Why Women Are Marching On The Met Police: 'This Isn’t A Few Bad Apples'

"We want to remember the lives of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman."
FG Trade via Getty Images

Today, women will ‘March on the Met’ to mark the anniversary of the murders of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry. The sisters were murdered in June 2020.

Protesters will march 10 miles from Fryent Park – where the sisters were killed – to New Scotland Yard. The event is organised by the Women’s Equality Party to demand an end to misogyny and racism in policing.

Party leader Mandu Reid will set a timer to show the hours that passed
while the police did nothing, leaving family and friends to organise their own search party and discover the sisters’ dead bodies. The timer will be carried throughout the march and placed outside New Scotland Yard – laying responsibility firmly at the doors of the police.

Since the death of Nicole and Bibaa, more than two hundred women have lost their lives to male violence, tens of thousands more have experienced rape or sexual assault.

Reid tells HuffPost UK: “We’re marching for two reasons. We want to remember them. We want to honour their lives. It’s been two years. And it’s really important that their case, which didn’t get the profile of other cases time, because they were black women I would argue, is highlighted.”

“The other reason we’re marching is to highlight the failures of policing and this case. They didn’t help the family for more than 15 hours.”

Sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, who were stabbed to death in June 2020.
Metropolitan Police/Handout via REUTERS
Sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, who were stabbed to death in June 2020.

There was a delay in the two sisters, and their mother, Mina Smallman, has questioned whether this is because they were two missing Black women.

When asked why the case had not immediately received the level of outrage as the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, Smallman told the BBC: “Other people have more kudos in this world than people of colour.”

In December, two Met Police constables who took photos of the two murdered sisters and shared the images on WhatsApp were sentenced to 33 months in jail each.

Commenting on the case, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson previously said: “We have apologised wholeheartedly to Bibaa and Nicole’s family for the actions of Pcs Jaffer and Lewis. Their behaviour is utterly repugnant and horrifying to us all and they are in prison because of it.”

Reid points at other failures in the handling of the case.

“And at one point, they even classified one of the sisters as a suspect somehow,” she says. “We want to highlight that this isn’t a case of a few bad apples. This is a case of systemic cultural rot within the institution of the Met Police. It’s misogynistic and racist. And we’re not going to sort it out if we try and pretend it’s an isolated incident.”

Reid says she wants the police to acknowledge how violence against women plays out in their own ranks. “Stop deploying the bad apple defence and agree that what’s needed is a proper statutory inquiry into how all these problems play out,”

She believes that the Met should introduce Valerie’s Law, a law that the group Sister Space has been campaigning for. “It’s mandatory anti-racist training.

“So that, for example, things that are specific to Black women’s circumstances like domestic abuse for example. Bruises on our skin don’t show up as readily as bruises on very pale skin, which can mean black women are more likely to be disbelieved,” Reid says.

“We need that law to be that that protocol to be put in place and training for all police officers.”

HuffPost UK has contacted the Met for a statement in response to the march and will update this article when we receive a response.

When asked how people can help end violence against women, Reid suggests contacting your local MP. “Lobby for them stand outside their office, do whatever and say, women’s trust and police has collapsed.

They can work with us, the Women’s Equality Party as well as other campaigning groups that have been fighting this fight for a very, very long time.”

You can also contact the police chief in your local areas. “I think those those police forces need to understand that there is an uprising now against these issues and people can can play their part in helping us demonstrate that by just showing up contacting those police forces demanding answers,” Reid says,

The full march will be ten miles, from the park where Nicole and Bibaa were tragically murdered to the doors of New Scotland Yard – laying the responsibility for racist, misogynist policing firmly at their doors. Alternative transport will be available if you are unable to walk or roll the full distance, and you can join them for the final mile from 6pm. Find more details here.