Leeds Stand Up to Racism statement after racist arson attacks in Beeston

Leeds Stand Up to Racism statement after racist arson attacks in Beeston

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Both the mosque and gurdwara in Beeston were attacked with petrol in the early hours of the morning of Tuesday 5 June.  There were people inside both properties at the time. No to the politics of hate behind these attacks – we stand together

We condemn in the strongest terms the recent horrific arson attacks on two places of worship in Beeston – Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira Mosque and the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara.

Leeds is a proud multicultural and multi-faith city in which people of all religions and none live happily side by side. The person or persons who carried out this shameful attack represent a tiny fraction of our population and their racist and hate filled ideology and behaviour is not welcome here or anywhere.

We believe unity in the face of such an attack is essential. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim and Sikh brothers and sisters. We represent the anti-racist majority.

But following the scenes on Friday 1 June, where some 350 racists and fascists marched through Leeds city centre in support of the jailed Nazi Tommy Robinson openly chanting ‘Muslims off our streets’, the threat of a resurgent racist and fascist movement on the streets is ever present which is why we urgently need to mobilise the anti-racist majority to confront this new threat from the far right.  On Saturday June 2nd 1,500 ‘Democratic Football Lads Alliance’ supporters marched in Manchester chanting ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ and this Saturday 9 June they are marching in York, Newcastle and London. They are almost certain to return to Leeds again in the future.

The far right in the UK want to imitate the success of movements across Europe by pushing their Islamophobic ideology and portraying themselves as victims.  We are supporting the York Stand Up to Racism counter-protest this Saturday 9 June in York at 11am York Minster to say that racists and fascists marching for Tommy Robinson are not welcome in York or anywhere else – our slogan has to be the traditional anti-fascist slogan born out of the Spanish Civil War – ‘¡No pasarán!– they shall not pass’.

Leeds Stand Up to Racism;  Leeds MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), Leeds Unite Against Fascism; Leeds Hope not Hate; Leeds Stand Up to Trump; Jane Aitchison (President Leeds TUC and Labour Prospective Parliamentary candidate Pudsey), Councillor Javaid Akhtar, Bill Adams (Yorkshire and Humber TUC regional secretary),  Headingley Green Party, Leeds University UCU branch committee; Penny Wangari-Jones (Racial Justice Network), Sally Kincaid (NEU and Beeston resident), Sue Clegg (Emeritus Professor, Leeds Beckett University), Waqas Tufail (Leeds Beckett UCU), Prof James Dickins (University of Leeds), Prof Steven French (University of Leeds), Prof Malcolm Povey (University of Leeds), Helen Gibson, Joanna Gilmore (UCU), Alaric Hall (UCU), Kate Mayer (GMB), Andrew Stafford (UCU), Qona Wright, Gigliola Sulis, Linda Petty, Melanie Ndzinga, Sam Hollings, Sue Talbot, Rasha Soliman, Maria Hussain, Amanda Barbedette-Green, Bex Cattran, Gabriele Zagel-Millmore, Andy Stafford, Jonathan Saha, Lata Narayanaswamy, Hanem El-Farahaty, Carolyn Edwards, Vivienne Anderson and many others.

If you would like to add your name / organisation to this open statement please email sutrleeds@gmail.com , message us via Facebook ‘Leeds Stand Up To Racism’, or message us on Twitter @SUTRLeeds

Edited to add: There is a Beeston together for peace and unity vigil this Sunday 10 June 2pm Cross Flatts Park to bring together people from all parts of our diverse community in a show of solidarity, peace and unity – please spread the word
https://www.facebook.com/events/187266428659893/

Edited to also add: The fascist EDL (‘English Defence League’) – or what is left of them – together with other fragments of the far right are marching in support of their former fuhrer Tommy Robinson in Leeds on Saturday 7 July – we have to mobilise the greatest numbers in opposition to say they are not welcome in our city –
https://www.facebook.com/events/259323607968184/

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Stand Up to Tommy Robinson supporters in York this Saturday 9 June

