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Police officer charged with murder of George Floyd while death of Belly Mujinga whitewashed. Minnesota shows less racism than UK?

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Station worker Belly Mujunga, who died after being spat on by man who claimed to be infected

British Transport Police (BTP) has announced that no charges will be laid against the man said to have spat on transport worker Belly Mujinga after saying he was infected with the coronavirus. Ms Mujinga subsequently died of the virus.

The force said, after interviewing the man, that it had established that Ms Mujinga’s death “was not a consequence” of the incident – and, astonishingly, that there was no evidence that an offence had taken place.

Whether or not the infection was a direct result of the spitting incident, even the threat to spit on someone is assault – and actually doing so is battery, as legal experts told The Conversation:

To threaten someone with harm is an assault, and to apply unlawful force to their person, by spitting, for example, is a battery. Where the offender explicitly declares that they have coronavirus, or any other condition, (whether this is in fact true or not is irrelevant) it is more likely that an assault is committed. It is sufficient that the victim perceives harm, even if that harm cannot be carried out. The offender must either intend or risk that their victim will feel threatened, or that force will be applied. A number of prosecutions have already been brought against people who have threatened to transmit COVID-19 by deliberately coughing on.

BTP has said that ‘no further action’ will be taken against the man – not even a charge of assault, let alone battery or worse.

Another station employee present during the same incident also contracted the virus.

This news feels all the more intolerable coming, as it does, on the same day that US authorities have charged Derek Chauvin with the third degree murder of George Floyd after Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck – and the state attorney has indicated that charges will be brought against other police officers who stood by during the incident.

Unlike the authorities in Minnesota, the UK government has made amply clear in its so-called coronavirus ‘strategy’ that it regards the lives of poor and ethnic minority people as a disposable commodity.

From the months-long failure to provide protective equipment or testing to Boris Johnson’s lethal instruction to people who can’t work from home – overwhelmingly the low-paid including many people of colour – to return to work the following morning, the Tories’ reckless and cavalier attitude to the safety and lives of working people on low incomes has amounted to a war on the working class. But with the Windrush scandal barely past and the government still deporting black people who’ve lived their lives here, who is surprised?

The fact that some of those who should be shouting loudest in defence of those people have been near-silent – and weak when they did speak up at all – must not be allowed to distract from the Tories’ guilt or the fundamental prejudice and bigotry of the Establishment in this country.

The failure to pursue even the most meagre justice for Belly Mujinga and her family – not even to take the matter to court and let a jury decide – is a racist one.

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19 comments

  1. Love to hear the spokesman for Britush Transport Police go through the events and justify why no offence had occurred. Has nobody else surmised assailant was an off duty plod or family thereof and the words ‘carpet’ and ‘swept under’ could be handily used for explanatory purposes.

    1. Yes good point. Not sure it’d be less worrying though, just not racist, but yes, I see your reasoning. Something unacceptable is happening here whatever it is.

  2. It would seem the Minnesota authorities are responding to anger on the streets.

    There is little sign, as yet, of such anger on British streets.

    Therein lies the difference.

    1. Seems unusual for the Victoria Station incident only to be reported to BTP 7 weeks later – five weeks after the lady had died.
      Strange also that BTP wouldn’t explain that.

      1. David – Surely that is a question you should be asking the person who reported the incident. At a guess perhaps the person reporting the incident didn’t attach much importance to it at the time.
        The fact that the police were able to examine the CCTV evidence is a marked improvement on the conveniently ‘non-functioning’ CCTV in the Jean Charles da Silva e de Menezes case

    2. Thank you for this Steve H. If no crime was committed and the victim died having contacted the virus elsewhere can anybody explain why a specialist police team is offering/ providing the family with on going support? This is not a normal police reaction to a corona virus death and I would like to know why Mrs Mujinga’s allegedly natural death is being treated differently from other corona virus deaths.

      1. Smartboy – The difference is that there was a complaint so the police who were then duty bound to investigate what could have led to very serious charges. During this process the BTP would have had considerable contact with her grieving family. It would be callous in the extreme for the BTP to just tell the family to do one once they’d decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute the complaint.

      2. Reply to Steve H. I agree but it seems to me that if there is ongoing police support there must have been a crime committed.

      3. Smartboy – I don’t know, anything I say would be just speculation.

        See below, I have posted a full copy of a statement that her family have issued which you may find an interesting read and may also put the families thoughts on their tragedy into perspective for you.

