The death of a 24 year old black man after being in South Wales Police custody and their refusal to release bodycam footage has caused outrage, reports Yonas Makoni
Hundreds have been protesting in Cardiff following the death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, a 24 year old black man. Hassan passed away on Saturday 10 January after being released from police custody with severe injuries and bruising.
He was arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace on the evening of January 8, after a neighbour reported commotion coming from Hassan’s flat. Lee Jasper, Vice-Chair of BAME Lawyers 4 Justice, reports that Hassan was released without charge at noon. Running into a friend on his way home, he said "Look fam the police have beat the shit out of me". He claimed he had been tasered and kicked in the face and his clothes were covered in blood.
On his return home, a neighbour noted the severity of Hassan’s injuries and called his aunt, asking her to come over. Despite her requesting he go to hospital, Hassan decided that he was too weak to seek medical attention immediately and went to sleep. When a friend tried to wake him up later that evening, he was unresponsive.
According to Jasper, the family was then left in the dark and refused sight of the body, as police cordoned off the flat.
“Bizarrely Mohamud was left on the kitchen floor until 6.45 am Sunday before being removed. No Family Officer Liaison nor anyone from South Wales Police has been in touch with family to explain what happened”.
An inquiry by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is underway. However, according to South Wales Police, early inquiries “indicate no misconduct issues and no excessive force”, calling the death “sudden and unexplained”.
In response, hundreds of protesters have descended on Cardiff Bay police station over the past few days. The First Minister Mark Drakeford has called for patience as the inquiry is carried out, expressing his trust in the IOPC. The protesters, however, demand transparency. Unable to accept yet another consequence-free racist murder, they say that the demonstrations will continue until South Wales Police release the body cam footage from the night of Hassan’s arrest to the public.
This is the second publicised case of police brutality in Britain in a month, following the beating of a teenage boy in Tottenham during a stop and search. Police racism is, of course, prevalent in the South Wales Police, as it is in the rest of Britain. Between March 2018 and April 2019, South Wales Police stopped and searched black people at a rate of 42 per 1000 (the fifth highest in England and Wales), with a rate of 7 per 1000 for white people. From October to December 2019, force was used against black people at a rate of 28 per 1000 as compared to 3.8 per 1000 for white people.
While some have criticised the protesters for breaking lockdown regulations, the responsibility for this lies solely on the police department, who have so far refused to release the body cam footage or take action against the implicated officers. The strength and determination of Hassan’s family and the protestors in demanding justice for this crime must be supported.
Protesters will be assembling again on Thursday at 5pm outside Cardiff Bay Police Station, more details can be found on @blm_cardiff on Instagram.
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