Sheku Bayoh inquiry: family lawyer says they’re in this ‘for the long haul’

Support us and go ad-free

Supporters of Sheku Bayoh’s family have taken the knee outside a public inquiry investigating his death in police custody.

The group gathered outside the venue where the inquiry is taking place, as members of the 31-year-old’s family arrived to watch the proceedings.

Sheku Bayoh’s mother, Aminata Bayoh, and his sister, Kadi Johnson, arrived on the morning of Tuesday 24 May to chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police” from around 50 protesters.

The protesters had gathered outside Capital House in Edinburgh, where the inquiry is being held, before evidence was heard from the officers who restrained Sheku, including former PC Nicole Short.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Former PC Nicole Short (front, centre) arrives at Capital House in Edinburgh for the public inquiry into Sheku Bayoh’s death (Andrew Milligan/PA)

‘The struggle is not over’

Present with the family was their lawyer, Aamer Anwar.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Bayoh died in police custody after officers received calls from the public about a Black man acting “erratically” and carrying a knife in Kirkcaldy on 3 May 2015.

The hearing got underway earlier this month, and Anwar has estimated that it could last two to three years.

Speaking about Sheku’s family, Anwar said:

They have been fighting for justice for some seven years now and this struggle is not over.

‘They asked for justice’

The lawyer told supporters:

When Sheku died in police custody seven years ago, he was a 31-year-old man, he was unarmed which we know is factually correct.

He was walking down the street, police had been called to an incident after they received reports that a black man had been acting erratically and carrying a knife.

When the police arrived, Sheku was unarmed.

People talk about George Floyd. George Floyd had one police officer restraining him. People should know that up to seven police officers were involved in the restraint of Sheku Bayoh.

His family at the time, didn’t ask for anything special. They asked for justice. Justice should be a right and not a privilege.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry

Sheku’s mother Aminata Bayoh has been attending the inquiry into the death of her son (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Pleas for truth

Anwar described Sheku’s family’s struggle to get justice:

The family spoke some two weeks after Sheku died. They refused to speculate and they always said if Sheku broke the law then the police had a right to act, but any force used had to be reasonable, legitimate and proportionate.

His family then began a campaign for justice. And some four years later, they were denied that justice by the Lord Advocate and they were told there would be no charges brought. Five years later that was confirmed when the Government announced the inquiry.

The family are asking for this inquiry to be robust, to be impartial and to deliver the truth to this family because they know without truth, they will never get justice.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry

Protesters and supporters of the Bayoh family took the knee outside the inquiry venue (Andrew Milligan/PA)

‘His blackness was used as a weapon’

He went on to compare Sheku to George Floyd, who was murdered by Minneapolis police in 2020:

Our justice system in this country likes to talk about being colour blind. As far as Sheku Bayoh’s family is concerned, the colour of his skin, his blackness was used as a weapon. It was seen as a weapon. We are in now for the long haul. This inquiry is expected to last two to three years. Today is a critical day.

If we march for George Floyd, if black lives actually matter in Scotland then it requires all those hundreds if not thousands of people who turned up for George Floyd.

They have been fighting for justice for some seven years now and this struggle is not over.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Kadi Johnson (left) and Aminata Bayoh arrive with family lawyer Aamer Anwar (Andrew Milligan/PA)

‘Far too many deaths’

Mrs Bayoh thanked the protesters for coming to show solidarity with the family ahead of the evidence being heard.

Penny Gower, from Stand Up to Racism Edinburgh, said:

We were so shocked at the death of Sheku Bayoh we got together with the family there and we set up Stand Up to Racism in Edinburgh seven years ago so we have been on a long journey and there have been far too many deaths and injuries on the streets of Edinburgh, which is not the image that the tourists see.

What has been amazing throughout is the dignity of the family of Sheku Bayoh. They have picked the wrong family because they never gave up. They have stood up time and time again.

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