The Labour Party have been slammed on social media after refusing to comment on an incident involving one of their own MPs who accused the Metropolitan police of “racial profiling” after they admitted mistakenly stopping her and a fellow black friend whilst travelling in a car in east London on Sunday.
Dawn Butler, the former Shadow Equalities Minister and the current MP for Brent Central, was stopped by police whilst travelling in a BMW with a male friend, who is also black, in Hackney yesterday.
The Labour MP tweeted that she had recorded the entire incident, and snippets of the video were subsequently published by numerous media outlets.
I JUST GOT STOPPED BY THE POLICE DRIVING THROUGH HACKNEY… MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW…@metpoliceuk
I recorded the whole incident.
— Dawn Butler MP✊🏾 (@DawnButlerBrent) August 9, 2020
The police have since admitted that the stop was ordered after an officer incorrectly entered the car’s registration number into their system and wrongly showed the car was registered in Yorkshire.
During video of the incident, an officer can be heard claiming that they were carrying out searches in relation to “gang and knife crime” in the area.
Following the incident, Butler accused the police of ‘racial profiling’ and said that the police need to “stop associating being black and driving a nice car with crime“.
Numerous Labour MPs, including Nadia Whittome, Kate Osamor, Diane Abbott, Claudia Webbe and David Lammy have already expressed their solidarity with Ms Butler on Twitter:
Sending love and solidarity Dawn. I hope you're ok xx
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) August 9, 2020
Hope you're ok?
— Kate Osamor MP for Edmonton || (@KateOsamor) August 9, 2020
— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) August 9, 2020
Big hugs Dawn. Love and prayers…Dx
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) August 9, 2020
Furthermore, earlier today, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded to the incident by saying that police should treat people with “fairness and equality“.
Boris Johnson has said the police should treat people with "fairness and equality" after Labour MP Dawn Butler accused Scotland Yard officers of racially profiling her https://t.co/IEh4q759zt
— LBC News (@LBCNews) August 10, 2020
However, when approached for comment on the incident involving their own MP by LabourList, the Labour Party Press Office refused to issue any form of comment, instead simply referring the media outlet back to Ms Butler’s office.
Furthermore, the Labour leader’s office have so far failed to response to any media requests concerning the incident.
Unsurprisingly, the party’s refusal to stand up for one of their own MPs – especially following the Prime Minister seeming to support the MP – has caused consternation on social media:
Well I didn't expect Boris Johnson to speak in support of Dawn Butler before Keir Starmer but here we are https://t.co/Q3yLNF8TYr
— 'Client Journalism' Expert (@ClientJournoExp) August 10, 2020
Boris Johnson has shown more solidarity with Dawn Butler than Keir Starmer.
Just let that sink in.
Why does Sir Keir find it so difficult to speak up for, & stand with, our Black MPs?
Silence is an active choice and we see you, Keir. We see you!
— James Foster (@JamesEFoster) August 10, 2020
Oh my word. Boris Johnson has had more to say in support of Dawn Butler than Sir Keir Starmer, her party leader.
Granted, Johnson didn’t pay tribute to Dawn, but he could’ve said just one word and it would still be more than what Starmer has had to say.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) August 10, 2020
Where’s the support for Dawn Butler – and commitment on taking action on the issues that she’s raising – from Labour front benchers? It shouldn’t just be up to black MPs. It’s for the whole PLP to speak out on institutional racism.
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) August 10, 2020
"LabourList has requested comment from the Labour Party and from Keir Starmer’s office, but has been referred back to Butler by the party and not received a response from the leadership."
This is atrocious. https://t.co/OnC2ilijeC
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) August 10, 2020
In the last few minutes, Starmer has finally commented on the incident, stating:
“I reached out yesterday to @DawnButlerBrent to discuss the incidence she reported and to offer our support. All allegations of racial profiling must be taken extremely seriously by the Metropolitan police.
“It is imperative that the Black community have trust and confidence in our police. The abuse Dawn has received over social media is wrong and must be condemned.”
It is unclear why Mr Starmer’s statement was not released immediately or why the Labour Party Press Office refused to issue comment in response to media requests.