The independent public inquiry into the death in police custody of Sheku Bayoh started taking evidence this week.
Sheku died at the age of 31 after being restrained by officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 2015. This public inquiry was announced in 2019 by then Justice Cabinet Secretary, Humza Yousaf, after it was confirmed there would be no criminal charges in the case. His family believe race played a part in his death. They – we all – need to hear the whole truth about Sheku’s death.
I am moved by the courage of Sheku’s family in pursuing the truth. We owe them that, at least. We owe it to ourselves to understand better who we are, how power works, and to ensure that no one is denied justice, and no one is above the law.
Hannah Lavery, poet and author of the deeply moving and disturbing Lament for Sheku Bayoh is quoted in today’s Guardian: ‘Now is the time for those who were moved to show support then, to stand by Sheku’s family and friends now. They have fought so hard for this inquiry, that long struggle needs to be honoured by us all. They need to know that they are not alone. Whether this inquiry marks the beginning of change in Scotland, whether it reaches the front pages and provokes a wider dialogue about racism, we don’t yet know – but it has the potential to be a reckoning, a moment to reflect on Scottish exceptionalism and the lives that are destroyed by this ‘nae problem here’ rhetoric.’
I echo Hannah’s words and sentiment.