This event comes after the damning narrative verdict of the jury at the Coroner's inquest which has rightly been described as "a victory for the voiceless and marginalised, and for the many others who have lost their lives but whose families have not been able to bring the issue to public attention." (http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/01/sean-rigg-black-men-death-custody?cat=commentisfree&type=article).
This is a victory won, more than anything, by the principled and dignified campaign of Sean's family. Their campaign for justice deserves the support of every trade unionist. The inequality and oppression we face at work, including for example institutional racism and prejudice against those using mental health services, does not arise in the workplace - it also reflects inequality in the wider society. Some manifestations of the inequality outside the workplace may be more significant for our members' lives than the workplace injustices with which we more commonly deal.
One of the most shaming of inequalities in our society is the massive over representation of black men amongst those who die in the custody of the state. Every death is a tragedy. Deaths in custody are a tragedy for which we all bear responsibility - we all need to respond.
It's long past time to end the culture of impunity which sees no one held to account when (often) vulnerable people, in the care and custody of public servants, meet an untimely end. This will not be achieved overnight - but our continued efforts to this end will be the most fitting memorial to Sean Rigg, and to all those whose lives have been snuffed out whilst they were in custody.
I hope a fair few UNISON members will attend tomorrow's memorial to show our continuing respect and solidarity to the family of Sean Rigg - and that UNISON will continue to be to the fore in the continuing fight for justice.
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