CNJ: Death a massive wake-up call

Camden New Journal Letters

Coverage of Mr Cardoso and other deaths in police custody, and CNJ’s marks of respect for anti-racist protest is appreciated.  (Mother of student who died in custody: ‘Black men are dying for no reason’)

Harrowing images of George Floyd’s torture and death by police kneeling on his neck have been a wake-up call, igniting a global movement.

Protests across the US have spread to Europe, Haiti and Latin America, Africa, Australia, and further. In the Middle East, protests against Israeli police killing a young autistic Palestinian man, involved demonstrators carrying photos of Iyad Hallaq and George Floyd, with the words #PalestinianLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter, and repeated here in London. 

All over the US, thousands of American law enforcement officials have trained in Israel with Israeli police and military, even including the knee-to-throat restaint practiced against Palestinian people.

The UK government is being called out – from its role in slavery, complicity with Israel and the US, and selling riot shields, tear gas and rubber bullets to US police forces. Minneapolis plans to disband the current police force for a transformative system. Calls to defund and de-militarise US police are now widespread.

Racism and police violence are part of the pandemic in the UK, too. As well as 1,741 deaths in police custody, at least 500 people of colour, police also turn up with social workers to take children from their mothers. Many are children of colour, their lives ruined from being snatched from the one who cares for and protects them. Our immune systems are under constant attack by this violence, plus bad housing that no one should live in, low wages, the hostile environment, and other daily racism.  It’s no mystery why BAME people, often key workers, are four times more likely to die of Covid.  

Women and men in our network feel compelled, despite the lock down, to join local protests – crowds of mostly young, multi-racial groups. White people have come to support people of colour but also bring their own grievances.  All of us are angry and determined after years of austerity, with authorities careless of our lives, and more worried about the stock market than the human cost.  It seems all of us are expendable to this government, young and elderly, especially if we are people of colour.

Mothers and other carers are on the front line of this crisis doing unrecognised, unwaged work of coping with discrimination, defending families and friends, and resisting every institutional violence. Women of Colour, immigrant women and Irish women do much of this justice work.

CNJ has covered Calvin Bungisa’s tragic death, and family members being harassed and treated as suspects by police instead of a grieving family. Dexter Bristol, a local Windrush citizen, collapsed and died after immigration officials hounded him for months.  Sarah Reed, a vulnerable young mother, died in suspicious circumstance in Holloway Prison, not long after a police officer attacked her, dragging by her hair, then restraining her by her neck, as she cried out that she couldn’t breathe.  In court he was found to have lied about her physically attacking him. We remember police violence at Orgreave, and Hillsborough, too.

Police are paid to maintain the status quo, crush protest, and crack down on people of colour and anyone who gets out of our boxes.  But a re-energised movement aims for those at the bottom to eliminate the bottom, so all of us move up together.

Sara Callaway

Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike 

25 Wolsey Mews NW5 2DX