Justice for Roger Sylvester’s family! Verdict won by African community overturned by British High Court

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Roger Sylvester before police beating

LONDON — The victory in the inquest case of Roger Sylvester, who was brutally murdered by police, was one of the few victories that Africans have received when it comes to us being murdered by the standing army of the State. However, the State quickly showed the African community that it would not allow any such victory for Africans to stand.

Roger Sylvester was jumped by eight police officers right outside his home in Tottenham. The police claim that they were detaining him “for his own safety” under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

However, his safety came into question when the eight police began beating him viciously, and as a result of their looking out “for his own safety,” he suffered heart and kidney failure and severe brain damage. After being beaten into a coma and placed on life support, 30-year-old Roger Sylvester died leaving behind a family distraught and full of questions.

During the inquest that took place in October 2003, the police came with the same usual bullshit defense and claimed that Roger Sylvester was “extremely violent,” and displayed “almost superhuman strength” as he was detained. Neighbors who witnessed the arrest told the inquest that they did not observe a struggle as he was taken into the police van.

The eight officers claimed the “unlawful death” ruling of St. Pancras coroner Dr. Andrew Reid last October was “irrational and perverse.” Despite a unanimous verdict from 11 jurors, the pigs argued it had not been proven that they deliberately and dangerously pinned down on the floor a naked Roger Sylvester for an unreasonable 20 minutes.

The police’s version of the incident that ended the life of Sylvester stood in “stark contrast” to the eyewitness accounts. Police said they did not hold Roger Sylvester face-down. Nurses and medical staff at St. Anne’s hospital said they did.

High court judge overturns inquest verdict in favour of the eight killer cops

If the brutal police murder of Roger Sylvester was not enough to convince Africans that the State holds no value for our lives, the overturning of the unlawful killing verdict is painful evidence.

The verdict of unlawful killing won at the inquest in October 2003 was overturned in November 2004 by the British high court, led by Lord Justice Collins; many Africans were in grief, a state of shock and disbelief because of the conclusion reached by the white judges which made it clear to Africans and to the rest of the world that the duty of British police is to murder African people in Britain.

Despite overwhelming evidence that having eight officers to deal with one unarmed man is a form of excessive violence, and despite the medical evidence that exposed that Roger Sylvester was violently killed by the British police in Tottenham, North London, the white ruling class has still found a way to justify the theft of this African man’s life.

His parents, along with the rest of the family and all of those who hoped that the unlawful killing verdict against the eight policemen was the beginning of the justice that would bring forward charges against the eight police criminals, were devastated.

The British government, run by Labour or Tory or Liberal Democrat parties, is a representative of white power. It is white people’s government, and it has always been a white people’s government.

Self-determination is a precondition for justice

Many Africans were asking themselves, “Why can’t we get justice in Britain?” and “Will we ever get justice in this country?” Some of us have concluded that there will never be any justice for us in this country.

These conclusions from various Africans are born out of our experience at the hands of the British colonial State and ruling class. They are realities at the surface, which is all that most of us can see.

There is also another conclusion we Yeshitelists, or African Internationalists, have come to when analysing and dissecting neo-colonialism. We say the government and the police federation may have won this round, but our struggle for justice against the eight police officers is not over. It is far from being over.

The reason the government can validate the murder of Africans by the police is that Africans have not achieved self-determination in modern history. We have not achieved power over our own lives and communities.

So the struggle for justice for Africans anywhere is a struggle for African self-determination everywhere. It is the struggle for community control of the police, courts, schools and business markets. It is a struggle for power for our children and our people.

Self-determination means developing the capacity to monitor and control the political economy of our community and as long as this struggle for self-determination is not over, the struggle to get justice for Roger Sylvester is also not over.

The victory of attaining self-determination will allow us to take the matter to our own court and carry the sentences out on the eight murderous police officers ourselves.

That is why the urgent task of any African seeking justice should be to join the International Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) to build the effort to win our people to the necessity of becoming self-determining people, and to build the capacity of having our own court and carrying out the sentence that will bring justice to African people in the UK and all over the world.

We must build InPDUM as part of nationwide mass democratic movement for self-determination

Devastated father, Rupert Sylvester said, “I’m very angry. Very disappointed, very bitter. The police know they can go and [take] our loved ones and get away with it because they have the whole establishment backing them, protecting them, covering them. When you’ve got the establishment against you, you can’t compete with them. They’ve taken this [inquest verdict] away from us. I don’t know how we’re going to get justice.”

