Posts Tagged ‘deaths in custody’

Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths

Friday, June 17th, 2022

Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths – On Sunday 17th June 2012 I photographed two very different events in London


Hare Krishna Chariot Festival – Hyde Park

Effigy of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977) the founder of ISKCON (Hare Krishna)

More than a thousand Hare Krishna devotees turned up in Hyde Park on Sunday morning to pull three giant chariots through the streets of London to Trafalgar Square.

People pull the chariots with ropes and others sweep the path for it

The Rathayatra Chariots Festival first took place at the Jagannatha temple at Puri, Orissa on the east coast of India probably at least a thousand years ago. It celebrates the attempt by Krishna’s childhood friends who were cowherds to try and kidnap him after he became a great lord and take him back to their village on a cart.

There are three chariots to carry the three deities worshipped at Puri, e Krishna in the form of Jagannatha, his half-sister Subhadra, and Balarama her brother. Jagannath means ‘Master of the Universe’ and his name and the chariots in the festival give us the word “juggernaut”.

Subhadra’s representation on her chariot

Hare Krishna disciples celebrated the festival in San Francisco in 1967 and it was first celebrated by a small group here in 1969, but only became a large event in London much more recently. It is one of the more colourful annual events in the city. I left as the procession left Hyde Park.

More pictures: Hare Krishna Chariot Festival


Fathers Day Vigil for Custody Deaths – Brixton Police Station

Family members call for Justice for Ricky Bishop, Justice for Sean Rigg

It was Father’s Day and the families of men killed by by police held vigils on outside police stations across the country. At Brixton, the family of Ricky Bishop was joined by the sisters of Sean Rigg and friends.

The inquest into Sean Rigg’s death in Brixton Police Station in August 2008 had begun the previous week. Following his killing police issued an incredible number of false statements, lying to protect the officers involved and the IPCC backed them with further deliberately misleading statements.

Although the police failure to make investigations and properly question officers involved, along with the destruction of evidence made prosecutions of the officers involved impossible the inquest jury delivered a damning and substantial narrative verdict which included a majority view that the improper and unnecessary restraint of Sean Rigg ” more than minimally contributed” to his death.

Although later three officers were arrested for having committed perjury at the inquest the IPCC cleared one of them and the CPS decided to drop the two other cases. The family appealed and one officer was charged with perjury but was acquitted by a jury despite having admitted giving false evidence.

You can read a fuller account of the efforts by the family to get justice on Wikipedia. Although two inquiries have found a long list of failings by the police there have been no successful prosecutions of the officers involved.

Ricky Bishop was arrested by police in Brixton in November 2001 and taken to Brixton Police station. A healthy 25 year old he suffered a heart attack and was restrained by police who only later called for a paramedic. It took several hours for police to take him to hospital where he died.

None of the eight officers involved in this death have been suspended or prosecuted and they remained on active duty.

These were not the first or the last suspicious deaths involving Brixton Police station – and a woman came up during the event to tell us of her relative Colin Bardley who she said was beaten to death there around 30 years ago. And there are similar cases elsewhere. My post on My London Diary quoted from a report published by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody in 2011 which states ‘in total, there were 5,998 deaths recorded for the 11 years from 2000 to 2010. This is an average of 545 deaths per year. Despite the fact there have been 11 unlawful killing verdicts since 1990 there has never been a successful prosecution.

More about the event, on deaths in custody and more pictures at Fathers Day Vigil.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


UN Anti-Racism Day – London

Saturday, March 19th, 2022

March 21st was established by the United Nations as a World Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the sixth anniversary of police opening fire and killing 69 peaceful protesters at Sharpeville, South Africa on March 21, 1960. Protests in the UK for UN Anti Racism Day take place close to the date and there will be large national marches today, 19th March in London and Glasgow and tomorrow in Cardiff. Today’s post is about events in London on March 19th 2016.

UN Anti Racism Day - London

Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march

UN Anti Racism Day - London

Thousands met at the BBC to march through London to a rally in Trafalgar Square in an event organised by Stand Up to Racism against racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism and to make it clear that refugees are welcome here.

UN Anti Racism Day - London
Lee Jasper and Zita Holbourne at the front of the Black Lives Matter bloc on the march

Prominent on the march were Black Lives Matter protesters, wearing red in support of the ‘Justice for Sarah Reed’ campaign, chanting loudly “Say Her Name, Sarah Reed” and “Black Lives Matter”. She had died aged 31 in Holloway prison where she was held waiting for psychiatric reports following an attack on her, possibly an attempted rape, by fellow patient in a psychiatric hospital for which she was arrested and charged with grievious bodily harm with intent.

An inquest decided she had killed herself when her mind was unsound, and that unacceptable delays in medical care contributed to her death. Clearly too the prison staff had failed in their duty of care. Four years earlier she had been falsely arrested for shoplifting and seriously assaulted by the arresting officer who was later convicted and dismissed from the Metropolitan police for the offence.

