Black Lives Matter UK marks Kingsley Burrell's 2011 police death with Birmingham protest

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Black Lives Matter protesters in the United Kingdom on Friday briefly occupied the Crown Prosecution Service, the British equivalent of a district attorney's office, to raise awareness about the death of a black man who died in police custody five years ago, the Daventry Express reported.

About 30 people entered the CPS building and demanded to speak with a senior official about a delay in prosecution of those involved in the 2011 arrest of Kingsley Burrell. West Midlands police officers stopped the protesters in the lobby.

The demonstration ended when protesters handed a CPS official a list of "10 key issues" related to their protest, according to a tweet from Press Association reporter Richard Vernalls.

Burrell, who died under restraint by West Midlands police in March 2011, had reportedly experienced a mental health crisis before being taken into custody. An official report of the investigation into Burrell's death faulted police officers and ambulance staff who left the 29-year-old Birmingham man handcuffed and unattended for hours.

Burrell, who was a student and a father of three children, had called police to report being threatened with a gun while shopping at a mall in Birmingham, according to the Guardian. But after a review of mall security footage raised questions about his claim, police arrested Burrell on March 31, 2011, under the Mental Health Act.

According to the Guardian, Burrell was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital after a violent struggle with police. As many as six hours reportedly went by before someone came to assess the man who had wet himself and was left handcuffed on the floor. Four days later, Burrell had a fatal heart attack.

But despite the damning report of negligence, the CPS has for several months delayed making a decision on whether to charge any of the officers or medical personnel involved, activists alleged. Members of Burrell's family said the delay was pointed to a larger issue of racism in the British criminal justice system.

"Since 1969, people have been dying in police custody and not one police officer has been convicted before," Burrell's sister, Kadisha Brown-Burrell, said at a rally before the CPS occupation, according to the Daventry Express. "[The protest is meant] to highlight systematic failures to do with the criminal justice system here in the U.K."

On Friday, protesters also raised awareness about the deaths of other black people at the hands of British police, including former Premier League soccer star Dalian Atkinson, who died Aug. 15. Two West Merica police officers are facing a criminal investigation into alleged misconduct in Atkinson's death by Taser.

Earlier this month, Black Lives Matter U.K. activists staged protests across the country. Their nationwide #Shutdown campaign Aug. 5 blocked roads to London's Heathrow Airport, as well as demonstrations in Nottingham and Birmingham.

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Aaron Morrison

Aaron is a Senior Staff Writer for The Movement at Mic. He covers the intersection of race, justice, politics, diversity and civil rights. He has previously written for IB TImes, Miami Herald, The Bergen Record of New Jersey and the Associated Press. Send tips to aaron@mic.com.

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