In the aftermath of Rashan Charles' death, Hackney residents are demanding justice, reports Orlando Hill
After last night’s successful demo in Dalston where protesters successfully managed to block the A10, Stand Up for Racism held a protest and vigil for Rashan Charles and Edson da Costa, two young black men killed by the police within weeks of each other.
Rashan Charles, Edson da Costa and Darren Cumberbatch (from Coventry) were remembered at the beginning of the demo. All three were young black men killed by the police in July. According to one speaker a massacre of black men is being carried out by the police. They have been acused of taking it upon themselves to be the judge, jury and executor. “They talk about the violence of last night, but since 1990, 1600 people have died in police custody.” The speakers and the crowd demanded that the police officer involved in the incident be immediately suspended.
Diane Abbott, the local MP and a long-time campaigner against racism who has consequently faced innumerous racial abuses, arrived with the family of the victims and spoke offering her solidarity.
It was made very clear that the people will not go away until justice is done. No justice, no peace.
"The barricade had been there for a couple of hours when I arrived early evening... there were about 50-100 people either gathered outside the shop where Rashan Charles was murdered by the police, or at the roadblock. People were chanting, 'what do we want justice, when do we want it now'. I spoke to one of the protesters called Elijah Sylvester, a young man, who was friendly and said 'I'm here to protest my brother Rashan's death, he was killed unlawfully' he went on to say that he wished people wouldn't be afraid of young black men like him, he just wanted dignity, respect and justice. He also said that London was a great place because it's so multicultural and invited people to come and take a look for themselves and not to be scared. Another man shouted 'this isn't about hate it's about love'. A woman said, 'nobody's accountable, we've marched for answers, just for answers, and the people [the police] are still schtum, like it's nothing, we want justice for Rashan and that's what I'm here for.' The atmosphere was tense but anger was directed at the police and positive to those of us who came to support. "
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 A level Economics. He is a member of the NEU, Counterfire and Stop the War.
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