After a summer full of protests and demonstrations fighting for equal racial treatment, Bristol is beginning to see the positive effects of the Black Lives Matter movement regarding empowerment and having confidence in the reporting of incidents of racial hatred.
Avon and Somerset Police stated in October that the number of race hate crimes reported has risen by 20% in the past 8 months.
Supt Andy Bennett suggested that this is due to movements such as Black Lives Matter making people feel “more empowered” to report abuse to the police.
He went on to say “It is very difficult to know whether an increase is actual or based on an increased confidence or motivation to report without widespread surveying. Our sense is that Covid, BLM and other world events have had an impact, and the summer increases represent a mixture of both.”
It appears that the rise in cases isn’t typically an indicator that more incidents of racial hatred are occurring, more that the same number of incidents are happening, but victims are now coming forward and reporting it, whereas before they may not have done due to either a lack of confidence or thinking that nothing would actually be done about it.
PC Steve Wright of Avon and Somerset Police is mixed race, having a Jamaican father and a White British mother, and he believes that BLM has “given voice to the black community and there was always going to be a reaction from the right of the political spectrum, but victims will feel more empowered in regards to reporting hate crime and feel that something will be done”
Black Lives Matter has made a large impact in Bristol, in June protesters tore down a statue of slave-trader Edward Colston and threw it into the harbour.
PC Wright felt that the media focused too much of its attention on the tearing down of the Edward Colston statue, and that this “took away from what black people were trying to say.”
The statue-toppling did grab most of the headlines and was shared exponentially during the protest, however the “empowerment” that Supt Bennet feels victims now possess hopefully shows that, despite the focus on the statue, the protests did have a positive impact on the area, particularly in making black people feel as if they can confidently report to the police if they have been made a victim of a hate crime.
Avon and Somerset Police now have “Hate Crime Champions” that aim to “combat hate and provide support to those vulnerable victims of hate crime”.
These Hate Crime Champion work closely with the city council on the Create Against Hate Campaign that aims to show school children the benefits of diversity and inclusion through play and art.
All of these smaller impacts build together to make a large change, that Bristol can thank the Black Lives Matter protests for, its making positive impacts bit by bit, and it won’t stop until race hate crimes are a thing of the past.
Story and Quote Credit: BBC