Hundreds of mourners gathered in Huddersfield today, Friday, for the funeral of Yassar Yaqub. Police shot Yassar dead on Monday evening as he sat in a car on the M62 near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
The killing has led to angry protests in Bradford and Huddersfield. Yassar’s father Mohammed said his son was “killed unlawfully” – and the family want answers.
Activists in the anti-racist We Are Bradford group met yesterday, Thursday. They have called an event against police brutality on Saturday 20 January.
Ashiq Hussain from the group told Socialist Worker, “The shooting shouldn’t have happened. The police have gone in and been the judges themselves. They’ve gone in to shoot to kill – whether someone is innocent or guilty.
“They’re saying it was pre-planned. We see it as a pre-planned assassination.”
Police claim they acted on a tip-off that Yassar had a gun. They failed to explain why this would justify shooting someone dead. Activists see the killing as racist.
“There were no warnings given,” said Ashiq. “The coroner said Yassar was shot in the chest three times. Is it because he’s Muslim? Is it because he’s black? Absolutely. This was a race-related incident.
“The police shot Mark Duggan dead in 2011. It was the same as has happened here. The police got away with it. And in the US the police are getting away with killing black people.”
Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, appealed for calm in the wake of the killing. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating. But campaigners are determined to fight.
“Naz Shah MP has said, let the IPCC do its investigation,” said Ashiq. “That’s basically sweeping this under the carpet and saying do nothing for months.
“In 2009 they told us to keep quiet when the English Defence League came to protest. They told us to ignore it. We said no, we need to speak up against this. Otherwise the racists grow. We need to speak up now, too.”
Mainstream newspapers have thrown themselves into attacking Yassar’s character. But as Ashiq said, their claims are irrelevant.
“The media has talked a lot about drugs and Yassar’s background,” he said. “We’re not interested in that.
“Whatever Yasser’s background and whatever he’s done has nothing to do with it. There are a lot of drug dealers around West Yorkshire. The police don’t go around shooting them. This is race related.
“Our event on Saturday 20 January will say no to police brutality. We chose the day to coincide with the protests against Donald Trump. We say black, Asian and ethnic minority lives matter.”