Lib Dem Councillor Julia Ogiehor “devastated” at acquittal of men accused of racially harassing her on tube

Last year we reported on Haringey Liberal Democrat Councillor Julia Ogiehor’s description of being racially abused while she was travelling on the London Underground.

At the time, she said:

“One of them called me uneducated, and looked like I didn’t go to university,” Ogiehor said. “I had my hands up saying I do not want to speak to you any more, then one of the guys tried to pull my hands down and demanded I get out of his sight.

“I recoiled and said please do not touch me, as he kept saying I had no common sense and that I was uneducated at the top of his voice. I was the only black person in the carriage and he seemed to expect everyone would be on their side. They seemed to be a little taken aback when that was not the case.”

She added: “They had such a sense of entitlement and sounded offended that I refused to go into my heritage and did indeed come from London.”

And Julie talked about the importance of showing solidarity when you see others under attack:

The fact I was helped is what gave me the courage to defend myself,” she said. “Hate crime is under-reported, so please speak up. They are the minority, and we need to stand up to bigotry.

Yesterday, Julia wrote on Twitter that she was devastated after the two men responsible had been acquitted of racially aggravated harassment.

She said that she felt that justice had not been on her side “How could it be when nobody on the jury looked anything like me?” She added that she had no regrets about reporting the incident and would continue to report racism every time.

The Ham and High reported on the court hearing:

John Carmichael closed the prosecution case on Friday, saying this was not just a social interaction.

He said: “This is different, isn’t it? Look at the circumstances. Two men. Two large men. Two white men. On a tube opposite a woman, a lone woman, a Black woman. Obviously in her own space because she has her headphones on. So the question ‘where are you from?’ immediately you may think would raise hackles, has the potential of being intrusive at least.

“If it stopped there, if that’d been it, if her irritation had been met with ‘I’m terribly sorry’, there would be no crime. The problem here is the persistence and the insistence. To do this illustrates a deliberate harassment.”

Genevieve Woods, for the defence, closed her case by saying: “This isn’t a crime, it’s what Ms Ogiehor called it in her article, a micro-aggression.”

She said she was contrasting against “criminal acts” and added: “That’s not what this is.”

As Julia said, micro-aggression is still racism.

I can understand how Julia feels. I’ve spent too much time having descriptions of sexist behaviour minimised. It gets exhausting when it happens all the time. Every single person of colour I know has to put up with racist crap on a regular basis. It’s not acceptable and we need to listen to their experiences and learn to recognise racist behaviour in ourselves and in others.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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5 Comments

  • David Evans 3rd Oct '20 - 1:37pm

    Julia, whatever else you need to know, remember, we, the Lib Dems, are always on your side when you need us. Just as we know, you are on our side, when we need you.

  • jayne Mansfield 3rd Oct '20 - 3:14pm

    What is shocking is that no one intervened.

    I have some experience of this, the last time in London it was a small group of white Europeans being provoked by a drunk, and I put myself between them until the group left the train.

    In this case, I would have placed myself between the man and the victim and in my best Upper Received English , which I can call on in such times, looked him sternly in the eye and told him firmly “Don’t point, it’s rude’. That would have evoked an involuntary chuckle from some of the other passengers and wiped the smile off his friend’s face.

    These oafs seek to provoke what they assume will be a predictable reaction. A sharp. short put me down always works a treat in my experience.

    After the bravado, one shakes like a leaf at the thought of a different outcome, but it soon passes and I suspect that I feel a greater sense of well-being than those who sit by, do nothing and consequently hate themselves for it.

    Don’t let idiotic oafs pass on their problems to you Julia. The greatest revenge, is to be happy – and yes, keep reporting hate crime.

  • David Garlick 4th Oct '20 - 10:22am

    If anyone is uneducated then it is the two men. Ignorance of what constitutes racism is not a defence. The fact that the defence lawyer was ignorant of that is probably down to choosing the only defence available. The fact that the ‘court’ was ignorant shows just how much education is still to be provided.
    All power to those who challenge such behaviour.

  • Sue Sutherland 4th Oct '20 - 5:22pm

    Well done Julia for standing up to these racist louts. I’m wondering if we Lib Dems should be campaigning for a change in the composition of juries?

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