The real alternative lies in the estates of Brixton, Peckham, Hackney…
It is no use simply complaining about injustice or inequality; if we want to really advocate for change in society, then of course, we must offer an alternative. Last Thursday, over a thousand people packed out Brixton Town Hall for the Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture. This is the kind of organisation we need on a local level to seriously challenge not only this government, but the political system underpinning it.
We need to take the running of our local communities back into our own hands. It is time for people to reject the status quo of party politics, and to elect our own leaders; people, not politicians, who really represent us.
Instead of a salary of £65,738, MPs should recieve the minimum wage, or at very most the average wage, of their constituents. Perhaps then they will be able to maintain some kind of grasp of reality. On major issues, the people of their constituency should be consulted every time, and a failure to deliver on key pre-election pledges should be followed by an immediate resignation.
Many stories were shared at the meeting for Smiley Culture, but the words that inspired most came from his son, Merlin Emmanuel.
“For a period of time Smiley lived with us,” Merlin began, “and was very much like a big brother to me. Growing up as a young boy in our community, I realised very quickly [that] there seemed to be a two-tier state; there was one rule for the rich and another for the poor…”
Smiley Culture died on March 15th 2011, as the police raided his home. The police say he stabbed himself.
“This kind of thing hasn’t just started happening…” Merlin continued, “there is a clear pattern, and a trail, should you care to follow it, stained in the blood of those who have died here in this country, but have yet to procure the justice they deserve. Ian Tomlinson was one of the most recent examples, and my heartfelt condolences go out to his family – we want you to know that the people of south London stand with you in solidarity! We are driven by our faith and our quest for justice, and until that happens, there will be no peace! In addition, the IPCC themselves have stated that, on average, one person per week has died in police custody in the last decade. And that’s not including mental institutions, prisons and immigration detention centres…
Could it be that the system has rendered the appeals of poor whites [and] poor blacks, impotent? Could it be that the British judicial system is designed to oppress us? These are valid questions; I am asking, is it possible?
People of ethnic minorities are more likely to suffer this tragic fate [of dying in police custody]. The IPCC cannot guarantee justice, we must do that ourselves. Power concedes nothing without demand. If we don’t challenge the present system as a people, nothing will change. Unity is by far the most potent weapon we have at our disposal, against the giant of this system, this system of supposed justice which protects those with influence, yet ignores the plight of the under-privileged, the poor, the downtrodden… us. So I have a suggestion Mr. Cameron; keep your own house in order before you go to foreign territories.
To clean a vessel properly, you need to clean it from the inside out. The system needs a change, and we are the generation to implement that change. There would be no change in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Bahrain and beyond, if it was not for the people standing united as one.”
On April 16th, supporters of the Campaign for Smiley Culture will march to Scotland Yard to demand justice. All those who believe in changing the system, and not merely the face that represents it, should be marching alongside them.
Details of the demonstration for Smiley Culture can be found here – http://on.fb.me/hCa3OoTagged in: Brixton, Hackney, Peckham, smiley culture, stab
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