On Sunday 17 June, as families celebrate Father’s Day, vigils will be held at police stations across the UK to remember loved ones who have died in custody.
Families and friends will gather for peaceful vigils in Birmingham, High Wycombe, London, Manchester and Slough. The national day of action, which is being supported by the United Families and Friends Campaign, aims to show solidarity with families who have lost loved ones at the hands of the state.
In recent months the campaigns demanding justice for those who have died in police and other custody joined forces to launch a petition calling for major changes in the criminal justice system. It demands the replacement of the Independent Police Complaints Commission with a body genuinely independent of the police, and the suspension of officers involved in deaths in custody for the duration of any investigation. Other demands include automatic prosecutions of officers following unlawful killing verdicts and the right to non-means-tested legal aid for the families of those who die.
Families speak out:
- Saqib Deshmukh, Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah: ‘We have joined other campaigns that are marking Father’s Day so people can understand what impact a death in custody can have on families and in particular children. Habib’s own children and in particular his eldest daughter have been active in the campaign and we have worked hard to make sure that they are involved and they get the answers to why he died and see justice being done.’
- Tippa Naphtali, Mikey Powell Campaign & 4WardEver UK: ‘This has got to stop. Family campaigners need to take matters into our hands in a manner more unprecedented than anything seen before. We need to adopt intelligent and collaborative responses, working with a single vision and strategy.’
- Jan Butler Mother of Lloyd Butler: ‘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 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: ‘It is now approaching eight years since my son Azelle Rodney was killed by the Met Police in April 2005, shot seven times in the face, neck and back. Over the years we have cried, campaigned, walked alongside hundreds of other bereaved families and often alone seeking answers, the truth and justice. We are now entering into a public inquiry (September 2012). The Father’s Day Vigil is another opportunity to show a united front … we’ve got to keep moving on.’
- Gail Hadfield Grainger, partner of Anthony Grainger: ‘Father’s Day is for all the families to stand together and be counted as one, also to bring all the people who are fighting for their loved ones in the media to keep the momentum going in the public eye, and to help prevent things like this happening over and over again. We want to push to be the change in society that we all need. Justice for one, justice for all.’
- Sheila Sylvester, mother of Roger Sylvester: ‘Change was supposed to come since Roger’s death, but in the past twelve 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.’
- Charlie Williams, BirminghamStrong Justice 4 All: ‘We will be supporting this event while we continue to support all families’ campaigns across the UK by building the public awareness of deaths in custody.
Vigils across the UK
- Birmingham – Remembering Mikey Powell, Demetre Fraser, Lloyd, Alton Manning and Kinglsey Burrell: West Midlands Police HQ, Lloyd House, Colmore Circus, Queensway Birmingham B4 6NQ
- High Wycombe – Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah: High Wycombe Police Station, Queen Victoria Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP11 1BE
- London: Brixton – Justice for Ricky Bishop and Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campign: Brixton Police Station, 367 Brixton Road, Brixton SW9 7DD
- London: Scotland Yard – Azelle Rodney Campaign for Justice: Scotland Yard, 8-10 Broadway, London SW1H 0BG
- Manchester – Justice for Anthony Grainger: Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester M1
- Slough – Justice for Philmore Mills: Slough Police Station, Windsor Road, Slough, Berks SL1 2HH
Injustice: film on deaths in police custody