c/o Inquest 89-93 Fonthill Road, London N4 3JH

 

LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER

 

PRESS STATEMENT

THE UNITED FAMILIES & FRIENDS CAMPAIGN (UFFC) REGARDING THE PROCESSION ON SATURDAY 29TH OCTOBER 2011

 

MEET 12.30PM TRAFALGAR SQUARE

FOR A MARCH TO DOWNING STREET

 

The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) 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, Lloyd Butler, Azelle Rodney, Sean Rigg, Habib Ullah, Olaseni Lewis, David Emmanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser and Mark Duggan to name but a few. Together we are building a network for collective action to end deaths in custody.

 

During the late nineties the families of the most controversial deaths in police custody victims came together to form UFFC. Since then we have campaigned for justice for our loved ones and our efforts have yielded some results. The police self-investigation of deaths in custody, previously overseen by the Police Complaints Authority, was replaced by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Attorney General was forced to undergo a review of the role of the Crown Prosecution Service. We continue to monitor these developments.

 

However, these reforms have not addressed the lack of justice in outstanding cases such as Joy Gardner, Brian Douglas and Shiji Lapite, to name a few. These are human rights abuses and must be dealt with accordingly. Nothing can replace due process of law and with so much overwhelming evidence against police officers accused of manslaughter, the question remains why have they not been convicted? Our priorities were to continue to support cases such as Ricky Bishop, Roger Sylvester, Mikey Powell and Harry Stanley. In recent years other high profile cases such as those of Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles De Menezes and Sean Rigg show how the IPCC and the CPS have continued to fail us. Since last year we have had the high profile deaths of David Emanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Lloyd Butler and Mark Duggan. The deaths have not stopped and nor shall we. Our Annual Remembrance Procession will take place on 29th October 2011.

Samantha and Marcia, sisters of Sean Rigg said: "It is now over three years since Sean died at the hands of Brixton Police and still we are fighting to get crucial evidence from the IPCC.  Why? We have to wait four years for an Inquest to find out how he died. Why? This is our fourth attendance on the UFFC march and it beggars belief the amount of deaths that have occurred since Sean died. Since the last march in October 2010, there have been a staggering 225 deaths in state custody.  Why?  We families have not had justice; we just have us.  It is therefore imperative that families must unite together to remember their loved ones and continue their quest for justice and change in the British judicial system for positive action from it to ensure that the embarrassing list of deaths at the hands of the state has no more victims added to it.  No Justice.  No Peace."

 

The family of Olaseni Lewis said: "The unnecessary and untimely loss of Seni has brought great sorrow into our lives. He was a bright 23yr old, who had just finished his masters and was looking forward to doing his PHD. Why was his restraint at the hands of the police so excessive? And who is going to be accountable for taking his life?"

 

Merlin Emmanuel, the nephew of David Emmanuel said: "I am joining the UFFC campaign because my family has lost a loved one at the hands of the police under suspicious circumstances, namely Smiley Culture. We have yet to receive the justice we deserve and have been shocked by the contemptuous way we have been treated by the Met and the mainstream media. We have noted that many families have been treated in the same way and that deaths in police custody have not been investigated competently by the IPCC, neither by our government or politicians. We know we are up against a great Goliath but we, the Emmanuel family and Campaign 4 Justice are aware that organisations such as UFFC bring awareness to our plight and therefore it is our duty to stand in solidarity with them. Not just this October, but every year until the spectre of deaths in police custody becomes a bad memory."

 

Josie Fraser mother of Demetre Fraser said: "My son died after police attended a property in Birmingham in May 2011.   The IPCC has not given me any strong answers or confidence in their so-called investigation.  The arresting officers have still not given me any answers or even a phone call.  Just like all other families I am supporting the UFFC campaign as I would like justice for my son and all others who have died in police custody over the years."

 

Jan Butler mother of Lloyd Butler said: "My son died whilst in the 'care' of the police on 4th August 2010. You cannot change some things; you cannot turn back the clock. In life there is a certain guarantee that we all one by one will some day die, but as a mother you do not expect to bury your children first. I am going to the march in London to take part and share my support with other families and friends whose loved one has died in custody - the fight goes on."

