The idea of the Monitoring Group stem from the experience of Black and Asian young people
during the 1970’s who would face racial violence and abuse, and daily racist encounters from Police Officers. The idea was inspired by the American Black Panther Party for Self-Defense who sought to challenged racist policing practices in American cities by patrolling the streets and monitoring the behavior of police officers and challenge police brutality. The Group have been involved with many cases over the past forty years and we have listed some of these below.
The murder of Gurdip Singh Chagger
Suresh Grover was one of the active ‘leaders’ of the youth movement established during the aftermath of the Gurdip Singh Chaggar murder in Southall 1979. The incident galvanised Asian youth to challenge violent racism and police response throughout the UK. See link here: http://southall-inspired.com/young-rebels-the-story-of-the-southall-youth-movement/
The murder of Blair Peach
Blair Peach, a schoolteacher, was killed during anti-racist demonstration in Southall. Police actions on the day also led to over 700 people arrests and 345 being charged on various criminal charges. Mr Grover was one of key activists who established legal defence for those charged, document the social impact of the event and galvanised local national and international support, for over a decade, to name those responsible for the killing of Blair Peach. In 1999/2000 The Monitoring Group organised a meeting with Home Minister so that a Public Inquiry could be established to examine the circumstances leading to Mr Peach’s Killing. Although this demand was refused, in 2010, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner released Commander Cass’s internal report that strongly suggested that an officer from the Special Patrol Group was responsible for Blair Peach’s murder.
In July 1981, UK experienced violent public disorder in at least 30 cities, mainly involving, including two – 3rd and 10 July – in Southall. Southall Monitoring Group was instrumental in establishing a national committee to look at the causes of these disturbances. The pressure led to the establishment of Lord Scarman’s Inquiry into Brixton events.
July 1981. Bradford 12 Campaign: Southall Monitoring Group’s director, Suresh Grover was coordinator of the Bradford 12 campaign, an organisation established to defend twelve young men facing conspiracy charges. The campaign led to the acquittal of these men and defined (Regina v Gata-Aura) the legal notion of self-defence.
Bhopal Victims Support Committee
SMG established the Bhopal Victim’s Support Group that organised regular events across the UK for over a decade. The campaign was in response to the Bhopal Gas tragedy that is considered to be the world’s worst industrial disaster. The event occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way into and around the shantytowns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. A government affidavit in 2006 stated that the leak caused 558,125 injuries, including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. Others estimate that 8,000 died within two weeks, and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.
Kuldip Sekhon Family Support Group:
Mr Sekhon, a local Southall taxi driver, was murdered by Steen Cocker, a well-known local supporter of the National Front in December 1988 in Hounslow, Middlesex. SMG established a family justice campaign to ensure a through police investigation and organised local family led protests to highlight the case, including a successful half day closure of Southall town centre to mark Mr Sekhon’s funeral in January 1989.
Drummond Street Defence campaign
SMG provided critical support to the Drummond Street Defence Campaign. The campaign was formed to defend two Bengali youths who had been unjustly charged with causing grievous bodily harm at a football tournament in Ealing on 4 October 1992. The campaign was concerned that those charges are politically motivated. The two youths were members of the Drummond Street Youth Associations and their arrests have been followed by dawn raids on the homes of several Bengali families in the Drummond street area. They were acquitted on 15th May 1993.
Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign
SMG being involved in supporting the Lawrence Family Campaign in Autumn 1993, and played a critical role in developing the campaign from 1994 onwards, in particular during the private prosecution and public Inquiry periods. The group also provided office space, secretarial support and full time personal to support the family campaign during the intervening years. It organised local and national meetings and events gather support the family’s quest for Justice. For about a year, in 1997, Mrs Lawrence became members of TMG staff recruited to support victims of domestic violence.
Camden Monitoring Project:
SMG provided support to establish the Camden Monitoring Project, launched following increase in racism after murder of Richard Everrit on August 13 1994.
Support for Hillingdon strikers 1997-1999 –
SMG provided daily support for Hillingdon Hospital Strikers: Twenty one strikers at Hillingdon hospital eventually won their three year fight after an industrial tribunal ruled that that they should get their jobs back and receive compensation. The dispute began in 1995 when Pall Mall, which had won a contract to provide domestic services to the hospital, imposed a 20% pay cut; reduce holiday and sick pay, followed by checks on the immigration status of Asian workers. The strikers, all Asian women, never gave up despite losing strike pay from their union, Unison, which urged them to settle the dispute.
