‘TO GET JUSTICE WE NEED TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM’ says Family and Friends Campaign

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The lead banner of Saturday’s UFFC procession as it made its way down Whitehall
The lead banner of Saturday’s UFFC procession as it made its way down Whitehall

‘WHO are the killers? Police are the killers! IPCC, not fit for purpose! Scrap the IPCC!’ shouted workers and youth at a rally opposite Downing Street on Saturday.

They were gathered at the end of a 1,500-strong United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) procession from Trafalgar Square.

UFFC founder member Minkah Adofo from the Joy Gardner campaign told News Line: ‘This is the 16th year we’ve been having our procession. We’ve come to remember our loved ones who have been killed in custody.

‘The police have been backed up by the various arms of the state – the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission), CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). It seems quite clear that true justice is not just the police being charged with murders, but also there needs to be a change in the system as a whole. We’re thankful for the support of the students and trade unions.’

Marcia Rigg, the sister of Sean Rigg, told the crowd: ‘People have been killed but no-one has been convicted. There have been murders and cover-ups, corruption and no-one has been convicted.’

Holding up a list, she continued: ‘Since 1969, 3,900 have died, and that’s the ones we know of, and no one has been convicted.’

Holding up a photo, she said: ‘This is my brother Sean Rigg.’ Holding a set of photos, she said: ‘These are the four officers who killed him.

‘Sean died in August 2008. He suffered a mental illness. Over half of the deaths in police custody are people with mental health issues, the majority are black young men.’

Marcia went on to outline the events leading to Sean’s death in Brixton police station after being restrained in a police van.

She added: ‘The inquest found police action contributed to his death.’

She pointed out that the ‘original IPCC investigation was found to be flawed’ and that the IPCC subsequently ‘recommended officers should be charged’ but the ‘CPS came back to say there was insufficient evidence for a charge of perjury’ in the case of one officer’s evidence.

‘We are challenging that decision’, through the new Victim’s Rights Review.

She added that the campaign had prevented another officer to retire before any decision has been taken on criminal proceedings.

Carol Duggan, the aunt of Mark Duggan, said: ‘Mark is the third person to die in Tottenham.

‘Tottenham is over-policed. It is paying the price of PC Blakelock’s murder. People are arrested, locked up – you name it. Why? Because they are black.

‘Mark was not armed. He had a phone in his right hand. The 2011 uprisings that took place – Mark Duggan’s family have been blamed for that. We will never get justice, but we are not going away. We took to the High Court. The judge said the inquest was confused how an unarmed man can be lawfully shot dead.

‘He is considering his ruling. They don’t want the public to know the truth. But the inquest verdict still stands, it gives the police the right to shoot anybody! We are not accepting this. We are appealing the verdict.’

In her concluding remarks, she declared: ‘They are taking away our rights. Working class people have to fight. If it means another uprising, I’ll be in the front line of that uprising.’

Joy Gardner’s mother Myrna Simpson told the rally: ‘Joy was murdered with 13 feet of tape around her in July 1993.

‘She wasn’t a terrorist or criminal, she was just an ordinary mother and the police broke into her flat in Hornsey and killed her in front of her five and a half years old son. The children now have no mother.

‘I’m still fighting, I’ll fight until I haven’t got any strength in my body. I’ll fight for Joy and everyone who has been unlawfully killed. Each life is precious. The way they killed my daughter was terrible.

‘What happened to Joy, to Mark, to all the others, it could happen to anyone. This government, these police officers are corrupted, are racist.’

Calling for more people to join the campaign, she concluded: ‘No one is exempt. It’s a struggle and we’ve got to fight on. Justice for everyone killed by those police officers and this government.’

Ricky Bishop’s mother, Doreen JJuuako declared: ‘To me, the police are terrorists. They terrorise our communities and nothing has been done. British police, you have blood on your hands.’

She added: ‘I’m going to get justice at the end. To the British government, I say: “you are sanctioning police murder and you are sending young men abroad to kill others”.’

Before the march set off, Jo Orchard, of Justice for Thomas Orchard, told News Line: ‘Thomas was my little brother. He was gagged, bound and suffocated by Devon and Cornwall Police in 2012.

‘He had schizophrenia and should never have been arrested. He was just 32 when he died. We’ve come here to march against police brutality and to get justice for my brother. We want free legal aid for all families who have lost loved ones in custody.

‘In a normal death, it takes five weeks to make a decision. We’re here two years later and there is still no decision. It’s agonising and the wait just prolongs the agony. People with mental health issues who end up in a crisis should never end up in a police cell.’

Marie Ologbosere, a friend of Aji Lewis, the mother Seni Lewis, told News Line: ‘Seni had a psychotic episode and was taken to the Bethlem Hospital in Croydon in September 2010.

‘The staff thought he was a bit agitated so they called the police to restrain him. He was restrained by eleven policemen! He lost consciousness and never regained it. He was 23 years old, a young man who had never been in trouble. He’d just finished his MA degree.

‘I believe the family are still waiting for an inquest. I’m here to support the family. The police who restrained him have never been charged. No one has answered for what was done. This kind of thing has been going on too long.’

Winston Silcott, who was jailed after being wrongly convicted of killing PC Blakelock, told News Line: ‘I’m here to show my support because the police and criminal justice system are getting away with murder.

‘It’s very unjust that any of the people in power, if they lost someone, something would be done. But to ordinary working class people, they just don’t care. There needs to be a change. Everybody has to get together to make that change.’

Winston’s friend Hasan Kamali from Cheshunt, added: ‘There needs to be a general strike.

‘We should bring everything to a standstill to let the government and big business know the power we’ve got. As for today’s march for families of those who died in custody, it needs to be brought to the public’s attention more by the national press, who just ignore these kind of things.’

Haja Salifu from Northampton, a member of the Salafi Dagarti Foundation, said: ‘All of us as a community need an equal opportunity within the law. My organisation is to help and fight against poverty and inequality.’

• More pictures in photo gallery