The Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice (Equinox) is a “coalition of racial and social justice leaders, activists and organisers from across Europe working in solidarity to influence European Union law and policy” (Equinox, 2021). Equinox uses their experience, knowledge and resources to propose EU level legislative and policy changes that will benefit all communities in Europe.
In particular, Equinox aims to advance rights and justice for racialized communities by “hold[ing] policy makers accountable for the way they engage on racial justice” (ibid). For instance, Equinox promotes changes in how both European and international bodies and institutions approach issues that may impact marginalized and racialized communities, such as “climate justice; gender rights and justice; migration; and law enforcement and security” (particular emphasis has been paid attention to the last issue throughout the report) (ibid).
Overview of Equinox report
Equinox, supported by Each One Teach One and Open Society Foundations, published a report in June 2021, titled ‘Who protects us from the police?’. The report focuses on structural racism in law enforcement in the European Union such as police misconduct and violence impacting racialized people and communities in Europe. The report highlights key case studies, instances and phenomena and sets out recommendations for EU policymakers to address the structural issue of racism in law enforcement.
Report Case studies
The report spotlights the following examples to demonstrate key features of racism in European law enforcement:
- 2021: Bystander films Czech Police kneeling on Romani man’s neck
- 2020: Activism in France and the ‘Loi relative à la sécurité globale’
- 2020: Irish Police kill George Nkencho outside his home
- 2005: Oury Jalloh, a Sierra Leonean asylum-seeker in Germany, burnt to death whilst in a Dessau police cell
- Interactions between sex workers and law enforcement
- Policing the pandemic: police violence and discrimination
- Racism by law enforcement at Europe’s borders
- The impact of Spain’s state of alarm on racialised people
The report details nine recommendations to policymakers to help achieve justice for those affected by racism in law enforcement. The recommendations fall under three main headings which are as follows:
1. The need to address structural racism in law enforcement in EU Law and Policy
- The European Commission to initiate EU legislation on Discrimination in Law Enforcement
- The European Commission to develop a specific policy in the field of racial discrimination and law enforcement
- The European Union institutions to install an EU structure to monitor and oversee structural racism in law enforcement
- The European Commission to conduct a Systemic Review of Racism in Law Enforcement
- Develop a holistic framework to record instances of racism in law enforcement, disaggregated by race
2. Protect radicalised communities and anti-racist human rights defenders
- EU Member States and the European Union institutions must safeguard the rights of people to document police violence and misconduct
- The EU should ensure access to EU institutions for civil society and grassroots organisation
3. A democratic process on alternatives to justice and the future of law enforcement
- The European Commission should present a proposal for reallocation of Law Enforcement Budgets to other social needs
- The European Union should open a democratic forum for European residents to discuss the role of law enforcement in European society, and alternatives to justice.
This report is a must read. It sheds essential light on key case studies; relevant EU legislation and policy relating to issues of discrimination in European law enforcement; analyses shortcomings in the EU law enforcement infrastructure, while also offering recommendations to improve said shortcomings. Ensuring accountability, full protection and justice for racialised communities negatively impacted by law enforcement is fundamental.