Justice for Ricky Reel:
SMG has played a central role in supporting the Reel family for over 18 years. Ricky Reel was found dead, in October 1997, in the river Thames, Kingston after a racist attack on him and a group of friends. Police maintained that Ricky died while trying to urinate in the river and refused to acknowledge any racial motivation in the original attack. Apart from liaising with three separate police investigation teams, some of the key events in the campaign included:
Creating search parties to find Ricky Reel in the first week when he was deemed missing; organising regular protests in Kingston; organising annual memorial lectures; supporting Information appeal on the BBC Crimewatch programme; developing hard copy and online petition campaigns; supporting the family through the Inquest process; and organising parliamentary initiatives.
Establishment of BRAIN 24th October 1998
The important initiative brought together Anti racist monitoring groups from across the country to develop best practice on race hate crimes and campaigns and organise a national conference out of which the Black Racial Attacks Independent Network (BRAIN) was established. The conference was entitled ‘the betrayal of Stephen Lawrence’, and was attended by 400 delegates from across the country. Speakers included Doreen and Neville Lawrence, Sukhdev Reel, Suresh Grover and Myrna Simpson.
Michael Menson Family Campaign
SMG played a central role in supporting this Campaign. Michael Menson died in February, being set alight in a racist attacks in Edmonton, North London. Despite police insistence that this was act of suicide, an Inquest jury found that Michael had been unlawfully killed. SMG help galvanise support for a new investigation by organising a meeting with the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw and the newly established Scotland Yards Racial and Violent Taskforce headed by DAC john Grieve. The reinvestigation led to conviction of three men in the UK and trial of a fourth man in Cyprus. Suresh Grover accompanied the family during the Cyprus trial in 1999. In 200, DCI Robin Scott, the original investigation officer and ten other officers were removed from operational duties.
National Civil Rights Movement:
The NCRM was launched on 28 March 1999 in London attended by over 800 people, including over 40 family justice campaigns and supported by eminent human rights lawyers. By mid 1999, NCRM branches were established in Sheffield, Leicester, Manchester, Exeter and Plymouth and Cardiff. It organised numerous public meeting and protests. Including national demonstration in London 2001.
Liban Ali Family Campaign:
Liban Ali and two friends were attacked and racially abused by a gang of white men and women in Leicester city centre in August 1999. Liban had his head ‘kicked like a football’ All those involved were arrested but only one, James Watson, was charged with attempted murder. One week before his trial the CPS agreed a deal with Watson and Watson pleased guilty to GBH and sentenced to four years. The judge commended Watson on the remorse shown throughout the proceedings.
London Nail bombings
Over three successive weekends between 17 and 30 April 1999, David Copeland placed homemade nail bombs, each containing up to 1,500 four-inch nails, in holdalls that he left in public spaces around London. The first bomb was placed outside the Iceland supermarket in Elecric Avenue, Brixton an area of south London with a large black population. The second was in Brick Lane in the East End of London that has a large Bangladeshi community. The third was inside the Admiral Duncan pub, in Soho’s Old Compton Street, the heart of London’s gay community. The bombs killed three people, including a pregnant woman, and injured 140, four of whom lost limb Stewart Copeland was arrested in May 2000. Copeland had a list of other targets including Peckham, Southall and Tottenham. TMG had organized street safety patrols in Southall in April 2000 and meeting throughout London throughout in 2000. The group was received a letter threatening to nail bomb Southall that was handed to police.
Tewodros Afework Family Support Group: Mr. Afework was 24 year old Eritrean was left in a coma after being beaten unconscious in a racist attacks in Kentish Town, north London on 23rd April 2000. The six foot white man shouted racist abuse before punching and kicking Mr. Afework to the ground. TMG organized information leafleting through Camden for over three months.
Farham Mire Support Group: TMG created a support for Mr. Mire’s family. Mr. Mire was Somali refugee was kicked to death by white men in Harrow, London. Ryan Kelly was arrested and charged with the murder on 18th February 1999. However when the case came to trial in April 1999 Kelly was discharged after CPS claimed not enough evidence to prosecute the racial motivation of the murder. The family was told that there was no forensic evidence and that a witness and suspect had disappeared.
New Diamond 5 campaign:
TMG created the New Diamond 5 Campaign: Five Chinese waiters from New Diamond restaurant in Chinatown, London, were arrested after defending themselves from a racist attack from eight white men. The perpetrators of the attacks were not initially arrested but then charged after the campaign.
Okofa Hodasi :
TMG supported the family of Mr Hodasi: 24 year old Akofa Fodasi, a Ghanian student was found hanging from a tree on 29th April 1998 in Frimley, Surrey. An inquest into his death in September 1999 heard that three days before he died, Akofa and his friend Natham Evans were racially attacked, and that Natham needed 17 stitches. The attackers also told them’ we know where you live, and next time we will shoot you’. Akofa was badly shaken by the attack and two days after reporting the incident to the police he was dead. The police told the inquest there was a possibility that Akofa was strung up and the inquest recorded an open verdict.
Zahid Mubarek Family Campaign:
Zahid Mubarek, 19, was killed at Feltham YOI, by Stewart, 20, in the early hours of March 21 2000, five hours before he was due to be released after serving 40 days for handling stolen goods. Stewart had been in custody almost constantly for three years and had a history of mental health problems, violence against fellow prisoners and disruption. He was on remand on a charge of sending racially motivated malicious communications, an offence under the Harassment Act. He wrote hundreds of racist letters in which he revered the killers of Stephen Lawrence, fantasised about planting nail bombs and predicted the murder of his cellmate. He had scrawled KKK on a board in his cell. But he was allocated the same cell as Zahid Mubarek. TMG supported the family throughout the family and resourced the family campaign for over a decade. This included meeting with the Minster for Home Affairs, Paul Boateng, to press for a public inquiry; attending the trial of Robert Stewart in October/November 2000; supporting the family during legal proceeding to establish the Public Inquiry and during the Inquiry itself.
Sarfraz Najieb Support Group:
TMG was instrumental in supporting the Najeib family for over two years. In January 2000 Sarfraz Najieb stopped to watch a fight outside a Leeds nightclub. A white gang that included a number of prominent footballers, who then assaulted him, then chased Safraz and his friends. He suffered broken leg, ribs and nose. Police made five arrests. The case led to two trials, resulted in the conviction of one of the footballer, Jonathan Woodgate.
Dover 58 Campaign:
For over a year, TMG organized support and campaigning activities for many relatives whose loved ones had died suffocating in container in Dover
Jason and Errol McGowan Family Campaign:
Harold (aka Errol) McGowan was found hanged in suspicious circumstances after suffering a two-year campaign of racist abuse in Telford, Shropshire. Jason McGowan disappeared minutes before midnight on New Years Eve while out with his wife in Telford. His was found hanged on roadside railings a few hours later. He had been investigating his uncle’s death.
TMG organized a campaign support group for the family that included a meeting with the Home Secretary; forcing a new police investigation headed by DAC John Grieve; and organizing legal representation during the Inquest procedures.
Glyn Agard Support Group:
TMG organized a family justice campaign for Glyn Agard. Four soldiers were charged for the murder of Glyn Agard and assaulting Stephen Agard and Gary Belgraves. They were on a night out in Wiltshire in June 2000 when they were beaten in a car park. Glyne died of head injuries. On 18 May 2001 Mark Hunter and David White were found not guilty of the murder, after the prosecutions offered no evidence against the men.
Edgar Fernandes Family Campaign:
TMG supported the family of Edgar Campaign. Edgar Fernandes was a librarian living in Hackney, east London. He left for a week’s holiday in Turkey on 8 April 1998. When he failed to return, his family alerted the local police in Kentish Town. The police officer suspected that he had run away from the family and tried to probe into the family’s history.
Two members of the family flew to Turkey while others remained in London to exert pressure there. Although the Turkish authorities were unhelpful, within days the family had located Edgar’s belongings and medication in the hotel room and had a description of the person who was last seen with Edgar. This was immediately reported to Kentish Town police station, who still maintained that Edgar must have run away from home. Meanwhile the traumatic search for Edgar continued. They researched all the hospitals and institutions in Turkey. On 8 May 1998 two members of the family were looking at pictures of dead bodies in the morgue. Depressingly one of the photographs was of Edgar’s body.
The family continued with their investigation and located the chief suspect in Malta. In an impressive and unprecedented feat they managed to galvanise the Maltese authorities to arrest the man. He initially confessed to the murder of Edgar Fernandes, though later changed his story. After the family approached TMG, the Metropolitan Police began to work more seriously on the case. The trial of the man suspected of killing Edgar began in Turkey in February 2000 and he was convicted.
Elizabeth Chou Support Group:
Elizabeth Chau, a student at Thames Valley University, was 19 when she disappeared from Ealing in April 1999. She was least seen outside Ealing Police Station in Uxbridge Road. Together with the family, TMG exerted pressure on local police to investigate her disappearance seriously, and organized community based search parties for over four months. Elizabeth remains missing. In 2010, local police finally admitted that she is probably a victim of a serial murderer.
Garry Walton Support Group:
Garry Walton, 21-year-old Irish man, was racially murdered in November 1996 while he was a pleasure boat in Tenerife. Evidence shows men from Essex continuously taunted him. It is alleged that these same people murdered him by throwing his overboard. In July 1997, GMP obtained statements from witnesses claiming they heard the men boast of their killing. Although TMG provided support for the family, and exerted pressure on police to take the investigation seriously, the case remains unsolved.
Abdi Dorre Support Group:
Somalian Abdi Dorre died in August 1999 after sustaining fatal head injuries falling down a flight in a Northampton nightclub. His family sought TMG/NCRM support to pressurise the police to carry out a thorough investigation and find those responsible. TMG organised several meetings with senior investigation officers to persuade them to review their investigation but they refused to budge, and as a consequence, the family organised peaceful vigils to seek public support for the case. At the inquest in May 2001, the corner returned an open verdict. It was revealed at the inquest that the police had never carried out any forensic tests at the scene and that there was an unexplained fourteen-minute gap in the CCTV coverage of the events. A number of CCTV cameras recorded his argument with the doorman at the club, but none recorded the moment he is said to have fallen down the stairs.
Dawood Family Justice Campaign:
In February 2002 Sakil and Saeed Dawood went to India with their childhood friend Mohammed Aswat and their 18-year-old nephew, Imran. Whilst returning from an excursion trip, a roadblock, manned by a well-organised mob fuelled by religious hatred, stopped the British tourists. The mob circled the jeep and demanded to know from the occupants their religious identity, the tourists answered that they were British citizens and were indeed Muslims. The hired driver was then dragged out of the jeep and attacked with sticks and killed on the spot. His body was then thrown back into the vehicle and set alight. In the meantime, the British tourists were chased to a nearby farm.
Mohammed Aswat and Imran Dawood were stabbed and left for dead. Imran miraculously survived and he recalls Saeed and Sakil pleading with the mob to spare all their lives. The Dawood family has not only endured this terrible tragedy. The grief is compounded by the lack of any serious or thorough Indian police investigation. The family has had to visit the crime scene themselves, find vital clues and collate forensic evidence including the charred remains of bodies.
The killing of British Citizens took place in the midst of anti-Muslim carnage that resulted in over 3000 deaths and displacement of over 100, 000 people and raping of over 100 women.
TMG has worked with the family since 2002. The campaign has been successful in forcing the local police to investigate the murder and charge those responsible, and established a legal team in India who has filed a civil action suite against senior politicians and police officers for crimes against humanity. The campaign has organized meetings, protests and parliamentary debate.
Spencer Weston Support Group:
Spencer Weston received fatal multiple injuries when he was hit by a car at 2.30am on a Saturday night in August 1999, after running away from a large fight in the city centre. During the fight, bricks and bottles were thrown between white and black youths and both sides received serious injuries. Spencer suffered a head injury after being kicked to the ground outside a taxi office and subjected to racial abuse. He was then chased, along with other black men, by police officers that were attempting to make an arrest. Two police investigations in 1999 and 2001 failed to discover who assaulted Spencer Weston but the Police complaint concluded that police failure was due to institutional racism.
Chohan Family Support Group:
Amarjit Chauhan, his wife, Nancy, two children and mother in law were all kidnapped and murdered. Nancy’s brother, Onkar Verma, who flew to the UK from New Zealand, worried that he had lost contact with the entire family, initially contacted TMG.
