Derek Bennett, 29-year-old father of four, murdered by London police
LONDON — On December 15, 2004, Dorothy Bennett, mother of Derek Bennett, wept, as many African mothers have before her, as a white colonial jury delivered the verdict in favour of the white police murderers who gunned down her son on July 16, 2001.
The African coroner, Dr. Selena Lynch, a loyal servant of the white ruling class, removed from the inquest jury the option of reaching an unlawful killing verdict. According to a December 13, 2004 report from the Black Information Link (www.blink.org.uk), “She said, ‘I’m only going to offer one substantive conclusion to you. The conclusion available to you is one of lawful killing.’”
She told the 12-person jury, including one black man and two black women, that even though she was recommending only the lawful killing verdict, they still had the option of reaching an open verdict. The Black Information Link further quotes her as saying, “Do not use an open verdict as a mark of censor or disapproval. As you may appreciate, an open verdict is inconclusive.”
She went on further to say, “Lawful killing occurs if the evidence shows a person used reasonable force, even if that force was by its nature likely to be fatal. A person who honestly believes he is about to be attacked may use reasonable force.’”
Derek Bennett’s father, Ernest, said in a statement, “Whilst we fought for justice we put our grieving on hold. We are devastated and our grief is compounded by the outrageous decision of the court.”
Reacting to the decision, Derek’s brother Daniel Bennett said, “We are sickened by the result. We can see that there ain’t no justice here. The police and the establishment are here to protect their own.”
Inquest is just another colonial tool of the white ruling class to maintain status quo
Derek Bennett, a 29-year-old father of four, was shot four times in the back as he ran away from armed police men, who can only be identified as Officers A and B (otherwise, the state claimed that their lives will be in danger). Bennett was shot dead in 2001 after being spotted with what turned out to be a gun-shaped cigarette lighter.
Officer A claimed Bennett was facing him at the time shots were fired, but this contrasts with bullet entry-wounds in his back. The same killer cop also admitted that Bennett did not point the cigarette lighter at armed policemen at any time.
The 11-person jury reached a 9-2 majority verdict after deliberating for over five hours. Their decision of lawful killing means the Crown Prosecution Service will not press criminal charges against the officers.
As is often the case, one of the killer cops, Officer B, who they claimed did not shoot Derek Bennett, has been promoted since the murder.
Deputy Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said, “They continue to serve with the Metropolitan Police, and we continue to offer appropriate welfare support. They have been removed from operational firearms duties since the incident. That decision will now be reviewed.”
We are witnessing the power of the British State against African people in this country. It is white power in the service of the British ruling class at our expense. It is made of courts, all kinds of police forces, the army, prisons, the councils, inland revenue, schools, media and the government itself.
The State defends white nationalists who attack, brutalize and murder our people on the streets, such as those white thugs who stabbed 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence to death in 1993 while he waited for a bus on the streets of London. It is the court who let them free; it is the police who refused to arrest them despite being overwhelmingly tipped by the public in the neighborhood.
This refusal to move quickly on the main suspects, wasted vital clues and evidence to be used in court which could have been hard to ignore.
In the murder of Derek Bennett and other Africans before him, we have clearly seen that the State in this country is a State run in the interests of white people, and that the standing army of the police department is an iron fist of the State that goes into the African community to kill with impunity. We all have seen that the police are the crime enforcers in our community who do not get punished for their crimes.
Our experience in Britain tells us that the policy of the British government, Labour or Tory, is that police officers can’t be jailed for killing African people in Britain.
How to get justice for African people against the police is an urgent question
The police in the African community are there as a force to contain our community. This means they are not part of any justice, freedom, independence nor liberation movement for African people, and they don’t come to solve any collective problem we may face.
Whenever they are sent into the schools, markets or streets of our community, they come to contain our people. The police take lives in our community, they break up African families and they criminalize our people.
Defeating the policy of police containment of the African community is an urgent task of all genuine democratic organizations of the African working class community. And it comes in the form of the imposition of a drug economy, which is an illegal economy run by the same ruling class that controls the British State and the legal economy.
The legal economy denies Africans jobs while the illegal economy validates the criminalization of the African community through the media. It serves as an excuse and a cover for the white rulers to swamp our community with police forces, with the intent of arresting and jailing our young people for participating in the illegal economy that they have imposed on our African brothers and sisters in the first place.
The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) forces are not people who are trying to make the capitalist slave system more efficient, more fair, more just or more equal. They are African people who are fighting to regain the power of self-determination for our people; to end our existence as objects of oppressor nations.
Dorothy and Ernest Bennett continue to struggle for justice for their son, who was shot in the back by police.
These nations’ economic systems are born out of and maintained by 500 years of ongoing enslavement of Africa and her children scattered around the world.
The real fight against crime must be a fight to end the imposition of a drug economy in the African community, and to expose the British government as responsible for the existence of drugs and crime in our community. It must be a fight for economic development for the African community in the form of community control of vital and strategic businesses and growth of the already existing, but struggling African businesses.
The democratic struggle in Britain is part of an international revolutionary movement that is diligently being built across the globe. It is a struggle that opens up all aspects of struggle for democratic rights due to our people and allies abroad. It is a struggle to build the capacity for a State power capable of carrying out justice on our own terms within an international context for any local harm done to us.
That is why in the Uhuru movement, we don’t think that the struggle is over. It has simply entered a new phase, characterized by growing African internationalism and heightened consciousness of Africans in this country and all over the world.
British government owes reparations to the family of Derek Bennett
We hold the British government directly responsible for the death of Derek Bennett. They made the decision to send armed police to deal with an unarmed African. The police officer shot at an African who never pointed a gun at the police. The police shot Derek while he had his back turned against them and was running away from them.
The government has openly defended the police gunmen who shot Derek by refusing to release their names on the false grounds that the “safety of the police officers would be at risk.” The government has clearly, despite irrefutable evidence, cleared the killer cops and has intentionally continued to promote this volatile relationship with the African community by validating the murder of Derek Bennett.
We believe the government has a chance to take a step toward giving the African community what it is due in light of this travesty against our people. It cannot bring back the mother’s son and the children’s father, but it can attempt to repair the damage caused to the family of Derek Bennett.
It must pay the family a substantial sum of money for the murder of their son and for the immense pain and trauma caused to both the family and our people. They must pay reparations to the Bennett family for all missing money, services and love Derek would have contributed to his family and community had he not been gunned down in the street.
Reparations to the Family of Derek Bennett!
End the Public Policy of Police Containment!
Economic Development to the African Community!