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Sadiq Khan rolled his eyes and told his Conservative opponents that their concerns about the high numbers of black Londoners being murdered were “crocodile tears” on Thursday (October 14).
The Labour London mayor was responding to his former mayoral opponent, the Tory Shaun Bailey, who asked him if he would launch a review looking at why “the black community in London is the most murdered and the most attacked in the entire country”.
It came just days after the killers of black Dulwich teenager Donnell Rhule, who was chased and stabbed to death last year on the Kingswood Estate, were found guilty of his horrific murder. Of the 138 murder victims recorded by the Met Police in Southwark from 2003-2020, 72 – more than half – were black. Just a quarter of the borough’s population is black, according to Southwark Council.
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Speaking at the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) monthly question and answer session with the mayor, Bailey asked Khan several times if he would commit to doing a report on the disproportionate amount of murders in the black community in London.
Pounding the desk, Bailey said: “I’ve said to you before, black parents are terrified to let their children out of their homes. It’s affecting how our community perform in school, it’s affecting how they perform socially.
“I’m asking you as police and crime commissioner for London – will you do that piece of work, will you look at why the London black community is so attacked?”
Khan did not commit to this review, telling Bailey that the Home Office was doing a similar report and that he was keen not to duplicate efforts.
He also described several initiatives that his violence reduction unit (VRU) is doing across several boroughs, including Lambeth, specifically aimed at black communities to help people living in deprived circumstances.
But Bailey slammed the response as “talking about failed work”. He added: “And the facts demonstrate that you’ve failed.”
“So Mr Mayor – your answer is no,” he said. “Because what you’re saying there is all the things you think might work, all the things that might happen. We’re talking about a specific piece of work.
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“This is the single most murdered community in the entire country. They are on your patch. You are police and crime commissioner for London and you are refusing to do a specific piece of work to understand why this is happening to the black community. If you truly believe in keeping the black community safe, you should be leaping to do this piece of work”.
Amid a series of interruptions from Bailey, Khan became visibly frustrated, sarcastically thanking his opponent for letting him speak and rolling his eyes.
Bailey later added: “You said earlier trust in the police is low. Trust from the black community would start with action. Action comes from the top.”
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Susan Hall, Mr Bailey’s ally and the leader of the London Conservatives in the GLA, chimed in, calling the statistics related to the number of black people murdered “terrifying”.
“Think of those mothers that are losing their sons,” she said. “Think of those mothers whose sons are committing these crimes. We need to be helping that community out and we need all of us to be talking about it.”
Khan said that many of the problems faced by the black community are the result of policies put in place by the coalition and Conservative governments of the past eleven years, not his own regime in London.
“What I find offensive is that this is being used for political point-scoring for a two-minute clip on Twitter. It’s pathetic…
“Across the country you’re seeing an increase in youth violence. Of course you’ve got to be tough on crime, you’ve got to be tough on the causes. You’ve got to invest in these communities. When I see crocodile tears talking about their anguish, the heart-breaking news of more black Londoners losing their lives and then I see them supporting policies that takes money away from these communities…
“Who do we think is feeling these cuts – the same people they pretend to care about. I find that offensive.”