‘Protect black girls’: The message from Hackney’s Child Q protest
25 other children were strip searched in Hackney in 2020-2021 alone, and FoI data revealed more than 9,000 children were strip searched by the Met in the last five years, including 35 children under 12.
That was the message from the community in Hackney, who blocked the street outside Stoke Newington police station to demand justice for Child Q, who was strip searched by Met Police officers at her secondary school, while she was menstruating.
Passionate speeches called for police abolition and an organised coalition to remove cops from the borough’s schools.
“This is not about reform. This is beyond reform. This is not a few bad apples,” one protestor said.
“How many more people will the police brutalise, will they rape, will they kill? It goes back decades.”
Temi Mwale, director of youth organisation the 4Front Project, told the crowd the fact Child Q didn’t have an appropriate adult with her when she was searched should not be the focus.
“I’ve been an appropriate adult,” she said. “I’ve been in police stations and it doesn’t make it any less traumatic.
Time and again activists referred to the fact that 25 other children were strip searched in Hackney in 2020-2021 alone, and FoI data revealing more than 9,000 children were strip searched by the Met in the last five years, including 35 children under 12.
The Met’s borough commander Marcus Barnett attempted at one stage to address the crowd - and for a moment it seemed like frustrations could boil over, as people shouted in protest.
Parents brought toddlers along and food was offered to students from Child Q’s school - who told the crowd they planned to protest every day after school until they see change.
As the sun went down, organisers urged those who were leaving to get home safely, while others took the mic.
Some were even vowing to sleep out on the street until they saw justice.
Officers were even visible through the tall glass fronted walls of the station - some literally looking down on the crowds beneath them.
Child Q’s lawyers have announced she is bringing legal action against the police and the school, as politicians and the public continue to put pressure on the force.
While ‘Child Q’ and her story look set to become a marker of state failure in much the same way as ‘Baby P’, it remains to be seen just how much of a watershed this moment will be.