By Isabel Ringrose
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Demand full justice for Sheku Bayoh

Sheku Bayoh died after contact with the police—his family are demanding the cops are held accountable
Issue 2801
People march behind a 'Justice for Sheku Bayoh campaign' banner

The family of Sheku Bayoh have been campaigning for justice since he died (Picture: Arthur Nicholl)

Anti-racists are fighting to hold the police to account over the death of Sheku Bayoh, a 31 year old who died in police custody. On 10 May activists have called a vigil on the first day of the public inquiry into Sheku’s death to demand the truth.

Sheku died in police custody on 3 May 2015 in Fife. Police officers used batons and sprayed Sheku with CS gas and pepper spray within minutes of receiving a call that he was on the street acting erratically with a knife.

No knife was ever found on him. Six officers restrained Sheku on the ground and handcuffed his legs and arms. Sheku died as a result of being unable to breathe and suffered around 25 injuries.

Twice—in October 2018 and in November 2019—Scotland’s top judge, the Lord Advocate, refused to allow criminal prosecutions. Sheku’s family battled tirelessly for a public inquiry, which is now set to last several years. It is set to look at the behaviour of the cops involved, the wider Scottish police ­authority, and the criminal justice system. It will also look at racism and policing.

The family’s lawyer Aamer Anwar told Socialist Worker, “There is no accountability or transparency when it comes to deaths in police custody. “Why does it always become a complex case when a black man or other member of the public dies?

Aamer says “institutional racism is embedded in the system.” “Once the Stephen Lawrence inquiry happened people thought we had institutional racism recognised and could move on,” he said. “But there’s a new attempt to turn the clock back, to divide and rule. This is designed to set the public against black people, or refugees—and the criminal justice system represents that.”

Aamer added that there is a “lack of trust and confidence” in the police because of their repressive role. “We see the police out in force, but when people are protesting or out on strike—they choose who to act against and when. And the lack of accountability means they are law unto themselves. It doesn’t wash to put it down to some bad apples. Police think they are immune from prosecution and can simply walk away and get promoted,” Aamer said.

He added that when there are calls for cops to resign “they continue to thrive”. “It’s hypocrisy—a double standard,” Aamer thinks. And when it comes to justice, Aamer says “they deny and stall information to ensure there is none.” This is why it’s vital that anti-racists put pressure on the inquiry to ensure it finds the truth.

  • Justice for Sheku Bayoh vigil, Tue 10 May outside Capital House, Festival Square, Edinburgh. Details, including transport from Glasgow, at bit.ly/Justice4Sheku

Say no to Robinson

Nazi Tommy Robinson is preparing to rally his supporters for a second time in Telford on 7 May. The English Defence League founder is attempting to re-emerge by using child sexual exploitation abuses to further his Nazi agenda.

He wants to push the racist lie that Muslim or Asian culture is to blame for sexual abuse. Robinson mobilised 800 fascists and racists in January to try and stoke up Islamophobia. Anti-fascist forces should oppose his opportunistic hatemongering and send Robinson once again back into the gutter.

  • Stand Up To Racism protest Sat 7 May, 1pm, Southwater Square, Telford. Details at bit.ly/NoToTR0522

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