11 September 2020

We've complained to the police about the police and nothing's been done
We've complained to judges about judges and nothing's been done
Now it's time to do something ourselves.

- Kano, Teardrops (quoting activist Darcus Howe at a 1970 protest in Notting Hill)

Grime artist Kano has powerfully exposed the reality of police brutality and deaths of black people in custody in the UK, with a new video which debuted at the GRM Daily Rated awards this week. As the Black Lives Matter movement around the world brings attention to racism in policing, a movement reignited following the death of George Floyd in the USA, this video is a harrowing illustration of the experiences of too many black people closer to home.

[Video contains image and sounds of police brutality]

In England and Wales, data and numerous independent reports have repeatedly shown there are disproportionate stop and searches, use of force, and deaths involving restraint, against black people by police. For decades INQUEST has worked closely with families bereaved by deaths in custody, which expose institutional racism in policing and the criminal justice system. The recommendations of the Angiolini review (2017) and Lammy review (2017) intended to address this remain outstanding.

In Kano’s new Teardrops video, he is shown driving a car when he is stopped by police. They ask Kano, ‘Is this your car?’ and explain he’s been stopped because of intelligence around drug dealing in the area, that the car may have been involved in criminal activity or stolen. The scene will be all too familiar to many black and minoritised people.

Kano does not make eye contact and responds wordlessly to the requests of the officers. His expression does not show fear, but frustration, disappointment even, but most of all Kano looks tired. Tired of the injustice, the racial profiling, this treatment in his area; his community and home. He stops responding to police and looks directly at the viewer as he continues with Teardrops.

The weak won't last,

A week in shoes like our ones,

When it rains it pours,

Hoodies all summer,

'Cause teardrops from the sky,

Only seem to fall on you and I

As police smash the window and Kano is dragged out of the car, we hear a violent struggle in the distance. Police lights flash in the background and the vehicle is left empty. The scene cuts and the screen shows data from INQUEST: Since 1990 over 100 black people in the UK have died during or following police contact, 0 police officers have been prosecuted for manslaughter or murder. Then some of the faces of those who have died are shown, reminding viewers of humanity, scale and injustice of those deaths.

The video description notes that all profits generated from the views of this video will be donated to INQUEST. We are so grateful to GRM Daily, Kano and his team for this contribution which will help INQUEST continue to support families bereaved by deaths in custody, and fight for action on institutional racism in policing. We'll be working closely with families affected to consider how donations can be best used. We are also glad to see such a powerful and moving depiction of the reality for too many black people who are harmed, and in some cases die as a result of this.

You can donate directly to INQUEST here. Please also consider supporting and donating to family led campaigns and causes including the United Families and Friends Campaign and National Mikey Powell Memorial Family Fund, as well as other family campaigns listed here. The annual UFFC rally will take place in London on Saturday 31 October 2020.