Justice for Sheku Bayoh!

We are currently living in uncertain times and the only thing that I can be certain about is that this is the time we will look back on and see the real changes that were made. We will no longer allow injustice and prejudice to be so prevalent in our society. 

We have seen the protests in America and in the UK, we have seen the videos of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and too many more. We have also heard many saying that they are thankful that they do not live in America because they couldn’t bear to witness fundamental rights being trampled over by the very people sworn to protect us. If someone says that the UK is innocent, say the names; Rashan Charles, Edson Da Costa and Sheku Bayoh. There are so many more black men that have been victims of injustice in the UK, however, we cannot list them all. We will be discussing Sheku Bayoh’s case because it occurred in Scotland and his family are still seeking justice.

Sheku Bayoh was from Sierra Leone and had lived in Scotland since he was 17, he had no criminal record and was only 32 when he died. The events leading up to his death are as follows; Sheku Bayoh leaves his house, under the influence of MDMA and a street drug known as Flakka, between 07:00-07:15. There were several calls made to the police that a black man was behaving erratically and was carrying a knife. It should be noted that when officers attended the scene, the knife was not found on his person, it was found nearby when the area was searched. There were 2 police vans and 5 police cars dispatched and 9 uniformed officers arrived at the scene.

A group of people posing for the camera

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Sheku Bayoh with his partner Colette Bell Source: Collect Unkown

 A report states that a minimum of 5 officers were involved in restraining Sheku. The report also states that CS gas (tear gas), PAVA spray (similar to pepper spray) and batons were used on Sheku and he was brought down to the ground within 42 seconds of the officers arriving on the scene. He was then handcuffed, and restraints were put on his ankles and knees. He then lost consciousness and CPR was attempted at 07:34. An ambulance was called, and he arrived at Victoria Hospital at 07:45 and he was pronounced dead at 09:04. 

The family of Sheku Bayoh were given 5 different stories about the events of that morning. There was also a false report that a female officer had been stabbed. These events occurred on the 3rd of May 2015, Sheku’s family are still seeking justice.

There was recently a development in this case, as Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf announced that there would be a public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh and it would be led by The Right Hon. Lord Bracadale. The inquiry comes 5 years after Sheku’s death, the purpose of the inquiry is to find out the circumstances surrounding Sheku’s death and make recommendations and discuss precautions that can be taken to avoid this happening again. 

This has taken far too long and Sheku’s family should have gotten justice a long time ago, however, it would be remiss of me not to say that this is progress. We must continue to strive for justice, and I hope that Sheku’s family gets the answers that they need because it is impossible to move on without having closure.

Sheku Bayoh injuries

Finally, I would like to discuss another issue that has been raised in relation to recent events. There has been a lot of discussion about raising children “colour-blind”, I am not a father and I won’t be for many years, however, I do feel this is an important discussion. I feel as if raising children “colour-blind” might be the wrong way to go. I think this because we should embrace our differences and appreciate that we are all unique. 

We should teach children to respect individuals regardless of the colour of their skin and where they came from. We should encourage them to have open discussions about their beliefs and teach them that if someone disagrees with their viewpoint then that is absolutely fine because they have their beliefs and you have your own. We shouldn’t put up barriers in our communities and we shouldn’t act like racism doesn’t exist. It is a tough conversation; however, black families have been having these conversations with their children from a very young age for years and so should you. I will leave you with one more thought; 

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see”-Neil Postman

WRITTEN BY MAKKI TAHIR

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