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On Friday 1 June around 400 people marched in Leeds, shouting support for Tommy Robinson. The slogan ‘Get the Muslims out’ was chanted by sections of the crowd.  Such vile racism shows the reality of those who are getting behind Robinson. His supporters also evade the fact that Robinson pleaded guilty to contempt of court, in Leeds.  The atmosphere whipped up by the far right and Robinson supporters is toxic. A few days after the ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ march in Leeds, a mosque and a Sikh temple in Beeston were attacked in the early hours of Tuesday 5 June in what police say are “hate crimes” – see the Leeds Stand Up to Racism statement  here

Now there is a ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ march in York on Saturday 9 June – join the York Stand Up to Racism counter-protest – Saturday 9 June 11 am York Minster, 1a Chapter House St, YO1 7HH York

Far right supporters of the Nazi Tommy Robinson have planned an event in York after his arrest for contempt of court in Leeds, assembling at the exact time and place of the York annual Pride march and festival starts from. Their bigotry and hatred has no place on our streets, and is totally at odds with York’s status as a city of sanctuary, acceptance and diversity. Please join with us, stand up to their racism and Islamophobia by making this the biggest anti-racist event York has ever seen.

Leeds Stand Up to Racism are organising transport over for this – contact us for more details.  ¡No pasarán!- They Shall Not Pass!

Leeds Justice for Grenfell Solidarity Vigil and Protest

Justice4Grenfell

Thursday 14 June, 5pm Leeds Art Gallery (Victoria Gardens) – organised by Leeds Hands off our Homes with support of West Yorkshire FBU

https://en-gb.facebook.com/events/239465703475382/

On 14th June 2017 a fire tore through Grenfell Tower, a 24 storey council block in West London, home to over 400, mostly poor, tenants. At least 72 people died and over 70 suffered terrible injuries in a completely avoidable tragedy. Grenfell tenants had repeatedly spoken of a ‘disaster waiting to happen’, but warnings fell on deaf ears.

J4G and the Fire Brigades Union is calling on communities all around the country to come together on 14th June in solidarity with the survivors and to highlights the trail of broken promises left by the government:
50% of survivors and displaced families are still in emergency accommodation
300 tower blocks across the country are covered in the dangerous cladding used on Grenfell Tower
Building and Safety regulations are still not fit for purpose
a year on, the public enquiry has only just started
the Hackitt report has failed to ban combustible cladding for future buildings.

Grenfell was an avoidable tragedy created by 30+ years of political decisions to cut, deregulate and privatise across housing and public safety.

It cannot be allowed to happen again.
Never again must profit be placed before the lives of tenants
Tenants’ concerns must be heard, taken seriously and acted on.
Those responsible must be held to account.
Those who suffered must be rehoused permanently within their chosen community.

There must be Justice for Grenfell

On 14th June, please join us as we gather in solidarity with Grenfell survivors and campaigners.

https://en-gb.facebook.com/events/239465703475382/

Welcoming refugees to our schools and communities – Sat 9 June Wakefield

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Welcoming refugees to our schools and communities

Saturday 9 June, 10am-1.30pm Wakefield Town Hall 

Organised by Wakefield NEU and Wakefield SUTR 
Speakers include: Nola Ellen and Gulwali Passarlay

Nola will provide an introduction to key terminology relating to international new arrival children, the reasons why people flee their home countries and what the journey to safety may involve. It will give a basic overview of the asylum process in the UK.

  • The emotional impact of the pre, trans and post migration experience on children and young people.
  • The specific experiences and needs of refugee children in their own words.
  • The importance of building resilience and protective factors
  • Positive strategies to support refugee children to settle, integrate and reach their potential.
  • Good practice guidance on how to create welcoming and inclusive settings.
  • Information on refugee and related support services for children and families.

The second part of the training session will feature a personal testimonial from Gulwali Passarlay, an influential Afghan refugee who is a published author, TEDx speaker, and active campaigner for refugee children’s rights. Gulwali will share how he survived a terrifying year long journey to safety in Britain where he arrived as an unaccompanied asylum seeking child aged 13. Gulwali will talk about his experience of being age disputed, growing up in the care system, claiming asylum and transitioning into life in the UK. There will be time for participant question and answers with Gulwali.

