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Kingsley Burrell: Crowds call for public inquiry at rally

DEFIANT: Scores of supporters, led by Kingsley’s sister Kadisha Brown-Burrell (pictured), marched through the city centre before staging a rally outside Birmingham Central Police Station

PRAYERS AND a minute’s silence were held for Kingsley Burrell at a rally in Birmingham on Saturday (May 23) as pressure mounts on Home Secretary Theresa May to hold a public inquiry into why the father-of-three died after calling the emergency services for help.

Scores of supporters, led by Kingsley’s sister Kadisha Brown-Burrell, marched through the city centre before staging a rally outside Birmingham Central Police Station.

They booed as they passed the city’s Crown Prosecution offices where last year it was ruled there was “insufficient evidence” to charge any of the four police officers and six NHS staff who had been involved with caring for Kingsley in the days before he died of a cardiac arrest at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 31 March 2011.

In a damning narrative verdict, the jury at Kingsley’s five-week inquest concluded that neglect from health staff and prolonged restraint from police were key factors in the cause of his death. Evidence revealed “gross failings” from the agencies involved.

Kadisha told the rally, which began outside Birmingham’s St Philip’s Cathedral: “The community’s support is vital if we are to stop these deaths from happening again. My brother called the police for help and he ended up dead four days later after being sectioned.

“This fight has not been easy and there is no way I am going to give up now. At last the truth is out there and that is why we want a public inquiry.”

She said the family were outraged that Kingsley had been “painted like a criminal” and his reputation tarnished.

“My brother was not known to police. He was not a drug dealer, yet these things have been suggested to taint his character,” she said. “Look how long Doreen Lawrence had to wait for justice for her son. We too are prepared for a long battle.

“I am sick and tired of the agencies telling us that lessons have been learned from this. What lessons?”

Kadisha said she had held a meeting with Birmingham Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood who said she was “drafting certain letters to certain officials” concerning Kingsley’s case.

Anthony Muhammad, co-ordinator of the Nation of Islam’s Birmingham study group told the rally that people had to put a value on their own lives.

“The more power we have ourselves the less we have to call on those who do not love us,” he said.

While Charlie Williams, of Birmingham Strong Justice 4 All read out a roll call of names of people from across the country who have died in police custody since 1998. They include Christopher Alder, Mikey Powell, from Birmingham, Azelle Rodney, Sean Rigg, Lloyd Butler and reggae star Smiley Culture.

Political activist Desmond Jaddoo, who has made contact with the Home Secretary, said: “Today has shown the community’s overwhelming support for this case. This is an opportunity for the Government to put in place new guidelines for agencies dealing with individuals such as Mr Burrell.

“We believe a national standard and procedure needs to be placed in legislation in order to let those who provide this type of service are fully aware of their responsibilities.

“The over used phrase ‘lessons learned’ is totally unacceptable to the Burrell family as Kingsley is now gone forever.”

In his letter to Theresa May, Jaddoo added: “The Burrell family have had to suffer the anguish of a 17-month wait for Kingsley’s body to be released for burial. When it was, they were given only a week to arrange his final journey in addition to waiting some four years for the inquest following various decisions being made behind closed doors.”

A Home Office spokesperson said they were awaiting correspondence from coroner Louise Hunt over Kingsley’s inquest and would then respond in due course.

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