Friday, 19 February 2021
Thursday, 18 February 2021
Yet another black man dies in Wales after contact with Gwent Police following the recent death of Mohamud Hassan in Cardiff. I can report that Welsh civil rights lawyer Hilary Brown has taken on the case of the latest victim, 29-year-old Sudanese man Mouyied Bashir who died after being restrained by Gwent Police in South East Wales Newport, Gwent. We send our profound condolences to the Bashir family on the loss of Mouyied.
Police were called to his home address by his parents after Mouyied began to act strangely. Several vehicles and large numbers of Gwent Police officers attended the property, and although not under arrest; he was placed in handcuffs and leg restraints. Whilst under restraint, he subsequently died. He had been a victim of a stabbing in previous weeks, and during his restraint he lay with police officers on top of him.
Instead of providing the care he so desperately needed, he was forced to the ground, restrained and placed in handcuffs and leg restraints. This was no way to treat a desperately ill man who had already suffered the trauma of a severe stabbing. It appears there was no proper risk assessment, nor was any account taken of his wound when officers decided to restrain him forcibly. Where was the duty of care, or was it the fact, as seen on many other occasions, that all the officers saw was a black man and not a human being.
There has been a long history of black men suffering mental health crisis who have died after being forcibly restrained by police. Cases such as Sean Rigg died after being restrained for eight minutes by Brixton Police in 2008 and left unattended in a police van whilst his condition deteriorated.
Olaseni (Seni) Lewis died in Bethlem Royal Hospital after the Metropolitan Police subjected him to prolonged restraint in 2010.
Then there was Kevin Clarke in 2018, who died after being restrained by Metropolitan police officers the suffering a mental health crisis. At his inquest in October 2020 jury concluded that systemwide failures contributed to his death. They further concluded that the police decision to use restraint was inappropriate because it was not based on a balanced assessment of wrists to Kevin than the risk to the public and police.
Decade after decade, we've seen investigations followed by inquest inquiry followed by statutory review followed by Parliamentary reports. All have outlined detailed suggested reforms concerning how best the police should deal with people with mental illness, and absolutely nothing is changed. Nobody has been prosecuted, nobody has lost their job, no one has been held to account, and all the recommendations amount to nothing more than words rotting on the paper they're written on.
The case has been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct. This will fill no one with confidence as the investigation into Mohamud Hassan's Cardiff case so clearly illustrates. The system is broken, no one has any faith in so-called independent police investigations into controversial deaths in custody.
All of thee separate investigatory processes are loaded against victims and their families. The case of Mouyied Bashir will be no different from the many hundreds that have gone before it, and justice remains as elusive today as it has been for the last 40 years.
Speaking to the BBC Mouyied's brother said,
"My brother was stabbed about three weeks ago. He was put on medication," Mr Bashir said.
"He's been battling mental health for a long period of time.
"The combination of the medication and his mental health, it got a bit stressful."
He said his parents decided to take him back to hospital but could not get him out of his room.
"They believed their best option was to call the police and help them escort him to hospital," Mr Bashir said.
"They rung the police with the intention to escort him to hospital with, say, two to three officers."
Protesters gathered outside Newport Central Police Station on Thursday afternoon.
He said police handcuffed him and "tied him up by his leg".
"His stab wound is on his main artery, so while he is tied up, handcuffed, he started getting weaker," Mr Bashir said.
"My dad is in shock (saying), 'What are you doing?'
"In hospital, my brother was given CPR, oxygen. They tried everything. It was too late. We only wanted help."
His brother was a "big character, the life of the party" and someone who "wouldn't harm a fly",, Mr Bashir said.
Mr Bashir said: "It's disgusting. There needs to be something done. It's been happening for so long.
"Serve and protect; that's what they tell us. We are going to fight. We are going to get answers."
Gwent Police has referred itself to the police complaints watchdog in line with standard procedures for all the good that will do.
Our first and most urgent demand must be that the IOPC immediately release all the police bodycam videos to the family with immediate effect. No legal flimflam hiding behind rules and regulations. The credibility of the IOPC is at stake, and the Black Lives Matter movement is posing an existential challenge to the heavy oppression of a state system of police investigation that has so permanently nailed down the scales of justice on the side of the system.
Monday, 15 February 2021
Dramatic developments in the case of 24-year-old Mohamud Hassan's after the IOPC served a Regulation 17 notice on a South Wales Police officer concerning their arrest of Mr Hassan's on 8th January 2021.