We will also be launching the National Education Union welcoming refugee children to your school education pack.
There will be opportinities to find out what else you can do to support refugees in UK and abroad.

This course is aimed at: teachers and other school staff, social workers, foster and adoptive parents, youth workers, journalist and any others who work and/or support children and young people and newly arrived communities.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/welcoming-refugees-to-our-schools-and-communities-tickets-42908241706

Stop the DFLA in Manchester on 2nd June

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    • Join the mobilisation against the ‘Democratic Football Lads Alliance’ on Saturday 2 June in Manchester here – https://www.facebook.com/events/579296435773942/
    • There will be a coach from Leeds again picking up 8.30am West Yorkshire Playhouse again – please book your place on the eventbrite link here or for more info please contact sutrleeds@gmail.com

Leeds coach eventbrite booking link:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/protest-against-the-racist-dfla-tickets-46456641064?utm_campaign=new_event_email&utm_medium=email&utm_source=eb_email&utm_term=viewmyevent_button

Saturday 19 May saw the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) embarrassed and outnumbered in Manchester when anti-racists mobilised against them 2 to 1. They were there to stoke up hatred and bigotry on the anniversary of the tragic Manchester bombing.

Dan Hett, brother of a Manchester Attack victim, said that the FLA were ‘shamelessly hijacking the anniversary of the attacks to peddle their racist, Islamophobic views’ and that he was ‘beyond proud to march in solidarity with so many in Manchester today as we ran the racist Football Lads Alliance out of town.  These are our streets.’

The demonstration was a step forward for the movement but we can’t be complacent.

“We must double our efforts to ensure we have a larger turnout to defeat the Democratic Football Lads Alliance on Saturday 2 June. Only then can we be sure that we’ve turned the tide against the racism of the FLA & DFLA.” – Nahella Ashraf, Co-chair, Manchester Stand Up To Racism.

The Manchester statement against the FLA has been updated to include the DFLA. It reads; ‘We also oppose the ‘Democratic Football Lads Alliance’ protest in Manchester on 2nd June, and support the mobilisation by Unite against Fascism and Stand Up to Racism to show opposition to them.

This is supported by:

GMB North West & Irish region / PCS North West region / Paula Barker, Unison North West regional convenor / Peter Middleman, North West regional secretary, NUT section of NEU / Mark Rowe, FBU North West regional secretary / a number of Manchester councillors and others.

Stand Up to Racism Yorkshire Regional Summit – Saturday 2 June, Sheffield


Stand Up to Racism Yorkshire regional summit, Saturday 2nd June, 12 – 4:30 pm
Theatre Delicatessen, 202 Eyre St, Sheffield, S1 4QZ
Workshops will cover topics such as:

Open the borders! Solidarity with refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.
Racism: are we returning to the 1930’s?
Challenging Prevent and racism in education
Is the media racist?
And more
Speakers include:

Mohammed Maroof – Labour Party Councillor
Magid Nagid – Green Party Councillor & Sheffield deputy Lord Mayor
Mohammed Taj – Former TUC President
Daniel Kebede – National Education Union
Nadeem Murtuja – Just Yorkshire
And more…
Facebook event is here

https://www.facebook.com/events/2121091861505452/

Tickets available here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/confronting-the-rise-in-racism-tickets-46316912131

 

Protest against the FLA in Manchester

On Saturday 19 May, the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) has said they will demonstrate in Manchester. They want to exploit the anniversary of the tragic bombings at Manchester Arena.  The FLA claims it is an organisation of football fans, yet they’ve called their protest on the same day as the FA Cup Final and the Royal Wedding!

We believe there is a real danger that the event could open the door to far right groups, that want to promote racism and Islamophobia.  The FLA linked up with an Islamophobic group, Veterans Against Terrorism (VAT), for a march in Edinburgh in November 2017. The FLA claims to be against all extremism but in recent months it has had far right speakers on its platforms and promoted Islamophobic events such as an intimidating march by far right extremists against the East London mosque in Tower Hamlets.  As exposed in the Observer newspaper, far from opposing extremism the FLA’s closed Facebook page continually sees racist and Islamophobic posts, also posts targeting the Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott in the wake of concerns she raised about the group.

