Justice4Grainger campaign wins first victory

On 21 September, after a trial lasting nearly three weeks, the attempt by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to justify the police killing of Anthony Grainger failed when the jury found three men not guilty of conspiracy to rob. Shockingly, Anthony, although dead, had been named in the indictment alongside David Totton and Joseph Travers, passengers in the car when he was shot dead in March, and Robert Rimmer. The entire prosecution was an attempt by GMP to sully Anthony’s name and muddy the waters of the investigation into his death. It has failed. The Justice4Grainger campaign organised daily demonstrations outside the court with banners, placards and leaflets and chants of No Justice! No Peace!

At one point, from the public gallery campaign members saw Judge Henshaw reading a Justice4Grainger leaflet and discussing with the legal teams how to keep its information from the jury. The CPS had not wanted the police killing of Anthony to be a factor in the trial but their plans were now scuppered and the judge had to inform the jury that Anthony Grainger would feature in the case and that he had been shot dead by the police but stressed that: ‘the circumstances surrounding Mr Grainger’s death are not relevant to any issues in the case’. The judge also asked the media not to report the demonstration. The Manchester Evening News followed the judge’s instructions, instead covering the trial under the headline, ‘Man shot dead by police “had central role in robbery plot”’, thus colluding with the GMP’s smear campaign.

Justice4Grainger's court demonstrations were the latest in a summer of events. In July it held a successful street stall in Warrington, near where Anthony was shot. In August the campaign was out leafleting and petitioning at the Caribbean Carnival in Moss Side, Manchester and on 18 August it filled a coach to Birmingham to join a march in memory of Kingsley Burrell, a local young black man who died after being wrongly detained under the Mental Health Act. This march, supported by the nationwide United Friends and Family Campaign (UFFC), linked activists from different campaigns against police and state killings. Anthony’s mother Marina spoke, saying she was determined to get justice for her son, as did Charles Chinweizu from FRFI, calling for unity with all those wanting to fight for justice. Other speakers included Kingsley’s mother and sister along with Marcia Rigg, sister of police custody victim Sean Rigg. The campaign also participated in the Wigan Diggers Festival and put up notices in the area where Anthony was killed, calling for any witnesses of the police killing to contact the family’s legal team.

As Wesley Ahmed, Anthony’s cousin and a leading member of the campaign, told FRFI: ‘We will be seeking out any witnesses to Anthony’s execution, we will also be informing the public that they [the GMP] have demonised Anthony’s character ... all over the news. The papers work alongside the police, this is the first step in their cover-up. Remember the Hillsborough disaster? 96 cover-ups, and the press misled the public. 116 amendments to the police statements – why has it taken 23 years for the truth to come out? If the police can try and cover up 96 deaths what will they do when they murder one person?’

The campaign has broken the media silence; Granada Reports featured an interview with Wesley Ahmed in the lead report on local TV news. The campaign has consistently linked Anthony’s death to the over 50 people shot and killed by the police and 950 deaths in police custody since 1990. The TV news report featured Wesley and Carole Duggan, aunt of Mark Duggan, shot dead by police in London in August 2011.

On 3 September the public inquiry began into the death of Azelle Rodney, shot six times and killed by police in the back of a stopped car in London in 2005; it is the first time a public inquiry has been set up to examine a death caused by police shooting. After the initial Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation the CPS decided there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to proceed with a trial. It was due to the persistence of Azelle’s mother, Susan Alexander, that it has got this far.

The success of Justice4 Grainger so far is based on its democratic and inclusive nature; people participating include family and friends, supporters of the campaign JENGbA, FRFI and other socialist groups and individuals. As part of our commitment to developing links with other similar campaigns we are building for the national UFFC demonstration in London on 27 October.

Martin Hope, Bob Shepherd

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 229 October/November 2012

 

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