 

 

 

 

Susan Alexander mother of Azelle Rodney who was shot dead by police in April 2005 said: "I have been coming to the UFFC rally since 2005. I was appalled to see so many bereaved families and when confronted with statistics from Inquest I was even more intrigued and wanted answers. The reasons I attend are for the fact that I am making demands and changes on a local, national and global level. I want to make a difference, I want to be visible, I want justice. Over the years those demands have changed and I am stronger. The Azelle Rodney Campaign has been able to influence changes in the law that will not only assist us, but other families too. We ALL want Justice!"

 

Sheila Sylvester, Mother of Roger Sylvester said: "I am surprised to know that the police and the state are still killing people! Change was supposed to come since Roger's death, but in the past 12 years nothing has really changed. The system should be ashamed of itself! You have to have a lot of money to fight these cases, but all you get is an Inquest, and nothing comes out of an Inquest."

 

The family of Habib Ullah who died in July 2008 said: "We are still fighting for justice and note that three and a half years since his death in a car park in High Wycombe nothing has changed, more people have died, and the police still operate with impunity in our communities. Until there is justice there will be no peace - how can there be deaths in these circumstances without killers?"

 

Sieta Lambrias sister of Mikey Powell who died in police custody in Birmingham in September 2003 said:            "The struggle for justice for my brother, and all the others that have died at the hands of the state, goes on. We ask people to come and support us. We cannot keep silent and condone these killings."

 

Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett whose brother Leon Patterson died in Stockport police station in 1992 said: "I have been coming to this march for the past 13 years. I am fighting to get a public inquiry into how my twin brother died. I have got too many questions and not enough answers. My family have a right to know."

 

Patricia Coker the mother of Paul Coker who died in Plumstead police station in August 2005 said: "We have zero tolerance of murder, manslaughter cruelty and negligence being carried out by the British police and condoned by Parliament. It is our intention to speak for our loved ones who have died in custody."

 

Janet Alder whose brother Christopher died in the custody of Hull police officers in April 1998 said: "I am awaiting judgment from the European Court of Justice regarding the government’s admittance, for the first time, that they have failed to hold the police officers accountable for my brother Christopher’s right to life and for the degrading and inhuman treatment, as well as racism. In other words they have murdered my brother and I have forced them to admit it. Stand up and believe in your fight!”

 

Brenda Weinberg, sister of Brian Douglas who died in police custody in Clapham, London in May 1995 said: "It is not in the public interest for the victims of deaths in custody to be denied justice."

 

 

 

UFFC is supported by INQUEST, Migrant Media, Newham Monitoring Project, Pan African Society Community Forum, 4wardEver UK and United Campaign Against Police Violence.

 

 

Press Contacts: contactuffc@gmail.com / info@seanriggjusticeandchange.com

 

Patrick Ward: 07894 497 705 / Ken Fero: 07770 432 439

 

 

 

Notes to editors:

 

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 prosecute those responsible for custody deaths.

 

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

 

 

What we demand

 

1.         Replacement of the IPCC to ensure open robust transparent and thorough investigations into police deaths in custody by a ‘truly’ independent body from the very outset of the death.

 

2.         Officers and officials directly involved in custody deaths be suspended until investigations are completed.

 

3.         Immediate interviewing of officers and all officials concerned with the death.

 

4.         Officers and officials should never be allowed to ‘collude’ over their evidence and statements of fact.

 

5.         Full disclosure of information to the families.

 

6.         Prosecutions should automatically follow ‘unlawful killing’ verdicts at Inquests and officers responsible for those deaths should face criminal charges, even if retired.

 

7.         Implementation of police body cameras and cameras in all police vehicles in the interests of both the officers and the public.

 

8.         The end of means testing of families for legal aid. There is a lack of funds for family legal representation at Inquests whilst officers and NHS staff get full legal representation from the public purse – this is unbalanced.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                28 October 2011