We call on all people of good will to stand together in Manchester against all forms of racism and Islamophobia.  We believe that football is for all, women and men, black and white, LGBT and straight, people of all religions and none.  Stand Up to Racism will be working on 19 May to ensure that there is the biggest possible mobilisation to bring a message of unity and opposition to racism and Islamophobia onto the streets of Manchester.

Join the counter-protest – 11am, St Peters Square [note new location], Manchester, Saturday 19 May

fb event here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/2001642030103263/

In Leeds we have organised transport for people to go over on 19 May – please book your ticket on the coach which leaves West Yorks Playhouse at 8.30am – tickets £10/£5 via this eventbrite here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/manchester-demo-dont-let-the-racists-divide-us-oppose-the-fla-leeds-transport-tickets-45842754914

Other events

Keep Racism out of the local election – we are holding stalls in the run up to local elections to say keep racism out of the election – contact us for more details.

Saturday 5 May – Leeds May Day rally organised by the TUC – Leeds Stand Up to Racism will have a stall as usual meet 11am Leeds city art gallery on Headrow.

 

Join the Migrants Make Our NHS bloc on Saturday 14 April in Leeds

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As well as privatisation, cuts and closures, there is a major threat facing the existence of the NHS.

The government is pursuing a hardline anti-immigrant agenda, targeting the right of people born abroad to live work in the UK.

Not only did migrants help build the NHS, but the NHS would not be able to function day to day without the thousands of staff from the EU and around the world that work every day to save people’s lives.

Join us on Saturday 14 April on the Leeds March for the NHS to send a message to Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and Amber Rudd that we need our NHS and the people who make it work!

Satuday 14 April – Leeds Keep Our NHS Public March for the NHS – 11.30 am Leeds Art Gallery – Victoria Gardens – Stand Up to Racism with have a bloc on this to challenge racist lies about the NHS crisis and saying ‘Migrants make our NHS’ – meet 11.15 Leeds City Art Gallery – fb event here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/251661758712928/

The NHS is in crisis. The press and politicians tell us it’s migrants who are to blame. We’re told that ‘health tourism’ and immigrants are draining the NHS. The reality is it’s Tory cuts and austerity that have decimated our health service. Migrants make the NHS. Since its inception, migrant workers have played a crucial role in the health service as doctors, workers, nurses, cleaners and more.

Action meeting 

Tuesday 10 April. 6.30pm, Laidlaw library cafe, Woodhouse Lane – Next Leeds Stand Up to Racism action meeting – all welcome
https://www.facebook.com/events/128531991321894/

Stand up to Islamophobia – Leeds 3 April

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Meet 12noon Leeds Art Gallery on Tuesday 3 April –

https://mend.org.uk/event/loveamuslimday-leeds/

Part of a national #DayofSolidarity to say #NoToIslamophobia – see here for more:

http://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/stand-up-to-islamophobia-on-april-3rd-dayofsolidarity/

Leeds Stand Up to Racism will also have a stall later that day on 3 April at 5.30 Leeds train station – fb page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/158709518128111/

Other upcoming events –

Tuesday 10 April. 6.30pm, Laidlaw library cafe, Woodhouse Lane – Next Leeds Stand Up to Racism action meeting – all welcome
https://www.facebook.com/events/128531991321894/

Saturday 14 April – Leeds Keep Our NHS Public March for the NHS – 11.30 am Leeds Art Gallery – Victoria Gardens – Stand Up to Racism with have a bloc on this to challenge racist lies about the NHS crisis and saying ‘Migrants make our NHS’

Justice for Christopher Alder

Justice for Christopher Alder Campaign

STATEMENT

February  2018

COMMEMORATION PROTEST

20 years since Christopher Alder died in police custody at Queens Gardens Police Station, Hull

Assemble 1 pm Saturday 31st March 2018 (Easter Saturday)

Queen Victoria Square, Hull

Called by the Justice for Christopher Alder Campaign 

20 years ago Christopher Alder died in custody in Queens Gardens Police Station, Hull.  He was a fit and active 37 year old black man who had served as a paratrooper in the 1980’s.

