‘People often assume that he is the defendant’, writes Katie Lynch
The wife of a criminal barrister at 25 Bedford Row has revealed her husband’s battles with racism in a viral Facebook post.
The post, which has been reshared 33,000 times and has amassed over 25,000 likes, follows on from the death of African-American George Floyd in US police custody, which has sparked anti-racism protests across the globe.
According to the post, barrister Leon-Nathan Lynch has been stopped and searched seven times and unlawfully arrested once. Recalling an incident that left the barrister “utterly humiliated” after being wrongly handcuffed and arrested by police, wife Katie Lynch wrote:
“He was on his way to see me, in his bag he had a personalized plaque made for me for valentine’s day with a hammer and nails to put it up for me. He was stopped by the police on the grounds that they believed he had a firearm, it was raining and cold, they twisted his arms and put him in handcuffs and pushed his face into a park railings. For 30 mins he stood there whilst an armed officer pointed a gun at him. His nose was running because of the cold and despite his requests, they wouldn’t even let him wipe the snot running down his face.”
After failing to find a firearm, the police are said to have changed the reason for his arrest to suspected robbery, as he “fitted the description”. Although Leon-Nathan was eventually released from the police station, he received no apology.
She provided another example of a stop and search during which “police officers allowed their dog to put his dirty paws all over his suit”, meaning Leon-Nathan arrived at work late and covered in dog paw marks.
“Every single time he has been stopped and searched (sometimes in his suit and tie on his way to work) he has been singled out and people walk pass him believing he is a criminal. Can you imagine the embarrassment?” she wrote.
The post also describes Leon-Nathan’s “long and gruelling” 12-year journey to tenancy. “He was rejected from many jobs and pupillage opportunities and watched as white counterparts with less experience and skill were offered those very same jobs,” she wrote.
Now specialising in serious crime and white-collar defence, Leon-Nathan still experiences racism on the job. “People often assume that he is the defendant (despite being in a suit) purely because he is a young black man and this mistake is even made by counsel,” she explained.
Commenting on the George Floyd protests, which has seen law firms and chambers reaffirm their commitment to championing diversity and challenging racism, Katie continues:
“I hear some of you say this is America’s fight not ours. I beg to differ, we struggle with racism in the UK too, structural racism is ingrained in our society and we have become so used to it we don’t even recognise it is there, we’ve just accepted it as the way things are. But do you know who is aware of it every single day, our black brothers and sisters.”