Does this mean the end of a struggle for those of us who have lost our loved ones? No, it simply means that we are conscious from the start that our ability to achieve our immediate need for justice against the local police station, which killed our brother or sister, depends on every successful step we make towards achieve in building for power.

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Roger Sylvester after the police beat him into a coma causing severe brain damage and heart and kidney failure. He died after being on a life support machine.

“…as a result of [the police] looking out “for his own safety” he suffered heart and kidney failure and severe brain damage. After being beaten into a coma and placed on life support, 30-year-old Roger Sylvester died leaving behind a family distraught and full of questions.”

Sometimes our mobilization on local levels may be powerful enough to force our oppressors to make concessions to our people’s demands. It is the wide scope of motion of angry and determined Africans to get justice at all costs that will force the government to consider meeting our demands.

That was the case in the aftermath of the 1981 and 1985 rebellions that shook Brixton, Bristol and other British towns in the eighties. You all may be very aware that, despite our heroic efforts in the eighties, the government dealt with us on its own terms.

The British government promoted the African petty bourgeoisie, an ill formed social class, as leaders of our movement. It propped them up to act as a buffer zone between the white ruling class oppressor and the masses of the African workers throughout Britain.

That is how our struggle came to be used as a rear base to elect the black faces that stood for white power of the Labour party, and as members of the British parliament. This is how Dianne Abbott, Bernie Brown, Paul Boating and other opportunists of the negro petty bourgeoisie joined the white ruling class’s political parties at our people’s expense.

For example, after the verdict was overturned, the African Tottenham MP, David Lammy said he was “completely disappointed.” He said, “The family has not got justice.” He could not say my people demand justice! He just repeated what everybody already knows!

This class of assimilators and collaborators have the job of locking our struggle in the House of Commons where the people’s fate will always be in the hands of our white colonialist oppressors and exploiters.

We have to build a mass democratic movement that will aim at getting Africans to massively turn our backs to all three major white power liberal organizations: the Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat.

All local, spontaneous struggles for justice and economic development need to build toward our strategic long term goals for African independence and self-determination.

Our mass democratic movement will fail if not guided by revolutionary ideas and lead by African working class

The inability of Africans in the eighties to consolidate and transform the rebellion into a lasting national movement fighting for our own national and class interest as African workers in Europe, was a result of the absence of revolutionary theory that has evolved from our own history of fighting and resisting white imperialism and oppression around the world.

This is not to say that there was no theory. There were philosophical ideas that guided our struggle then just as there are now, but the problem was and still is the absence of revolutionary theory throughout the African democratic movement.

We still have people who attend demonstrations for the sake of demonstrating, looking for a lone fight or dispute with the police, displaying their spiritual, religious and cultural inclinations and beliefs, but in no pursuit of any clear political aims.

We still have people who attend demonstrations not in support of political aims and goals as set by the organization, but rather use their participation to seek center stage and self satisfactions at the expense of the goals of the event and long terms goals for our movement.

Our movement is still suffering from obscure ideas created by people who glorify our rich history of civilization and struggles, but who come up empty when faced with the questions of what our present tasks are and how to build a revolutionary mass movement in Britain today.

A revolutionary theory is part of the answer to those who are concerned about the ability of opportunists to betray our struggles and leaders.

The revolutionary theory that guides the Uhuru Movement is Yeshitelism. It is all-around scientific theory that allows African working class people to walk with confidence against our internal and external enemies as well as expose opportunism within our own camp.

Our theory allows Africans to follow all complex political economy questions from the beginning to the end without losing sight of what our own African working class interests are. It allows us to predict outcomes of political processes without waiting for the particular events in that process to happen first.

Yeshitelism is the science of the African slave to overturn imperialism, imposed exploitation, oppression, injustices, disunity, powerlessness and poverty.

British government does not want peace with the African community here

InPDUM is a mass democratic organization led by a revolutionary organization of the African working class. It was formed by the African People’s Socialist Party for the purpose of bringing the demoralized African masses back into political life, and leading our people in our democratic struggle for self-determination!

The strength and growth of our movement will determine our ability to prevent our oppressors from taking back from us the victories that we win against imperialism.

With the development of InPDUM, the APSP, and the African Socialist International — an international organization of African revolutionaries — all over the African world, we will be able to internationalize every local struggle of our people in the UK. This will allow the participation of all our people on earth to force the British ruling class to meet our demands for justice and self-determination.

Justice for Roger Sylvester, jail all eight police officers!

Not one more black life!

Build InPDUM in every corner of Britain for African self-determination!


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The overturning of the unlawful killing verdict was like salt poured into the wounds of Roger Sylvester’s family and the African community.


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