Socialist Worker

Campaigners for people who died in custody protest at Downing Street

by Ken Fero and Larry Fedja
Issue No. 2176

Families of those who have died in police, prison and psychiatric custody held their annual remembrance procession last Saturday. The families met at Trafalgar Square and then marched down Whitehall to hold a vigil outside Downing Street.

Although the numbers were smaller than other years, the families that did attend were determined to continue.

Families and friends attending included those of Ricky Bishop, Sean Rigg, Paul Calvert, Jason McPherson, Paul Coker, Sarah Campbell and Jason Thompson.

Stephanie Lightfoot Bennett, the sister of Leon Paterson – who died in police custody in Manchester 17 years ago – led a small delegation to place poems and flowers in memory of the dead outside Downing Street.

She said, “I have been campaigning for so long and have been coming here for 11 years. I am not going to stop until I get some answers as to why my twin brother is dead.”

It has been the practice to hand in a petition to the prime minister calling for his personal attention on these cases.

But this year it was decided to abandon the appeal, as all previous requests to successive prime minsters had been ignored.

Pat Coker, whose son Paul died in Plumstead police station, said, “My son died in August 2005 at the hands of the police and I have still not had an inquest into his death.

“Myself, and all the families here today need to be listened to and we need action”.

The families who attended this year have decided to pursue new strategies and will be meeting as a group to take the event forward into 2010.

If you are a relative or friend of someone who has died in custody and would like to attend or support next year’s event send an email to

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Article information

Tue 3 Nov 2009, 18:39 GMT
Issue No. 2176
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