The first anniversary of Lamont Roper’s death reminds us we must continue to resist state violence

Metropolitan Police sign
Support us and go ad-free

7 October 2021 marks the first anniversary of the death of Lamont Roper, a young Black man who died during a police pursuit in Tottenham, London. He was found dead in a canal having been pursued by officers. And on the anniversary, Roper’s family speak out for the first time, saying he wouldn’t have jumped in of his own accord because he was “terrified of water”.

Another death following police contact

Roper, a 23-year-old Black man, fell into the Tottenham’s River Lea after a police chase on 7 October 2020. He was found dead in the water the next day. Speaking out for the first time on the first anniversary of his death, Roper’s family told INQUEST:

We do not believe that he would have entered the water voluntarily as he could not swim and was terrified of water.

On 7 October 2020, plain-clothes Metropolitan Police officers approached Roper and a group of friends. Officer PC Collins proceeded to pursue Roper along the River Lea towpath. Both Collins and Roper were riding electric bikes. It remains unclear how Roper came off his bike. But according to INQUEST, Roper fell into the water following Collins’ use of force. 

The Met Police Marine Unit and London Fire Brigade searched the river that night, but called it off around midnight. On 8 October, a Met Police diver found Roper “within a couple of minutes”. He was pronounced dead at the scene. An inquest into Roper’s death opened in 2020, with the final hearing due to take place between 22 and 30 November 2021.

Still searching for answers

Some of the officers present during the pursuit activated their body worn video cameras. But Collins did not. One year on from Roper’s death, his bereaved family is still seeking access to the existing footage.

Roper’s family released a statement on the first anniversary of his death. They told INQUEST:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

We still have so many unanswered questions about how Lamont lost his life… We hope that the inquest into his death will robustly explore the circumstances of his death and in particular how he came to be in the water. We miss him every day and will not give up the fight for the truth.

Towards abolitionist alternatives

Sadly, Roper’s case is not an anomaly. On 6 April, 17-year-old Ronaldo Johnson died as a result of injuries sustained during a pursuit by Greater Manchester Police officers. Kids of Colour and the Northern Police Monitoring Project campaigners joined Johnson’s bereaved family and friends on 6 October to remember the young man’s life and demand justice for his untimely death:

There have been at least 432 deaths during or following police pursuits in England and Wales since 1990. In spite of these figures and recent tragedies, the government’s draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill proposes to further increase officers’ powers when pursuing people.

We have seen an increase in anti-police sentiment following then serving police officer Wayne Couzens’ false arrest, kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, and the heavy-handed policing of her vigil in Clapham.

Deaths during or following some sort of police contact are tragically familiar. Since 1990, there have been at least 1,797 deaths in police custody or following police contact in England and Wales. Racially minoritised people are overrepresented in these numbers. In spite of these significant figures, the June 2021 conviction of PC Benjamin Monk for the killing of Dalian Atkinson was the first time in 35 years that a UK police officer had been found guilty of manslaughter following a death in police contact or custody.

Stressing the importance of remembering all victims of state violence, one Twitter user said:

 

Drawing attention to the under-reported inquest into Shane Bryant’s death at the hands of police, another Twitter user shared:

While bereaved families and friends continue to seek answers, communities and campaigners continue to seek ways to resist state violence. For example, direct action feminist group Sisters Uncut recently announced plans to launch a network of CopWatch patrols to intervene in policing on the streets, and prevent more deaths in police custody. Anyone looking to get involved in the group’s police intervention training can sign up here.

These recent tragedies and the government’s plans to further increase police powers demonstrate just how vital it is that we continue to resist state violence, which preys on the most vulnerable and marginalised in society. It’s time to maximise current anti-police sentiment and build a sustainable, broad-based movement towards accountability and abolitionist alternatives.

Featured image via Tadas Petrokas/Unsplash

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us