By Nabeela Akhtar
On the 5th of September Chris Kaba, an unarmed Black man, was murdered by police in Streatham. He is the latest victim of systematic police violence which is disproportionately employed against racialised minorities, in particular young Black men. On September 10th, and September 17th Amplify contributor Nabeela Akhtar attended rallies in London calling for justice for Kaba.
Met Police Murder an Innocent Black Man
On the 5th of September Kaba, a 24-year-old Black musician and soon to be father, was cornered and blocked in his car. A specialist armed officer is reported to have shot him in the head through the front windscreen. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed some days later that Kaba was unarmed.
Police and IOPC have released reassuring messages that they understand the concerns of the family and communities. However, people want receipts. There have been too many deaths and too little justice for people to trust the police or the IOPC.
At the first rally on the 10th Stafford Scott, campaigner and director of Tottenham Rights, said “We’re tired of the Met investigating the Met.” Trust has to be earnt in such situations and so far it hasn’t been. Chris Kaba’s death is the third such death involving the police in three months. The charity Inquest, with the backing of Kaba’s family, has asked the UN to include Kaba’s death in its ongoing worldwide investigation into police brutality and racism.
Justice for Black lives taken by law enforcement is rare, when police brutality is anything but. From racially targeted stop-and-search tactics, to traumatising strip searches of Black and Brown children in schools, to the death of young Black men following police contact, brutality and trauma is plentiful.
Solidarity and Resistance in Community Response
The community response to Kaba’s death was rapid. Organisers worked quickly to put together a rally for justice which was held on the 10th. Speakers included Chris’s cousin and a family spokesperson Jefferson Bosela. It was also attended by campaigners and speakers Temi Mwale of 4frontproject, Delia Mattis from Black Lives Matter Enfield, Stafford Scott, Lee Jasper and Grime artist Stormzy.
At the rally Bosula spoke beautifully in his grief and pain for justice. There was so much collective trauma on the day and no grieving family should have to try to find impossible strength in their pain.
The stewards, mostly Black men, were wonderful in protecting the marchers and ensured police and spycops stayed away allowing a safe and peaceful protest. We often see Black men unfairly dehumanised & demonised. Here you saw a monolith of caring, decent, community come together for #JusticeForChrisKaba
Stormzy’s presence was a surprise to many attending the rally, and there was a collective palpable sense of relief. Many camera phones started recording. A sense of silent mutual understanding. The Grime star had understood that organisers for justice, the family and campaigners needed help. They needed someone whose visibility gets such an important campaign much-needed attention. He didn’t feign expertise but showed solidarity, heart and showed up.
A call to action
It is critical that the public are made aware of what happened to Kaba. It is critical that his family be supported and that there be scrutiny and accountability around his killing at the hands of the police.
Remember when you said you were allies and anti-racist? After seeing how George Floyd was murdered? Well, Chris Kaba too was killed, executed. An armed police unit acted as judge, jury and executioner. The cop wasn’t suspended, arrested or on restricted duties until the press started to cover it. They are now suspended on full pay. The police have been less than transparent instead focusing on damage control via public relations. Chris Kaba’s family have had to fight for even the smallest bit of information on what happened to Chris. They were only informed of his death eleven hours after the event.
There is no doubt that as collectives we can make change. For all those wondering what they can do about any of this, show up however you can, find a way. Make the noise. Keeping the pressure up for finding justice is the only chance of getting anything close.
This is the reality for marginalised people and disproportionately for Black lives! Make it trend, write about it, talk about it, share about it, organise or join protests, steward, join or set up a cop watch. Don’t look away from this injustice. Choose to be who you see yourself as. Numbers are so important to finally making a difference.
The Inquest into Kaba’s murder started on of 4th October, and then adjourned while the IOPC conducted further investigations. They determined officers did not activate their lights or sirens while following Kaba and that he had not been a suspect. The officer who shot Chris Kaba, known currently as ‘NX12’, has been notified they are under criminal investigation.
There has been some progress. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley has met with Kaba’s family. Lawyers and others including Inquest.org are supporting Kaba’s family and have seen the bodycam footage. Whilst this is promising, do not be placated.
Solidarity and public pressure has been key to every bit of progress. The police officer who shot Chris Kaba remains free. NX121 has not been arrested nor interviewed under caution over six weeks after Chris Kaba was killed. Solidarity is necessary for any semblance of justice here. Collective Action London in support of Chris Kaba’s family have highlighted how you can be part of making justice a reality.