Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ending the Violence through a Creative Response

This is a continuation of my previous blogs,

Ending the Violence
No to Pre-Trial Electrocutions
Police Officers Accused of 60 Other Assaults

I was in Brixton town centre a couple of days ago when I noticed that, outside Brixton police station, a tree has been dedicated as a memorial to a young African Caribbean man, Sean Riggs, who died in police custody.

With all the recent media feeding frenzy around the allegations of assaults by police officers at the G20 demonstrations, there has been no mention of this young man's death. I have seen no connections made between the G20 incidents and the ongoing assaults on African people by the police.

According to information posted on the tree memorial, there were two cameras present when Riggs died, but neither was working. That is the official line. Judge for yourself how believable that is.

Our young people need to carry cameras all the time as a way of protecting themselves from police violence. This is one important lesson to be learned from the incidents that took place at the G20 demos. But once in police custody, use of cameras will often not be possible.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is one of the most effective methods of countering violence. For more about this, see

Ending the Violence
Improving Relationships/Improving Communication
Nonviolent Communication

NVC is used to transform situations, including cases of extreme violence. It is not the same as passive resistance, it is a creative response.

I hope you will join my course in London in October and find out how you can use NVC in your own life.

We really can transform this situation and create a better future.

Below is an excerpt from "A Duty Of Remembrance", by Toyin Agbetu, taken from Nyansapo: The African Drum.

What I like most about this piece is that Toyin is bringing in the spiritual dimension, talking about revering the ancestors.

We need to have an awareness of the problem. But it is far more vital to focus on solutions.

A Duty Of Remembrance

Greetings, I was recently reading trough a book that was sent to me called Again We’ll Rise by BJ Gilwards. Inside it were a collection of inspiring quotations and statements from African people spanning millennia. It made me think hard about many of the wisdom's we have forgotten, the legacies from our history, the good and the bad, the gains and also the losses.

During January 1999, a gang of eight officers from the British Police Force brutally restrained a young man named Roger Sylvester. In describing their actions the police lied claiming Roger was violent. However contrary to their statements Roger was seen being dragged limp, naked and handcuffed into a police van by several witnesses. Roger, a council worker stopped breathing and fell into a coma at the emergency psychiatric unit at St Anne's Hospital, Haringey. Six police officers had pinned him down on the floor for about 20 minutes.

Ben Bersabel, a nurse on duty at the time of the assault said he had noticed Roger was being held down on his front and calling out for a doctor. The police ignored Rogers’s pleas for help and as a direct result of their actions he suffered heart and kidney failure, severe brain damage and bruising to his body. Roger, 30 was a mental health service user. He died six days later at the Whittington Hospital.

Roger’s family made several complaints about the abusive actions of the officers. This led to an investigation carried out by Essex Police under the supervision of the racist Police Complaints Authority (PCA) but to no avail. When the discredited PCA was abandoned it was replaced with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which now has overall responsibility for the police complaints system. It is important to note that the British tactic of rebranding old as new is common and even the Metropolitan Police Force has formally changed its name to the Police ‘Service’ in an attempt to soften its brutish image.

Now for many years Roger’s family were denied justice, the British media in an attempt to exonerate the police deliberately mislead the public by reporting state fabrications. A typical story was that published by the BBC with the headline ‘Detained man's drug delirium’.

… But then after several years of campaigning the family achieved a breakthrough. On 3 October 2003, an inquest jury returned a unanimous verdict and ruled that Roger had been unlawfully killed. In a just ‘civilised’ society the six police officers should have faced murder or at the very least, manslaughter charges for their ‘unlawful killing’ but instead in 2004, a high court judge formally quashed the verdict allowing the police force to once again escape justice after killing innocent Africans.

… So what is the solution? How do we as a community achieve justice, reparation and ultimately Maat for atrocities committed against our Ancestors? Well the first thing we must do is respect the ritual of remembrance and hold a memorial or commemoration for them every year without fail. For this act to be progressive it must not only be carried out for the victims of Maafa but also the survivors and heroes.

… You see we need African Remembrance at the very least, once a year. Our own right to dignity demands we collectively remember their names especially in circumstances where the loss has been both tragic and traumatic instead of worshipping those ‘celebrities’ and role muddles the government and its media promotes as ‘black’ British or American idols.

So to those who have passed and whose names we rarely call, please know that not all your children have forgotten your sacrifice. And in remembrance to those of you who are also still with us, I want to thank you, from brother Colin, Aiah Menjor and Milton Hanson to sista Ama Sumani and Elder Rosie Purves, there are so many of you out there who I want to thank for doing the work, and those of you who silently support them, you know who you are. In the meantime I have written to the IPCC making an Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the details of all the cases involving African people who have died in custody that Freddy Patel has been involved in and may have covered up. If we don’t do think this work important, then who will?

Taken from Nyansapo - The Pan African Drum
Toyin Agbetu is a writer, film director, poet, and founder of Ligali, the pan African human rights based organisation.
To subscribe to this free newsletter, Nyansapo the Pan African Drum, contact Ligali

Ending the Violence

As you may know, yesterday was the AfroSpear's Day of Blogging for Justice against tasers. If you haven't yet, you can read my latest anti-tasing blog here.

Here are some more:

Electronic Village Wants to End Taser Torture

Eddie Griffin's Message to the Fort Worth Police

From My Brown-Eyed View

Dallas South

Antoinette's Pont of View

There are many more. Feel free to add your voice. We need to stop this violence against African people. Tasers are widely used in the U.S.A. and will be in the UK unless we stop this.

