Angry protesters blocked the M62 motorway on Monday evening to mark a week since police shot and killed Yassar Yaqub.
They marched down the dual carriageway to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire and protested outside Huddersfield police station.
Police shot Yassar after boxing in a car he was travelling in on the M62 near Huddersfield on Monday of last week.
The killing sparked protests in Huddersfield and Bradford. Ashiq Hussain is part of the anti-racist We Are Bradford group. He told Socialist Worker, “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.
“They’re saying it was pre-planned and we see it as a pre-planned assassination.”
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Huddersfield last Friday for Yassar’s funeral. Hundreds more joined a vigil two days before and more protesters demonstrated in Bradford last Tuesday.
Yassar’s father Mohammed told the vigil that his son was “killed unlawfully”.
Martin Jones from Kirklees Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) was on the vigil. “Some people asked why the police were not using body cameras,” he said. “Some asked if police were deliberately targeting Yassar.”
Nearly 8,000 people joined a Facebook group, Justice 4 Mohammed Yassar Yaqub, within a week of his death.
Some explained to Socialist Worker why they are so angry. Faisal Mahmood asked, “How can they shoot him without seeing a gun? It’s murder.” Raja Roop agreed. “It seems like the police murdered him and like they will attempt to cover it up.”
Many pointed to the similarities between Yassar’s killing and the police killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London, in 2011.
Ash Mahmood said, “Mark Duggan also posed no threat but was killed and police found not guilty. It’s a joke.”
Saeed Ahmed added, “Yesterday it was Mark Duggan, today it’s Yassar Yaqub. Tomorrow it could be a member of our family, friends or even ourselves.
“In the Duggan case, there was talk of police dropping a firearm at the crime scene. Is that what happened here?”
Bradford West Labour MP Naz Shah has appealed for calm. The toothless IPCC police watchdog is investigating, but campaigners will not stay quiet.
“Naz Shah 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. We said no, we need to speak up against this.
“We need to speak up now, too.”
Racist rags start smear campaign
Right wing newspapers leapt to help tarnish Yassar’s name in the wake of the killing.
The Daily Telegraph ran a story on it under the headline, “‘Stud badboy’ shot on M62 by police used fast cars to launder profits from his drugs empire.”
The Sun and other rags ran similar stories. They seemed to base their repeated descriptions of Yassar as a drug dealer on the claims of a single “former neighbour”.
Muhammad Rizwan lives in Huddersfield and is a close friend of Yassar’s family.
He told Socialist Worker, “The media is brainwashing people. They have published nonsense.
“The reality is that what happened is wrong. Yassar was a father—he was a nice person.
“We want answers and we want our voice to be heard. The public need to know what happened.”
Cops have claimed they were following Yassar because he was armed.
The day after the killing news “emerged” in the press that police had found a firearm in the car Yassar was killed in.
Yet many people asked why cops had followed Yassar for miles before stopping the car if he posed such a threat.
Ashiq said, “The media has talked a lot about drugs and Yassar’s background. We’re not interested in that.
“Whatever Yassar’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.”
Fury at the cops after Yassar's death
The killing of Yassar Yaqub has led to widespread anger at the police.
Staciie Murphy said, “They could have easily arrested him. There was no reason to shoot. His mum and dad have lost their only son. His kids have lost their dad.”
Chloe Auty said she was “disgusted and scared that the police have the power to brutally kill a man with so little reason”.
Blogger Desigirlrants told Socialist Worker Yassar’s death had affected her because “he was a British-born Muslim Pakistani and I identify with all the same labels”.
She added, “Yassar’s death has made me question my views on the British police.
“Since childhood I have always seen them in a positive light. I wanted to be a police woman once.
“But now I am frightened, thinking ‘are the police anti-Muslim and anti-Asian?’
“When they look at me will they see a British-born Asian girl or a rotten Muslim?”