Socialist Worker

It's one damn case after another

Issue No. 1724

Police get off scot-free over death of Roger Sylvester

It's one damn case after another

"THIS WHOLE business is rotten."

That was the response of Roger Sylvester's parents to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announcement on Monday that it will not prosecute any police officers involved in the death of their son.

Roger died after being "restrained" by eight police officers on his own doorstep in January 1999. But the CPS says there is not enough evidence to bring charges against the eight officers. They were not even suspended from duty.

This scandal comes nearly two years after the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It comes after nearly two years of police claims that they have rooted out institutionalised racism.

Nothing has changed. The police continue to try to smear their victims. Officers continue to receive unconditional support.

Look at the case of Andrew Christie, an Afro-Caribbean community leader in Hillfields, Coventry. A jury last week cleared him of assaulting a police officer after it emerged that they sprayed him with CS gas and repeatedly beat him with batons. Even the judge described the case as "very disturbing".

Roger Sylvester was a healthy young black man. What happened to him could have happened to any other young black man. Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy is supporting the Sylvester family's demand for a public inquiry. He rightly says, "If eight black men were to pounce on someone and they died, they would be charged with murder."

Roger's brother says, "We hoped after the Macpherson report the police and those responsible would be made to account for their actions. They haven't. "The inquest into Roger's death will find out how he died, not why he died. The coroner may allow the police to refuse to answer questions in case they incriminate themselves."

This is not justice. Everyone should support the Sylvester family's fight. They have called a demonstration outside Tottenham police station on Sunday 26 November from 3pm to 5pm.

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Sat 25 Nov 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1724
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