‘His name cannot be forgotten’: Family remember Jean Charles de Menezes on tenth anniversary of tube shooting
Jean Charles de Menezes’ family gathered outside Stockwell tube station on Wednesday to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his death and gain support for their ongoing campaign for justice.
A minute’s silence was held to mark the moment that an innocent 27-year-old Brazilian man was shot by police at Stockwell tube station after being mistaken for a terrorist in the aftermath of the London bombings.
After the silence, Mr de Menezes’ cousin Vivien Figueiredo spoke briefly thanking people for coming and their support.
Softly spoken and wearing sunglasses, with a clearly identifiable Brazilian accent, her voice began to break as she reached the end of her speech.
Ms Figueiredo said: “It is a really emotional difficult day for me and for my family, but also a very special day as we’re here to remember him.”
Describing Mr Menezes, who left Gonzaga in Brazil to work as an electrician, she said: “For me, he is an inspiration. He left his home city to find a better life.”
She described the ongoing legal case, which has now been taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as a ‘big battle for accountability’.
Standing in front of the colourful mosaic memorial, Ms Figueiredo said: “His name can’t be forgotten.
“I thank Jean so much for the memories left and I hope he rests in peace.”
Mr Menezes was killed after being shot at close range by police on July 22 2005, the day after a failed bomb attack and two weeks after the 7/7 bombings.
The organisers of the event, the Newham Monitoring Group, said:“Our hearts go out to the survivors and all the relatives of those who died because of the 7/7 bombings in London.
“There will be no official recognition or ceremony, however, marking the brutal execution of Jean Charles de Menezes just two weeks later.”
Although not attended by state officials, the event was attended by dozens of people including Mr Menezes’ cousins, Erionaldo Da Silva, Alessandro Pereira, Vivian Figueiredo, and several campaigners.
The family’s spokesperson Asad Rehman and one of the family’s lawyers, Marcia Willis-Stewart, also gave brief statements about the continued campaign for justice.
The Justice4Jean campaign took their fight to bring the police officers that killed Mr Menezes to account to the European Court of Human Rights, after the Crown Prosecution Service decided that no police officers should be prosecuted over the killing.
Both Mr Menezes’ family and Mr Rehman made references to other campaigns against injustices experienced by ethnic minorities at the hands of the police.
Londoner Saqib Deshmukh was there to commemorate Mr Menezes, but also to represent a campaign from another grieving to bring police to justice over the death of Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah in 2008.
He said: “The big question is why it takes so long for families to get justice and dignity?”
Freddie Charles, a Stockwell resident who attended the memorial, said: “My heart goes out to the family waiting for justice.”
He said he was surprised that the Menezes family’s plight for justice was taking so long and expressed frustration that the case had to go to Europe.
Talking about the attitudes of parts of the Stockwell community towards the police, the 52-year-old said: “People are together in this, together in mistrust.
“There is definitely anger in the community.
“Without justice, where do people put that anger?”
Many see the case’s hearing at the ECHR as a chance to scrutinise the process in the UK by which police are held accountable, not just for the death of Mr Menezes, but also for many others.
However, while many feel the perceived injustice of Mr Menezes’ death acutely, others living in Stockwell do not feel it so strongly.
One 17-year-old student, who lives around the corner from Stockwell tube station, sat on a bike just a few metres from where the commemoration took place, unaware of Mr Menezes’ death ten years ago.
Brenda, a fruit seller, who had been working on a stall the day of Mr Menezes’ death, said: “A few people come here to see the memorial, but not many now.”
All images taken by Charlotte Sexton