Scores of racism victims and death in custody families have been left without core support after one of Britain’s iconic anti-racism charities has been forced to shut its doors.
For 23 years, the Birmingham Racial Attacks Monitoring Unit (BRAMU) fought to combat racism and secure justice for families who have had their loved ones killed in police custody.
But last Thursday (August 30), BRAMU said it has been forced to shut its doors.
Chairman Maxie Hayles, a veteran anti-racism campaigner, and two board members signed papers for BRAMU to be officially taken off the register of companies at Companies House.
The move marked the end of the era, years of work in which Hayles and his team dealt with more than 30,000 inquiries and worked on more than 6,000 live cases from suspected deaths in custody to hate crimes. The news came on the same day family members of Kingsley Burrell announced they would finally get the opportunity to bury the 29-year-old father of two, who died 18-months-ago after contact with West Midlands police.
BRAMU, whose £60,000 funding was cut by recession hit Birmingham City Council in 2010, had helped bring the case to media attention and help organise two marches to demand officers be held to account over his and other deaths.
Local residents and leaders said they were concerned about the impact of BRAMU’s closure.
“It is a source of tremendous disappointment for the whole community that the key organisation tackling racist attacks and hate crimes, including supporting victims, will no longer be there,” said Bishop Dr. Joe Aldred, secretary for Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs with Churches Together in England. “Since, sadly, racism shows little sign of being eradicated from British society, one wonders where support will come from for the hundreds of cases per annum that have and clearly will continue to need support.”
He added: “…All minority ethnic communities, indeed all disadvantaged communities, should consider how better to access and utilise mainstream services. Then urgent consideration needs to be given to how any services developed to supplement mainstream ones will be self-supporting. Historically these have been too dependent on the funding whims of the very organisations and services they are holding to account.”