Protesters blocked off Stoke Newington High Street on Friday (March 18), calling to "get police out of our schools" after a Black school girl was strip searched by police.

Speakers and members of the public called out the actions of police and teachers after the school girl, referred to as Child Q in a council safeguarding report, was strip searched at school while on her period.

She was suspected of carrying cannabis when the incident occurred in 2020, but police found nothing on her person.

%image(15006674, type="article-full", alt="Members of the community were invited to speak as protesters sat and stood on the busy street, blocking traffic")

MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, said 25 children in the last year in Hackney and Tower Hamlets were strip searched.

She alleges 23 of those children were Black, evidencing her point that this was not an "isolated incident".

Ms Abbott said: "Here were are confronted with the brutality of Hackney Police officers again".

%image(15006719, type="article-full", alt="Hackney MP Diane Abbott spoke at the rally")

She also called out the school which allowed the incident to take place, with no parent or guardian present.

Ms Abbott said: "The schools have questions to answer."

%image(15006720, type="article-full", alt="Many at the protest condemned the strip search as part of wider issues of racism and sexism in the Met")

Ngozi Fulani, founder of domestic abuse charity Sistah Space, also spoke at the rally.

She said she was looking for justice: "If this was a white girl, it would not have happened."

Her allegations of racism echo the findings of the council's Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review, which found that racism likely placed a role in the search, "whether deliberate or not".

Speakers and members of the public called for action against all those involved, including teachers, school leaders and teachers at Child Q's school.

%image(15006721, type="article-full", alt="Hundreds came out to rally against the strip search, calling to "get police out of schools"")

Another speaker Emmanuel Akin called for change, stating: "This should never happen ever again."

One Hackney pupil said: "We don't feel safe in school".

And, a member of the community told the crowd: "I am disgusted, sickened by what has happened to Child Q."

The protesters called for Hackney's police borough commander Marcus Barnett to leave his post.

Seven Hackney councillors including Cllr Soraya Adejare, Cllr Sophie Conway, Cllr Polly Billington, have also penned a letter calling for the commander's resignation.

The Met apologised on March 16, with Det Sup Dan Rutland stating: “We recognise that the findings of the safeguarding review reflect that this incident should never have happened.

"It is truly regrettable and on behalf of the Met Police I would like to apologise to the child concerned, her family and the wider community."

The protest was organised by Hackney Cop Watch.