Today marks three years since the tragic death of Rashan Charles

Hackney Town Hall

A message from the Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville.

Today marks three years since the tragic death of Rashan Charles. Rashan’s death affected many people across Hackney and our thoughts - as they have been since that night - are with his family and friends at this difficult time.

Following Rashan’s death, his family and others in the borough rightly held the authorities to account. I had many of the same concerns as anyone who watched the footage at the time and as a Council we continue to listen to the concerns, questions and fears raised by members of the community, particularly those of young people. 

The murder of George Floyd shook the world, but for us in Hackney it opened recent wounds and rightly, time and time again Rashan’s case and other similar cases came up in debate and conversation. I felt that anger when I spoke outside the Town Hall at a Black LIves Matter protest only last month.

We are all now part of renewed conversations about many of the issues they raised, and I know that on the anniversary of Rashan’s death, many people will feel angry and frustrated that locally and nationally, it feels like we are still having the same discussions. All too often it feels there is no closure and families and communities feel they are denied the justice they need or deserve. I remember vividly being sat with Cllr Selman and the Charles family, unable to answer questions, sharing a sense of powerlessness. 

This sense of history repeating itself was powerfully captured last week in this article in the Hackney Gazette by Rod Charles, Rashan’s great uncle. No one reading it could be left in any doubt about the need to tackle these issues and the structural racism that still exists in British society and the police.

Hackney has a strong tradition of standing up to racism - we have had to, given the events that have taken place in our borough. It has been a long, tiring struggle for many, but as a Council we want residents to know that we hear them and that we understand their pain and frustration. 

We must ensure that disproportionate policing is tackled, and rebuild trust and confidence for all our communities, and so we will continue to work with Hackney Account, the Stop and Search Monitoring Group, our Young Futures Commission and with partners across the borough to understand institutional racism and improve outcomes for young Black men. 

But we know we have more to do. At a meeting tonight the Council is expected to adopt a Motion, setting out an ambitious set of anti-racism pledges. These aren’t just words, and we’ve been clear that it is no longer enough for the Council to tackle inequalities - it must be overtly anti-racist, including challenging ourselves and the police to do more to combat it. 

We are also looking forward to announcing some of the initial recommendations from our review into the naming of public spaces and landmarks. This work has been community-led and will reflect the need for our shared space to reflect Hackney’s rich history. 

As on previous anniversaries, vigils are planned to allow those close to Rashan to reflect and remember him. We support them to hold these peaceful vigils, but urge attendees to look out for each other and be mindful of social distancing to help keep their friends and family safe from coronavirus. Our Director of Public Health, Dr Sandra Husbands, recently shared some guidance for keeping safe at public events. This included:

  • Make sure you have a mask and hand sanitiser. 
  • Wearing gloves is also helpful
  • Organise your routes to and from the event, to avoid public transport as much as possible

When you get home, before getting close to anyone at home

  • Wash your hands immediately
  • Have a shower and wash your hair
  • Change into clean clothes
  • Put your clothes in the laundry bin (if you can’t wash them straight away)

On Wednesday we will collectively remember Rashan, the lasting impact of his death and the family and friends he left behind.

Philip Glanville

Mayor of Hackney