Clapton Ultras demand justice for Edson and Rashan

Community, Solidarity

The Clapton Ultras have been accused this week of “an unacceptable pattern of behaviour” by the football club with close links to the Metropolitan Police. We think it should look a lot closer to home for unacceptable behaviour, to the legacy of sustained trauma and profound personal loss caused by the institution that bears the club’s name and experienced by grieving relatives whose loved ones have died in police custody.

That is why Clapton Ultras last night stood outside the match we were banned from attending to pledge our solidarity, for as long as it takes, with the families of two young black men, both fathers of young sons, who died in east London over the summer after contact with police officers

Edson da Costa was stopped in his car on 15 June 2017 in Custom House. Witnesses say he was restrained by officers using a choke hold and sprayed with CS gas. He was taken straight to hospital and died after six days in a high dependency unit. He was only 25.

Rashan Charles died in Dalston, Hackney on 22 July 2017. He was the victim of excessive and unnecessary force used by a police officer. He died after being thrown to the floor, handcuffed and ‘held in a choke hold’ allegedly to recover something he had swallowed.

Rashan had said he knew Edson when he heard about his death. Only five weeks later, he was to suffer the same fate.

In September 2017, the Independent Police Complaints Commission recommended the suspension of the officer involved in Rashan’s death, but the Metropolitan Police have refused to comply. In October, formal notices were served on the five officers who stopped Edson, telling them they were facing an investigation for alleged misconduct. These officers have not been suspended either. Rashan’s family were shocked to discover that the officers involved with his restraint and arrest have been granted anonymity at his inquest.

Both families face a long and frustrating battle for the truth. Already they have been told it may take up to a year just to complete initial investigations. What they need to know is that they have the long-term support of everyone concerned with the need for justice and accountability.

This is why Clapton Ultras recently decided to adopt both family justice campaigns, to support their events and activities, to encourage others to affiliate and to have banners remembering Edson and Rashan at future games we attend.

Most importantly, we commit to supporting both families in their struggle for justice in the months and years ahead. We believe it would be “unacceptable behaviour” to do anything else.