Peoples Parliament Mon 26 Jan, 7-9pm: We Can’t Breathe – Deaths in Custody and the Denial of Justice

UFFCremembersMonday 26 January, 7-9pm Houses of Parliament, Boothroyd Room  (Portcullis House). BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE.

Reverend Osagyefo Sekou civil rights organiser involved in Ferguson protests
Adrienne Makenda Kambana Jimmy Mubenga’s widow
Diane Abbott MP
Becky Shah Hillsborough Justice Campaign
Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett United Family and Friends Campaign (UFFC)
Deborah Coles INQUEST

Chaired by John McDonnell MP

Reverend Osagyefo Sekou a leading figure from the #blacklivesmatter protests that have rocked cities across the US, is coming to Britain later this month to link up with families of those who have died at police hands over here in the United Kingdom.

Whilst on-going protests in the US draw global attention to the horrific regularity with which Black people are being killed by police; families and campaigners are seeking to bring public attention to the high level of deaths taking place in the UK and the extreme difficulty confronting families who seek to hold the state to account for the death of their loved ones.

In Britain there have been over 1,500 deaths in police custody since 1990 – but not a single successful prosecution of a police officer for manslaughter or murder since the first recorded death in custody in 1969.

Just last month, 3 G4S guards were cleared of the manslaughter of Jimmy Mubenga who died on 12 October 2010 following face-forward restraint in his seat on a British Airways flight from Heathrow airport to Angola. A large number of passenger and cabin crew witnesses who gave evidence during the course of the trial said they could hear Jimmy saying he could not breathe before falling silent.

Jimmy Mubenga’s widow Adrienne will be speaking at the meeting – her first public appearance since the trial outcome. She will be joined by many other families including Becky Shah whose mother died in the Hillsborough disaster and Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennet Chair of the United Families & Friends Campaign.

Reverend  Osagyefo Sekou: “Black lives matter. Black lives should have mattered before they were gunned down or choked to death, both to the officers charged with protecting and serving them and to a judicial system that has exposed itself as involved in a deadly chokehold of its own.”

Adrienne Makenda Kambana: “I know G4S killed my husband, yet they are walking free. Jimmy’s life is over, but nobody has been punished. That is what this verdict tells us, that you can kill someone and still walk free. It is why I won’t accept the verdict it all my life, for Jimmy and for all the other people it could happen to.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST: “It is difficult to reconcile the verdict with the evidence heard at the trial that over 20 people heard Jimmy Mubenga say ‘I can’t breathe’.There needs to be a mechanism for state institutions and the private companies they employ to be held to account when people die. The lack of state accountability over black deaths in custody is a global issue and one that will not go away until urgently addressed.”

Diane Abbott: “2014 was a year in which the world bore witness to the racism that Black communities can face at the hands of the police, and the sense of injustice that all too often follows. Although these issues are no phenomenon to our communities the killings and the subsequent rulings on Michael Brown and Eric Garner in the US, and Mark Duggan in the UK, have highlighted the inequality in our respective justice systems.”

Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett: “The United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC) is a coalition of families in Britain whose loved ones have died at the hands of state officials. We have been fighting for justice, change and accountability for over 15 years. No state official has ever been convicted in Britain.”

Becky Shah Hillsborough Justice Campaign: “Recent events in Ferguson in the U.S.A. bear striking and frightening similarities to what’s been happening in the UK.  Unarmed, young black men in disadvantaged communities are being shot dead by police officers despite attempting to surrender.  And just like the Hillsborough Disaster, the families of the victims are then denied the justice they so badly need and deserve by the usual procedures of both establishment and media cover up and collusion, which demonises the victims and their communities while exonerating the real criminals: the police.  No justice, no peace”.

Part of Ferguson Solidarity Tour Initiated by: Defend the Right to Protest, United Families & Friends, NUS Black Students