By Dave Holes
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Angry meeting over Luton death in custody

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Issue 2379

Up to 250 people turned up at a community meeting in Luton last Monday following the death a black man in police custody. The audience was angry and overwhelmingly black, but the platform were largely made up of establishment voices.

Leon Briggs died a week earlier after police had taken him into custody under the mental health act and held at Luton police station.

Mary Cunneen of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), announced that a criminal investigation is in progress and five officers and staff have been suspended from duty. The crowd applauded.

Leon’s friend Cyril Mitchell called out from the floor, “A 15 stone man dead after 20 minutes in Luton police custody. No charges next day.”

Someone else shouted, “One law for them one law for us”.

Cunneen responded, “It’s the same law for everyone—the Queen, you or anyone.” This was greeted with laughter.

Another speaker from the floor said from the floor that getting justice after death in custody is always a big uphill journey. He cited the cases of Christopher Alder and Sean Rigg.

Chief Constable Colette Paul said that there have been “only three deaths” in Bedfordshire Police custody cases since 1998.

Glen Jenkins, a leader of local music collective Leviticus, said that nobody had any confidence in the IPCC because of the way it has acted in the past. He didn’t want to rely on them to investigate. He said that if the investigation didn’t advance rapidly he wanted people to “pledge to go to the Police Station as a non-violent movement!”

The mother of Leon’s daughter said to the chief constable, “You are not answering any questions. I have to say to my daughter why tonight her father is lying on a slab. My child has lost her father. I don’t know why and you are not telling me.”

A follow-up meeting was promised.


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