Hi, it’s nice to check in as always. I don’t do enough writing these days and being honest I’d like to see that change. It’s a natural bias of mine. A gift from my father and one of his sisters my auntie Blossom. Earlier this evening I had to republish a blog post I wrote way back in August 2022 following the sudden and tragic death of my dear friend and fellow cop watcher Ahmed Fofanah. You can read what I said at the time about that brother Ahmed here.
Ahmed was one of the Bristol Copwatch core team and writing about him as I have written about my dad in the past tense is something I’m still navigating. He sat on the Co-PoWER project community engagement panel not just as a Bristol Copwatch representative but most importantly as himself. When it came to his own journey and fight for justice I can still hear his strong voice as if it were yesterday.
When I think about our lived experience of the police at their very worst it’s fair to say that we had a lot in common. I guess it’s one of the reasons we made friends. We connected and we got on well even though that friendship developed primarily through supporting Ahmed and his family it was heartwarming to see it grow after that point and to hear his voice when he said how he wanted to help others navigate journeys that they never wanted to make.
I guess that’s why when Co-POWeR asked us if we could recommend anyone for the community engagement panel we just had to suggest Ahmed as the most suitable person we knew. I mean who else could it of been? I feel honoured to be heading to Leeds tomorrow for the Co-POWeR final conference. This is something Ahmed would have done. These are shoes I can never fill. I miss my fam just like I miss my dad.
Ahmed at his home in July 2022 with Co-POWeR photo courtesy of Co-POWeR
It’s going to be an important couple of days at the conference in Leeds and I just would like to say thank you to Co-POWeR not only for their vital work examining the impact of COVID-19 and racial discrimination on Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities in the UK during the lockdown and the pandemic but for hearing our dear friends voice when it needed to be heard the most.
To me, this event is about celebrating the resilience of our communities and exploring how we can overcome such conditions in the future of course to myself, his family, and to Co-POWeR it is also about remembering our dear friend Ahmed Fofanah taken so suddenly from us when he had so much to give. If anything I take a great deal of solace in knowing that he told me to keep doing what I’m doing and to keep fighting for justice just like my dad always did, and because of this I rejoice and raise my fist. Thank you my brother for your contributions and vital work. These are shoes I can never ever fill.
Due to a publishing error on my blog, I have had to re-release this piece of writing. It was written at the time during a heavy period of grief and of course with a lot of love for Ahmed and his family. This piece was originally written in late August 2022.
Sitting down and writing this blog on the tail end of a fantastic August bank holiday somehow doesn’t feel right. Actually being at a point where I feel ready to write has taken weeks but here we are you and me and it feels like the right time.
Bristol Copwatch is due to release a statement about Ahmed Fofanah’s passing and how it has impacted all of us but I wanted to take the opportunity to do the same. I can still remember when we first began supporting Ahmed Fofanah and his family well over a year ago now due to his ongoing fight for justice. Even at his lowest Ahmed had a strength that is rarely seen and a fierce determination to fight for his rights.
We connected due to our shared heritage. Ahmed came from Sierra Leone in Africa and was immediately interested in my family history, in particular, my beautiful father Owen Pegram who sadly left me and my mum in December of 2021 due to a long battle with cancer. Dad was a black South African and Ahmed loved me telling him about our family history.
He told me a lot about Sierra Leone and was deeply interested in the history of South Africa. To say he was Afrocentric was an understatement. His children like myself are mixed-race black people, and his incredibly strong wife Martina is white just like my mum, if you’re a mixed-race kid yourself you’ll know how important our identity is.
My dear friend taught me to embrace the African side of me further just as my dad always has done. I remember Ahmed as a kind and gentle man who was devoted to doing the right thing and helping others, in fact when my dad passed away he was the first person to call me to check-in. He never stopped saying thanks for the help and support we gave him and when we lost him at the beginning of August my heart broke into a thousand pieces.
Ahmed was also a sportsman and I remember watching videos of him and his son boxing sparring at their home in Weston Super mare. He told me he had many fights and I could see from watching the way he moved he was a fighter. To see a strong man like him suddenly up and leave is heartbreaking.
It’s hard to navigate even now but I’ve learned in this life we have to be strong. We have to keep fighting and most importantly we have to be there for one another. When he spoke in public he lit up the room and captivated hearts and minds. I can still hear his strong voice.
