Two days after the death of Rashan Charles in Hackney, protestors took to the streets to express their anger and show solidarity
Hackney residents gathered in front of the Stoke Newington police station, blocking Stoke Newington High Street, to demonstrate their anger at the death of Rashan Charles, killed on Sunday while in police custody. A placard expressed the feeling of the crowd: “The police killed Rashan Charles, but who got him killed was the British government. We want justice. No justice. No peace.”
The demonstration, which brought out hundreds of protesters, was called by Stand Up to Racism. There were banners from Hackney NUT and Day-Mer Youth. Edson da Costa was remembered by the speakers, who also pointed out that the police who killed the young man have not even been suspended. Such cases cannot be left to the da Costa or Charles families, said the protestors: We must organise. The example of the American Black Panthers was cited. They would democratically patrol the police and make sure that they did not overstep their authority.
Dean Ryan from Stand Up to Racism and Hackney People’s Assembly spoke to crowd: “I am a father of a 17-year old, and what worries me most is not knives or stop and search. What worries me most is that one day my law-abiding son will be caught up with the police.”
He pointed out that Jack Straw’s son was caught selling weed. “What happened to him? Nothing! He is now a big shot lawyer.”
A representative of the NUT said she didn’t know Rashan, but she knew many Rashans. Young people shouldn’t feel afraid to go out in the streets. They should feel safe in the custody of the police. She went on to say that “it takes a village to raise a child. Any young person can do wrong, but they should feel safe and protected by the police.”
There was a lot of anger in the crowd. Some speakers said that they have been coming to such demonstrations for over 30 years. “How many more young black men will have to die before something is done?”
A representative of the Day-Mer said: “We are here not just to express our condolence. We are here for a more important reason, which is solidarity.”
He went on to point out the absurdity of trying to blame young people for standing out in the streets while shutting down youth centres, which got a big cheer from the crowd.
“Young people are behaving as young people have always done. But now they are much more politicised. We saw young black people in Grenfell saying no to austerity. The only way we are going to win is if we remain united. Black, white, Turkish, Kurdish, Indian and Jamaican.”
Ryan Watson, an American socialist and campaigner from Black Lives Matter, remarked that “the murder that happens in Hackney, in Chicago, in Brazil, in South Africa is a demonstration that the problem is systemic.”
The rally marched down Stoke Newington High Street towards Dalston and then returned to the police station.
Orlando was born in Brazil and was involved in the successful struggle for democracy in the late 1970s and 80s in that country. He teaches GCSE and A level Economics and Business Studies. He is a member of the NUT, Counterfire and Stop the War.
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