A volunteer police officer has been suspended from his role after organising a Black Lives Matter march in Liverpool on Sunday. Ayo Akinrele, 24, said that he wanted to show his solidarity with the movement in the US.
After the march officers from Merseyside Police spoke to Mr Akinrele who subsequently had his warrant card revoked, and is currently awaiting disciplinary. A Liverpool Hope University graduate with a Law and Social Policy degree, he is also vice-president of Liverpool Hope Student Union, and represents Liverpool Hope University students in community and social issues. “I grew up in London, I’m Nigerian, and a first generation immigrant and proud.”
Mr Akinrele said he was “Motivated by the opportunity to make a difference.” The event was hastily created on social media for the 9th July only to be rescheduled for the 16th because of police ‘safety concerns’. However, the event already had a large amount of interest and it was decided a march would go ahead as planned. At less than 24 hours notice hundreds of people gathered under the banner of Black Lives Matter. “The march today was brilliant”, said Mr Akinrele. “It was so encouraging to see the city respond like that.”
I can’t wait to see what the turnout of next week’s demonstration will actually be.
In response to what’s become the counter criticism of the movement that all lives matter, he said, “We’re not saying only black lives matter. We’re saying they matter as well. In an ideal world all lives would matter equally, but this is a response to continued injustice, and generations of black lives not mattering in the eyes of the state, its institutions, and the police. For the most part people get that, and the march today proved it – there were people of every race and ethnicity.”
However, when walking home alone the police began to question Mr Akinrele, but quickly found themselves surrounded by protestors. He later posted on Facebook:
Mr Akinrele said: “I wanted to be in a position were I could make a difference, where people are able to see a police officer who looks like them, and can relate to them – and be part of the process that restores some faith in what is an important institution.”
While police officers are expected to remain politically neutral. Mr Akinrele said: “I don’t see this as political, its something I think the police should be agreeing with, and if there not then I’ve got issues with my involvement with them – because this is about justice, equality and human rights.”
A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: “We can confirm that one of the organisers of next weekend’s event is a Special Constable with Merseyside who recently joined and is currently undergoing training. Officers spoke to him briefly at the end of Sunday’s event and his police warrant card was handed over.
We are in the process of speaking to him about his responsibilities as both an event organiser and Special Constable and can confirm that he is not suspended from his duties as a volunteer police officer, and he is currently not subject to any disciplinary proceedings.
“We will facilitate peaceful protests and we will assist the groups who wish to demonstrate their beliefs in equality, freedom from discrimination and Human Rights for all.”
Mr Akinrele said: “This is an opportunity for Merseyside Police to do the right thing, to repair their reputation, which isn’t the best in the black community; and their actions on Sunday will be seen as quite discouraging and unnecessary.”
To join the event on July 16th click here.
To find out more about the Black Lives Matter movement click here.
*This article will be updated once the outcome of any disciplinary is clear.