Everything we do now as a monitoring group honors his memory and he will always have a place in my heart. I’m sure he and my dad have shaken hands wherever they are. Two of Africa’s children have come home. Rejoice and raise your fist.
Ahmed and his beloved dog Shadow, photo courtesy of Co-POWeR
Hi. It’s nice to catch up once again. I’m currently one of the many people who has caught the truly horrible cold that’s doing the rounds which successfully managed to sabotage training this weekend. I’m flying to Spain to spend Christmas with my mum tomorrow so I can only hope the worst has passed by the morning.
Moan over I thought I’d take the opportunity to round up 2022 for me in a nutshell. When it comes to community activism and public speaking it’s been one hell of a year. I finished the year off speaking at the truly awesome Children of Tomorrow event for the family of Chris Kaba at Trinity Bristol on Friday for Bristol Copwatch.
The past few weeks have been a very intense push with events seeing us in Oxford and London delivering know your rights workshops and of course doing a good bit of networking too. As a grassroots police monitoring organisation that only started in 2020, we’ve developed in leaps and bounds and have helped a lot of people.
There’s still a lot of work to be done but there’s more than enough time to continue to build. To be honest it’s going to be nice to have some time off from tomorrow. My own legal battles against the police are ongoing but it’s getting put right and ever since I first started volunteering with Copwatch I’ve always loved helping others do the same.
Art on display at Children of Tomorrow on the 16th. The artist is Oshii. The pieces were auctioned off and profits were donated to the family of Chris Kaba.
Of course, just like with Muay Thai and competing independent grassroots police monitoring is about teamwork and moving towards common goals and objectives. It was nice to be called an inspiration on Friday evening and it was great to hear such positive feedback about my speech and contribution to the speaker panel I participated in. The conversations as a whole were important and I thought some valid points were made around community, education, and supporting youth that get drawn into cycles. Having been there myself I know when the police are in your life it can be very difficult to get them out of your life again.
“We want to see an end to disproportionate and racist policing and believe in community solutions that solve problems and prevent cycles of police harassment and those journeys none of us ever want to make through the criminal justice system”
I’ve always said and always will say that martial arts and Muay Thai helped me turn my life around because it did, but even then it took time for me to heal (being honest I think I still am) and move onto a new and brighter future.
“Once a criminal always a criminal is a label we’re given for life.”
But it is a label I’ve shown myself and others that holds no relevance to me anymore. There’s nothing more satisfying than proving the cops wrong. In 2023 I intend to show them what time it is. Navigating bereavement throughout this year has also been assisted by martial arts, although I think about my dad every day and he’s with me all the time training is something that has often helped me go back to my inner maintain my focus, and get stronger. Grief has forged resilience and strength in me that just like the light that is my father will never go out.
Although I have good days and bad days the memories of dad have become increasingly beautiful and everything that I do is in celebration of his life. He was a sportsman and athlete like me. He was a writer like me. A political and community activist like me and he only led by example. On my best day, I wish I could be more like him.
As well as supporting myself I’ve also of course been at points supporting my awesome mum. Seriously, she’s brilliant and I can’t wait to see her tomorrow afternoon. I guess I’m fortunate to have parents who both have always had their moral compasses pointed in the right direction. I may not be perfect but I have good role models in my life. Putting others before myself has been something I’ve inherited from both of my parents.
There were a few things I wanted to achieve training-wise this year that hasn’t taken shape. Next year I’d like to see if I can commit to training enough again to fight toward the summer but I’m open-minded about it. I’ve still got it, it’s never left but it’s also a big commitment and with other positive outlets to focus on I can at the very least ensure I train just as hard as I always have. I’ll be training when I’m 60. I’d love to go to Thailand again next year too.
Although it’s a shame I’ve missed the gym this weekend due to illness I’ll be back on the horse 5 times a week again like it or not as of January, and whilst I’m away for Christmas running, shadow boxing and maybe hitting the bag at the local gym will fill the gap until I’m back in the mix for 2023. Next year should see several positive things happening. I don’t want to go into too much right now but as the saying goes when facing the right direction all you have to do is keep walking. It’s been great catching up with you again. Thanks as always for reading my blog. Have a good Christmas, train hard, and win all your fights in the ring or otherwise. I’ll see you on that road.
Hi. It’s nice to catch up once again. I thought I’d take the time to sit down and write before heading to training for an hour or so. It’s open mat today but unfortunately due to a very serious road traffic incident a couple of weeks ago I can’t spar at present. If you follow me on Twitter ( I have 2 accounts one for work and one for the rest of my life ) you may well have seen some photos of a very nasty head injury that occurred after my drink was spiked when I was out a couple of Fridays ago.