The only real way to stop violence is with nonviolence. I am not talking about passive resistance as was used during the civil rights era of the 1960s. I am talking about creative communication, also known as Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

NVC is used in many parts of the world, incuding places that have a history of extreme violence, such as Rwanda and Burundi, Sierra Leone, and Israel and Palestine.

NVC is changing people's lives. We can use it to transform the way the police operate so that everyone's needs are respected.

The Law of Attraction tells us that what we put our energies into increases and expands. The Law of Increase says that what we concentrate on, what we focus on, increases.

So if we focus on the solution, we will find more and more solutions.

It is important that so many people have blogged and are continuing to blog about tasing, as it is being used to assault and even kill African people.

We need to be aware of the problem. This is vitally important. But even more crucially, we need to focus on solutions.

I will be leading a course in London on NVC for the African Caribbean community in October. Check my web page, Improving Relationships/Improving Communication, for updates.

For more information, see Nonviolent Communication.

We can bring about positive change and transformation. We can transform this situation. Find out more and get involved.

Friday, April 24, 2009

No to Pre-Trial Electrocutions

Congratulations to my fellow AfroSpear members for organising another Day of Blogging for Justice to raise awareness about the use of tasers against Black men, women and children.

Click here to read my post on the previous Day of Blogging for Justice against tasing.

It is a travesty that another such event is needed. Tasing is also being referred to as "pre-trial electrocution" and rightly so.

Here are some more of today's blogs:

TNT Truth Not Tasers

AfroSpear Blog

Here in London, attacks by the police are much in the news at the moment, following the demonstrations around the G20 a couple of weeks ago. Three people have been named as victims of police attacks, one of whom, Ian Tomlinson, is now dead. Films of the incident suggest that Tomlinson was minding his own business, watching the demo from the sidelines, when attacked from behind by a police officer. He collapsed, and died shortly thereafter.

It has been decided that a third inquest into Tomlinson's death will be carried out, as the findings of the first two contradicted each other.

The day after Tomlinson's death, a woman protester was struck by a police officer.

I note that (1) both of these protesters were white, (2) both incidents were filmed. In the case of the attack on Tomlinson, several different cameras in different positions recorded the incident.

And (3) none of the alleged attacks involved the use of tasers. In other words, London's Metropolitan Police are capable of doing plenty of damage without deploying tasers. Tasers are rarely used in the UK at present, but once their use becomes widespread, the situation will only worsen.

Given the current state of the economy, with an increase in employment being forecast, many are predicting an increase in civil unrest. So lots more opportunities for the police to use heavy-handed tactics.

I will be blogging more about this soon, but I wanted to post this today in support of the Day of Justice.

Black people have been saying for many years that the policing of our communities is often brutal and violent. When Black people die in police custody, no one is ever prosecuted or deemed to have acted unlawfully or inappropriately.

As I said recently in Police Officers Accused of 60 Other Assaults, African young people and adults need to be carrying cameras and/or camera phones at all times in order to record these incidents. However, I add that, once a brotha or sista is inside a police cell, he or she has no opportunity to use a camera, and no guarantee that the cameras in place are in working order or contain film. Again, I will blog more about this soon.

Again, all credit to the sistas and brothas of the AfroSpear for keeping the issue of tasing in the forefront of our minds.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyle's Got Talent

On the Channel 5's Wright Stuff this morning, they were talking about judging a book by its cover. Current Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle is considered unattractive and even "ugly".

This blog has moved to Susan Boyle's Got Talent.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Police Officers Accused of 60 Other Assaults

In the wake of last week's demonstrations about the G20, a Metropolitan Police officer is accused of striking an innocent passerby.

Camcorder footage reveals the officer allegedly striking a man on the back of the leg as the man was walking away. The man is seen to fall over, and died shortly thereafter.

Interestingly, the passerby was white. It is a rarity for white people in Britain to suffer assaults from the police except in large demonstrations such as the Wapping pickets and the miners' strike of the 1980s. Or at least, such assaults are rarely pubicised.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission asked newspaper The Guardian to remove the video from their website.

It would be even more interesting if we could produce film footage of police officers' assaults on members of the Black community, similarly to the Rodney King incident.

It remains to be seen what, if any, action is taken against the officer involved. In the Jean Charles de Menezes case, no one was found to be guilty of causing his death even though this innocent Brazilian man was shot at point-black range following the London 7/7 bombings of 2005. It was claimed they officers involved thought he was a suspected terrorist involved in the bombings.

The Jury recorded an open verdict and made it clear that they did not believe the court testimony of the police officers involved, who stated that a warning had been given before de Menezes was shot. For more on this, see Q&A: The Day de Menezes Died

Nubiart Diary recently reported on four officers who were recently convicted of assaults on a British Muslim man, who have been accused of involvement in 60 other incidents.

The article cites a string of other recent complaints against London's Metropolitan Police. To read more, visit News and Views: ANC Welcomes Ruling.

This article also includes a report from the ANC on the Pretoria High Court's refusal to grant parole to someone who murdered two ANC members.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

John Hope Franklin Dies at 94

John Hope Franklin, author of From Slavery to Freedom, advised Thurgood Marshall in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case. To read more, see Obituary for John Hope Franklin.

This article also includes a review of the book Milk, Money And Honey: Changing Concepts In Rwandan Healing. Plus Black history events and more.

Monday, April 06, 2009