4 years on: Sean Rigg’s Memorial and the fight for justice

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Around 200 people, from activists and legal professionals to lifelong residents of Brixton attended the Sean Rigg Memorial at Lambeth Town Hall yesterday evening; marking four years since the death of the young black man in police custody. The Rigg family have bravely continued fighting for an answer from the police regarding the circumstances of Sean’s death and are still yet to see justice.

Written by Arnie Joahill 22.08.2012

Sean Rigg is one amongst hundreds who have died in police custody in the past thirty years, such as Smiley Culture, Kingsley Burrell and Mark Duggan, with only one conviction and no sentences for the police officers involved. Their cases highlight the inability of the IPCC to carry out unbiased investigations; it also proves the police to be institutionally corrupt and repeatedly reliant on cover-ups.

The family spoke passionately about their struggle over the past years, outlining the way the police have treated the case and family with complete ignorance and maliciousness. Ken Faro’s documentary ‘Who Policies the Police?’ on Sean Rigg’s death was shown at the memorial and highlighted the excuses given for Sean’s death by police. Both the actions of the officers involved as well as the subsequent IPPC investigations contained fundamental failures. The shortcomings ranged from CCTV in Brixton police station “not working” for several months, to failures by the IPCC in investigating the officers involved in the fatal arrest, with many others to boot.

Marcia Rigg with Sam Rigg to her right. August 21st, 2012 by Andy Thornle. More photos: http://www.demotix.com/news/1401066/protests-mark-fourth-anniversary-sean-riggs-death-custody#slide-2

Sean Rigg’s memorial coincided with a fresh incident of police brutality. On Sunday 19th of August, a man was stamped unconscious by a police officer during an arrest in Windrush Square, while being restrained on the ground by three officers. This latest case highlights how, four years on from Sean Rigg’s death, the police hasn’t learned their lesson.

Brixton Police Monitor, an organisation set up by activists and eyewitnesses has released video footage of the incident, showing the officer kicking the victim unconscious. The video has now been viewed more than 10,000 times and featured in the Guardian and elsewhere.

News of the incident on Sunday reached the Rigg Family who were outraged and agreed to organise a ‘March against police violence in Brixton’ alongside local activists to follow Sean Rigg’s memorial.
The march of around 200 people went from Lambeth town hall to Brixton Police Station. Slogans such as ‘No Justice, No Peace’ and ‘Who Killed Sean Rigg? Brixton police killed Sean Rigg’, where chanted outside the police station.

Mona Dohle, eyewitness of Sunday’s incident, joined the Rigg family walking into the station in order to hand in a formal complaint against the latest case of police violence . They demanded to see the Detective Superintendent. Upon his appearance, the representative of the police was confronted with harsh questions and criticism. “This is exactly the same thing you did to our son” exclaimed Sean Riggs’s mum. “When you killed him, you thought he had no family, but you got the wrong ones we are a fighting family”. Samantha Rigg, Sean’s sister continued: “We are here to inquire about the victim of this last assault, we are his family. The whole community is his family.”

Previous to the march, there has been scaremongering on Twitter that it would lead to another riot. However, the event remained completely peaceful while making a powerful statement towards the police. The community is clearly not willing to accept police violence any longer.
The Rigg family urges people to attend the United Friends and Families Campaign (UFFC) annual march this October to bolster the campaigns and fights against injustice still ongoing.

The courage displayed by the family in continuing to struggle for justice for Sean Rigg and the response of residents of Brixton to the latest episode of police violence are indeed both a powerful source of inspiration and a blueprint for how communities should respond to the problem of police harassment and brutality.

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