Socialist Worker

Union demands justice over deaths in custody

by Kieran Crowe
Issue No. 2283

A London Underground union branch held a special meeting last week with relatives of two black men who died in police custody.

The engineering branch of the RMT union heard from Janet Alder and Samantha Rigg-David, who have both campaigned for justice.

Well over £1,000 was raised for the Justice for Christopher Alder campaign.

Over 50 people came to hear Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher died in a police station in 1998.

Christopher was initially said to have died of “no cause”.

After two years of campaigning, the family got a second opinion that he had died of respiratory failure following a series of brutal injuries.

CCTV footage from the time of his death appears to show officers laughing at Christopher and making monkey noises.

These officers were ultimately retired without facing criminal charges.

And it emerged last month that the body in Christopher’s coffin was not his but that of a 77-year old Nigerian woman.


This raises serious questions about how such a mistake could occur and who could have known about it.

Samantha Rigg-David also spoke. Her brother, Sean Rigg, died after falling ill in custody Brixton police station in 2008. The Rigg family’s lawyer described it as a case “just like Christopher Alder”.

Again, no police officer faces any charges for Sean’s death.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow expressed the union’s full support for the campaigns for justice for the victims.

Crow emphasised that fear of violence by the authorities is a concern for all working class people.

He said the government is mobilising huge numbers of police in response to anti-­austerity protests, despite claiming there is “no money for public services”.

Crow said that this is because the police protect the state.

He urged all those present to consider the threat posed by plans to equip the police with rubber bullets and water cannon.

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Article information

Tue 13 Dec 2011, 17:13 GMT
Issue No. 2283
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