Angry campaigners against violence in police custody marched through Birmingham on Saturday, almost 18 months after the death of 29 year old Kingsley Burrell in the city.
The march was organised and led by Kingsley’s family, who are still waiting for answers to basic questions into the circumstances around his death.
They were joined by the families of other people who have died in police custody, including the relatives of Sean Rigg (see below) and Anthony Grainger.
As the 300-strong march went through the streets, people came out of their houses to listen to the booming soundsystem and take leaflets about different campaigns and meetings.
Kedisha Burrell Brown, Kingsley’s sister, told Socialist Worker what the family have been through. “We still haven’t even been given the final coroners’ verdict on what caused Kingsley’s death after three postmortems.
“We do know that one of them says possible asphyxiation. We’re expecting more answers in the next couple of months. But why has it taken so long?”
Anthony Grainger’s mother Marina Schofield told Socialist Worker, “No mother should ever have to bury their son.” A postmortem showed that the bullet that killed Anthony entered his body through his side and penetrated a lung, his heart and then his other lung.
Anthony was unarmed when 16 armed officers surrounded his car on 3 March this year. Marina went on, “The police have never apologised to me. We’re waiting to hear if the officer will be prosecuted. We’ve got a strong case, and they messed with the wrong mother. I’m not going to go away.”
The march stopped outside a newsagent. It was from there, on 27 March last year, that Kingsley called the police for help saying he and his five year old son felt threatened in the area.
When the police arrived instead of listening to Kingsley they restrained and arrested him. Kingsley’s son later told family members he saw the police hurting his dad when they came to arrest him.
Police took Kingsley to the Mary Seacole House mental health hospital saying he was paranoid and delusional. Kingsley died four days later.
Kedisha says that Kingsley had no history of mental health issues and should never have been sectioned. Kingsley’s body has only just been released to the family. On the protest people chanted, “No body, no burial, no justice, no peace.”
Addressing the protest as it stopped outside the newsagent Kedisha said, “Sean Rigg, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell—these should be the last people to die in custody. So why do people keep on dying?
“My brother is not dying in vain. The last 18 months have been torture. My life will be on hold until those police officers are brought to justice.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has announced it will order an “independent review” into its report on the death of Sean Rigg.
This is the first time that the IPCC has commissioned an independent internal enquiry into one of its own investigations, despite the organisation being widely criticised by families, lawyers and MPs in the past.
Sean Rigg died at Brixton police station on 21 August 2008. The IPCC report claimed that the police ‘adhered to policy and good practice by monitoring Mr Rigg in the back of the van”.
Guidelines on police use of restraint have been changed after 15 people died in or following police custody between 2011-12. The changes mean those suspected of being “under the influence” should be checked on every half hour.
A 26 year old man has died in Leicester after being detained under the Mental Health Act. Police used CS spray and restraints on the man who died in hospital just four hours after being detained.
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