originally by: Socialist Worker
25th March 2011
How did Smiley Culture die? Around 1,000 people demanded the answer to this at an angry meeting in Brixton, south London, last night, Thursday. Several hundred were unable to enter the packed room in Lambeth Town Hall. The vast majority of those who attended were local black people. The meeting was organised by the Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture.
Reggae artist David Emmanuel, also known as Smiley Culture, died during a police raid on his house in Surrey on 15 March. Police claim he stabbed himself in the heart while alone in the kitchen. His family want a full public inquiry.
David’s nephew, Merlin Emmanuel, gave a powerful speech at the meeting in which he condemned the British justice system. He criticised the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating David’s death.
“The IPCC has stated that one person a week has died in custody over the last decade,” he said.
“How is it not one police officer has been convicted for a death in custody?” he continued, to a huge cheer. For this reason, my confidence in the IPCC and the judicial process is minimal,” he said.
“Could it be the system has rendered the appeals of poor whites and poor blacks impotent?
“Could it be that the judicial system is there to oppress us and to protect the establishment?” Power concedes nothing without demands.”
Thunderous applause erupted when Merlin announced a demonstration from Wandsworth Road in south London to New Scotland Yard on 16 April. “The system needs a change,” he said.
“We are the generation to implement that change. We will ride on the wind of revolution and change, as it sweeps across the world, and harness that energy. “There would be no real regime change in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain or beyond if it were not for the people uniting and standing as one.”
Earlier in the meeting, IPCC spokesperson Mike Franklin told the audience that the case would be taken seriously. But the mood was of mistrust of the IPCC. People heckled Franklin, demanding that the IPCC name the officers involved in the raid.
Marcia Rigg was at the meeting. Her brother Sean died in Brixton police station in 2008. But Sean’s family do not believe that the IPCC brought them justice. Marcia has campaigned tirelessly ever since.
“Our unity is our strength,” she told Socialist Worker. “When we march to New Scotland Yard we’ll get a huge turnout.”
The demonstration has the potential to be a huge march of unity to demand an end to all deaths in custody.