Sunday, 16 October 2011

Why I'm marching on the 29th October against deaths in police custody - by Talia Bennett

Talia Bennett - young activist from Nottingham
'At the beginning of this year, I had barely had any knowledge of deaths in police custody.
I knew that they happened, but had been fooled into believing by the lack of media attention and shortage of any kind of information on them that those deaths were rare, and that when they did occur they were dealt with subtly but effectively.

I had no idea that they aren’t dealt with at all, and that a conscious effort is made on the police force’s part to cover them up, scrub them from all records and files, slander the memory of those who have died and twist the story to make the victim seem like a monster who deserved death if they do somehow manage to wriggle their way into the public’s line of sight.

 I wouldn’t have known if not for the Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture just how many times deaths in police custody have occurred, how hard the police try to hide them, and the kind of passion I feel for it now wouldn’t exist.

It both saddens and angers me to think that there are many out there who, even when faced with evidence that deaths in police custody are constantly happening and that the police are constantly lying and manipulating to cover up their tracks, can still turn their head away and refuse to see it.

Even with the death of Mark Duggan – with the combined forces of skilful story-twisting, carefully weaved ignorance and the exaggerated criminality of the following riots, the interest eventually faded into nothingness: everybody appeared to get caught up in the more interesting details of their own world and the rioting and forget that an innocent man died at the hands of their alleged ‘heroes’.

Knowing what I now know, and being able to see it through eyes that haven’t been sullied by the slander projected by the indifferent powerful authority figures – I can't simply sit back and let myself become swept away by the details of my own world. The same feeling of responsibility and passion for campaigning – the same anger at the impudence of the authorities and the cheek of their barefaced slur towards those who have died at the hands of the police that I felt when I first heard of the death of Smiley Culture – has only been strengthened over the months: although, by the dilution of enthusiasm and care towards the CFJFSC that seems to have occurred, I don’t think the same can be said for every single one of the 9000+  who have liked the CFJFSC Facebook page.

I am marching on the 29th of October in Trafalgar Square because no matter how long we have to fight to be heard, I will never stop caring. I am marching because now matter how long it takes, I refuse to become lost in my own circle. I will continue the fight for justice, for however many months or years it may go on, and I will refuse to stand down.

I will always care.'

By Talia Bennett
The Annual Remembrance Procession Against Deaths in Custody is organised by the United Families & Friends Campaign
All information below is from the event page set up by UFFC:

Silent Procession along Whitehall followed by Noisy Protest at Downing Street!

The United Families and Friends Campaign is a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in secure psychiatric hospitals. It includes the families of Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Rocky Bennett, Alton Manning, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Aseta Simms, Ricky Bishop, Paul Jemmott, Harry Stanley, Glenn Howard,...
Mikey Powell, Jason Mcpherson and Sean Rigg to name but a few. Together we are building a network for collective action to end deaths in custody.

What we believe
• That failure of State officials to ensure the basic right to life is made worse by the failure of the State to ever prosecute those responsible for custody deaths.

• That the failure to prosecute those responsible for deaths in custody sends the message that the State can act with impunity.

What We Demand
• Deaths in police custody must be investigated by a body that is genuinely independent of the police.

• Prison deaths must be subject to a system of properly funded investigation that is completely independent of the Prison Service.

• Officers involved in custody deaths be suspended until investigations are completed.

• Prosecutions should automatically follow 'unlawful killing' verdicts at inquests.

• Police forces are made accountable to the communities that they serve.

• Immediate Legal Aid and full disclosure of information be made to the relatives of the victims for investigations, inquests and subsequent prosecutions.

• Officers responsible for deaths should face criminal charges, even if retired.

• CCTV to be placed in the back of all police vehicles


Please check these links for further details:

No Justice No Peace!