Thousands of people are expected to join a march demanding justice for Kingsley Burrell Brown in Birmingham on Saturday.
Kingsley died after being arrested by police in Birmingham on 27 March last year. His family have organised the demonstration, supported by others whose loved ones have died in police custody.
Kingsley’s sister Kedisha has set up street stalls and brought together different organisations and campaigns.
She told Socialist Worker, “We’re marching because we need change, and we need justice. Too many people have died and not a single police officer has been convicted since 1969.
“We want an independent inquiry into how these cases are dealt with and why they happen in the first place. We’re looking at the Crown Prosecution Service, the coroners, the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission.
“They’re all in it together–families face a wall of silence in terms of the investigation. At the end of 18 months we’re still waiting for answers. Why has everything taken so long?”
Police took Kingsley to a police station and he was then sectioned in a mental health ward, despite having no history of mental health problems.
Kedisha and her family have still not been able to bury Kingsley. Endless investigations cause delays, but so far have delivered nothing for them.
She said, “The IPCC is dragging its feet. It’s not fit for purpose as far as I can see. The head investigator in Kingsley’s case resigned from the IPCC in April and we still don’t know why.
“We’re still waiting for answers to questions we asked them last year. They are supposed to be independent but I don’t think they are. There are ex-police working for them. How do they expect us to believe they’re neutral? It’s the police investigating the police.”
But Kadisha and her family have refused to give up fighting for justice, alongside other families who have suffered a similar loss. “Our unity is our strength,” she said.
“We’re marching for Kingsley, but we’re also marching for Sean Rigg, Mark Duggan, Smiley Culture and all the other people who have died. This should never have happened. The police used their powers against Kingsley, not for him. That’s where it went wrong.”
Many other families from across Britain will be joining Kedisha in Birmingham. The family of Mikey Powell, who died on 7 September 2003 at the age of 38, will be there.
Mikey’s mother called the police for help as he was experiencing an episode of mental illness. She thought they would take her son to hospital. Instead an inquest into the father-of-three’s death heard how the police drove their car at Mikey, injuring him.
They then discharged more than four times the recommended amount of CS spray on both Mikey and his friend, and hit Mikey with a police baton.
Up to eight officers held him down on the ground for at least 16 minutes. Mikey was covered in blood but no ambulance was called. Instead they put him in the back of a police van and took him to the station.
Tippa Naphtali is Mikey’s nephew. He now runs the4wardeveruk.org website which supports campaigns for justice. He told Socialist Worker about how the system is stacked against families.
“I could name case after case where this has been the pattern,” he said. “We believe it is a deliberate tactic to wear families down. I’m sceptical about the whole process.
“It’s very rare that juries find police guilty in court. But our resolve is strengthened by the families and campaigners who support us.”
On 7 September it will be nine years since Mikey died. Tippa added, “He’s not coming back, so all we can do is get justice for him and the other families who have suffered.
“Although Kingsley and Mikey died in Birmingham, this is a national issue. That’s why people are coming with United Families and Friends Campaign from across the country to march for justice.”
Join the march for Kingsley: Saturday 18 August, 12 noon, Summerfield Park, Dudley Rd, Birmingham B18 4HN