The Metropolitan Police Authority met this morning at City Hall, and the Justice for Smiley Culture campaign was there in force to hear just what they had say.
The meeting started, however, with an official letter of apology to the family of Daniel Morgan, admitting to five failed police investigations and twenty-four years of lies and inaction due to police corruption. All of it ended in the acquittal of his murderers. In the family's words, they have been "lied to, fobbed off, bullied, degraded..." in a process that was "nothing short of torture." They requested a judicial inquiry, and the MPA voted to recommend that they get one.
Twenty-four years. For an apology, and a promise of a recommendation for a full inquiry.
So we sat there, and you know anger was rising high as we were told that we could be given no information on an ongoing investigation. The Acting Met Police Commissioner Tim Goodwin acknowledged that he still had to look into whether or not those investigating Smiley Culture's death were linking up properly with the community or the family. He denied knowledge of the earlier briefings about Smiley Culture stabbing himself through the heart while making a cup of tea. Given that the only witnesses to his death were the police themselves, answers are primarily what is required.
And that couple of minutes, including some questions from other members of the authority, was all we got. Not even the respect of an official letter of condolence. The insensitivity was unbelievable.
You better believe we were all angry, and it showed. My heart broke to see the pain of his family and friends, trying to cope both with the earth-shattering immensity of grief in losing a loved one, and the impossibility of getting any answers, much less justice, out of the police. Tim Goodwin had already tried to move the agenda on to the next investigation when we broke it up, calling out no justice no peace and leaving the hall.
There have been far too many deaths following police contact, I've copied the official table with the numbers from the MPA below:
|Year ||Black & Asian ||Other ||Total |
|1998-99 ||6 ||11 ||17 |
|1999-00 ||4 ||12 ||16 |
|2000-01 ||2 ||5 ||7 |
|2001-02 ||4 ||5 ||9 |
|2002-03 ||10 ||7 ||17 |
|2003-04 ||6 ||9 ||15 |
|2004-05 ||3 ||11 ||14 |
|2005-06 ||7 ||10 ||17 |
|2006-07 ||8 ||7 ||15 |
|2007-08 ||7 ||9 ||16 |
|2008-09 ||13 ||15 ||28 |
|2009-10 ||13 ||11 ||24 |
|to end of February 2011 ||10 ||15 ||25 |
What is most disgusting is the inordinately high percentage of Black and Asian deaths. This is clearly an issue that hits the Black community the hardest, which makes it even more important that others stand with them now. All of us bear the burden of making it right. Racism continues to be everywhere, it is institutional, and it is deadly; everyone who cannot know what it is to suffer it directly needs to remember that. It will take all of us to stop it, and it needs to stop.
For more information about what is happening, join the facebook group or follow the campaign on twitter:
Most importantly, there is a march on April 16th, assembling at Southbank Club (124 - 130 Wandsworth Road SW8 2DL) at 12:00, and support is needed leafletting to get the word out. Lambeth SOS will be working on this, but get in touch directly with the campaign by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 07984 935 769.