On Saturday 21 August 2010, sisters Marcia Rigg-Samuel and Samantha Rigg-David were joined by family, friends and members of the public in marking the second anniversary of the death of their brother Sean Rigg, killed during an altercation with police in Brixton on 21 August 2008.
A vigil was held outside Brixton police station where friends and families paid their respects and protested at all the cases of the inhuman treatment by police, in prison and secure mental hospitals. Marcia and Samantha led a delegation carrying an adult size wooden coffin – donated by a church in solidarity with the family – into the reception area of Brixton police station. The station diminished in size as the entire reception area was packed by a determined mass of supporters chanting ‘No Justice No Peace’. The station diminished in authority too, a lone, forlorn WPC was all that could be seen of a police presence.
Some eighty people at the Karibu Education Centre heard testimony from the families and friends of Ricky Bishop, Roger Sylvester, Jason McPherson, Blair Peach, Christopher Alder and Habib Ullah, Brian Douglas – all of whom died in custody or while being restrained by police.
All these families shared common experiences of the long, torturous and exhausting struggle to get to the truth of what happened to their loved ones and then to hold officials to account. Their stories criss crossed and resonated as the meeting heard of multiple post mortems, unburied body parts still held by the state years after a funeral, denigration of a loved ones character, police misinformation and indifference from investigatory staff of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Police Complaints Commission (its predecessor), and the long delays in even getting to an inquest.
Contributions from the floor of the meeting were varied – a number highlighting the links with wider issues of poverty, increasing constraints on civil liberties. The meeting also looked to make comparisons with similar struggles against coercive policing. A number of people called for restoring the annual United Friends and Families Campaign (UFFC) procession to Downing Street. The two most practical suggestions were to establish some kind of people’s court and to set up a standing fund to assist families trying to cope with a death in custody.
For news on events in the near future look check the campaign website and the IRR News service.
Injustice – a film by Migrant Media