I still have absolutely no recollection of events that bothers me because I hate not being in control of myself. All I can remember is leaving my final pub of the evening unlocking my bike and then that was it! I woke up in hospital. I was fairly drunk but not to that kind of level. The doctor noted in the morning that my pupils were dilated and asked me what I had taken. I used to have a drug problem, Muay Thai actually helped me beat it and I no longer do drugs at all so was very surprised to discover this had happened. I also couldn’t stand without stumbling and had to stay in observation for several hours before being discharged.
“I’m in BRI i don’t know what happened. Cops have my bike. I think it was a hit and run in st George. My phone is smashed up and I’m covered in blood”
In the past couple of weeks I’ve gone from the guy above back to this guy below. To be completely honest I’m very lucky to be here. Having had a couple of near misses in my life already (I’m only 43 and still a young man) I’m always greatful for my physical and mental toughness. It’s an inherited characteristic off my beautiful father. He was an athelete and sportsman for many years, and ok I get it from my amazing mum too.
New headphones, and I’ve even dusted off very nice Diesel jacket that makes me feel nice..
I’m disappointed that I can’t spar at present but I’m also incredibly pleased that I train with such caring people who are not only very good at what they do but value me not just as a fighter at the gym and martial artist but as a person too. I don’t know everyone that well and there’s a lot of new faces these days but my trainers and some of the Muay Thai stalwarts I’ve trained with for years have all expressed their concern about what happened and where I’ve been headed of late. As one of my trainers said to me this week “just because its healed outside doesn’t mean it’s healed inside”
That struck a cord with me for a couple of reasons. Not only because I’m recovering from serious concussion and head trauma but because last month saw me travel through some of the most intense periods of grief I’ve experienced since we lost dad. For all intents and purposes all is well. I’m fine. But I’ve not been ok and at points everyone was my enemy. No one understood me, and the young man who was utterly traumatised by the police and criminal justice system was in charge and he was so very very angry with all of you, because none of you ever cared and none of you know what the police did to him and how he could never forgive himself for what happened to his life and how much he hurt people he cared about.
At points I sat and cried. I remembered old girlfriends who used to curl up close to me when I was hurting and tell me it would be ok. I remembered my parents telling me to get councilling and I remembered how the young man just navigated all of it and somehow picked up the pieces and made a new life. I remembered the kid who got stopped and searched for riding on the pavement and realised that he still needs a voice. Most of all I remembered the young man because when he looked in the mirror he didn’t even recognise the person looking back at him.
These days he knows who he is, what he wants and what his life has taught him and who he has become and he looks in the mirror and always smiles because he looks so young and his dad is just looking back at him. He’s proud to be on the path he’s on and I’ve promised not to leave myself behind again. I spend a lot of my spare time helping people fight for justice but as much I fight for them I’m still learning that I’m worth fighting for too. It’s a work in progress and the confident and brave guy I’ve become wants to sit in the driving seat again.
“Take your time” is what I was told about sparring this week. I don’t heal as fast as I used to but I’m still a fast healer. As well as working on my body I’m spending a lot of time working on me too. Alcohol can be my worst enemy and in times of grief it takes no prisoners. I’m learning moderation or abstenance at points is key. I’m really keen to fight again when I’m ready because I will usually stop drinking for around 6 weeks or so. Maybe I should do that anyway.
I’m also coming to terms with the fact that the police have utterly traumatised me through stop and search, surveillance and harassment over the years. Yesterday I asked myself my younger self if he could ever forgive them for what they have done. He looked up at me and said “They used to stop and search me for riding on the pavement.” I cried and said welcome to the Copwatch. These days I make my peace by helping others. I know mum and dad are proud of me. Community activism rocks.
Training has helped me navigate and understand a lot of what has happened in my life of late. There’s a strength Muay Thai has brought out in me that I never knew existed. There’s a focus and sharpness it gives me the more I train. I’m learning once again to respond and not react to situations. I’m checking in with myself more and today I woke up smiling knowing last night I had a nice evening. I even got a lift home that probably avoided round two at BRI. (That was a joke, and thanks for looking after me NHS.)
