During one of our lectures, our lecturer who lives in Stoke Newington referred to an incident that took place in Stoke Newington police station in 1983. The incident that he was referring to was in fact, the death of my uncle, Colin Roach.
Colin died in January 1983 at the age of 21 after receiving a fatal gunshot wound whilst in the foyer of Stoke Newington Police Station. Authorities alleged that Colin had entered the police station carrying a gun in a sports bag and shot himself in the mouth committing suicide, however, the evidence suggested otherwise.
The police surgeon who was called to examine Colins corpse in the foyer of the police station said that the body position was inconsistent with suicide. The shotgun with which he was killed with could not be fitted into the sports bag that he had with him.
No fibres from the bag were found on the gun and no oil from the gun was found in the bag. In addition, it was said that when a shotgun is used for suicide the recoil damages and sometimes breaks the trigger thumb but there were no injuries to Colins hand at all. The recoiling gun will normally hit a wall or floor very hard but no marks from this were found.
Colins death prompted protests and demands for an independent public inquiry as the information provided by the police were flawed.
Above is a video of a demonstration that took place in Stoke Newington – 14.1.1983.
Above is an image of my grandparents during one of the demonstrations. Below is a flyer from the Roach Family Support Committee for a planned demostration through Hackney demanding an independent public inquiry into Colins death.
See the full news bulletin: https://hackneyhistory.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/roach_bulletin_3.pdf
Colins suspicious death was publicised by a number of musicians.
Benjamin Zephaniah: ‘Who Killed Colin Roach’ (1983)
Special AKA – ‘Bright Lights’ (1983) [on the b-side of ‘Racist Friend’, which got to 60 in the UK Charts]
‘I got down to London and what did I see?
A thousand policemen all over the street
The people were shouting and looking at me
They said “the Colin Roach’s family demand an
Demon Rockers – Iron Lady (1985)
‘Now the council they a take a big liberty
Them a give black people the worst property
Like Nightingale and Kingsmead seh inna Hackney
Me no want fi go end up inna bad property
They killed Colin Roach inna the place Stokey’
Macka B – We’ve Had Enough! (1986)
‘They said Colin Roach shot himself just for nothing’
Linton Kwesi Johnson – Liesense Fi Kill (1998)
‘You can’t ask Colin if him really shoot himself’
Sinead O’Connor used a photo of Colin with family in the
artwork of her 2nd album ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got’ (1990), dedicating it to Colin and the family. In particular, she dedicated a song called “Black boys mopeds” to Colin, although she didn’t mention him by name, he was one of the black boys that she was referring to.
Also, Issac Julien who is a filmaker and video installation artist, made a short video in 1983 titled ” Who killed Colin Roach?” which documents Colins suspicious death at the hands of the police and its effects on the black community. It was recently shown at TATE Britain as part of the series Rewind: Sankofa and Artist Film and Video at Tate Britain. See: http://www.tate.org.uk/download/file/fid/53461
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The inquest verdict eventually ruled that Colin had committed suicide, but the circumstances of his death have continued to raise much public concern.
RIP Colin x