The IOPC notice relates to potential serious misconduct giving credence to the Hassan family's accusation that something happened to Mohamud Hassan either during his arrest or detention by the police.
This officer accompanied Mr Hassan to Cardiff Bay custody unit in the rear of a police van on his way to Cardiff Police Station. Mohamud complained to this officer and was clearly in both pain and distress yet was ignored. This information was not passed on to the custody sergeant when he arrived at the police station.
This new information raises the serious question of what occurred at the point of arrest. It is widely believed that Mohamud was subject to violent arrest by South Wales Police officers an assertion that has been continually denied by the authorities.
Given these developments, its is now critical that South Wales Police suspended this officer with immediate effect pending the investigation. There should be no prevarication or delay in doing so as any resistance will undoubtedly be seen as a direct provocation by the local community.
This critical development fundamentally undermines the IOPC's and Chief Constable of South Wales Police, Jeremy Vaughan's initial press statements that sought to reassure the public or calm rising tensions that there was no case to answer in response to the accusation that South Wales Police were in any way responsible for Mohamed's death.
The IOPC issued a press release stating that "preliminary indications" show that Mohamud had not suffered any physical trauma that could have potentially resulted in his death on the 12th January 2021.
The Chief Constable press statement on the 15th January 2021 said,
"...we did not do this because we thought that police officers had done anything wrong, but because it was the right thing to do, to give an independent view on the decisions that we made and the actions that
Given these statements, the credibility of both organisations is now in severe and dire jeopardy. The serving of this notice means the community, will be rightly outraged. The demand for real accountability and transparency in this case now becomes urgent.
Indeed in the light of this information, there can be no option but for the IOPC to release all police bodycam and CCTV footage of Hassan to his family immediately.
It is vitally important that this investigation sets new standards of openness and transparency.
With public confide policing and the IOPC being at an all-time low, with the growing demand for radical reform in relation to independent police investigations, these revelations will reinforce our determination to secure justice for Mohamud.
Remember 52 officers came into contact with Mohamud in ten hours. One down 51 to go.
Now is the time to increase or demands. Suspend the Officer. Release the bodycam footage.
Update: The IOPC in response to this blog has updated their press release to say that even if the officer was to be found guilty of misconduct the most that could happen is a written warning. Here again, we see the IOPC working hard to damped community anger whilst seeking to minimise potential disciplinary sanctions. There is an obvious bias here, if as they say they have yet to investigate interview the officer and have updated the pathologist, how is it they can determine the seriousness of the offence and range of possible sanctions, given this officer's actions cannot be properly judged in isolation from the chain of events that preceded Mohamud's arrest or the pathologist feedback?
Wednesday, 3 February 2021
Things are progressing concerning Mohamud Hassan's case, but not in how statutory authorities would have hoped. Last week saw the IOPC hold its first meeting with the Hassan family. At that meeting, the IOPC told the family that I had become persona non grata.
The IOPC had sought legal advice that concluded that I could not be invited to the meeting, despite the Hassan family requesting my attendance.
The IOPC is setting a dangerous precedent seeking to infringe on the fundamental rights of families to be supported and represented by advocates and activists of their choice when seeking to negotiate the complex and challenging process of the independent police complaints process.
The IOPC also held its first Community Reference Group on 2nd February 2021. It had invited 17 individuals and organisations to attend a meeting to hear about progress in their investigation and answer questions. The Hassan family considered this a public relations exercise and informed the IOPC, that they did not want any detailed aspects of the inquiry into their sons' death discussed with this group without their prior consent,
In the event, only four people attended the meeting, which indicates how little trust and confidence people have in the IOPC or the process of an independent police investigation.
Some at the Community Reference Group (CRG) meeting challenged the IOPC about their decision to refuse to allow me to attend their initial meeting with the Hassan family. .
In the CRG meeting, Senior Independent investigator Ian Andrews revealed that Mohamud Hassan had come into contact with a staggering total of 50 plus South Wales Police Officers. That's an incredible number of officers considering he was in their care for just 10 hours. Mohamud was arrested on Friday 8th January at 10 pm and released without charge at 8.30 am the following day.
The most obvious question to ask here is why such an overwhelming number of police officers involved in the arrest and detention?
Such numbers would typically indicate the arrest and detention of a terrorist suspect or a mass murderer. It would seem to me to be reasonable to conclude that many of these officers must've been involved in the violent restraint suffered by Mr Hassan.
