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.”
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.
Of late I've advocated for blood donation with the @acltcharity, representation at @Cambridge_Uni, diversity in the workplace, Grenfell and a host of other very important issues. To be dragged back into the police vs black men convo is so boring. But we'll keep rising regardless
— George The Poet (@GeorgeThePoet) June 29, 2018
“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’.