Today, hundreds of campaigners and relatives gathered in Trafalgar Square to march against deaths in police custody, ending in a peaceful sit-in across the road from Downing Street. However, the police reacted violently, attacking two elderly women and detaining a number of protesters. Ceasefire associate editor Adam Elliott-Cooper reports.By Adam Elliott-Cooper
Although campaigners may differ in their political or ideological approach as to how this should be best achieved, all agree that peaceful protest is the first avenue that should be pursued and, indeed, all of those on today’s march remained committed to the principles of non-violence.
When the march reached Downing Street, moving testimonies from family members and relatives of Smiley Culture, Mark Duggan and Charles de Menezes left the crowd both moved and frustrated. Cries for ‘justice!’ over the beats of local African drummers added to an atmosphere of tension. As campaigners stood outside the gates of Downing Street, dozens of police encircled them, forming a line around the protest, moving in closer.
While the testimonies from the families were being read, one woman was told to “get inside.” Another young male, the nephew of a man killed in police custody, was pushed by an officer.
Every year at this march, a letter is written, signed and handed to the Prime Minister, highlighting the fact that no officer has ever stood trial for the murder of an innocent civilian, and demanding justice for the families, friends and communities affected by police violence.
Many of those who attended the initial march had started to leave, feeling the job had been done for another year and it was time to go home. This year, the thirteenth in the history of this demonstration, roughly half the attendees felt that their current methods were not effective.
Campaigners peacefully occupied the road outside the gates of Downing Street, led by the families of the deceased. Within moments, over 300 officers surrounded the protest, stepping on those sitting crossed legged on the ground.
Without warning, two elderly women, one of whom had delivered a speech earlier that afternoon about the killing of her grandson at the hands of police, were dragged by officers across the pavement. The women protested with shouts, but at no moment did any of them fight back.