Is it any wonder the family has so much difficulty getting the IOPC to release the police bodycam videos? Can you imagine the scene that involves one slightly built 24-year-old black man and 52 South Wales police officers?
This critical information reinforces the need for us to demand these videos' release with immediate effect. Despite denials that Mr Hassan was badly treated during his arrest, we now know the disproportionate numbers of officers involved. The belief he was subject to a Taser will only add to the growing public anger, anxiety and concern about this case.
This is South Wales in 2021 not Mississippi Alabama in 1968. We must increase our demands to ensure the highest possible transparency and access to information are afforded to the family.
The family and the broader movement are embarked upon a historic task of setting new precedents concerning death in police custody investigations. Every passing day provides more compelling evidence that we are right to do so.
We are planning a Twitter storm on Tuesday, February 9th 2021 on the four-week anniversary of Mohamud’s death see the campaigns Facebook page for more details
Please support the Crowd Justice Campaign raising funds for legal action.
Support the demand to release the videos - sign the petition, Share the article.
Sunday, 31 January 2021
IOPC fails to provide answers and engages in political interference in the Mohamud Hassan investigation.
The 1940s classic Welsh song, "There will be a welcome in the valleys" written by Mai Jones, Lyn Joshua and James Harpe, invokes the great cultural tradition of Welsh village life in welcoming home its prodigal sons and daughters.
This wasn't much of that welcome in evidence last week however when the family of Mohammad Hassan who died on Saturday 9th January 2021 within hours after contact with Cardiff Police held their first meeting with the Wales Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC).
As many of you will know, I have supported the Hassan family from the beginning of the tragic death of their son and involvement with South Wales Police. As a result, I was personally invited to attend this important meeting with the family.
The IOPC agreed that all those listed to attend including me, would be sent a zoom link to the meeting. That link did not arrive until minutes before the meeting was due to start. Surprisingly I was not included in that email
As the meeting was about to begin, Senior Lead Investigator Rebecca Hinton informed the family that they (IOPC) had not sent me the link as they had sought legal advice that concluded that I couldn't attend as my "legal role" was not clear. This is simply bizarre and inexplicable.
I have attended many meetings supporting the families of victims of death in custody held by the IOPC in London over the years. In all that time, I have never been asked to clarify my legal role or as far as I know has my intended attendance been the subject of legal advice.
It will be interesting to hear from IOPC Wales why they felt it necessary to seek legal opinion, what was the question asked and the legal advice they received in response? I have written to the IOPC to ask them that very question.
This decision of the IOPC to deny the Hassan family's right to be accompanied by experienced advisers of their choice can be seen as blatant political interference in a ham-fisted and incredibly clumsy attempt to no doubt cause division between the family and myself. There is no legal reason why I should not attend these meetings as my frequent attendance at London IOPC meetings demonstrates.
The critical question is, what’s the difference between IOPC Wales and London? I would suggest the only differences being is Wales is around 40 years behind London on the question of racial justice. Dealing with a backwater organisation operating as if it was 1981 not 2021 provides all the explanation anyone needs to understand their decision.
Part of the reason will undoubtedly be my public criticism of the IOPC in previous blogs where I highlighted their apparent synchronised press releases with South Wales Police. I wrote about what I believe to be was an attempt to mislead the public, with information designed to appease widespread community outrage, about the circumstances of Mohamud's death.
But let’s be clear here, my attendance was immaterial as Hilary Brown and Inquest well represented the family, but it does give rise to serious questions about the independence of the IOPC. It cannot be right that they decide who families can and cannot bring to such meetings when the Black communities trust and confidence in the process of "independent" investigation into police deaths in custody is at a catastrophic all-time low.
The meeting itself was an opportunity for the family to press for answers to crucial questions relating to Mohamed's arrest, detention, release without charge, and subsequent death.
Critical questions were put forcibly to the IOPC. However, they had few answers in return.
Giving rise to further concern is that Rebecca Hinton's boss at the IOPC is Ian Andrew who is a retired police officer.
The black community's overwhelming perception is it matters not whether somebody is a currently serving or retired police officer. The culture of institutionalised racism renders the vast majority blind to racism and black injustice. Many in the black community, share the view that these retired officers' predominant perspectives are biased towards the police. I believe this can be seen and detected in the Wales IOPC initial press release referred to above.
Concerning the arrest of Mohamud, we now have strong evidence to suggest that he may have been tasered, more than once, during his arrest.
