Annual United Families & Friends RemembranceTagged as: actions_protests campaigns repression_surveillance
On Saturday 25th October 2008, the 10th Annual United Families & Friends Remembrance procession took place in central London, with several hundred people in attendance, including many family members of those who have died in suspicious circumstances in police custody, prison and 'secure' mental health facilities.
As is now the customary tradition of this annual march, the procession made its way in dignified silence from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall to Downing Street in dutiful respect to those who mourn the loss of loved ones and to invoke their memory and the collective injustices that are represented by family members and friends. In the past year there were 182 such deaths recorded, and the banner carried in the march listed over 2500 who have died.
Among those taking part were the family of Jean Charles de Menezes. The inquest on his death continues. See the campaign's wbsite: http://inquest.justice4jean.org/
After the bouquets had been subjected to a police examination, family members were allowed to come forward and fix them to the gates in front of Downing St, where police had agreed they would be allowed to stay until the end of the protest.
Outside Downing St the march stopped to raise it's collective voice about why all family members and friends were marching and make it known the common identity of who is to blame for many of the deaths of those victims commemorated in the procession (ie the police). The march continued to Parliament Square where there was a rally at which a number of people whose family members have been killed took it in turns to say a few words.
Speechs by family members drew attention to an almost complete lack of accountability within the police, prison and mental health service whereby healthy people, mainly but not all black, continue to die in police and psychiatric custody and in prisons, citing racism and the lack of a proper culture of care. (credited to Peter Marshall - Ref: ?http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/10/411583.html ).
Family members who spoke talked about the indignity of not getting a fair trial in the courts and a criminal justice system which has consistently failed them.
Amongst the families who spoke at Parliament Square were the sister of Jason McPherson, who died after being held down by 10 cops in police custody in January 2007 after being prevented from being allowed to have use of his inhaler despite repeated pleas. The cause of Jason's death is still not established, as the family are still awaiting for pathology and post-mortem reports over 20 months on, one of which being tha family's own independent post mortem..
The mother of Paul Coker also spoke. Paul died on 6th August 2005 aged 32 in a cell at Plumstead police station, South East London, just two hours after being arrested for causing a breach of the peace. Up to fifteen police officers arrested Paul, and the initial postmortem was inconclusive.
"Mr Coker?s sister said that his girlfriend Lucy had explained what happened when Paul was arrested", ?She said she had told the police that they had settled their differences and was trying to get to him, but she was surrounded by officers."
Paul and another group of officers were upstairs and she could hear him screaming, ?You are killing me. You are killing me.? She had never heard a man scream like that. Then it all went quiet. A woman downstairs says that when he was carried out Paul was not struggling. Police were holding his arms and legs.?
Other family members who have recently lost their loved ones who represented them on the procession included:
Sean Rigg, who died in police custody on Thursday 21st August 2008:
The family of Patrick Cawley and Habi Bullah, who died from breathing difficulties whilst being arrested by police on Thursday 3rd July 2008: ?http://www.4wardever.org/#/habibullah/4530143933
The United Families and Friends Campaign is a coalition of relatives of people who have died in all forms of custody - police, prison, immigration and psychiatric. Every October the UFFC organises a march by families of people who have died in custody from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street in rememberance of their loved ones.
Further sources of Information:
- Inquest: http://inquest.gn.apc.org
- INJUSTICE, the film that finally depicted a long ignored open wound. No wonder coppers harassed the makers and tried to ban it. Homepage also reflecting various censorship attempts and opinions of family campaigns from abroad: http://www.injusticefilm.co.uk & http://familypages.moonfruit.com/#/injusticefilm/4528591373
- Sign the online petition against the Shoot to Kill Policy: http://www.gopetition.co.uk/sign.php?currentregion=222&petid=7646
Previous Report from the UFFC annual procession in 2005: ?http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/10/326759.html