Although I’m heading back to me I know I’m on the right path. Things are flowing and moving in my favour. The signs that I have seen and that will come are clear. evident and direct. Here’s to the rest of the summer and winning all my fights in and out of the ring. Have a great weekend, train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.
Hi. It’s nice to catch up with you all once again, I’d normally apologise mainly to myself but I guess also to you for not writing for the past few weeks however, I’ve been busy with public speaking, workshops and last week’s holiday seeing family in Spain. I’ve also been spending time focusing on myself and what I need as well as want in my life.
The training I’m pleased to say has remained consistent as ever, it’s the one constant that’s always there and it gives a lot back to me. I think it always will do. Although this week has been not as busy as the week before last I intend to hit the ground running from Monday onwards. After all this time I still wouldn’t have it any other way.
I got my running up to speed last week too. I actually ran almost every day, near where my mum lives there are just stretches and stretches of road that in over 30 degrees heat can really push you. Running in the heat means you build your stamina and after every run, I finished off with a super refreshing swim in the pool.
Getting back into the swing of things this week has been good and I’m more than aware that training has been part of the healing process helping me navigate loss and the grief of losing my father late last year.
For the first time in many months since returning from Spain to see my mum, I felt like I’m heading back to myself and most importantly I feel stronger. There are a lot of beautiful memories I have of dad and just this morning I found myself sitting in the bath laughing at one of them. I didn’t feel sad I felt happy to hold such a thing close to my heart.
Grief emerges at the strangest of times and manifests in the strangest of ways and martial arts has given me my focus to see it, understand it and give it the space it needs. I woke up just the other morning sitting bolt upright I said “dad” out loud. For a moment it felt like he had popped his head around the door but he filled the whole room. Just for a couple of moments to make sure I was ok.
I didn’t feel the wave of sadness I anticipated instead I felt slightly bemused and almost blessed that whatever stopped by had given me its attention. Maybe it was him. Either way, it feels good that in my own way I’m taking the first steps to move on whatever that looks like anyway. Training is helping me to navigate this as I’ve said as is my work in the community.
When it comes to that I know how proud he was of me for founding a monitoring group and that I’m helping others in my community, just like I remember how proud he was of me for winning an area title way back in 2013/14. I was fighting a lot then and it was the same year I headed over to Thailand for the first time to train.
That old energy and hunger for the ring are returning and I’ve still got my sights set on fighting again this August. We shall see. There’s a lot of work to do between now and then but I’m not resetting and starting again, instead if I can commit to it and I’m offered a shot I’ll be picking up from where I left off. Muay Thai has helped me turn my life around. It’s helped me become a force for good in everything positive I do.
It helped me prove the police wrong in their definition of me and most importantly it helped me prove myself wrong. It showed me that when it comes down to it this is what a winner looks like. It showed me that I can do anything when I put my mind to it and just like my daddy, I can walk tall and stand strong.
I’m planning to hit the gym hard this week coming and make sure I put in the work. The future in many areas of my life looks positive and when it comes to ongoing legal battles I’m confident of success. It’s good to have put everything down for a week last week and it’s even better to be able to do that when I’m back home in Bristol too. I know how to give myself time and space when I need to rest and heal, but for me, part of that process is the Muay Thai grind. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time, I’ll see you on that road.
Hi. It’s nice to catch up again so soon after the last time we spoke. I hope all is well in your world, things are certainly improving in mine. Despite police attempts to wear me down in the vain hope, I drop my data protection breach claim against Avon and Somerset Police, I’m pleased to say all is well.
The lengths “rogue” police stoop to attempt to protect themselves is not only concerning it’s outright laughable. I guess it is what happens if you are not white and fight for your rights, in fact, it came as little to no surprise for me last week to discover the revelations that the police had waged vendettas against black people in the past. In fact, it’s safe to say that they still do and these are the people that are meant to protect us? You tell me.
However, the biggest revelation for me is yet to come when I receive my NCTPOC SAR on 27/5/22. Finding out what the problem is can be a daunting task but toughing it out and pressing forward is the best recourse, especially when legal remedies are available.
I’m comparing my current journey through community activism and police monitoring more frequently than not to my journey as a martial artist and Thai boxer. Both take a lot of strengthening, resilience, and courage to succeed at and ultimately win through. Mr never gives up still I am pleased to say never gives up in or out of the ring, especially when it comes to the subject of injustice.
The determination and resilience I’ve built as a fighter and martial artist over the years have only ever really built on what has been inside of me and I guess what I inherited from my amazing mother and father. Like with martial arts this current journey is a long one and I am confident this time around I’m going to win.
