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Report on 10th Annual United Families & Friends Remembrance procession

Mark | 26.10.2008 11:49 | Anti-racism | Repression | Social Struggles

On Saturday 25th October 2008, the tenth annual United Families and
Friends Remembrance procession took place, with several hundred people in
attendance, including many family members of those who have died in
suspicious circumstances in police custody, prison and 'secure' mental
health facilities.

The march made its way in silence down Whitehall to Downing Street where,
after the bouquets had been subjected to a police examination, family
members were allowed to come forward and fix them to the gates in front of
Downing St, where police had agreed they would be allowed to stay until
the end of the protest.

Among those taking part were the family of Jean Charles de Menezes. The
inquest on his death continues.

Outside Downing St the march stopped to raise it's collective voice about
why all family members and friends were marching and make it known the
common identity of who is to blame for many of the deaths of those victims
commemorated in the procession (ie the police). The march continued to
Parliament Square where there was a rally at which a number of people
whose family members have been killed took it in turns to say a few words.

Speechs by familiy members drew attention to an almost complete lack of
accountability within the police, prison and mental health service whereby
healthy people, mainly but not all black, continue to die in police and
psychiatric custody and in prisons, citing racism and the lack of a proper
culture of care. In the past year there were 182 such deaths recorded, and
the banner carried in the march listed over 2500 who have died. (credited
to Peter Marshall - Ref: ).

Family members who spoke talked about the indignity of not getting a fair
trial in the courts and a criminal justice system which has consistently
failed them.

Amongst the families who spoke at Parliament Square were the sister of Jason McPherson, who died after being held down by 10 cops in police custody in January 2007 after being prevented from being allowed to have use of his inhaler despite repeated pleas. The cause of Jason's death is still not established, as the family are still awaiting for pathology and post-mortem reports over 20 months on, one of which being the family's own independent post mortem.

The mother of Paul Coker also spoke. Paul died on 6th August 2005 aged 32
in a cell at Plumstead police station, South East London, just two hours
after being arrested for causing a breach of the peace. Up to fifteen
police officers arrested Paul, and the initial postmortem was
"Mr Coker’s sister said that his girlfriend Lucy had explained what
happened when Paul was arrested", “She said she had told the police that
they had settled their differences and was trying to get to him, but she
was surrounded by officers."
“Paul and another group of officers were upstairs and she could hear him
screaming, ‘You are killing me. You are killing me.’ She had never heard a
man scream like that. Then it all went quiet. A woman downstairs says that
when he was carried out Paul was not struggling. Police were holding his
arms and legs.”
Taken from:

Other family members who have recently lost their loved ones who
represented them on the procession included:
Sean Rigg, who died in police custody on Thursday 21st August 2008:

The family of Patrick Cawley

Habi Bullah, who died from breathing difficulties whilst being arrested by
police on Thursday 3rd July 2008:

The United Families and Friends Campaign is a coalition of relatives of
people who have died in all forms of custody - police, prison, immigration
and psychiatric. Every October the UFFC organises a march by families of
people who have died in custody from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street in
rememberance of their loved ones.

Further info:


INJUSTICE, the film that finally depicted a long ignored open wound. No
wonder coppers harassed the makers and tried to ban it. Homepage also
reflecting various censorship attempts and opinions of family campaigns
from abroad:

Sign the online petition against the Shoot to Kill Policy:

Previous Report from the UFFC annual procession in 2005: