31 July 2020

The pain is perpetuated because there are so many Sean Riggs. There are so many George Floyds. And this has been happening for decades. It is nothing new at all.

Marcia Rigg, activist, justice campaigner and sister of Sean Rigg who died in police custody in 2008

Nihal Arthanayake and Dexter Dias QC launch their podcast, 100 Types of Human, with an episode featuring a discussion with Marcia Rigg, sister of Sean Rigg who died following police restraint in Brixton, and Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST. The conversation draws parallels between the death of George Floyd in the US and state violence, racism, deaths in custody and families' struggles for justice and change in the UK.

Listen to the podcast

Marcia Rigg has fought for 12 years for justice for her brother Sean. She speaks powerfully not only about her brothers death, but also about turning her grief, pain and anger into a positive weapon to campaign for justice, and to help other grieving families to get to the truth.

Sean is one case out of many mentioned in this episode, alongside Gareth Myatt, a 15 year old who was restrained by three prison staff, Alton Manning, 33, who was subject to an unlawful neck hold by a senior prison officer and Cherry Groce, who was shot by police in the shoulder aged 37, leaving her paralysed from the chest down.

Over the past four decades, INQUEST has worked alongside families bereaved following state related deaths, including the families of Sean, Gareth, Alton and Cherry, all black people who died premature deaths. These were not isolated tragedies, Deborah Coles explains, but part of a systematic pattern synonymous with structural racism, injustice and impunity.

I see families whose lives have been torn apart who then have to endure processes that I think are designed more about obfuscation, a lack of truth and a lack of honesty. The state time and time again says “we will learn the lessons”. Those are meaningless words – because what we don’t see is demonstrable change and action.

Deborah Coles, who has seen the same patterns of state violence and neglect, during 30 years as Director of INQUEST

Marcia, Deb and Dexter, who has represented bereaved families over the past three decades, all talk about the obstacles that families face in their long journeys for justice - the barriers of delay, denial and defensiveness - that are put in the way of finding out the truth.  

Share the podcast