This Friday evening, shortly before 7 p.m., family, friends and supporters started to assemble outside the heavily, but discretely, fortified Slough Police Station to hold their second peaceful vigil in memory of 57 year old Philmore Mills who died in police custody at Wexham Park Hospital.
At the start of the vigil, a large police riot van, with a metal grill suspended above its front window screen, was clearly visible along the side road, Chalvey Park. It was parked facing the vigil - a 5 second journey away.
Some of the mourners said the riot van's presence was
intimidation. Among the West Indian population and some of their descendants,
especially males, there is genuine unease about the police's behaviour over many
When the vigil began, Philmore's eldest daughter Rachel Gumbs and Philmore's wife were inside the police station talking to the Slough Local Police Area (LPA) commander superintendent Richard Humphrey. They had also met earlier in the afternoon. Mr Humphrey offered the family use of the toilets and the staff canteen (which some of us know is machine service only after about 15:00).
Philmore Mills' death happened around 2 a.m. in Wexham Park's hospital's ward 9 also know as a High Dependency ward. Mr Mills was a hospital in-patient recovering from severe pneumonia. He needed 40% oxygen to breath and was in a frail condition.
Thames Valley Police officers forced Mr Mills on to the floor, face down, knelt or sat on his back while handcuffing the ill patient's hands behind his back. A police source has since stated Mr Mills was not wanted by the police and was not a terrorist suspect. In fact he was a harmless 57 year old man with no energy to hurt a fly.
When the police attack on the innocent hospital patient finished, someone noticed the police's victim was not breathing but it was too late. Philmore Mills was dead.
The family want answers about Philmore Mills' death but when English police investigate English police, the public's natural expectation of fairness, equality and justice appear ignored and forgotten by the authorities.
The attendees congregated by a Cedar tree outside the police station on the corner of Windsor Road and Chalvey Park. At the start of the vigil the Slough Times counted more than 63 people including friends acting as stewards.
At 19:15, local Member of Parliament Fiona MacTaggart arrived on her bicycle.
Still astride her bike and wearing her cycling clothing Ms MacTaggart promptly lit a candle.
Ms MacTaggart spoke briefly to a few of the assembled campaigners.
Standing on the pavement outside the police station, Ms MacTaggart delivered this short 1 minute and 16 seconds speech:-
Thank you, all of you, who are here tonight.
I just came down here and I won't be able to stay very long. I'm sorry
I'm going to a rather more celebratory event to congratulate Lydia Simmons
the first black mayor of Slough on her '?????' today.
So, so you have, ......
Stuart said we have something to celebrate as well as things to mourn.
But today I think people are here not just to mourn but they are also here to
ask for justice and to make sure that the investigation of the police and the
investigation of the hospital and the investigation of all the events around
Philmore Mills' death show us what actually happened and bring justice to this
bereaved family because I know that until you know the truth you can't grieve
So this is actually very simple what we are asking for. We are asking to know
the truth, to have justice and to let a family grieve.
Then waving goodbye Ms MacTaggart peddled away into the darkness.