Friday, June 05, 2020

Sheku Bayoh - "I Can't Breathe"

Sheku Bayoh died in Kirkcaldy in 2015 after he was restrained by up to nine police officers using CS spray, pepper spray and batons. Medical evidence suggested he died of positional asphyxia - meaning he was unable to breathSheku died after being restrained by officers responding to a report of a man behaving erratically and carrying a knife. He was unarmed when police arrived. Sheku was under the influence of the drugs MDMA and Flakka, explaining his uncharacteristic behaviour. He was found to have suffered 25 separate injuries. Five years on, not one police officer has been prosecuted.

Collette Bell, his partner, said, “George Floyd was kneeled upon until he took his last breath. So was Sheku, only more weight and more officers kneeled upon him. George Floyd stated, ‘I can’t breathe’. So did Sheku.” She added: “It was police brutality and racism and it happened in Scotland." 

Collette is the mother of Sheku’s son Isaac, who was three months old when his father died. She said: “I don’t think racism will ever go away and I fear for Isaac.”

Sheku experienced racism “most days” in Scotland. Colette explained, “He would often come home and say he felt people stared at him as if he was an alien. He said people would see him and get out his way as if they feared him, yet Sheku was a gentle man.”
Sheku’s sister Kadi Johnston said we must remember black lives matter not only in the US but in the UK and Scotland.
She said: “Enough is enough. For how long are we going to suffer like this? Why do we have to be killed by the ones who are supposed to protect us. How long do we have to cry for our brothers, our partners, our loved ones? For how long do mothers have to cry for their sons? Change has to happen now. Our lives matter too.”
Aamer Anwar, the lawyer for the Bayoh family, said, “The reality for the Bayohs and Collette is that five days of protest in the US has delivered more than five years of waiting for the Scottish criminal justice system to act."

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