Another Taser death is just around the corner

Oladeji Adeyemi Omishore was challenged by police in London last Saturday morning after reports that he was armed with a screwdriver. He was Tasered by the Met Police who said this “did not enable the officers to safely detain him”. What transpired in 4K, captured by a passing motorist, was the beginning of the end for this 41 year old man.

Britain’s Black community has been shocked by a video showing Oladeji Adeyemi Omishore, 41, of Pimilico, south London, fall from Chelsea Bridge after being tasered three times. Neighbours said Mr Omishore was a “really nice guy” who had a history of mental health issues.

Many, like myself have opined that this is yet another example of the institutional racism the Metropolitan Police are keen to convince us does not exist via their recent ‘Police Race Action Plan’. He was tased at the hands of a Black police officer, repeatedly after dropping the screwdriver, this scene makes for a chilling watch.

Seeing this man weild his taser in this way reminded me of the intro to the legendary rap group Public Enemy’s incredible smash ‘Night of the Living Baseheads’. “Have you forgotten, that once we were brought here, we were robbed of our names, robbed of our language, we lost our religion, our culture, our God, and many of us by the way we act, even lost our minds!”

It’s interesting that many detractors who have subsequently commented on the institutionally racist nature of this, denying it does not exist, fail to grasp that the Police in the UK have systems and processes that disproportionately affect Black people. This case in point is a clear example that Black people have, in certain circumstances, become the facilitators of institutional racism.

The clip also reminded me of the the ‘house negro’ and ‘field negro’ dynamics of slavery. The so called field negro had the worst treatment, worst food and degrading and debilitating treatment. The house negro on the other hand was closer to his master so had favourable treatment, access to the food the master had and in certain cases the ability to subjugate, oppress and suppress the field negro. It’s hard not to see an abuse of power playing out in the footage.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) are investigating the death, which is standard procedure. what is interesting is that:

Taser is used on a higher proportion of people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds than other types of force.

  • The Rate of Taser use is 8 times higher for Black people than it was for White people (compared to 2011 Census). 
  • Black people, subject to Taser discharges, were more likely to be tasered continuously for more than five seconds 

These figures are worrying as is the insistence by the Police that institutional racism does not exist. With the recent arming volunteer officers Amnesty international have it right when they class this as: “a dangerous expansion of Taser use and will inevitably lead to the increased firing of Tasers and more instances of misuse, serious harm and death from Tasers.”

What is abundantly clear is that if the fundamental issue of institutional racism continues to be ignored then it’s not a matter of if another event like this will occur, it’s a matter of when.

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