Monday, March 21, 2011

Death of Smiley Culture

Those of us who are old enough can recall the death of Colin Roach. In 1983, a Black man felt suicidal, so he went to his local police station in East London, stuck a shotgun in his mouth and blew his brains out.

Of course, if one should feel inclined take one's own life, one would automatically head to the local police station to do so. It's natural, isn't it?

According to Wikipedia, the gun with which Roach was killed could not fit into his bag, and the position of his body was inconsistent with suicide.

Those of us who are old enough can recall the death of Steve Biko, a freedom fighter and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. He died in a prison cell in 1977. The coroner ruled that he had committed suicide by banging his head repeatedly against the wall of the cell. Of course, that is the preferred, highy popular and effetive method of committing suicide.

No one was ever prosecuted for Biko's death because, although it was proved that he had been subjected to beatings and torture which caused severe head injuries, there were no witnesses to his treatment - at least, none who would testify.

Smiley Culture is one of the latest and highest-profile suspicious deaths of a Black person in police custody. Click here to watch a recent press conference about Smiley Culture's death.

Lest we think this problem affects the brothas alone, let us recall the name of Joy Gardner. Joy Gardner was a sista from Jamaica who died in London in 1993. Surrounded by police officers in her flat, it was claimed that she removed her t-shirt in order to confuse the officers (because that is what you do, right?).

Charged with overstaying her visa, Gardner was put in restraint, whence she died.

Let us recall the name of Cynthia Jarrett, an African Caribbean sista who died when police entered and searched her home in Tottenham, North London following the arrest of her son, allegedly for having an out-of-date tax disc. Her death later sparked a riot on the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham.

See also: Black People 26 Times More Likely to Be Stopped by The Police.

Even Matthew Wright has stated that when a white person is killed by the police, it is front page news, but when it's a Black person, we don't hear about it again.

(When a white journalist says this, you know it must be obvious.)

It is time to put an end to this killing of Black men and women. Let us recall them and let us call their names. Let their names be remembered.

But most importantly, we must put an end to this roll call of death. It is time for Black lives to be treated as just as valuable and precious as anyone else's life. Justice must prevail.

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