Hundreds attend #Justice4Daz campaign launch meeting and march
Over 200 people came to the launch meeting of the #Justice4Daz campaign last week, which was set up after Coventry man Darren Cumberbatch died after “contact” with the police – the third black man to die in such circumstances in a month, after Edson da Costa and Rashan Charles. Hundreds also joined a march in Nuneaton on Saturday.
The meeting was chaired by Reverend Desmond Jaddoo, who asked the question on many people’s minds – “why was this healthy 32 year old man torn away from his family and from the community?”
The meeting heard that Darren left his sister Carla’s house on Sunday July 9th “healthy and in great form”, and that the police only informed the family that he was in George Eliot Hospital on Wednesday 12th. Witnesses said he had been “battered” by police, and had black eyes and burns on his body. He told a friend he had been Tasered 9 times.
Speakers at the meeting called for the use of Tasers to be suspended due to concerns about their safety, and for the officers involved in Darren’s death to be suspended immediately. Concerns were also raised about the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), who were described as “not fit for purpose”.
A speaker from Black Conscious Coventry argued that the problems within the police are systemic and rooted in the capitalist system: “Policing is not there to protect the community, it’s there to protect property and big corporations.”
Hundreds also marched through Nuneaton from the train station to McIntyre House, where Darren was staying, and on to the police station. The march was led by friends and family of Darren. Marchers laid flowers and candles outside McIntyre House.
The march then proceeded to the police station where Darren’s sister, Carla, spoke. Luke, a witness from the night when Darren “came into contact” with police, also spoke: “Something kicked off around 2 o’clock in the morning. I heard him screaming, I heard him shouting. The police were there. He was screaming for help. He was asking, ‘What have I done?’ I heard no reply. I heard tasers – no warning of tasers. I heard CS gas – no warning of CS gas … That night there was something going on that shouldn’t have been going on by police.”
Ryan Rochester, chair of the Coventry branch of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said: “This happened three weeks ago and we still haven’t had a statement from the police. There is video footage from the incident – when are we going to see it? The longer people have to wait the more doubt there is on the validity of what is going on.”