He died slowly, surrounded by police officers, and on camera in the early hours of 1st April 1998.  The custody suite video records him being dragged in unconscious from a  police van in the back yard and placed face down with hands cuffed behind his back, and his trousers and shorts pulled down.  His belt is missing and there is mud on his legs.  The tape records his breathing getting slower and more laboured as his life slips away.  Police officers can be heard laughing and joking and later on monkey noises can be heard nearby.  Eventually Christopher’s condition cannot be ignored any more and paramedics are called but it is too late to save him.  Eleven minutes have elapsed since he was dragged in.

Christopher’s death had followed a night out at the Waterfront Club near his home and an altercation outside the club with a man he knew called Jason Paul, which culminated in a punch which knocked Christopher down, striking his head on the cobbles.  An ambulance is called and Christopher is taken to Hull Royal Infirmary for treatment.  He is conscious but disturbed by his head injury and the situation he is in.  Police officers who have come to the hospital to follow up the assault on Christopher and take a statement end up arresting him and dragging him out backwards to be taken away in a police van.  Christopher, at this point, is lucid and standing and speaks to the hospital security guard before stepping unaided into the police van.  The police claim the journey of a few minutes duration to Queens Gardens was uneventful and uninterrupted, but Christopher’s unconscious condition and disarrayed clothing on arrival suggest otherwise.

From the moment of Christopher’s death a police cover-up kicks in.  The officers involved are able to confer amongst themselves and by the time Jim Elliott from the Police Complaints Authority, arrives on the scene on the morning of the 1st April they have a story for public consumption.  The version of events they give out is that Christopher must have died as a result of the punch in the street and that his death in police custody was unforeseen and in no way the responsibility of any police officer.  Later that day Jason Paul goes to the police to find out what has happened and is arrested on suspicion of murder and is sent out of Hull to a bail hostel in York for a month.  Subsequently he is freed without charge (not even assault) and he is eventually compensated for wrongful arrest.

Meanwhile the police stage an elaborate pantomime of looking for Christopher’s missing tooth outside the night club.  Years later unreleased police station video appears to show the tooth being picked up from the custody suite floor after his death.

It also emerges in the course of the inquest, that the police van in question was cleaned out on the afternoon of the 1st April, and recent blood stains which were seen on the morning of the 1st had disappeared by the time the van was properly examined forensically.  It also emerges that Christopher’s clothes were destroyed in the weeks after his death.  Superintendent David Holt of  West Yorkshire Police, leading the police investigation of the death, admitted at the inquest to ordering the destruction of  the clothes rather that preserving them in evidence bags pending future enquiries  and court cases.  Other mysteries, still unexplained, were the question of why Christopher’s flat was taped off like a crime scene for days after his death, and his computer hard drive was analysed.  Why?  And the question of CS gas canisters, and whether any had been discharged?  It appears very likely from the subsequent exchange of empty canisters that at least one was used.  Plus there is the question of why the uniforms   of those police involved were sent to be cleaned as soon as possible?  Two of them went to hospital for treatment for minor injuries, which were never explained.

At no point were the scenes relevant to Christopher’s death treated like crime scene nor was potential evidence preserved for proper forensic analysis.

Also not adequately explained was the crucial question of why Christopher’s body was removed to Sheffield for the post mortem which was attended by 11 people, including senior police officers.  No family members were present or legally represented as was their right.  This would not have happened if it was believed that Christopher’s death was just the unfortunate outcome of a fight in the street.

Years later Christopher’s heart was found in a drawer at the Sheffield Pathology laboratory despite a request from the Alder family that all the body should be returned for burial.  Why did this happen?

About 2 weeks after his death Christopher’s sister, Janet, is notified at her home in Burnley.  The policeman who calls late in the evening to give her the news gives a vague and confusing version of what may have happened.  Janet then travels to Hull the next day to find out more and the hostile and defensive reaction of Humberside police officers to her questions convince her that she is not being told the truth and when they follow and watch her in central Hull she is certain they have something to hide.

