Tag Archives: institutional racism

Black History Month: Marcia Rigg

Line drawing of Marcia Rigg: she has dreadlocks and is wearing glasses and hoop earrings. She is speaking into a microphone. The text in the image is included in the body of this post.

CN: mental health crisis, racist police violence, death, state collusion

Marcia Rigg was a legal PA in the City for 20 years, but gave up her career to fight for justice when her brother Sean died at the hands of the police in 2008.

Multiple failings in mental health services meant police (having failed to respond to calls from the hostel where he was staying) chased Sean – who was having a mental health crisis – down in the street. They held him in a prone position for 8 minutes after handcuffing him. They placed him face down in the police van. When he got to Brixton police station, he was no longer fully conscious, but it was over half an hour before a doctor was called. Sean was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital.

We only know about this horrific series of events because of the tireless campaigning of Marcia. The IPCC investigation had concluded that the police had acted “reasonably and proportionately.” The obvious racist injustice of this conclusion was exposed by the coroner’s report which stated that the police used “unsuitable and unnecessary force” and their actions contributed to his death. An external review of the IPCC report was similarly damning. Rigg and her family’s campaigning also led to the 2012 Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing.

Rigg continues her fight against police violence today.

Black History Month: Doreen Lawrence

Line drawing Doreen Lawrence - a woman with thin dreadlocks looks to the left of the page. She is wearing a small stud earring in the shape of a star, and a shirt and blazer.

In 1993, Doreen Lawrence’s son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack. Lawrence was shocked at the callous, racist incompetence of the police officers investigating the murder, and began to actively campaign for justice for her son. Her tireless efforts prompted a judicial inquiry in 1999.

During this time, Lawrence’s anti-racist campaigning was seen as such a threat by the British state that the police spied on her and her family.

The result of the inquiry – the Macpherson Report – concluded that the Metropolitan Police are “institutionally racist”, and this was one of the main reasons they failed to solve the case fully.

Lawrence continues to campaign for justice for victims of racist crimes, and founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to promote a positive community legacy in her son’s name.