George the Poet claims police searched him without cause

The spoken-word artist says he was strip-searched after his London gig

Spoken-word artist George The Poet claims that police searched him without cause on Thursday night (28 June).

Earlier that evening the musician – whose real name is George Mpanga – performed a show in Islington, and says he was “was chilling outside my parents’ house” at the time. He alleges that police strip-searched him and searched his car for weapons.

The Brit Award nominee and Cambridge graduate grew up in Harlesden, London, and came fifth in the BBC Sound of 2015 poll. In a post on Instagram detailing the alleged incident in full, Mpanga says that he spent this week giving talks on the theme of diversity in Cambridge and Cardiff, and had refrained from mentioning the police because “as a grown man I’m sick of talking about them”.

However, in his statement today, he said “these images should be an education for anyone who doesn’t understand the toxic energies that are quietly spread throughout our community by state actors.”

Last night after a beautiful sold out show I was chilling outside my parents' house when police rolled up in that big van asking questions about my car. I answered and verified. Then they told me to move my hand from my waistband. Out of nowhere they cuffed me and searched my car for weapons. After the car itself was the first issue 🤔. They put me in the van and did a strip search. They then took 20 mins to write my search slip, being rude to my parents and neighbours the whole time • This week I've done talks on diversity in Cambridge and Cardiff. Both were amazing experiences. Last night I delivered a show about all aspects of English life – school, relationships, politics, colonialism. Police didn't get a mention once cos as a grown man I'm sick of talking about them. They will never change and they don't deserve my energy. But to be cuffed and dragged around in front of my parents while they make up lies about me being aggressive and having weapons…it's a reminder that we don't fight on our own terms, we fight on theirs. To all my young boys who are locked in conflict with each other, please wake up and realise who your real enemies are. Realise how much harder you're making it for your children. These people don't wanna see us up, but still like dust we'll rise • I don't like sharing images of me being handled like a second class citizen by public servants whose salaries we pay taxes for. This is not how I see myself, and it's not what I invite into my life. But these images should be an education for anyone who doesn't understand the toxic energies that are quietly spread throughout our community by state actors. Imagine if my nephews woke up and saw their big famous uncle getting handled like this. What seeds would that sow in them? Writing this post was boring, I've got better things to do. Sorry to anyone who was woken up by the noise.

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In the video, police can be heard asking Mpanga for identification, to which he replies “Wikipedia me, Google me”.

Providing further details about the alleged incident, George the Poet wrote: “police rolled up in that big van asking questions about my car. I answered and verified. Then they told me to move my hand from my waistband. Out of nowhere they cuffed me and searched my car for weapons. After the car itself was the first issue. They put me in the van and did a strip search. They then took 20 mins to write my search slip, being rude to my parents and neighbours the whole time.”

“I don’t like sharing images of me being handled like a second-class citizen by public servants whose salaries we pay taxes for. This is not how I see myself, and it’s not what I invite into my life.”

The shadow home secretary Diane Abbott supported Mpanga publicly on Twitter, and spoke about the issue of racial profiling. “Sadly still happens to young black men too often,” she wrote. “Evidence-based stop and search can be a tool against crime,” she said. “But random stops like this take too many resources for what they achieve, and in the end only poison police-community relations.”

George The Poet also thanked fans for their support.

“I’m annoyed because I don’t want this to be part of my narrative,” he wrote. “To be dragged back into the police vs black men convo is so boring. But we’ll keep rising regardless”.

Last month, George The Poet opened BBC 1’s live coverage of the Royal Wedding with his spoken-word performance ‘The Beauty of Union’.