Socialist Worker

‘We have to come together to fight for all those who have died in police custody’

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2377

On the march for justice last Saturday

On the march for justice last Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)

There were angry chants of “No justice, no peace” as the United Friends and Family campaign marched on Downing Street in London last Saturday.

It was the 15th annual march of those fighting for justice for people who have died in police custody.

The family of Thomas Orchard, who died after being arrested by police in October 2012, joined the march. Thomas died after police covered his nose and mouth. Thomas’s sister Jo said, “A child knows you are not to put anything over your nose and mouth because you will suffocate. 

“This is what happened to him. “It took us seven months to get my brother’s body back. We’re preparing ourselves for a horrendous fight to come.”

Also on the march was Rupert Sylvester, the father of Roger Sylvester. Roger was 30 when he died in police custody in 1999. Roger died after being held down by officers for 20 minutes in a padded room at St Anne’s hospital in north London. 

The family won an unlawful killing verdict, which was revoked in 2004 after police challenged the ruling.

Rupert said, “We all have to come together. What happened to Azelle Rodney is terrible and what happened to Mark Duggan too. 

“The police say they are there to protect life and property, but you have to ask yourself, whose life, whose property? They’re not there to protect you or I.”

Outside Downing Street, families directed angry speeches to David Cameron. Josie Fraser is the mother of Demetre Fraser, who police say died after jumping out of an 11th floor window to escape arrest in May 2011. 

She said, “Come out here and face these families, you’re nothing but a coward and a bully. Until the day I die I will fight. If one of us gets justice, it opens the door for others to get justice. That is what they are afraid of.”

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Article information

Tue 29 Oct 2013, 17:25 GMT
Issue No. 2377
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