At first, local police showed no interest in the disappearance wrongly believing that Mr. Chohan had fled for tax evasion reason.
The campaign, via press and legal support, forced a new police investigation, headed by one of the most able and senior detectives based at New Scotland Yard. The exhaustive investigation led to the conviction of three individuals for five murders.
After suffering months of horrific abuse, Victoria Climbié died aged just eight on February 25 2000. Nearly 18 months earlier her parents had sent her from her home in a shantytown in the Ivory Coast to live with her great-aunt in the hope she would get a good education and enjoy a better life. Instead she was beaten with bicycle chains and kept trussed up in a plastic sack in an unlit, unheated bathroom. TMG worked with her parents, Berthe Amoissi and Francis Climbié to help establish the public Inquiry.
Mi Gao Huang Chen.
TMG worked with the widow of Mr. Chen and together forced police to investigate the murder seriously. Mi Gao Huang Chen was a British Chinese man who was attacked on 23 April 2005 by a large group of youths outside the Chinese takeaway he ran in Scholes, Wigan, Greater Manchester. He died of his injuries on 28 April at the age of 41. The police arrested 23 people in connection with the attack, four of whom were eventually convicted of murder.
Yusef Porter, and her son, Lee Phipps, experienced many years of racist incidents and had installed video cameras throughout their home, which captured many of the incidents. In March 2006, Lee went for a walk to take photographs near his house, and on his way back home he was killed in a knife attack. Scott Nicholls, one of the individuals who had previously harassed the family, murdered him. Scott Nicholls pleaded guilty to the murder of Lee in January 2007. TMG was instrumental in providing support for the family during the investigation period.
Mr. Xiong Zhang, 33, who lived in Hackney, was found injured on a towpath in east London. He was taken to hospital but died a week later in August 2007. Police said Mr. Zhang had been in the area selling DVDs that were stolen from him prior to him being found.
TMG organized numerous meeting with senior police investigators and were successful in persuading them to conduct a thorough investigation. Despite this, it did not result in an arrest or conviction.
In October 2013 TMG in collaboration with the Chinese community organized a shut down of Chinatown. London’s Chinatown, an international hub of Chinese restaurants and businesses, has witnessed systematic immigration raids. Over 13 businesses have reported heavy-handed raids of their premises. All the existing evidence suggests that the raids were not intelligence led. Some of the raids did not even lead to a single arrest of any individual. Business owners also believe that the raids did not comply with lawful procedures and have only added fuel to negative stereotyping and ‘racial profiling’ of the Chinese community.
Nicky Jacobs is Innocent Campaign
Nicky Jacobs was arrested and charged with the murder of PC Blakelock who was killed during the ‘uprising’ on Broadwater Farm in October 1985. He is the seventh person to be charged. He was acquitted.
The uprising took place because of the killing of Cynthia Jarrett, a local Black woman and mother of 5 children, during a police raid on her home on October 5th 1985. The 6 people originally charged were known as the Tottenham SIX, 3 juveniles and 3 adults were put on trial for Blakelock’s murder at the Old Bailey in March 1987. During the trial the judge, Lord Chief Justice Hodgson, dismissed the charges against the three juveniles.
TMG, together with Tottenham Rights organized protests and meetings to raise public alarm in the manner in which this case was being prosecuted.
Wayne Collins Family Campaign:
On 6 June 2012, a young man, of dual heritage, was sent to prison for 18 years for a crime he did not commit. In August 2011 Wayne Collins-Taylor spent a couple of days visiting a friend in Birmingham whom he had met on holiday. On the evening that he was due to return home to Luton, he found himself amongst a group of people, only one of whom he knew. Some of them started smashing and then burning a pub in the vicinity and took part in a violent public disorder. The police arrived within minutes, and the group ran away from the scene. Wayne’s presence at the crime scene and association with the person he met on holiday was enough to get him convicted under a controversial law known as Joint Enterprise. Indeed during the trial it was agreed that there was no forensic evidence that linked Wayne to any firearm and CCTV footage showed him to be only standing around and running.
Together with the family, TMG has organized meeting and vigils in Luton to expose the unjust conviction and the dangerous usage of joint-entprise legislation.