Hundreds attend #Justice4Daz campaign launch meeting and march

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.”

 

 

Solidarity message from Dave Nellist to Warwick student demonstration

 National chair of TUSC (Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition), Dave Nellist, sends solidarity greetings to the Warwick student demonstration held on Wednesday 04-12-14:

(Dave is a former Coventry Socialist Councillor & Coventry Militant Labour MP)

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

‘This generation of students threatens to be the first for decades which won’t be better off than their parents.  Crippling mortgages, having to supplement inadequate pensions, and debts exceeding £50,000 to get a degree, will be difficult to cope with even if students succeed in getting a graduate level job.

For the thousands who don’t, it will be impossible.

Education should be free.

Peaceful protest is a democratic right.  40 years ago several hundred of us, at what is now Coventry University, held a 19 day occupation of the equivalent of the Senate House.  I support the right of Warwick students to protest, including peaceful sit-ins and occupations, to regain genuinely free education.

The actions of the police on Wednesday, as viewed on YouTube, were a disgrace and formal complaints should be made by those present to ensure an investigation takes place.  But internal investigations by the police of themselves, is not enough.  We no longer have proper, democratic oversight and accountability of the police by the communities in which they work.  Present Police Commissioners are toothless and almost all drawn from establishment parties.

We need a new accountability of public sector organisations like the police – to elected committees of local people, including councillors, representatives of trade unions, residents and tenants organisations – and yes, representatives of students and young people as well.

The actions of the police on Wednesday may be an aberration – or it may be part of a pattern that believes kettling and heavy handed policing of student protest is ok.  Either way a proper and genuine investigation is required.

The police need to be democratically accountable to the communities they serve.

Solidarity.’

Dave Nellist

(Socialist Party and National Chair, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)