Abbott joins US shooting outcry

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Published: Wednesday 26th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A leading black politician has joined widespread condemnation of the decision of a US jury not to indict a police officer for shooting dead a black teenager.

MP Diane Abbott, the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons, endorsed a protest by anti-racist activists who will gather outside the US Embassy today in protest at the decision.

Michael Brown was unarmed when he was shot dead by a policeman in Missouri in August. A US Grand Jury returned a decision not to indict the officer involved.

Ms Abbott said: “My deepest sympathies go out to the family of Mike Brown. Not only have they lost a loved one but following the Grand Jury’s decision they no doubt feel the strongest sense of injustice, which can only make their pain worse.

“Just as in Britain, the black community in the US has a fraught history with the police. It is one of the reasons I have always been against the arming of police.”

The protest , called Justice for Mike Brown, is supported by Ms Abbott and other prominent anti-racism campaigners.

Organised by the campaign group Stand Up To Racism, the event comess in the wake of the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a US police officer in Cleveland last Saturday.

The group said: ” We condemn the decision of the Grand Jury not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown in St Louis.

“We call on all those who oppose this injustice to join us at the US Embassy today for an emergency protest.”

Mark Duggan, a young black man, was shot dead by a police officer in London in August 2011 sparking riots across the city.

A ccording Stand Up To Racism, speakers at today’s protest will include Carol Duggan, aunt of Mark Duggan, and Marcia Rigg of the Sean Rigg Justice And Change campaign, along with other anti-racist campaigners.

Ms Duggan said: “Murder is not legitimate… Michael Brown has not got justice and neither has Mark Duggan. The police are there to protect, not to kill our children.”

Responding to the judicial decision, the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MetBPA) called for more officers to join the force from ethnic minority groups.

It said: “If you look at Ferguson, a significant proportion of the local community are black, however the local police are overwhelmingly white. Greater efforts, both there and here at home in the UK, need to be made to encourage more minority groups to serve their community as police officers if we are ever to escape the mistakes of the past.

“It is only through positive engagement that trust and confidence can be built. Without this, people’s views of the police will not change and communities will not see the police for what or who they are – people like us sworn to protect and serve them.”

Ms Abbott said : “When yet another unarmed young black man is killed and it is ‘lawful’, it can be no surprise that black people are questioning how much value these same laws place on their lives”.

The protesters will gather outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square in London at 5.30pm today. This is the latest in a number of peaceful protests by Stand Up To Racism, including a protest in August when Michael Brown was shot .

The MetB PA endorsed the public’s right to protest, saying: “Where people wish to challenge those decisions, they should have a right to assemble and protest against those decisions in a peaceful non-violent way, free from intimidation or threat of force.

“Without a measured and proportionate response, the police will always run the risk of alienating the community further.

“The people protesting, however, must not lose sight of what they are protesting for. The scenes currently being witnessed in Ferguson are reminiscent of our own recent experiences in London and other major UK cities in August 2011.”

Sabby Dhalu, from Stand Up To Racism said: “We fully support the family of Mike Brown. Having seen at first hand the pain of his family in Ferguson.

“We fully support the family’s call for the indictment. This comes within a day of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, being shot dead by US police carrying a toy gun. The cheapness of black lives in the US is a reflection of racism that black communities face at the hands of the police that must be stopped.”

Published: Wednesday 26th November 2014 by The News Editor

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