Some extracts from family members, and a space for comments.
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People say gangs, there wasn’t such thing as gangs, they’re friends. And if you go out with your friends and something happens, then your friends are going to get involved. But when Nathan first got into trouble, it was really bad. Him and his brother and friends was meant to have taken some boy to the woods and taken his money and stuff. He was thirteen or something. There might have been trouble before, but that sticks out because they went to a young offenders prison. I went to visit them a few times, but I was young and able to do it. Then he said he was going to London to visit his dad, and I got a phone call saying he’d been arrested for shooting a police officer and was charged with attempted murder. I can’t really express what you feel when you hear that. I knew that was big trouble, and I know how the police are, so I was worried because Nathan said he had to go to hospital.
What do you mean, you know how the police are?
When it comes to young black men, the police take advantage. And since Nathan’s had his case against the police, they’ve never left me alone, they’ve never left the family alone. I’ve had incidents with my youngest son Rishi where they’ve come to the house and asked for him, and he wasn’t here so I’ve said so and shut my door. They started kicking it and tried to push their way into the house. I put in a complaint. They told me, no police officers of that name ever worked at this police station. And them same two police officers, they targeted my youngest son, and he did get into trouble, but little things. I mean, if you’re young and you’re smoking drugs, you don’t want your parents to know. But he got a name, because he’s Nathan’s brother, and then he done certain things and I can tell you, he got a tag and they would ring the box, and he’d be there, and in the morning the police would come and say he wasn’t. They’d arrest him and take him to court. It got to the stage that anywhere Rishi would be, whether wanted or not, he would see the police and take off. I lived on the first floor above some shops, and it was so dangerous, but as soon as the door knocked, he’d think it was the police and he’d be over that balcony. I’ve had times at six o’clock in the morning, Rishi would ring me. Mum the police have been chasing me, I’m hiding in some bushes. Can you please come and get me? And he’d been in there all night. It’s been a nightmare when it comes to the police.
I used to visit dad all the time when I was little, I can’t even count how many prisons I’ve been to. Sometimes we’d drive for hours to see him. My grandma would always make a nice little packed lunch for us. Then I had to go through loads of security and sniffer dogs just to see my dad for an hour. But I used to be more bothered about the kids play area and the chocolate bar we’d buy from the little café in the visits room.
You go in the waiting room for the first time and think, what am I doing here? You look around and hear people saying their son is in for the fifth time. There’s the whole rigmarole of getting ID’s, getting searched, getting put into a cattle pen before you see him. Then the hug, that precious thing in life, but you can’t hug for long or the officers will come, and you can’t show any emotions, you’ve got to be strong. So on the way out, you see all these people breaking down because they’re leaving.
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