The growing confidence I have in myself is something I’ve developed not just through Muay Thai but through public speaking which is a new journey that I’m really really enjoying. It runs in the family as one of my dad’s sisters my auntie Blossom often spoke loudly and publically about the apartheid system my family and of course other South Africans vehemently resisted.
I can only imagine what living through those years was like. I’m immensely proud of my father and always will be. He’s where I get the majority of my bravery from and when it comes to being brave and staying in it I’m pleased to say I may if I work hard, improve and listen have another opportunity at fighting again this summer which is pretty exciting if it takes shape because I want to win. It was very casually mentioned to me last month and I put in the work and I’m improving so can only hope for the best. I’d like to see what I can do again.
Speaking of putting in the work and staying brave I better cut this one short as I’ve got a 4000-word assignment to finish for my Open University degree tomorrow. This is the year I get my bachelor’s degree. I’m on my last module. It’s looking like I’m going to pass which is, of course, amazing, however like Geoff Thompson says there is no landrover. When it’s done and I am at the graduation ceremony I’ll know I’ve won and in terms of the rest, have courage dear heart. It’ll work out just fine. Have a good week, train hard, and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.
Morning all. It’s good as always to catch up once again, training this week has as always been good and although at points it’s tough I feel that I’m learning and like most things in life it’s not always an easy process. At the moment I keep incredibly busy with volunteering as well as focusing on my working life and as such I’m doing a lot of public speaking, workshops, and events for Bristol Copwatch.
I wrote a while back about taking legal action against Avon and Somerset Police for a 2018 DPA breach. I’m pleased to say the case and claim have taken shape and the police have until the 4th of June to admit liability. I am of course represented by the formidable Bindmans LLP actions against the police team.
The police of course have not taken things at all well. But when it comes to the general public taking a stand over misconduct and malpractice they very rarely do. I’m still pretty much convinced what has happened has been solely vindictive in its nature just like the original wrongful and malicious prosecution of 2018.
In terms of that, I’m pleased to say that the Criminal Cases Review Commission is assessing the case and conviction to see if it can be taken back to the court of appeal. I’ll know more in the next couple of months. It was also good news to see the Information Commissioners Office uphold my complaint against Avon and Somerset Police.
They said “We have considered the issues you have raised with us. Based on this information, it is our view that ASP has not complied with their data protection obligations.” The ICO will by now have written to the police about the breach and their information rights practices.
“We have told them they should now take steps to ensure that:
rectification requests are appropriately responded to within 1 calendar month; and
subject access requests are responded to within 1 calendar month;
We have also asked that ASP review your request to have your PNC record amended to reflect the findings of the court, and to provide you with a response to this.“
Of course, we know that my PNC information in its current state is inaccurate, unfair, and unlawful so it’s going to be very interesting to see what the police’s response is to both the letter of claim and ICO decision in a couple of months. I am of course still funding raising via CrowdJustice.
I’ve been on the sharp end of police harassment for some time due to my ongoing fight to clear my name, something Avon and Somerset Police have consistently denied but from my work, as a volunteer caseworker for Bristol Copwatch I see the same patterns of harassment emerging with other POC who take a stand against police wrongdoing.
Whenever people, in general, take a stand against the police or the state whether it be through community monitoring groups, public speaking, or just doing your bit by going on a march we will always get the police’s attention, but it seems that Avon and Somerset Police are particularly malicious and vindictive in their treatment of black and brown people more so when we decide to fight for our rights.
Yesterday Bristol Copwatch held a small event at the Malcolm X Community Centre in St Pauls with Co-POWeR a University research project that is investigating the impact of emergency power policing on black and brown communities during the lockdown. We also held a stop and search workshop.
Although the event was fairly quiet (we are still getting to know St Pauls and understand the long and volatile relationship the community has had with the police here so kind of expected it) we were generally surprised to see area police turn up to check out what it was exactly we were doing. The police not only walked directly into our space for the afternoon but decided to park up outside the venue keeping a watchful eye on the entrance until finally driving off.
The monitoring group I am a founding member of respects all views on policing but we maintain a healthy distance from direct relationships with the police as it erodes trust in the communities we support. I personally have supported POC who have been through hell and back due to racist cops. It’s really hard for me to want to have any kind of engagement with the police when they consistently treat us so very badly. I know others in our core organising team feel very much the same.
