Outrage at shoot to kill
'Disarm the police'
By Kevin Ovenden
ANGER ERUPTED in Brixton, south London, last week following the police killing of Derek Bennett. Derek was gunned down on the Angell estate on Monday of last week after police mistook a novelty cigarette lighter he was holding for a gun. Police pumped four bullets into him-three in the back and one in the back of his shoulder.
Ernest and Violet Bennett, Derek's parents, issued a statement which read: "Our son has left four young children who he loved dearly. We want to know how this happened, why it happened and who is responsible. "We want a full explanation from the authorities and an immediate apology." Metropolitan Police chief Sir John Stevens caused outrage by refusing to give that apology.
The gun-wielding officers involved in the shooting are still at work and have not been named. It is no wonder then that scores of people clashed with riot police in Brixton on Friday of last week following a dignified demonstration in support of the Bennett family. All evening riot vans and police in body armour had created tension. Local people felt they were under siege by the police.
"We have just had enough," Erroll, a pensioner, told Socialist Worker outside Brixton tube. "There is no justice here. The police are just getting away with murder." Steve Johnson, on the protest outside Brixton police station, said, "We want the police disarmed. They are the biggest threat to safety that black people here feel."
Derek's killing came just days after Merseyside police shot Andrew Kernan dead. Like Derek, he was a psychiatric outpatient. Andrew suffered from schizophrenia. He became disturbed at home on the evening of Thursday 12 July and his mum called for a psychiatric team.
Eventually two nurses arrived, not the four normally needed to care for him effectively when he became ill. One hour later the police arrived. Mrs Kernan says, "As I saw this officer coming up the stairs I actually thanked him. "If I'd thought for one minute guns would be involved I'd never have left him there."
Instead of getting Andrew medical treatment, the police allowed him to rush out into the street holding an ornamental sword and then shot him dead. The whole community in Wavertree in Liverpool is shocked and outraged. There are mountains of floral tributes and messages of solidarity at the spot where he was killed and outside his home. People there and in Brixton are determined to fight for justice.
THE POLICE Federation is still trying to stop the showing of the documentary film Injustice, which highlights deaths in police custody. The Police Federation has already frightened two venues from showing the film. On Tuesday of this week the film was due to be shown at the Westminster Central Hall in London, hosted by the Metropolitan Police Authority-the body charged with overseeing the police in London.
The Police Federation is determined to silence criticism. It has sued over 100 local newspapers across Britain for reporting on cases of police wrongdoing. This has made virtually every other paper afraid of carrying such reports.
Not one police officer has ever been convicted for a death in custody or shooting innocent people.
- For more information phone the United Families and Friends Campaign on 020 8221 2930.
- Justice for Christopher Alder-bring the police to justice. Assemble Friday 3 August, 9.30am, Combined Courts, Lowgate, Hull.