On 15 June, 25-year-old Edir Da Costa – known as Edson – was stopped with his friends in his car on Tollgate Road, East London, at around 10 p.m. However, when he was subsequently detained by police officers, he became ill. He died in hospital on Wednesday 21 June, after being in a critical condition for six days. This incident has caused outrage among Edir’s family and close friends, as well as among those in the community who believe that police brutality was the cause of his death.
In response to Edir’s death, people took to the streets to voice their dismay. However, what was supposed to be a peaceful march took a turn for the worse when people began throwing things at police officers and setting fire to objects in the street. Six police officers were injured, with four being taken to hospital for treatment. The march began on Sunday outside Forest Gate station before moving into the Stratford area. Demonstrators were seen carrying signs saying ‘Justice for Edson + How many more????’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’. Edir’s girlfriend, however, voiced her disdain for the violent protests, sharing a message on her Instagram account: ‘Riots lead to a lot of causalities, ppl end up loosing (sic) their life, some end up in jail and so on, so how is that justice for someone that just lost their life causing more pain to other families?! Lets us all not be blinded by our grief and pain. #JusticeforEdson’.
Police borough commander, Superintendent Ian Lardner, was present at the march and tried to provide answers for the demonstrators. Angry protestors voiced their feelings to Mr Lardner: “You are protecting them” and saying “You have told us what you can’t do; now tell us what you can do”. In response, he expressed his sympathy and attempted to reassure the demonstrators: ‘I genuinely feel for you. Police officers are all accountable to the law. They are being investigated’. As the march began to gain momentum, the crowd started shouting ‘Justice for Edson’ and ‘No justice, no peace, no racist police’.
Nonetheless, the biggest question that arises here is this: what exactly caused Edir’s death and were police responsible for it? This devastating death of a young man who was loved by many, has also been plagued with confusion and anger by many who want to know why this tragic event happened.