Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott spoke to protesters outside Stoke Newington police station in Hackney today, Saturday.
Stand Up To Racism called the protest after the recent surge in deaths of black men following contact with the cops.
Abbott, MP for Hackney North, told protesters, “I'm here to assure you that I will stand by the parents in their fight for the truth. There are questions to be answered and I will not rest until those questions are answered.”
The protest followed angry demonstrations last night that saw people build barricades to block roads. A protest in Hackney on Monday also blocked the road before marching through the area.
Rashan’s father Esa, and Ginario, the father of Edson, joined the protest. They held up pictures of their dead sons and a picture of Darren Cumberbatch, who died following contact with police in Coventry this month.
Ginario told the crowd that the family would “continue to fight for justice”. Stafford Scott spoke on behalf of Rashan’s family. He said, “Be dignified when they expect us to be wild”.
Other speakers stressed that those who condemn the supposed “violence” of protesters were missing the real violence - that of the cops. Egg, a local activist, demanded that the officer responsible for Rashan’s death be suspended. “Do not let these men die in vain,” he said.
Islington councillor Rakhia Ismail was also on the protest. “For too long people have been quiet,” she told Socialist Worker.
“But so many black and ethnic minority men are dying because of the police. If we stay quiet they will bury us alive.”
In Coventry today around 300 people marched to demand justice for Darren Cumberbatch. The protest comes after a public meeting last Wednesday saw over 200 people come together to launch the Justice4Daz campaign.
Many of those protesting in Hackney today said the recent deaths are part of a wider racism that needs to be fought. Dennis from Stoke Newington told Socialist Worker, “There is a two-tier system in how people are treated.
Police brutality is just one aspect of the problem. Young people are fighting for a future - and seeing all the doors closed to them.Anna
“Black people are seen as outsiders even though they’ve been born and bred here. We’re treated like we don't contribute, that we’re criminals. Then it's easier for the police to do whatever they want to us.”
Dennis said harassment of black people led to more people having criminal records, so creating a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.
“Once you've got a record, its harder to get a job,” he said. “But they're making sure black people get records.
“If a white person is found with drugs they're more likely to get a slap on the wrist. When it's a black person they're said to be a big drug dealer. It's divide and rule.”
Other speakers at the rally echoed this sentiment. One young black man said, “If you're black, you're already a suspect. If you're black and there's two or three of you on the street, you're a gang.”
Protester Anna told Socialist Worker, “Police brutality is just one aspect of the problem. Young people are fighting for a future - and seeing all the doors closed to them.
“There's no education or jobs, there's overcrowded housing. It's all stifling. Young people have expressed their anger by taking to the streets - it's the only thing they can do.”