UFFC 20th Anniversary conference and rally (held October 2018)

UFFC Annual Rally London 2016 - Image credit INQUEST
Akala Supports Families @ UFFC Conference – Image credit : Natasha Thompson (INQUEST)

source: Tippa Naphtali
published: 2 November 2018

This year the United Families marked the 20th year of the annual rally and protest by also holding a conference on 26 October, followed by the rally on 27 October from Trafalgar Square to 10 Downing Street.

The conference entitled Interrogating State Violence: Custodial Deaths, Justice and Resistance, was a co-production by the Centre for Research on Race and Law, United Families & Friends Campaign, Migrant Media and 4WardEverUK.

Over 250 people attended the conference held at The Light, Friends House in Euston London. It was opened by Akala (BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur, Supporter of UFFC), with a powerful statement on social justice and progression which earned him a standing ovation.

Other keynote speakers included Janet Alder, the sister of Christopher Alder who died in Hull Police Station in 1998 and who has campaigned for justice ever since, and Sherene Razack, distinguished Canadian Professor and the Penney Kanner Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies.

A number of other presentations were delivered by family campaigns, support organisations and scholars including Saqib Deshmukh (Justice for Paps Ullah Campaign), Deborah Coles (INQUEST), Marcia Rigg and Aji Lewis (Justice for Sean Rigg Campaign and Justice for Seni Lewis Campaign), Tippa Naphtali (Mikey Powell Campaign / 4WardEverUK), Dinesh Napal (Graduate in Law, Development and Globalisation) and many others.

The conference also included a screening of INJUSTICE (by Migrant Media/Ken Fero & Tariq Mehmood) which highlights the struggles for justice by the families of people that have died in police custody (Winner Best Documentary BFM London Film Festival 2002, Winner National Social Justice Award 2003, Winner Best Documentary (Human Rights) One World Film Festival 2003. Distributed by the BFI).

The UFFC rally & protest

This years event was attended by about 400 people including the family campaigns of Kingsley Burrell, Leon Patterson, Kishni Mahay, Marc Cole, Sheku Beyoh and many others, as well as groups such as INQUEST, Fight Police Brutality, Black Lives Matter, London Against Police Violence and others.

Families addressed the crowd giving their accounts of what happened to their loved ones and their long and continuing fights for justice and accountability.

In July 2018 it was revealed that police custody deaths had hit the highest level in a decade following a 64% increase in the space of just one year. Figures published by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) shows there were 23 police custody deaths in 2017/18, compared with just 14 the year before, marking a sharp spike amid a trend of falling numbers over the past decade. Read more here >

In April 2018 reports also circulated regarding The disproportionate number of deaths of black and brown people in incidents with the police, and that structural racism remains rooted in the fabric of British society. A panel of UN human rights experts cited data from the Metropolitan police showing a disproportionate number of minority ethnic people – particularly those of African or Caribbean descent – dying due to excessive use of force by the state. Read more here >

Activist and campaigner, Tippa Naphtali, spoke passionately for the need to support the National Memorial Family Fund. The fund was to be the first permanent national resource of its kind for those affected by deaths in custody, making small grants available for families and their campaign groups across the UK to provide practical domestic assistance, to further the work of their own campaigns or to assist them in engaging in other local, regional or national campaigns, events and initiatives. Watch the video here >

See images from the conference and rally via 4WardEver on Flickr and Outside The Whale Pics.