What’s interesting is that after our event we headed to an anti-repression talk not far from the community centre and were monitored through our journey by local area police. Why is it that in white communities in Bristol this sort of attention to any event just does not happen? do the police feel so utterly threatened by a community event in St Pauls happening that they have to attempt to harass the organisers and intimidate the public from even walking through the door?
We had no more than 8 people in the Malcolm X Community Centre yesterday afternoon and yet still the police put pressure on us. When I was in Oxford two weeks ago the workshop myself and a fellow Copwatcher presented was busy and also monitored by the police. We’ve noted in Oxford that the police are keen on shutting down community organising if they can.
From my point of view as an organization, they feel threatened by anything they cannot have control over. This is an autocratic and authoritarian policing strategy and we need to resist it. It’s clear that if grassroots organising happens in areas they deem to be a problem (black and brown communities) we by default become “a person of interest.”
When we headed to the event held by anti-repression groups such as Bristol Defendant Solidarity and ABC we were made to feel very welcome, but then we were made to feel very welcome by the lovely staff at the Malcolm X Community Centre too. Today I’m very angry that the police attempted to create the perception that Bristol Copwatch must of either a) been up to no good. or b) was working with the police yesterday afternoon.
Co-POWeR we know felt very much the same about attempted police engagement and understand how important trust relationships are with communities like St Pauls. I respect the fact that some feel to monitor the police effectively you must build relationships with them (I strongly disagree and feel that this affects a monitoring group’s ability to critically analyze them as an organisation )but I also feel that had the organisers of yesterday’s event at MX all been white we wouldn’t have received the extensive attention we did.
I have been on the sharp end of racist policing a lot of my adult life and know what it looks like in action. I’m hoping that in the next couple of months I see a few things start to be put right. In the meantime, of course, I’ll keep campaigning. Next month I’m on the Bristol Radical History Group’s speaker panel at “Set the people free” talking about mobile fingerprinting and PACE stop and search. Following that, I’m with fellow Copwatchers at the awesome Bristol Transformed festival hosting a workshop on dealing with the police.
I’m a firm believer in taking a stand when it comes to injustice. In the cold light of day, I see the police for what they are and I know that I’m doing the right thing. The last bit of training for the week is going to be a welcome stressbuster this afternoon. I still hope that you can see me. Just remember to stand up and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.
Hi. It’s been a few weeks since we caught up last but as always it’s great to find the time to sit down and write. I hope your week has been a good one and when it comes to training I hope it’s been a strong one. I’ve been pretty consistent with my training over the past few weeks and as of next week, I’m turning it up a notch further. I feel strong inside and confident that little by little I’m improving when it comes to sparring. The positive energy from training is something I carry into the rest of my life and I’m pleased to say energy is flowing into all the right spaces and places that make up me.
A few weeks ago I wrote about why I’m taking legal action against Avon and Somerset Police. Thanks to a tremendous fundraising campaign on CrowdJustice and some outstanding media coverage from the Canary plus most importantly ongoing support and solidarity from yourselves I’m really pleased to say I’ve raised the initial fundraising goal of £1500.00 to pursue action over a 2018 DPA breach that has resulted in a lot of police targeting and harassment over the course of time. I’d recommend the platform to anyone who needs to raise funds for a legal matter and can’t go via the legal aid route.
I’m catching up with Bindmans LLP early next week. Their reputation in righting wrongs when it comes to us and the police and state is formidable so I feel confident that although the road ahead may be a long one (hey there’s nothing new there) things inevitably will be put right, and the police as they should be will be held to account.
There is a stretch target of £8,000 running on my CrowdJustice in case we need to take the police to court over the matter, but as we’re also looking at article 8 breaches and intelligence sharing malpractice maybe, just maybe I can move my case into a civil claim. Of course, I’ll know more next week!. After 4 years of fighting for justice and to clear my name, I feel the glass should always remain half full. Later this year the CCRC is taking a look at the original wrongful and malicious conviction. Additionally, we are still waiting to hear from the ICO on the breach itself.
I’ve been very pleased to see many people on the martial arts scene being very supportive of my fight to clear my name and my ongoing fight for justice. I think sometimes when you tell people you’ve had a lot of police contact in your life or that the cops are harassing you it’s very easy to assume that like the police themselves, those listening will assume you are perpetually a ‘bloody criminal‘ It has been refreshing to hear people say “I can’t believe what they have done to you.” and the community of Bristol as a whole has shown a lot of empathy and can clearly see it.
