Over 1,000 people marched in Birmingham last Saturday calling for justice for those who have died in police custody.
The protest was organised by the Campaign for Justice for Kingsley Burrell Brown—a black man who died three days after being arrested in March.
The demonstration took a long route around Birmingham, lasting nearly four hours.
It was peaceful and positive—but the police seemed to want something different.
Police vehicles tried to surround the protest as it marched to West Midlands police headquarters, and many feared they were going to be kettled.
The marchers sat down in the street in protest when they feared a police van was about to drive through the crowd.
After this, the police backed off.
Merlin Emmanuel, nephew of reggae artist Smiley Culture who also died in custody in March, called the police tactics “potentially inflammatory”.
He told Socialist Worker, “It was inappropriate, taking into account the emotions of those on the march.”
Demonstrators blocked roads and received a largely positive response from onlookers.
The march paused for a two-minute silence outside Mary Seacole House. This was the mental health unit Kingsley was put in several days before he died.
Kedisha, Kingsley’s sister, spoke at an angry rally outside the police station at the end of the march.
“My questions surrounding Kingsley’s death still remain unanswered,” she said.
“How did Kingsley die, who was involved and why aren’t any of the officers involved suspended?”
Maxie Hayles, from the Birmingham Racial Attacks Monitoring Unit, said, “I have not seen such anger and passion at a demonstration for a very long time.
“That tells me that something has gone drastically wrong with West Midlands Police.”
The families of others who have died in custody, including those of Sean Rigg, Mikey Powell and Demetre Fraser, were also on the march.
Demetre Fraser was found dead after falling from the 11th floor of a Birmingham tower block after a police visit on 31 May.
The campaign for justice for those in custody is set to continue.
The annual United Families and Friends Campaign march is set to take place this autumn in London.