Janet then tells this story to sympathetic friends and supporters in Burnley and by July 1998 the “Justice for Christopher Alder Campaign” is launched.  It carries Janet’s quest for the truth and justice out into the world – to Hull and the rest of Britain and to campaigners and trade unionists that will support her.

Neville Lawrence, Stephen’s father, meets Janet and makes a statement backing her in October 1998.

From the beginning the press and broadcasting media take a great interest in the case.  The immediate outcome of the campaigning is that five police officers are suspended and charged with “misconduct in public office”, a relatively minor charge, but proceedings are adjourned until after the inquest.

The inquest, in July and August 2000, was unusually long, hearing more than 70 witnesses and involving detailed questioning of pathologists and forensic witnesses but the police officers facing charges all declined to answer questions about what had happened. Citing rule 22, which allows anybody charged over a death to refuse to answer questions put to the them at an inquest.  The inquest was a major event in Hull and was attended by many friends and relatives of Christopher and many supporters of Janet’s campaign for the truth.

The coroner sat with a jury of Hull citizens and when the jury gave its verdict that Christopher had been unlawfully killed, it made the front pages of several national newspapers.  It should have followed that the unlawful killing verdict would lead to a renewed investigation and a serious attempt to bring those responsible to justice.  This did not happen.

It’s true that Janet Alder’s vigorous campaigning did push the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) into adding gross negligence manslaughter charges to the indictment against the 5 police officers already charged with “misconduct in public office”.  But when the case came to court in 2002, it was sent to Middlesbrough, inconveniently far for the Alder family and the witnesses, and it was out of the focus of a lot of the mainstream media.  Also the move to Middlesbrough virtually guaranteed an all–white jury.

In the event the case was badly presented by the CPS with deliberately conflicted expert witnesses and no attempt to put racism, institutional or otherwise at the heart of the case.  Not surprisingly, the judge threw the case out at the halfway stage, and the 5 defendants walked free having still not answered any questions in public about the death of Christopher Alder.

Later the European court found in Janet’s favour – Christopher Alder had been unlawfully deprived of his right to life – a damning indictment for the British legal system.

It should also have followed that when the inquest verdict in 2000 cleared the way for the Alder family to go ahead with a public funeral for Christopher in  November 2000 it would be an event that commemorated Christopher properly and give the family some sense of closure.  Not so.  In 2011 Christopher’s body was discovered in a Hull morgue; the wrong body having been sent to the funeral in 2000.  The body of Grace Kamara, aged 77, had been sent instead.  The body swap could not have been accidental but no-one has been charged with anything in relation to this prevention of a lawful burial.

Not only was the alleged racist motivation of some of those involved in the burial process not followed up, but also it emerged that Christopher’s body whilst in storage between 2000 and 2011 had been exhibited to police trainees when they went to the mortuary as part of their training.  No-one has been charged in relation to this.  It also became clear that the non-burial of Christopher’s body was known as a fact or a rumour to a number of people in Hull, including some who were of enough standing to have blown the whistle and got the whole issue exposed.  The body swap only came to light because the family of Grace Kamara insisted on seeing the body before burial.

Another outrage that came to light in 2011 was the fact that was admitted by Humberside police that Janet Alder and some of her supporters had been under surveillance during the inquest in 2000.

Police disciplinary proceedings are pending on this, but no criminal charges have been brought against them for treating a grieving relative at an inquest like a criminal suspect.

The injustice of Christopher Alder’s death in the custody of Humberside police is still unresolved, as are the injustices visited on Janet Alder in her campaign for Justice:-

  • The cover-up of evidence
  • The flawed police investigations
  • The failed prosecution by the CPS
  • The institutional racism of the CPS in their dealings with Janet
  • The swapping of Christopher’s body (probably at the morgue)
  • The surveillance of Janet and her supporters
  • The failure to identify racism in individuals and institutional racism in all the organisations dealing with the case.All these are still unresolved issues, which is why the 20th Anniversary of Christopher’s death will be commemorated by a protest gathering at 1pm on Saturday 31st March 2018 ( Easter Saturday).

NO JUSTICE                 NO PEACE         BLACK LIVES MATTER