We demand #JusticeforChrisKaba – Armed police threaten strike

By Zuri Omar

On Monday 5th September, Metropolitan Police officers shot dead 24-year-old Chris Kaba in Streatham, South London. Kaba, who was known as Madix or Mad Itch 67 was a MOBO nominated rapper and was set to become a husband and father within months.

Video footage shows that after a short chase, Kaba was boxed in by two police cars. An armed officer then shot him once through the driver’s seat window. One shot. Straight to the head. Chris Kaba succumbed to his wounds a few hours later.

Police claimed that the vehicle Kaba was driving triggered an automatic number plate recognition camera and had been linked to an earlier firearms incident. They referred the case immediately to the IOPC who admitted that after an initial sweep of the scene, no non-police issue firearm was found. Chris Kaba was unarmed when he was chased and shot dead by police.

“We are devastated; we need answers, and we need accountability. We are worried that if Chris had not been black, he would have been arrested on Monday evening and not had his life cut short,” his family said in a statement.

Chris Kaba is the second black man to die recently after contact with the Metropolitan Police. In June, Oladeji Omishore was tasered multiple times and then fell and drowned in the Thames. The police claimed he was wielding a screwdriver, which turned out to be just a lighter. Oladeji’s family are still awaiting answers as to what exactly happened and why.

Despite all news being dominated by the death of Queen Elizabeth II, thousands attended a protest  at Scotland Yard this past Saturday including Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, and multi-award winning rapper Stormzy.

One main demand of the protest was for the police officer who shot Chris Kaba to be suspended while the homicide investigation was underway.

On Monday 12 September, Met Police suspended that officer. The following day, armed police threatened a police strike starting after the Queen’s funeral on Monday 19 September.

We saw the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ reactions in the US to the Black Lives Matter movement, recasting police as victims in need of protecting from impoverished and marginalised communities. The Met’s armed officers threatening a police strike shows that there are similar tendencies here too.

After a recent string of scandals including the strip search of schoolgirl Child Q in Hackney, the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer in South London and the police treatment of the bodies of murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman in Brent, the Met was placed in special measures.

Decades of neoliberal discourse about black youth criminality and dangerous inner cities, has in effect paved the way for the radicalisation of police officers into a subculture of extremism. That is why they reacted as they did to the suspension of an officer for shooting an unarmed person. A suspension that is only valid until the homicide investigation that will almost certainly acquit him. It is not that they fear actual consequences for the officer’s actions, it is that police can never – and should never – be questioned. 

That is why the campaign must have great stamina, as Stormzy said, and not give up the fight to get justice.

Join the protests across Britain, in London at New Scotland Yard at 12 noon, in Manchester at 2pm St. Peter’s Square, this Saturday, September 17.