source: The Guardian
published: 2 October 2016
After autistic teenager Mzee Mohammed died in custody in Liverpool this summer, his family buried him in the Caribbean. Afua Hirsch reports, and hears why the Jamaican diaspora are so concerned for the safety of their young men in Britain.
On a sun-bleached street in Mandeville, a cluttered town in the deep velvet of Jamaica’s green hills, the Sunday-morning silence dissolves slowly. A mixtape of reggae songs begins to play for the large crowd gathering in the heat and Karla Mohammed, a 43-year old British woman, leans into the open boot of a white Escalade, weeping.
She has the bewildered look of someone unsure how she came to be in this bauxite boom-town in Jamaica, burying her 18-year-old boy. Ever since Mzee Mohammed died on 13 July in Liverpool, in circumstances that remain mysterious, she has navigated plans for two funerals – one in Liverpool and a second in Jamaica – an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation, an inquest, and the puzzling bureaucracy of reclaiming a child’s body from the state. It hasn’t been easy, far from it, and even now, as family members gather around the hearse, there is talk of the smell from the corpse.
“First they killed him, and then they gave the family a rotting body to bring back here. It’s just very unfortunate,” mutters Karen Williams, a cousin of Mzee’s