There were also a number of groups on the march working with refugees trapped in the camps in Calais and Dunkirk, and some of those had lines drawn across their lips to remember some of the refugees on hunger strike there who have sewn up their lips.

Although the deaths of many refugees drowned in crossing the Mediterranean have led to widespread sympathy among the British people, there has been no compassion shown by our government, who have increasingly been driven by racists and bigots who oppose Britain taking in any refugees and want to abandon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the UK helped to draw up in 1947-8.

There were a small number of these bigots, members of the far-right group ‘Britain First’ in their para-military uniforms, who came to shout insults and make offensive gestures at the marchers as they went through Piccadilly Circus. A large ring of police kept them away from the marchers and protected them from any attack by anti-fascists.

Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march


Refugees Welcome Rally

Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean was killed by police in Brixton in 2008

At the end of the march there was a rally in Trafalgar Square, with a long list of speakers. They included Vanessa Redgrave and Jeremy Hardy, MP Diane Abbott, MEPs Claude Moraes and Jean Lambert, journalist Journalist, writer Michael Rosen, leading trade unionists Dave Ward CWU, Christine Blower NUT, and Sally Hunt UCU, Marilyn Reed the mother of Sarah Reed, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett and Marcia Rigg, Maz Saleem daughter of the Mohammed Saleem who was killed in a racist attack, Talha Ahmad of the Muslim Council of Britain and a young refugee from Iraq.

Refugees Welcome Rally


Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day

Australian human rights protesters were holding protests at embassies around the world, including the Australian High Commission in London to condemn the Australian government’s racist immigration policy and treatment of refugees.

Refugees who try to claim asylum in Australia are locked up and detained indefinitely in contradiction to international law on remote Pacific Islands including Manus and Nauru in detention camps run by Serco and will never be allowed to resettle in Australia. The Australian protesters were joined by some of those from Movement for Justice which has led protests against the UK immigration detention centres, including that at Yarl’s Wood, run like the Australian camps by Serco, where detainees, also held indefinitely, have been sexually abused and denied proper health treatment. At least one prisoner in the Australian camps has been beaten to death by the prison guards.

Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day


DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’

Finally on 19th March I went to Parliament Square for another human rights related event, where Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were celebrating the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, one of the chief architects of the brutal Tory welfare policy that has caused them so much suffering, harm and deaths to disabled people.

Though they were pleased that IDS has gone, his policies remained, and his successor, Stephen Crabb, proved top be equally be bigoted and lacking compassion and any understanding of the needs of the poor and disabled.

DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’


More on all these events on My London Diary:
DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’
Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day
Refugees Welcome Rally
Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march

UFFC Annual Rally & Procession

Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

Next Saturday, 30th September 2021, I hope to be photographing this years United Families and Friends Campaign annual remembrance procession. Meeting from noon in Trafalgar Square, at 1pm they will march in silent procession along Whitehall, followed by a noisy protest outside Downing Street.

Janet Alder, the sister of Christopher, killed by police in Hull in 1998

The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) mission is to work collaboratively as a network of independent campaigns to address common issues and concerns related to deaths and abuse in police, penal, mental health and immigration detention; and to organise events and activities that promote awareness and support for affected families across the UK. “

Marcia RIgg, whose brother Sean was killed in Brixton Police station in 2008

This procession has taken place on the last Saturday of October every year since 1999 to “to remember loved ones who have died in custody” and the UFFC invite all to “Come and support the families of those who have died at the hands of police, prison and secure medical units in the United Kingdom.”

Among the victims are Christopher Alder, Ibrahim Sey, Joy Gardner, Roger Sylvester, Seni Lewis, Adrian McDonald, Darren Cumberbatch, Rashan Charles, Sean Rigg, Jack Susianta, Sheku Bayoh, Mikey Powell, Paul Coker and Cameron Whelan, and many others whose families are among those involved in organising the event.

Seni Lewis, killed in 2010

The invitation to attend states “The UFFC annual procession is supported by: Black Lives Matter UK, 4WardEverUK, Migrant Media, INQUEST, UNISON, RMT, FBU, UNITE, Tottenham Rights, Sisters Uncut, London Campaign Against Police & State Violence, LARAG, Newham Monitoring Project (NMP), Pan African Society Community Forum, Institute of Race Relations, Edge Fund, National Union of Students and DTRTP.”

I’ve photographed this event, and been deeply moved by it, most years since I first heard about it in 2003. The pictures with this post are all from nine years ago in 2012 when the protest was on 27th October.

The procession ends with a rally opposite Downing St where family members speak

That year as in all years there were new names to add to the list of 3,180 known custody deaths since 1969, chosen as the date when David Oluwale was killed – and two officers convicted of several assault charges. Since then many of those over three thousand have died in situations where foul play seems obvious, but a Full Fact investigation has found only one single police or prison officer has been convicted of murder or manslaughter or assault related to a death in custody – Sergeant Alwyn Sawyer, convicted in 1986 for the manslaughter of Henry Foley. A few other police officers have been prosecuted but the cases against them have collapsed or they have been found not guilty.

Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennet whose twin Leon Patterson was beaten to death by Manchester Police in 1992

Clearly police and others have difficult jobs, but there needs to be transparency and an intention, still sadly lacking, to get at the truth. The immediate response of the police is still normally to deliberately mislead about the circumstances and to cover up on behalf of the officers involved. It has taken years of dogged and dedicated action by family members, often having to do work the police should have done, overcoming obstacles put in their way for a few families to get to the truth about how their family members died – and sometimes to get inquest verdicts which reflect this. But still not to get justice.

Jan Butler holding a photograph of her son Lloyd, who died in a police cell

As the invitation to the event ends “We look forward to seeing you – No Justice No Peace“. No Justice No Peace is a sentiment that will fill Whitehall on Saturday, echoing from the offices which line the street, but which as in previous years will sadly fall on the deaf ears of our establishment.

More from 2012 at No More Police Killings, Time For Justice.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Eight Years Ago… 27 July 2013

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Eight years ago on Saturday 27th July 2013 my working day began with the Rev Billy on a small green space on Victoria Street preparing the Stop Shopping Choir and volunteers for a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” performance against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London.

I’m not sure what staff and customers at the HSBC close to Victoria station made of the event, which pointed out that in the two previous years the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with HSBC in the lead. The Golden Toad costumes were for the Central American species forced into extinction by climate change in the 1980’s and recent weather events have now forced even the more sceptic to take the crisis seriously, even if so far to take little actual action.

After the performance in the bank, and as police began to arrive the group made their way to a wide area of pavement outside and staged another performance watched by pedestrians in the busy street close to the station, before leaving to celebrate in a nearby café.

I left to go to Trafalgar Square where as a part of an international day of action the Bradley Manning Support Network held a vigil at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The ‘gay whistleblower’, now Chelsea Manning, was being celebrated in countries across the world for passing documents to WikiLeaks which exposed a great deal of illegal and immoral actions by the US and other governments and had recently been awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize and was then on trail in Fort Meade. She was later sentenced to 35 years in a maximum security jail, but this was commuted to around seven years by President Obama and she was released in 2017.

From there I made my way to the US Embassy, then still in Grosvenor Square, for a rally before the start of march organised by BARAC against Global Racism and Injustice in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others, aimed a highlighting the reality of racism and demanding justice, both in the UK and US.

Although the march had been prompted by the acquittal in Florida of the murderer of Trayvon Martin which had led to a global outcry, the emphasis of the speeches at the Embassy was very much on events here in the UK. In his speech Lee Jasper of BARAC after mentioning the Martin case went on to say:

“We march to support the call from the Lawrence family for a full and independent judicial led public inquiry into the allegations that the Metropolitan Police sought to smear both the family and supporters through a covert police surveillance unit.”

“We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney. We march for justice and equality in the 50th anniversary year of Dr Martin Luther King’s 1968 March on Washington. The truth is that his dream is a threadbare vision here in the UK where racism is on the rise amplified by austerity.”

My London Diary

After an hour or so of speeches the marchers left to march to a further rally at Downing St, but I left them as they went down Oxford St.

Against Global Racism and Injustice
Free Bradley Manning Vigil
Rev Billy at HSBC


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


No More Police Killings

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Sadly since this march on Saturday 27 Oct 2012 there have been more deaths in custody in police stations, prison and secure mental health institutions – and there has been little or no progress in getting justice.

The march was the fourteenth annual protest march in Whitehall by the United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC), a coalition of people whose family members and friends have died while in the care of police, prisons and in psychiatric detention, and I’ve supported and photographed most of them. This years event, as always on the last Saturday of October like so many others, is taking place on-line starting at at 1:00pm on Saturday 31st October 2020 – more details here.

The march was impressive, making its way in silence at a snails pace down Whitehall, with police standing well back. When it came opposite Downing St there was an explosion of noise before they blocked the road to hold a rally at which various people spoke about the killing of their family members and the denial of justice. Singly many of the stories were horrific, but together they told a terrible story of police killing by illegal restraints, of failures of care as well as deliberate beating up in cells, and of the complete immunity provided by police lies, failures to investigate, destruction of evidence and a complaints system that aims to cover up police crimes.

Marcia Rigg who has been fighting to find out about her brother’s murder in Brixton Police Station in 2008 holds a list of over 3000 people who have died in custody since 1969
Sarah Campbell’s mother gave her life to campaigning for the Howard League for Penal Reform before committing suicide five years later on her daughter’s grave.
Demetre Fraser’s mother tells the truly unbelievable story police made up about her son”s death
Samantha Paterson, sister of Jason McPherson who died after being detained by police
Janet Alder speaks about the death of her brother Christopher, killed by police in Hull in 1992

I took many more pictures of the event, and you can see more of them on My London Diary in No More Police Killings, Time For Justice.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.