Burngreave Messenger.
Issue 39 March 2004
 

Outcry over Yemeni leader’s arrest

by Rob Smith

The arrest of Abdul Shaif, Chair of the Yemeni Community Association and highly respected Burngreave activist, has caused uproar in the Burngreave community.

He was arrested in Meadowhall on 2nd February at 6.30pm whilst trying to calm a confrontation between Security Guards and some young Asian and Black people. By the time the police arrived the situation was being defused. Mr Shaif was the only person arrested. He was taken to Attercliffe Police Station and charged with ‘verbal abuse against a police officer’ to which he is pleading not guilty.

Video footage has been released to Mr Shaif’s lawyers by Meadowhall, who have lifted the ban placed on him after the incident. Although there has been enormous pressure from the community to drop the charges, the Police have not yet done so. The case will be heard on 25th March at Sheffield Magistrates Court.


Residents raise concerns about racism

At an emergency meeting, over one hundred residents and representatives of our city’s Black and diverse communities showed their anger and disbelief at the arrest and the alleged use of racist language towards Mr Shaif.

“Although we can’t talk about the details of this case it is unacceptable that people are still being treated in this way,” said Cllr Drayton, also referring to the recent BBC documentary film about the racism of new police recruits.

“Any complaint of a racial nature against our officers will be dealt with properly,” Superintendent John Brennan told the meeting, adding his duty not to speak or add anything that would prejudice the case. He also said that his Commander, as well as Home Secretary David Blunkett, were concerned and wanted to know the immediate outcome of this meeting.

“If the full community knew what had happened then Don Valley Stadium would not be big enough to hold the crowd,” suggested someone to humungous applause. “You need to stop the lip service. We see a man who places himself before the community, finding himself locked up in a cell for attempting to defuse a situation.”

Young men spoke of the injustices and racist abuse they often receive from white officers that went unheard and unchallenged on a regular basis.

Seaton Gosling, out-going Chair of the Black Community Forum, stated that as a community we need to see action being taken on this issue that has always affected the Black and diverse communities in which we live.

Leroy Wenham, North Area Assistant Director for Sheffield Futures, told the meeting that back in 1981 he was convicted of ‘obstructing the highway’, as a result of attempting to defuse trouble in the city centre. The conviction was overturned on appeal, but Mr Wenham still had to pay his legal costs.

The final call of the meeting was for the officer accused of perpetrating racist behaviour to be removed from duty until the trial, complaints and internal investigations are concluded.

 

[left to right] Superintendent John Brennan, Abdul Khayum (Chair of the Black Community Forum), Councillors Ibrar Hussain and Jackie Drayton at the emergency meeting.

[left to right] Superintendent John Brennan, Abdul Khayum (Chair of the Black Community Forum), Councillors Ibrar Hussain and Jackie Drayton at the emergency meeting.

Residents and representatives of our city’s Black and diverse communities at the emergency meeting.

Photographs copyright © Carl Rose  

     
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Index for Issue 39 March 2004.