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Campaign launched in memory of Leeds victim of police brutality

Design for a memorial garden for David Oluwale, pictured below

Design for a memorial garden for David Oluwale, pictured below

A fundraising campaign to build a memorial to a victim of police brutality is being launched 45 years after his death.

Homeless man David Oluwale was found dead in the River Aire at Knostrop cut, near Leeds city centre, on May 4 1969.

He had last been seen alive being chased by police towards the river more than a fortnight earlier.

Two officers were later cleared of his manslaughter but were jailed for assaulting him.

Now the Remember Oluwale charity is pressing ahead with £100,000 plans for a Memorial Garden near Leeds Bridge where Mr Oluwale, who was 39, was last seen.

Max Farrar, Emeritus Professor at Leeds Metropolitan University and secretary of the David Oluwale Memorial Association (DOMA) board, said Mr Oluwale’s story was symbolic of the problems Leeds had with racism, violent policing and the neglect of the vulnerable in the 1960s and 70s.

He added: “In remembering its traumatic past, the city is healing itself and moving forward.

“This garden will be a place of reflection and tranquility. It will focus our efforts to improve the conditions of the people in Leeds who continue to endure similar problems to David’s – mental health distress, destitution, homelessness and racism.”

The charity hopes to create a ‘pocket park’ out of abandoned land on Water Lane, overlooking the river. The land is being leased by Asda, which owns it.

Network Rail, which is currently using the site, will collaborate with the Environment Agency’s flood defence programme to build the basis of the garden in spring 2015.

Landscape and garden design students at Leeds Met have designed the memorial.

The fundraising campaign launches next Saturday with a music and arts event at Left Bank in Hyde Park, including craft stalls and good.

Martin Patterson, DOMA chairman and a director at St George’s Crypt, said: “Although much has been done in our city to improve life chances for people facing the issues which David Oluwale experienced 45 years ago, there is still work required to address issues caused by homelessness, mental health and for people coming out of prison.

“In DOMA, we are committed to working in partnership with a wide range of agencies engaged with issues such as these.

“We also believe strongly that we can make a significant contribution through our objectives in working with others to ensure that we as a city learn from the past and do things better in the future.”

 

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