The Metropolitan Police has once again vowed to tackle racism in its ranks after it was reported that the shooting of Black Lives Matter campaigner Sasha Johnson was mocked in a WhatsApp group thought to have included serving and former police officers.
Former members of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection command (PaDP), where Wayne Couzens worked, shared racist, sexist and homophobic messages in the forum between 2018 and 2021, according to a whistle-blower who has come forward with an archive setting out the “ sick” exchanges.
First reported by The Daily Mirrorit was detailed that a picture of a mocked-up T-shirt with an image of Ms Johnson, who was shot last year, was shared among the public servants depicting a bullet hole in her head with the words “black lives splatter”.
The murder of George Floyd was also celebrated in the group while other racist messages shared include images featuring Meghan Markle and Diane Abbott.
A Met Police spokesperson told The Independent: “We have been contacted by a national newspaper about an allegation from a former officer who left the Met in 2000 of racist, sexist and homophobic posts made on messaging apps. We understand at this stage the newspaper does not have information that serving officers were involved.
“Nevertheless, we have the newspaper for the names of those involved so that the allegations can be asked and we can determine whether criminal or misconduct investigations are necessary.
“We would urge this former officer to contact the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards to provide further information. Racism, sexism and homophobia are completely unacceptable and we will take a zero tolerance approach to any serving officer or member of staff who breaches our standards.”
Whistle-blower Dave Eden, 62, a member of the PaDP command in the 1990s, was in a WhatsApp group established in 2018 and said former Met commissioner Cressida Dick paid “lip service to prevention” and issued “meaningless diversity statements”.
Members had to be invited into the group and vouched for by current and former PaDP officers, he further explained.
This comes as the Met recently agreed to publicly commit to a position of zero tolerance on racism, misogyny, bullying and harassment, as well as making a public commitment to being an anti-racist organisation, following a number of scandals that saw Dame Cressida resign from her post.
A spokesperson for the mayor of London told The Independent: “The messages reportedly shared are alarming, completely unacceptable and have no place in the Met. It is right that the Met have asked for more information on the allegations made so they can be thoroughly looked into.
“The major is clear that anyone found to be responsible for sexism, racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, antisemitism, bullying or harassment does not deserve to wear the Met uniform. Sadiq is fully committed to holding the Met to account on delivering the changes required to restore trust and confidence in London’s police service.”
Sasha Johnson, who has two young sons, was hit by a bullet and left with catastrophic and permanent injuries when four masked people stormed into a party in Peckham, southeast London, in May 2021.
The 28-year-old remains hospitalized and lost an eye and currently has no movement down one side of her body as a result of the shooting, which has been seen to undergo multiple operations.
Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney, who is leading the investigation into the shooting, said many witnesses have refused to come forward and have urged people to cooperate with the police.
“Our biggest challenge is the wall of silence we have faced when appealing for witnesses to come forward,” he said.
“Sasha was at a party when she was shot. There were plenty of people there yet many have not been willing to speak to us. I know it is daunting, but our officers are here to do all we can to support anyone who is willing to come forward.”
Witnesses with information can contact the police incident room on 020 8721 4622. Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online.