Socialist Worker

Families march for justice after deaths in police custody

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2578

United Friends and Families Campaign on the march for justice today

United Familes and Friends Campaign on the march for justice (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The annual United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) held its annual march in central London on Saturday. 

The event, which commemorates the victims of police and state violence, saw 200 people march from Trafalgar Square to 10 Downing Street. It comes after a summer which saw several men—including Rashan Charles, Edson DaCosta and Darren Cumberbatch die after contact with the police. 

Every year new families join people who have been fighting for decades. 

Kadisha Brown-Burrell, the sister of Kingsley Burrell, spoke to Socialist Worker about the recent court case which saw three cops found inncocent of perjury charges in relation to evidence they gave to an inquest into Kingsley's death. 

"We've been told the officers have been reinstated on restricted duties," she said. "It's like nothing ever happened. Twenty witnesses gave evidence to the inquest, the majority said they saw a covering on Kingsley's head. The police said they saw nothing.”

Justice

The march came as people fighting for justice wait for the publication of a home office review into deaths in police custody. The review, commissioned by Theresa May in 2015 when she was home secretary, was supposed to be published earlier this year. 

It is set to recommend people detained mental health powers should not be held in police cells, and that there should be cameras in vans used to transport prisoners. 

Other findings are expected as well, including an admission that there "is evidence" of racial disproportionality when it comes to deaths in custody. But, said Kadisha, "They can make all the recommendations they want but unless they're acted on it won't mean anything.”

The march usually delivers a letter to 10 Downing Street but didn't this year. "What's the point?" asked one of the organisers.

The sister of Lamine Dieng who died during an arrest in France in June 2007, spoke through a translator. "My brother died in exactly the same way as Rashan Charles," she said. "My brother is not the only one. 90 percent of the victims are young black or Arab men.

"All the families need to unite and support each other wherever the state keeps killing citizens."

Becky Shah from the Justice for Hillsborough campaign said, "We've had to battle the might of the British establishment.

"It's not just the police, it's the IPCC... It's the government, it's the judiciary and the immigration detention centres.”

She also slammed the treatment of the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. "I never thought I would see something so similar to Hillsborough again. Ethnic minorities and working class people are being demonized and scapegoated.”

Mohammed Yaqub is the father of Yasser Yaqub, killed by the police in February of this year in a hard stop operation in Rochdale. 

"We're running a very strong campaign but the IPCC has come up with nothing so far," he told Socialist Worker. "We have nothing left to live for apart from the fight for justice. 

"Three shots from a rifle and he was taken from our lives. We're never going to stop fighting.”

As more and more families join the ranks of the grieving, the need to put an end to the cops' violence is more urgent than ever before.


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