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Readers' Letters

Editor’s comment: Community deserves full transparency

PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:51 15 September 2017

Demonstrators outside Stoke Newington Police Station for a protest about the death of Rashan Charles. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Demonstrators outside Stoke Newington Police Station for a protest about the death of Rashan Charles. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Picture: Polly Hancock

It’s so distressing to see the anguish of a community.

A man barely out of childhood is dead and his family will never be able to fill the gap he leaves.

It is 30 years – not, all told, that long – since three incidents of police brutality in Hackney inspired the setting up of the Colin Roach Centre in Bradbury Street – less than a mile from where Rashan Charles was tackled by a cop in an off-licence on Saturday.

By the time the centre closed in 1999 it had been infiltrated by a police spy, Mark Jenner.

Meanwhile, black people are far more likely to be targeted by stop and search. The National Crime Agency has been investigating claims police shielded Stephen Lawrence’s killers. Two years ago Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe admitted the Met could be institutionally racist.

So it isn’t hard to understand why some people in Hackney might doubt that police will truly face a fair, impartial investigation after the death of Rashan.

But a thorough investigation of all the evidence available – not just the CCTV clip circulating on social media, which shows a lot but not everything – is the only way to determine what happened on Saturday morning.

I have heard it described as “unhelpful” that the footage is available to the public.

And I understand why – it is not the whole story, but it is enough for people to draw conclusions.

Yet I don’t agree. Transparency is the only way Rashan’s grieving community can feel able to trust the IPCC’s conclusions. It may be helpful to feel there is this tangible piece of evidence that cannot be ignored or lost.

This community has been given so many reasons not to trust the police in the past. If the video is incomplete or inaccurate, Hackney must be told how that conclusion has been reached.

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