But you know something? I’m not alone. It seems that the police here are quite willing to wage malicious, and often racist vendettas against anyone who decides to fight for their rights. The community project and independent police monitoring group Bristol Copwatch I hope is a breath of fresh air for working-class communities across the city and of course for anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of police misconduct and abuse of power. We are 2 years old this month. I think my dad would be very proud of me for being one of the creators of something so positive. I know my mum is.
Later this month I’m in Oxford with Copwatch getting my teeth sunk into the police once again, on a workshop on resilience, stop and search plus of course how to Copwatch. I think we’re even covering a little on SAR (subject access request) and why it matters. It was only by raising a SAR that I found out about the breach. The marker I had been looking for was there all along. When it comes to PNC entries as Bindmans has said the issue is the wording. Between you, me, and the gatepost it seems particularly malicious. We’ll see how things pan out over the next few weeks.
Outside of community work and day-to-day life trials and tribulations, I’m very pleased as always to have Muay Thai as my release valve. Like with everything else it’s a long road but it’s an investment in myself and it has helped me navigate many of the journeys in my life I have never ever wanted to make. An old friend once gave me a postcard of Muhammad Ali, and I wrote: “I am a survivor” on the back. That survivor is also a fighter. I always have been even before I found martial arts. I still walk tall and I’m getting stronger. Thanks to my friends and family for all your support and love. Here’s to winning all our fights in the ring and otherwise, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.
Every time I look in the mirror, dad is looking back.
Hi. It’s nice to catch up with you once again and I’m really pleased to be writing regularly and often a couple of times within the space of the week. One of my biggest fears about writing this blog is that it can be either too much or too little. Right now it feels like I’m in the writer’s Goldilocks zone so here we are again. You and me.
I’ve just come back from a well-deserved stress-busting run and I’m pleased to say training is just around the corner. Of course, I do have a day job it’s just that I’m a lot busier when I’m freelancing as well as running my business. Although, maybe I need to give my business a little more time than I do currently.
Last year ended in a family tragedy and although there’s no time limit on dealing with grief I’m pleased to say every day I get a little stronger. As my mum said to me just yesterday “It comes over me in waves.” Although both of us are in different countries we speak at least twice a day. Mum is where I get my strength from and of course from my beautiful dad too.
You see trauma can be a crippling thing. I’ve been unfortunate enough to go through a lot of it in my life. From police harassment and a journey through the Criminal Justice system to toxic relationships, it has taken many shapes.
These days I’ve learned to carry other people’s trauma and find that by helping them navigate their own journey through the damage the police create I heal some of my own. I’m not ashamed to say I have a therapist who is helping me forgive, love and respect my younger self. That guy who made all those mistakes. That kid the police never left alone. The one who misses his dad more than you will ever know.
in 2020 we saw an upsurge in resistance to police misconduct and brutality across the globe following the horrific murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin. Misconduct and brutality that had existed for years within the police in the UK was once again headline news but with every event, every story of those we have lost at the hands of the police came a barrage of emotions.
Those new to the push for our civil rights learned to respect and stand with the families and individuals on the sharp end of abuse and brutality, I learned to navigate what the police have done to me over the years by helping others take action. When I first spoke to both my mum and dad about my stop and search years, I found myself in tears after they told me that the police used to stop me almost every day. Once a criminal always a criminal was burned so deeply into my psyche for a while I actually believed it was all I could be.
My healing, in the end, started with martial arts and ended with Muay Thai. Over 16 years on I’m still here training just as hard as I always have. It’s good to be back in the room. I’m here for life. Through( in my humble opinion) one of the tougher fighting systems out there, I found myself again. My shadow fell away and I realised all the misconceptions of me and the lies that I felt had been said about me didn’t matter anymore. The only person I had to prove wrong was myself. The only person I was really fighting was myself. Some things are just as relevant now as they were back then.
We’re only 2 months into the new year and already I feel confident that it’s going to be a good one. There is so much I want to do and have in my life I just need to remember to give myself time. One day at a time will become one month at a time and the waves will become less frequent and more beautiful. If you didn’t know already I’m fundraising to hold the police to account for a breach of data protection. Navigating the most recent trauma from local police harassment gets easier day by day. In the end, everything changes. Have a great week, train hard, and just like the last time… I’ll see you on that road.