Again, if this is true, it would dramatically highlight the extent to which the IOPC and South Wales Police were less than forthcoming in providing complete transparency around the circumstances, and the degree of violence used during his arrest.
Is it any wonder they are rarely believed when they seem to conspire to withhold critical information such as this blog to the family of the deceased and the wider public?
Despite the IOPC and South Wales Police media manipulation and attempt to exclude voices like mine in supporting families, the reality about the British black communities open hostility to the so-called "independent police complaints investigation process" will not diminish one iota. The current process is oppressive and fundamentally unjust.
There remain many questions to answer about the arrest and death of Mohamud Hassan, and we continue to demand the police body cam video which the IOPC continues to withhold from the family, and we can all guess why. To date the public petition calling for justice and the release of this footage is 29,000 strong. Please make sure you sign and share.
Despite these challenges and difficulties, the family's support continues to grow, and we must redouble our efforts to demand an unprecedented intervention.
We must demand that this investigation reshapes and sets new standards in IOPC investigations, or we must bring that institution to his knees, if necessary, in an effort to secure justice. The choice is clear, immediate radical reform or total abolition
In pursuit of these goals, the family have established a Crowd Justice fundraising page that will support their legal strategy to achieve justice.
What is vitally important to understand is that there are two arms to this struggle. The first is to place massive political pressure on the IOPC to open up this investigation, set new and essential precedents for openness and transparency, the second to robustly legally challenge any aspects of their decisions that constitute a fundamental block on the pursuit of justice for the Hassan family.
In Wales, this was achieved when we forced South Wales Police to adopt new standards of investigation in response to the appalling racist injustice suffered by the Bute Town Three in 1997 a case that Hilary Brown (current legal rep for the family) and I were both involved with at the time.
We cannot, and we must not allow the present status quo to remain unchanged. Our job in the name of Mohamud Hassan, George Floyd and the countless other victims of these injustices at the police's hands is to ensure that our demand that #BlackLivesMatter is not just a slogan, but heralds a paradigm shift in our demands for real police accountability.
Follow Twitter @Justice4mohamud and Justice for Mohamud on Facebook
Sunday, 24 January 2021
Tuesday, 19 January 2021
Why do young black and Asian people’s views matter?
Jeremy Crook OBE, BTEG CEO
These are extremely tough times for young people.
The Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) delivers programmes for young black, Asian and mixed heritage people in schools and community groups, and we use our links with government and employers to champion actions that can improve their success rates in education and employment.
We have campaigned for many years to increase apprenticeship opportunities for our young people, especially in sectors where there is under-representation, such as engineering, construction, and technology. One-third of school age young people are from ethnic minority backgrounds but only 8% of apprentices aged 16-19 are ethnic minority.
The Government is urging employers to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic. We all want to see businesses bounce back when the lockdown ends but there have been many job losses and, sadly, many firms have had to close their doors for good, despite financial support from the government.
But we must ensure that ‘build back better’ also means ‘build back fairer’.
With rising youth unemployment, we are deeply concerned that young black and Asian people will find it even harder to secure employment. Unemployment rates for African, African Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage young people tend to be higher than other ethnic groups even at graduate level.
So, we need to do everything possible to ensure employers and government ‘build back fairer’. Employers need to judge young people on their merit and character and not on their skin colour or faith.
The lives of young people have been severely disrupted on all fronts educationally, socially and economically.
Children and young people are familiar with on-line communication and they have done extremely well. But we have heard young people talk about how difficult it is to stay motivated when they have been confined to studying or working from home and are not able to do all the things they normally do. Their daily routines have been broken and their plans have been put on hold. Those from poorer backgrounds have had the added difficulties of lower incomes, less space at home and exposure to higher Covid-19 transmission rates.
As a country we must make sure that young people receive the wholistic support they need to get through the pandemic and be a key part of the national recovery.
We need to hear the views of young people and to know what is important to them - their views on Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, mental health, education and their employment prospects.
2021 marks 30 years since BTEG was established. To mark this anniversary, we are conducting a national survey of young people from African, Caribbean, South Asian, South East Asian or mixed ethnic background.
We think it is important to have good evidence that we can share with policy makers, including government ministers, mayors, employers and local councils, and, importantly, with other charities that support young people. Evidence/data matters. For BTEG it informs our priorities and the projects we develop.
Surveys provide evidence on what large groups of people think and feel about specific issues, so please share this blog and survey link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BTEG2020 with young people and youth groups.