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Scotland is a racist country, says Sheku Bayoh’s sister

Sheku Bayoh’s sister Kadi Johnson (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Sheku Bayoh’s sister Kadi Johnson (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The sister of a black man who died after being restrained by police in Fife has said Scotland is a racist country.

Kadi Johnson made the comment as an inquiry into the death of her brother, Sheku Bayoh, is under way in Edinburgh.

The 31-year-old died after being held by officers who were responding to a call in Kirkcaldy in May 2015.

Ms Johnson told the inquiry earlier this week she no longer feels safe living in Scotland after her brother’s death, and she fears for her children and nieces and nephews.

She, and her family, believe race played a role in Mr Bayoh’s death.

“Scotland is a place that I once loved and I felt safe in, but since my brother’s death I don’t feel safe anymore,” Ms Johnson told the BBC’s The Sunday Show.

Asked if Scotland was a racist country, she made a stern facial expression before replying: “Yes, I am afraid I will say yes.

“Because the way we have been treated, when my brother died, instead of the police coming to tell me exactly how my brother died, it was just lies they told me from the start, so there’s no trust, I don’t trust them anymore.”

She spoke about her experience with racism in relation to police, but said it also factors in other parts of her life such as school and in the workplace.

“Scotland still has a lot of work to do around racism,” Ms Johnson said.

“We who are in it, feel it.

“We know what we are going through on a daily basis.

“It is different from a white person and we have seen it in our workplaces, our schools.”

Ms Johnson added: “For this to change, it starts from the grassroots, which is the schools.

“Start from the schools and work your way up because it’s happening there.

“Black and ethnic minority children are experiencing that and it goes up to us, the adults.”

Earlier this week, the public inquiry heard Chief Constable Iain Livingstone believes that Police Scotland needs to be “anti-racist”.

Maria Maguire QC, representing him, told the hearing: “The chief constable is aware that it is not enough to be alert to racism and deal with it on a case-by-case basis when it comes to light.

“Nor is it enough simply to be non-racist.

“Police Scotland needs to be anti-racist.”

The inquiry also heard Mr Livingstone had been “powerfully affected” by words from Ms Johnson.