Friday 02-10-2015 - 17:45
This morning Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer, left for the United States as part of a delegation for the UK-US Justice Tour 2015 beginning this weekend.
The tour forms part of ongoing efforts to bridge the struggles of police brutality in the UK and the US, with family members of those who have died in British state custody joining #BlackLivesMatter campaigners in California for the trip.
This follows on from the Ferguson Solidarity Tour co-hosted by the NUS Black Students’ Campaign, which took place in February earlier this year. #BlackLivesMatter co-founder, and Patrisse Cullors, campaign director at the Ella Baker Centre, accompanied family members from the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) on a speaker tour across the UK, to highlight parallels between racism and state violence in the US and the UK.
Since Michael Brown’s death in August 2015, it is reported that at least 1,259 people have been killed by police in the US. Further statistics show that young Black men in the US are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than their white peers, and that 26 per cent of police shootings from 1999 to 2011 were directed against African-Americans.
In the UK, those of African and Caribbean descent are six times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts, and those of South-Asian descent are two times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. There are deadly consequences to racial profiling shown by the fact that since 1990 there have been 1,518 deaths in police custody, with 152 of the victims being Black. Despite there being 10 unlawful killing verdicts, there has not been a single conviction.
The delegation travelling to the States includes Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett, sister of Leon Patterson who was found dead in a Stockport police cell in 1992, Marcia Rigg whose brother Sean Rigg died in Brixton police station in 2008, Shaun Hall, Mark Duggan’s brother who was shot dead by police in North London in 2011 and Kedisha Burrell-Brown whose brother, Kingsley, died in 2011 after being restrained for a prolonged period of time by West Midlands police.
The tour runs until October 11 and stops will include various cities in California including Oakland, birthplace of the Black Panther Party for Self Defence, Sacramento, Fresno and Los Angeles.
Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students Officer, said: “The violence of the state has been waged against Black people in the UK for decades under various agendas; Black students are by no means insulated from this violence, nor can we isolate their experience as students from the wider Black experience in Britain.”
“It is for this reason that the Black Students’ Campaign campaigns against Black deaths in custody and are drawing together with organisations like UFFC and Defend the Right to Protest to take this issue global, because until we draw together the similarities in these struggles, Black communities will be condemned to suffer alike but organise alone.”
The NUS Black Students’ Campaign, UFFC and Defend the Right to Protest will be building cross-Atlantic alliances, showing solidarity with families affected by state violence and discussing ways to remedy the epidemic of police violence at an international level.
For updates, check the website http://fergusonsolidaritytour.com/, the hashtag #CaravanForJustice
or follow @nusBSC/@maliabouattia/@righttoprotest/@osope.