  3. Not a response that will quell the anger I suspect labrebisgalloise – Chauvin has apparently been charged with third degree murder, which I believe is roughly equivalen to manslaughter here.
    Depraved indifference implies that Chauvin didn’t intend to kill.
    Reports say he kept kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for ANOTHER FOUR MINUTES after he’d already fallen unconscious.
    That’s not depraved indifference, that’s a clear intent to kill.

    A (CNN?) black correspondent has been arrested today covering the demonstrations and the video seems to show excessive force being used and the reporter making no attempt to resist.

  4. It was the whole CNN film crew- live on air at the time.They clearly stated that they were a film crew who had been covering the event.The film crew asked why they were being arrested-no answer.The Governor apologised but not the police.
    Belly Muninga case sounds like it could be something a forensic Human Rights advocate could get their teeth into.

    1. Still haven’t seen more than a short clip – were the film crew also black I wonder?

  5. Our family’s response to the latest news
    30 May 2020 —
    Yesterday was a difficult day for us as a family. The British Transport Police released a statement in which they essentially closed the case into the incident at Victoria Station which happened before my wife Belly died of coronavirus. We had never thought a prosecution was likely, but it was disappointing to get that news. We are not pursuing a prosecution. We are instead calling for her employer to take action to protect their workers, the way they should have protected Belly. Please help us.

    There are important things we need answers to. Her union, the TSSA, reported it to Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate (the health and safety body of the Office for Road and Rail), and that investigation into the safety of Belly’s workplace is still ongoing. Hopefully that will answer questions like why she was out working on the concourse at all given that she had a respiratory health issue.

    Along with the TSSA, we desperately want Belly’s colleagues to have proper PPE to protect them from catching this killer virus. I’m saddened that my wife’s death hasn’t been enough to get her employer to provide visors and other PPE for her friends and colleagues. Will you tweet to Southern Rail to help add pressure? I’ve created this link to make it easier for you to do so.

    We also think that all key workers like Belly should be covered by the government’s NHS compensation scheme. The money can’t bring her back or take away our pain, but it would be recognition of the sacrifice that all key workers have made to help our country through this pandemic.

    Thank you for your anger and your support. I’m also angry, but I want change for those still with us as well as justice for Belly. This petition calls for so much more than just a prosecution and I ask you to support us in all those asks.
    Lusamba
    https://www.change.org/p/govia-thameslink-justice-for-belly-mujinga-justiceforbellymujinga/u/26767813

  6. Keir Starmer & Angela Rayner have written to all Labour Party MPs and members of staff.
    They have expressed sentiments that many of us in Labour will wholeheartedly agree with.

    Dear all
    We wanted to write to you to directly address the death of George Floyd and the protests that have taken place across the United States and the rest of the world following his death.

    We are shocked and angered by George Floyd’s death in police custody and we have watched in horror as protestors peacefully exercising their right to protest have been met with force by police. We are appalled by the response of President Trump and the failure of our own government to condemn his actions in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.

    The death of George Floyd has yet again shone a light on the racism and hatred experienced by many across the world, including in our own country – but particularly the racism experienced by Black people across the world. Now is not the time to treat racism and its consequences in the United States as a unique phenomenon. Now more than ever, it is incumbent on all of us to face up to, understand and address the systemic racial discrimination that exists in our own communities, and especially to address the reality and impact of anti-Black racism raised by the Black Lives Matter movement across the world.

    As socialists and anti-racists we stand in complete solidarity with those standing up against police brutality towards Black people and systemic racism and oppression across the United States, here in the United Kingdom and across the world.

    We also want to take this opportunity to express our solidarity with BAME members of staff, and while these events affect us all, we appreciate that they are particularly difficult and distressing for our Black colleagues, who are sadly acutely aware of some of the issues raised by the George Floyd killing through their own lived experience here in the UK. We have been in touch with the BAME staff network and our doors are always open to staff who may need support or simply want to share their own experiences and views. We are your allies in this fight.

    We all know what a difference Labour in government can make, as demonstrated by the response of our Labour government in Wales. We must continue and redouble our efforts to ensure a Labour government across the UK can stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with Black people and all people of colour across the UK.

    George Floyd must not become just another name. His shocking death and the protests of recent days must become the catalyst for change. As we stand together with those protesting against racism and injustice in the United States, as the Labour Party we also recommit ourselves to building a better society and tackling the racism and injustice that exists here in the United Kingdom.

    In solidarity,
    Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner

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