On Saturday 29 October Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined the United Friends and Family Campaign (UFFC) for their annual march from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street, organised in protest against police violence, brutality and deaths in police custody in Britain. FRFI has supported the march since its inception 13 years ago.
300 campaigners took part, many carrying banners commemorating friends and family members killed by the state over the last decades such as: Jean Charles de Menezes, gunned down by police inside the London Underground in 2005; Sean Rigg who died in police custody in 2008; Jimmy Mubenga, murdered by G4S security guards during attempts to forcefully deport him in 2010. Also present was the family of Mark Duggan, whose death sparked the uprisings across England in August this year.
No one has been convicted for these deaths. The Guardian recently reported that since 1998, 333 people have died in police custody and not one police officer has been convicted for these deaths.
At Downing Street, as campaigners handed in a statement of demands, the police surrounded protesters, dragging some people across the pavement, and detaining others in a 'holding pen'.
Some demonstrators responded by staging a sit-down protest in the middle of the road, opposing the police violence and demanding justice for the deaths of their loved ones. The police reacted aggressively, drafting in 100-200 extra officers who were stationed nearby. After the officers found that they could not simply force their lines through the sit-down protest, they attempted to 'kettle' the protesters where they were. This also proved unsuccessful, as people are becoming more used to such attempts. However, the demonstration was eventually was pushed back on to the pavement.
UFFC has always mounted peaceful protests and the police attack was an unprovoked display of yet further violence towards people whose loved ones have died at the hands of the forces of ‘law and order’.
No justice – no peace! End police violence!