Unite to advocate for freedom, opportunity and justice for all

Speech delivered by Mr. Merlin Emmanuel, nephew of the late Smiley Culture, at Lambeth Town on 24th March 2011

Once again, on behalf of the Emmanuel family, we thank-you for your support and attendance. In the name of God, the creator and author of all things. This is my personal statement, and might not necessarily reflect the views of the Emmanuel family as a whole. I, like many of you, was born here, in Britain; my parents were immigrants who came here with the hope of a better life for themselves and their families. My father is Jamaican, my mother is Guyanese. As a family we settled and lived in the Brixton area, where Smiley lived with his mother, my Grandmother, he was the youngest of five children that comprised of four brothers and one sister, my mother. 

For a period of time Smiley lived with us and was very much like a big brother to me. Growing up as a young boy in our community, I realised very quickly there seemed to be a two tier state. There was one rule for the rich and another for the poor and, further to that, it was undergirded by a judicial system designed to keep it that way.

As a consequence, most of the people from my neighbourhood had a profound and deep-rooted resentment towards British law and those who enforced it. 

In the year of 1981 this animosity culminated in social unrest in the form of the Brixton riots. Further concerns were raised that same year, when many lost their lives in the New Cross fire, which to this day, a satisfactory conclusion as to the reason for that tragic event has yet to be arrived at.

The period during my early to late teens turned out to be the most traumatic years of my life, it was then I was introduced to racism and prejudice in all its ugliness, up until then I was relatively naive. For example, my family was personally caught up with Roland Adams death in Thamesmead; it affected us very badly as a family. The murder of Stephen Lawrence followed shortly after that. Shortly after that, my family were afforded police protection and were moved out of Thamesmead, happy to escape with our lives.

My point is that, this kind of thing hasn’t just started happening. No, quite the contrary, 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 is one of the most recent examples, my heartfelt condolences go out to his family, we want you to know that the people of South London and the greater community, stand with you in solidarity. For we are united by our pain and our quest for justice, and until that happens, there will be no peace.

In addition to this, the IPCC themselves have stated that on average, one person a week has died in police custody in the last decade, and that’s not including, mental institutions, prisons or immigration centres. Taking these chilling statistics into account, how is it that not one policeman has been convicted for the murder of a citizen under their custody? It is for this reason, and this reason alone that my confidence in the IPCC and the judicial process is minimal, to say the least.

Could it be that the system has rendered the appeals of poor whites, poor blacks impotent? Could it be that the British judicial system is designed to oppress us the common citizens and protect the establishment? These are valid questions, I’m just asking, is it possible?

On average 400 people in the last 10 years have died in police custody. It is also true that people from ethnic minorities are more likely to suffer this tragic fate, is this by co-incidence or design?

The IPCC can tell us all what happened to Smiley and others, but what they can’t do is guarantee us justice, that we have to do for self. Ourselves. Power concedes nothing without demand, if we don’t challenge the present system of things as a people, nothing will change!

The one precious commodity that is absent from our community, that would remedy many of the social, economical, political and spiritual ailments that currently afflict us, is that wondrous word unity. Unity, let’s have a look at that word and analyse the fundamental sentiments of its meaning. The state or quality of being one; the act, state or quality of forming a whole from separate parts; mutual agreement, harmony, uniformity or constancy.

That’s the commodity I’m talking about, it’s free and by far, the most potent weapon we have at our disposal to combat this giant, this great goliath, this system of supposed justice that protects those with influence and standing and ignores the plight of the underprivileged, the poor, the downtrodden…. Us! Until we take the sentiment of that word, unity, to our bosom and action it, we will never be afforded the respect or the freedom we strive for.

So we say to you Mr. Cameron, and those that came before you, if you can champion justice and freedom for all in foreign territories, how can you ignore the sustained injustices on your own British citizens at home? I humbly, suggest you get your own house in order before you seek to control others.
Now, I’m not about to get into what we feel happened to Smiley, as in truth it’s all speculative without hard evidence, only Smiley could tell us what truly happened that night, and he’s not with us.

However, what I can say is that, under section 16 (execution of warrants) the police have a ‘duty of care’ to look after a suspect in their custody and keep him or her safe, therefore the protocol, the standard procedure, should be and is, to handcuff the suspect, why? To keep him from; a) Hurting himself, b) Hurting others, c) Concealing or interfering with evidence.

The police have failed miserably to enforce these simple procedures and as a consequence, my uncle, David Emmanuel also known as Smiley Culture is dead..

Fact: David Emmanuel also known as Smiley Culture would still be alive had it not been for the police applying for a warrant to search his house, raiding his house last Wednesday (15th March).

I hear the whispers on the streets, I see the posts on the internet, the blogs in chat rooms, the articles in the tabloids, he was this, he was that, whatever you might ‘think’ Smiley was, is not relevant here, the fundamental principle that governs British law, is, a man is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Smiley never had the chance to fight his case, so we will stand in his place and fight for him, they will not taint the legacy of this great man, we will stand and fight for all those who have died in suspicious circumstances under police custody.

So we march, on, April 16th from Wandsworth Road to Scotland Yard to let the powers that be know, we will take this no more! We, the people of London and the greater community, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and beyond have had enough of this injustice, it doesn’t matter what race, background, culture or religion you come from, none of us are immune. Let us do this not only for those who have gone before us but also for those who come after us, why?

Because we are simply the guardians of this earth for a new generation, and until we address the injustice and imbalance in the British judicial system that is clearly in favour of those in power, the rich and the affluent, yet shuns the poor and underprivileged, we will forever be marching and demonstrating for peace and justice but never attaining it. To clean a vessel properly, one must clean it from the inside out, the system needs change. We are that generation to change it, we will ride on the winds of revolution and change sweeping across the world, and harness that energy. There would be no real regime change in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and beyond if it were not for the people uniting and standing as one. Remember, God himself is the head of this campaign, the road is long and arduous but, if we trust in him and unify as a community and people, nothing is beyond our capacity to achieve.

In conclusion, we cannot implement any lasting or sustained change for the better without utilising the essence of that most precious of words I mentioned earlier, ‘unity’.

We have that, I feel that, here in this room, it’s our job to spread that sentiment to the wider community, that we might make a change for the better, and make this great nation a true advocate of freedom, opportunity and justice for all.

Family demands truth behind Smiley Culture’s death