace while chanting “soldiers belong in the barracks”. The people have also been heard chanting “the people want to overthrow the regime”, among other phrases. There have been a lot of injured protestors due to a variety of reasons like suffocation from tear gas and injuries due to overcrowding. So far many of the people who tried crossing security barriers were arrested, which included 44 people out of which 18 were minors. The protests since the start till now have killed more than 40 people and many of them have died due to gunshot wounds. In fact, a 21-year-old protester died on 25th November in the last march that took place due to brain hemorrhage from getting hit with a baton by police. 

The main reason for this march according to Penn Today is, “just weeks before the military was to shift power into civilian hands as part of a power-sharing agreement, Sudan’s top military leader Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan launched a coup and detained the prime minister and other government officials. The public has responded with large protests filling the streets of the capital Khartoum and elsewhere, and the international community has condemned the move.” Even after the 2019 revolution that ended in success, there have been many people in the military who supported the past regime. This is why over the past few days, several politicians arrested after the coup have now been released as well. A reporter from Aljazeera, Hiba Morgan explained the situation as “people are still angry,” adding “they say the fact that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok agreed to negotiate and sign a deal with the military is a betrayal.” Basically, the trust of the civilians was broken which has led to these protests that killed so many people. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Health

“Omicron: The sound of concern and chaos reaches the USA”

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After circling the globe for two years, Coronavirus has picked up a new identity. This time it has been speculated to have been first identified in South Africa on the 24th November 2021. Omicron, named after a Greek alphabet, and has the phonic of shorter “o”, and has alarmed the world with “an increased risk of reinfection”. World Health Organization has warned the world to continue following the “measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19”, which included social distancing, hygiene, use of masks in crowded places and getting vaccinated, to avoid getting infected. 

Although the virus was first detected in South Africa just a few days back, it has already put various countries around the world in lockdown including the Netherlands. Several countries, including Germany, the UK and the USA have updated their travel restrictions with their focus mainly on limiting travel from African countries. In his press conference, while announcing the travel ban on eight African countries, US President Joe Biden said that these travel restrictions “gives us time to take more action to move quickly to make sure people understand you have to get vaccinated”. He called the newly identified variant as a cause of “concern” and not of “panic”. Later that day, President Biden also brought the attention of the world to have “global vaccinations” by donating vaccinations to the underdeveloped countries of the world to stop the mutations and spread of the virus. 

About 59% of the US population is fully vaccinated while 11% is partly vaccinated against covid. These statistics put President Biden’s “concerns” over Omicron more in perspective. Dr Anthony Fauci has also emphasised the need of getting booster shots to increase the body’s immunity to fight covid: “We know from experience that even with variants that are not specifically directed at by the vaccine, such as the Delta variant if you get the level of antibody high enough, the protection spills over to those other variants.”

While the US expands its search for Omicron cases at the four major International Airports, seven Omicron cases have been reported in its neighbouring country Canada four of which were detected in Ontario. This new variant can be detected through a standard PCR test in a patient experiencing symptoms including “aches and pains” with “cough, a fever and loss of taste or smell” as the main symptoms to look out for.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Ahmaud Arbery’s murder verdict: Guilty

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Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed last year simply for the colour of his skin. Three Caucasian men who were responsible for his murder were charged as guilty on Wednesday. 

Arbery was shot and killed in February of 2020 while he was jogging on the outskirts of the coastal city of Brunswick in Georgia. The men responsible for this crime were Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan who were their neighbours. Travis McMichael who was the son of Greg McMichael shot Arbery three times with his pump-action shotgun. The defendants claimed that they acted in self-defense because they assumed he was involved in a spate of burglaries in the neighborhood without any proof. The prosecutors believed that the race of unarmed Arbery was a key factor in this crime. Travis was convicted of nine charges including murder, Greg was charged with eight of these counts, and Bryan was charged with six counts. There is also a chance of them getting life in prison.

Arbery was chased by the McMichael’s in their truck while they were carrying guns. Bryan later joined the chase and recorded a video while doing so. This video was the one that proved the innocence of Arbery. Travis then got out of his truck and an alteration took place in which he shot his gun. According to the post-mortem report, Arbery had two gunshot wounds to his chest and one graze wound on the side of his wrist. After the verdict, the mother of Arbery, Cooper-Jones addressed the crowd and stated “it’s been a long fight, it’s been a hard fight, but God is good.” “To tell you the truth I never saw this day in 2020, I did not think this day would come … Thank you, thank you for those who marched. Thank you to those who prayed,” adding “he (Ahmaud Arbery) will now rest in peace.”

The reason that race hung over this case was because of how it was treated initially. These men thought Arbery was a threat although he did nothing and the fact that the police officers who arrived at the scene comforted the killers instead of tending to the young man lying on the ground associated race with the case. Moreover, it was mostly overlooked in the media until the video that Bryan shot was released to the public which caused outrage. In addition to that, Joe Biden released a written statement in which he said “while the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin.”

The case was one that could have been swept under the rug if that video was not released. It is great that Arbery got the justice he deserved but what about all the cases that did not get any media coverage? 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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