By volunteer caseworker and Bristol Copwatch founder John Pegram
Here we are again, the police and me. If you have been following my fight for justice since around February this year you will know I´m on a long road. It´s actually close to 5 years in duration so far and I have a feeling I´m looking at a good year or so of legal battling before I finally hold not 1 but 3 police forces to account.
The missing piece to the data protection breach jig saw if you will currently appears to be West Yorkshire Police who targeted me in a public order operation in November 2019. In fact, they made their interest in me as an anti-racist activist that clear the intelligence team addressed me by my first name as they put me and friends in the bully van for daring to stand on the wrong bit of counter protest pavement.
Of course like before in September of that year with the British Transport Police the case was thrown out of court with no evidence. It was clear then as it is at the time of writing that the police don´t like us mixed black boys getting in the way of their Nazi friends marching.
You see, demonstrations aside the police and me have never got on. I used to have a drug problem. It got me in that much trouble I got sent to prison but even before I went through a cycle I was being racially profiled and stopped and searched by Hampshire Police.
Understanding the damage the criminal justice system does to lives as well as I do, I understand that in the eyes of the police I will always be a bloody criminal. I have seen it in the faces of cops I have helped the community navigate over the past couple of years of volunteering just like I have seen it in the eyes of broadbury road police officers when they threatened to search me for drugs and weapons in 2021 for not giving them my name and address when accused of stealing a motor bike.
Falling off my mountain bike drunk on a quiet road triggered the two ready for it cops (they had no interest in my well being ) but the complaint report read that I “fitted a description” which instigated their coordinated rush. Thankfully, I walked my bike home arrest free. That weekend I suffered a mental health breakdown due to police harassment and surveillance.
By Precious Adesina 31st January 2022
Having spoken to solicitors about the police´s interest in me the unofficial consensus seems to be that despite what I´m told I´m absolutely a person of interest due to previous political activism and my work as a community activist. This was validated recently when I received my SAR (subject access request) from BTP and West Yorkshire Police.
Seeing yourself on an intelligence team spreadsheet is pretty distressing but then again so are race card comments and CSI flags. So are data protection exemptions. At points my younger John has put his hand on my shoulder and we have sat together and talked and cried. They used to stop and search me for riding on the pavement.
These days the area cars don´t turn around flash their lights and stop when they see me. I feel free. Last year I began therapy due to the trauma created from my past and of course from police contact. You see, I spent years navigating a journey I never wanted to make. It´s broken me down and torn me to shreds but as always I get back up and just keep fighting. Resilience is something you learn to build in the face of police contact and harassment especially when you know the cops responsible are racists.
Earlier this month I attended a community meeting on ARV patrols in St Anne´s Bristol with the PCC and neighbourhood police present. The armed police are responding to incidents when there is no need for armed police.
This creates an increased level of mistrust in so called community policing in fact there is a clear failure by the police to bridge an increasingly wide divide between themselves and the community, although on the 18th at the very least they listened to our concerns.
When it comes to my own experiences with the police and my work in the community I do my best to put others before myself. Bristol Copwatch has never been a political stance or statement but rather an organisation that exists to monitor and challenge police misconduct.
Our overarching mission is to think beyond solutions that result in often disproportionate, violent and sometimes fatal police responses but we work in the here and now. We stand for and believe in community safety. We are still building ground up but for me it´s a labour of love. If you win then I do. That´s the triple truth b.
The next few months is a busy one for us event and workshop wise but we´re still keen on building that ground swell to get out there and monitor the cops where they´re hot and where they´re not. If you would like to get involved in that side of our work just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to myself and the fight for my rights I have no intention of backing down. You see I never thought that anyone would see me let alone care. But it turns out you did and that angry mixed race black boy sure knows how to fight Here´s to justice whenever it may come. Here we are again you and me. Let´s cop watch.