When a black family is attacked by police
Gamal Turawa feels there is still ‘institutional prejudice’ in the army. (Photo courtesy of PA)
The Met’s first out gay black officer has spoken out about how he was subjected to prejudice “under the pretext of joking,” with colleagues allegedly painting his face white to make him “fit in.”
Gamal Turawa, who left the police in 2018 after 25 years, says ‘institutional prejudice’ still exists, and urged Cressida Dick’s successor to address the ‘canteen mentality.’
He told Sky News, “I believe one of the major errors [Cressida Dick] did was to suggest the police is no longer institutionally racist.”
‘At the Met, the culture is changing at the canteens, not at the top.
‘That’s where the culture is,’ says the author. Scotland Yard doesn’t have it.’
Mr Turawa joined the Met in the 1990s after four prior applications were denied. His tale is portrayed in the BAFTA-nominated documentary The Black Cop.
After being subjected to racist insults that were passed off as joking, he was swiftly informed that ‘he was not white.’
He said he expressed his dissatisfaction with the statements, but an instructor responded, “You know what your issue is kid, you’ve got a chip on your shoulder.”
A bunch of other recruits barged into his room a few weeks into his training and coated his face with shoe whitener before telling him, ‘Now you fit in.’
Mr Turawa claimed he laughed along with them and even let them take a picture with him because he thought ‘now they like me.’
‘They thought it was a joke.’ ‘At the time, I thought it was just banter,’ he said.
Mr Turawa believes whomever succeeds Cressida Dick would have to address the force’s “canteen culture.” (Photo courtesy of Getty)
‘As I’ve matured and reflected about it, I’ve come to realize it for what it is.’
Mr Turawa said that he did not file a complaint, implying that individuals implicated may have progressed to high-ranking positions within the Met.
He went on to serve as a diversity and inclusion trainer for the police and was often engaged in public relations efforts, including hosting then-Prime Minister Tony Blair at the opening of a new careers office at Scotland Yard in 2000.
Later in his career, though, he had a nervous breakdown and became suicidal after seeing alleged improper behavior from a senior officer, which he believes was ignored.
In the early 2000s, Mr Turawa filed a complaint about the event, but the officer investigating it told him, ‘Do you really think this is going to go anywhere?’
He wrote a suicide note as a result of this, as well as his battle to come to terms with his sexuality.
More here: Metropolitan Police Service
Mr Turawa recalls breaking into tears when he entered the workplace one day.
In an interview with Sky, he claimed, ‘That’s when I found I’d had a breakdown.’
‘That collapse was perhaps the finest thing that ever occurred to me because it caused me to look at myself and realize what I had let to happen to me over the three months I was off.’
‘I had to begin the process of reconstructing myself.’
Mr Turawa, who came out as homosexual after returning to work, said he has been sharing his experience to assist police officers and other organizations educate themselves.
‘This is not the same Met as it was 20 to 25 years ago,’ the Met Police stated in a statement to the documentary in response to Mr Turawa’s assertions.
‘All cops and personnel now get required diversity training… and have implemented body-worn cameras to ensure that our officers’ interactions with the public are recorded and accountable.
‘Policing is complicated and difficult, and we attempt to be fair and just.’
Outgoing commissioner Cressida Dick was credited for “personally improving the response to racist crime in London and boosting the service we provide to London’s black community,” according to the statement.
‘We have done more than virtually any other organization to guarantee that racism is not permitted, and we promote equality and inclusiveness,’ says the organization.
The allegations come as the search for a replacement for Dame Cressida begins.
The selection will be overseen by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has cautioned that the next Met head must be prepared to address the ‘policing culture’ that has left the country’s largest police department reeling after a series of scandals.
She said that restoring public trust in the force’s ‘integrity and professionalism’ will necessitate’strong and decisive leadership.’
Dame Cressida’s retirement comes after a storm of criticism, especially for the way the police handled the case of Sarah Everard, who was raped and killed by serving Met officer Wayne Couzens.
The police has also been chastised for taking too long to investigate accusations of parties breaking Covid regulations in Downing Street and Whitehall.
The last straw, however, was a police watchdog investigation that uncovered officers at Charing Cross police station exchanging viciously racist, sexist, and homophobic communications.
Send an email to [email protected] to reach out to our news staff.
Check out our news page for more articles like this.