Socialist Worker

Join day of action on 20 March—say no to racism

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2746

It’s important to protest against racism, especially during the pandemic

It’s important to protest against racism, especially during the pandemic (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Anti-racists worldwide are preparing to mobilise in street protests and online rallies this Saturday.

In Britain, Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) is calling for action against racism, ­Islamophobia, antisemitism and the rise of the far right.

Groups will be taking the knee. And online events will be held, including a major online rally.

Despite a government ban on protests, it is vital that activists are out on the streets.

SUTR co-convenor Weyman Bennett told ­Socialist Worker, “Protesting against racism, sexism and for LGBT+ rights is under attack. All our rights have been won by protest and organising.

“The police intend to ­continue to stop protests after the ­pandemic. We must fight those who are trying to destroy our democratic rights.”

There are many issues to fight over. So far this year two black men in South Wales, ­Mohamud Hassan and Moyied Bashir, have died after contact with police.

Black people are ­disproportionately killed by cops and are five times more likely to have force used on them.

Their deaths have ­reignited calls for justice. But ­following protests over the men’s deaths, activists have been arrested and fined.

One Muslim man said he was dragged from his bed by six plain-clothed South Wales Police officers and arrested—for shining a torch at a cop.

Handcuffed

The man said he was ­handcuffed and hit in the back of a van.

Protest organiser Bianca Ali has to pay a £500 fine or request a court hearing under coronavirus laws.

But she told Socialist Worker, “They will never keep me quiet, I will always speak out against injustice.”

Weyman said, “We owe it to those people whose voices have been destroyed by racism to show our support on Saturday.

“We have the chant ‘Whose streets? Our streets’ because they do belong to us. As long as there is no justice there will be no peace.”

Following the horrific ­treatment of refugees by the Home Office it is important to show resistance to the Tories’ hostile environment.

An inspection of ex-army camps Napier Barracks in Kent and Penally camp, South Wales found “filthy” conditions. Hundreds were forced into the camps and left to catch the virus.

Refugees were left “depressed and hopeless”. One said the Home Office “couldn’t care less for the lives of vulnerable people”.

Weyman said the ­international protests on Saturday 20 March will unite people and “show solidarity” between activists.

“Stand Up To Racism ­supports everyone who acts on Saturday,” he added.

Find out more about 20 March at standuptoracism.org.uk

Cops’ failures and excessive force contributed to the death of Leon Briggs

An inquest has found that failures and excessive force by police contributed to the death of Leon Briggs in November 2013.

The jury concluded last Friday the death was “contributed to by neglect”.

Leon, a black man, was restrained by officers from Bedfordshire police with the “application of inappropriate use of force”.

The jury also found that there was a “gross failure to provide Leon with basic medical attention”.

On the day of his killing Leon was seen “moving erratically” in his local area.

Police were called out of concern for his welfare, but Leon was instead logged as “an aggressive male”.

Armed officers arrived to detain him, with three forcing him to the ground on his front for over 13 minutes.

Despite the East of England Ambulance Service arriving on the scene, no assessment of his condition was made.

Leon was taken to Luton police station rather than to hospital.

He was dumped face down into a cell where he lay unresponsive and restrained for six minutes.

Hospital

An ambulance eventually took Leon to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An inquest decided he had died from “amphetamine intoxication” and from to being laid down on his front.

Jurors heard that Leon would have survived if he had been taken straight to hospital.

Leon’s mother Margaret Briggs said, “The conclusion of neglect does not, I believe, reflect the evidence.

“I am disappointed the jury did not return a conclusion of unlawful killing.

“Over our long fight for the truth there has been no remorse shown by the police.”

Anita Sharma from Inquest lawyers, who represented Leon’s family, said the police’s actions “are part of a pattern of inhumane treatment rooted in systemic racism.”

The police will say that seven years on things have changed,” she added.

“Why then are black men still subject to disproportionate use of force by police?

“Why are they more likely to die after police contact particularly when in a mental health crisis?”


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