BLM UK to fund 'people's tribunal' for deaths in custody

Figcaption BLM UK To Fund Peoples Tribunal For Deaths In Custody
Posted at: Author: Rain TV UK

Black Lives Matter UK has announced £45,000 of funding to the United Families and Friends Campaign to set up a “people’s tribunal” for deaths in custody.

The coalition group of family members who have lost loved ones in state custody, formed in 1997, is so far the largest recipient of Black Lives Matter UK’s initial round of funding.

Black Lives Matter UK announced last month its plan to release more than £100,000 to black-led organisations across the country. The campaign group received £1.2m in donations via a GoFundMe appeal, following widespread protests last summer.

The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC), which supports families of people who have died in police custody, prisons and secure medical units, has welcomed the support of Black Lives Matter UK, which will be active partners in the tribunal.

UFFC said the tribunal will invite international human rights experts to investigate what they describe as the failure to successfully prosecute those responsible for deaths in custody.

A 2017 government report on deaths in custody stated that every prosecution over a death in custody in the last 15 years had ended in an acquittal.

The tribunal will hear evidence from families and other relevant parties. UFFC is leading the initiative with Migrant Media and 4WardEverUK.

Janet Alder, whose brother Christopher Alder, a former British paratrooper, died in custody in a Hull police station in 1998, said: “Through the years we’ve fought through every arena of the state and we’ve all been failed. We believe it’s a catalogue of failures that mirrors each and every case.” She added that the families were keen for the public to see what they have gone through over the years.

Tippa Naphtali, whose cousin Mikey Powell died while in the custody of West Midlands police in 2003, said: “We need to make it clear that this isn’t just about police institutions. It’s about a whole variety of state and statutory institutions failing our loved ones often in the run-up to the incident itself.

“They may not have been present at the time when Mikey died, for example, but the mental health trust failed him for years, which is why he ended up in the state that the police found him in. For us, this is about taking a number of key statutory and government agencies to task.”

Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean Rigg died in Brixton police station in 2008, said the tribunal would give the families the opportunity to speak the truth as to what happened to their loved ones. “It’s a powerful message that says the families have not given up and they will not give up because they have the truth on their side. We just want somebody to listen to the real truth. And, at the end of the day, what we want is accountability. We have not been afforded that by the current system.”

The families of Komang Jack Susianta, Kingsley Burrell, and Adrian McDonald are among several planning to take part in the tribunal.

Adam Elliott-Cooper, an academic who was one of three individuals to register Black Lives Matter UK as a community benefit society in September under the name Black Liberation Movement UK, said: “We’ve been working with UFFC for a number of years, supporting their annual protests and marches and other things to uplift their important work. We wanted to continue that by supporting this particular initiative.”

  • This article was amended on 17 February 2021 to correct the amount of funding BLM UK is giving the United Families and Friends Campaign.

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