Sanskriti Sanghi

Victory for the #KingsCross3

On the 10th of July 2024, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) discontinued all charges imposed on Selma Taha, Divina Riggon and Danae Thomas – the #KingsCross3. The CPS attributed this to lack of evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. Speaking outside Highbury Magistrates’ Court this morning, the defence Barrister Rajiv Menon KC asserted that it’s an outrage for such a case to have been pursued for prosecution in today’s day and age.

In September 2023, Selma, Divina and Danae were verbally and physically assaulted in a racist incident on London public transport. The assailant, a white woman, made monkey sounds and called the three “Black bitches”, and “slaves”. The abuse escalated into physical violence. The assailant pulled clumps of hair off Selma and Danae and bit Selma’s flesh, leaving a deeply embedded imprint of her teeth which necessitated tetanus and hepatitis injections and antibiotics. An off-duty Metropolitan Detective Constable was present in the tube carriage but failed to intervene to de-escalate the incident. When the train arrived at King’s Cross station, the three women had to challenge the inactivity and apathy of the police officer and ask him to treat the matter seriously and arrest the assailant.

The #KingsCross3 are victim-survivors of a horrific racist attack during which they were not just subjected to trauma inflicted by verbal and physical abuse, but also by the inaction of an off-duty police officer present on the scene. In an utterly incomprehensible and unjustifiable move, instead of charging the assailant, the CPS made the decision to charge Selma, Divina and Danae with common assault by beating. Divina and Danae had also been charged with public order offences, with racial aggravation for Danae, in relation to alleged conduct towards a white British Transport Police (BTP) officer on the platform at King’s Cross after disembarking from the tube, which were eventually dropped on the 2nd of July 2024. The assailant was offered and has accepted a caution for racially aggravated conduct in relation to one instance of racist abuse. No further action was taken against her in relation to other instances of racist abuse or the assault. In a highly unusual move, prior to the trial, the CPS also made applications for special measures such as screens and reporting restrictions including on naming the police officers involved, which were rightfully denied.

While the discontinuance of the racist charges on the #KingsCross3 should be celebrated, this case has demonstrated the depth of the issue of Black women being disbelieved and criminalised when they resist abuse. At a time of crisis for Black women with data showing Black femicide and other forms of abuse reaching calamitous figures, this case and the treatment of the three Black women involved should send alarm bells ringing. This case highlights the urgent need to demand accountability from the police and criminal justice system in instances of violence against women and girls (VAWG). As a first step, the Met police must accept the findings of institutional racism and misogyny in the Casey Report. The treatment of the #KingsCross3 displays how woefully public institutions are failing to protect victim-survivors and underlines the need to ensure that no victim-survivor gets left behind.

We intend to continue resisting and challenging structural inequalities through our work as we have done for decades.

Selma Taha, Executive Director, Southall Black Sisters said, “As relieved as I am about the decision being in our favour for it has been hard-fought, I continue to feel aggrieved at the treatment my sisters and I have received. From being subjected to vile racist slurs and significant injuries on public transport in the presence of an off-duty officer I would have expected more responsibility and a duty of care from, to being disbelieved and criminalised by the CPS for challenging the racist abuse, the past 10 months have reaffirmed my lack of faith in the system and served as a daily reminder of the challenges we are up against as Black, minoritised and migrant victim-survivors seeking a just response from an institutionally racist system. As the Executive Director of a ‘by and for’ VAWG organisation such as Southall Black Sisters, at each stage, I’ve also worried about other Black women being in my position, knowing that not all of them have the platform I do to raise awareness about the systemic injustice we are subjected to on a daily basis. I thank everyone who has supported us for the past several months – your strength and solidarity have kept us going. As SBS, we promise to continue to build this movement as we have for decades, demanding better policing and an equal systemic response for us all. We hope to have your voice be part of this call for change.

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