by Nadine El-Enany (photos by Nadine and Nina Power)
Today Defend the Right to Protest marched alongside the friends and families of loved ones killed at the hands of the police, prison service and other public authorities. After gathering in Trafalgar Square, the silent procession, marching in memory of their murdered relatives, made its way down Whitehall to the gates of Downing Street. There their anguished voices rose in cries of “No justice, no peace! Who are the murderers? The police!” A white cardboard coffin was adorned with the names of many of those whose lives were cut short after coming into contact with the police: Mikey Powell, Leon Patterson, Sean Rigg, Olaseni Lewis, Christopher Alder, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Mark Nunes and Azelle Rodney, to name but a few.
As a UFFC delegation delivered their demands to 10 Downing Street, family members took their turns to tell their loved ones’ stories. Demonstrators listened to the heart-breaking and infuriating words which told of how so many young people have been beaten, brutalised and executed by the police. Their families, mourning the tragic loss of their loved ones, are then summarily and incessantly lied to by the IPCC. Rather than facilitating the uncovering of the truth about the deaths of their loved ones, the IPCC are little more than a smokescreen, an obstacle to the truth, doing the dirty work of the state – covering for it.
Listening to the families recount tales of loved ones cruelly and unjustly ripped away, one understands the crucial role they play in the fight for justice. In their absence, the deaths of their loved ones would surely go uninvestigated, unnoticed, just another “accidental death” in police custody. But the bravery, perseverance, and unity shown by their relatives means that one day, in each of their cases, the hope remains that there will be accountability, that there will be justice, that they will find some peace.