Football: Anichebe incident and a police ‘overkill’

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With an alarming rate of jewelry robbery in Cheshire in England, two patrol police officers yesterday mistook Nigerian International and Everton striker, Victor Anichebe for a burglar.

Victor Anichebe who is currently on crutches following his recent knee surgery, was window shopping with a friend in Knutsford, and as they looked through the glass of a jewelry store, Cheshire police officers on duty cracked down on the two men who appeared suspicious to the officers.

One of the officers grabbed Anichebe’s crutches to prevent him from escaping as the other officer handcuffed Anichebe’s friend.

The two police officers in their statements had accused the Nigerian star and his friend of acting suspiciously around the jewelry store. The 20 year old Nigerian striker described the incident as embarrassing and totally humiliating. “I asked the officers if they would have taken the action they did had I been white rather than black.”

A police statement released after the incident read: “It is only right and proper that the police act expeditiously in protecting vulnerable premises such as jewelery shops. We seek in all cases to ask for co-operation from the public in respect of not only reporting suspicious activity in or around such areas, but also their co-operation if an officer feels it is necessary and appropriate to make inquiries into such matters. The robust response to this incident was influenced by a history of violent robberies that have recently occurred at jewelery shops across Cheshire and was most certainly not related to race.”

According to Anichebe, “After what seemed like an eternity the police officers seemed to realize that they had made a mistake, acknowledging that I was a footballer with a Premiership club and not someone who was preparing to commit a crime. Whilst I do fully understand Cheshire Police’s desire to tackle the problem of robberies on jewelery shops in the Knutsford area, I remain deeply upset and very angry about the treatment which was meted out to myself and a friend yesterday.”

The Cheshire police department have however issued an official apology to the Nigerian and his friend about the treatment they faced. They have also promised to write an apology letter to Everton football Cub as well. According to the Police spokesperson: “Having now reviewed in detail what occurred between the officers and the two men whom they believed to have been acting suspiciously, it is now apparent that, while the situation was heated, the actions of the police officer in applying handcuffs to one of the men was less than a proportionate reaction to the requirements of the situation. We can confirm we will be pleased to personally meet with Mr. Anichebe to resolve any further concerns he may have.”

Blogs and comments from fans have lambasted the Cheshire police for what looks like a real case of racial profiling. The police who had been directed to the scene by CCTV operators who thought Anichebe and his friend were “casing the joint” had entered into a “heated dialogue” with the premier league player and his friend. On the question of how a man with a limp and on clutches could be regarded as suspicious looking, one blogger has described their action as an “overkill”.

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