The number of Black deaths at the hands of the police is a growing concern for the public especially in the wake of the shooting of Mark Duggan by police marksmen which triggered wide-scale riots across the country.
Along with Duggan, the deaths of reggae artist Smiley Culture, Kingsley Burrell-Brown and Demetre Fraser is at the forefront of the community's consciousness as is the issue of deaths in custody.
A number of concerned individuals and activists have therefore organised a public meeting on the issue of Black deaths in custody which will be held at the London School of Economics Students Union (LSESU) on Wednesday 26 October.
Organised by Black Mental Health UK in association with the LSE SU, the meeting, which is free to attend, but requires delegates to register online, marks the first steps to establish what action the community can take to ensure that this issue becomes a matter of priority for the present Government.
Government figures show that a disproportionate number of deaths following contact with the police are of Black people. Almost half the deaths of people in police custody are mental health service users and deaths of those detained under the Mental Health Act account for 62% of all deaths in state custody.
Matilda MacAttram, Director of Black Mental Health UK said,
"All the data shows that Black men and people who use mental health services are the most likely to lose their lives while in custody. The recent spate of tragedies we have seen makes it clear that this problem will not go away by itself. This public meeting aims to put this issue back on the political agenda in order to ensure that other vulnerable people do not continue to lose their lives in circumstances, which could easily be avoided."
Sherelle Davids, Anti-racism Officer at LSE Student Union said,
"We are holding this meeting to address the continual death of Black citizens in police custody. It is an issue that is easy to shy away from, but after this summer’s events we can no longer ignore this injustice. People should attend this event to hear first hand from the families who have been affected, so that we can build unity around raising the profile of this issue."
Marcia Rigg from the Sean Rigg Justice and Change campaign said,
"I am speaking at this event because sadly my brother was part of that ratio of using mental health services and also being a Black man. I live and breathe it and feel that the issue of Black deaths in custody needs to be highlighted. There is overwhelming evidence of the higher numbers of Black deaths and yet the families are stifled from gaining justice. We have been struggling for decades, it not just black people in the 70’s who have had to deal with this. We are now seeing our children being killed; it is too much for the community to bear and it be left unsaid. We have to unite together to put a stop to this by telling our story and highlighting this issue."
Speakers on the night include Matilda MacAttram, Co-Director of Inquest Helen Shaw, Racial equality campaigner Lee Jasper and Steve Pope, Editor of the Voice newspaper amongst others.This event is free to attend, but requires registration. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org with the words Public Meeting in the subject line.
This public meeting on Black deaths in custody is from 6.30 – 9.00pm on Wednesday 26th October 2011 at The Quad, East Building, London School of Economics Students Union, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE.
(First published at OBV www.obv.org.uk/)
|L-R: Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser and Smiley Culture.|