Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Justice for Smiley Culture

I was pleased today to be able join the well attended March for Justice for Smiley Culture (, which found its way from the Wandsworth Road, over Lambeth Bridge, to New Scotland Yard. I was particularly pleased to take my turn carrying the Lambeth UNISON banner on the march, as decided by our Branch Committee.

Thousands of local (and some not-so-local) people were united in the sadly familiar demand that there must surely be a truly independent inquiry into a questionable death in police custody. As a trade unionist in Brixton I recall so many campaigns for justice in such circumstances, of which one of the most recent is the campaign for Sean Rigg (

On the march I also learned of campaigns for justice of which I had not heard before - such as that for Habib "Paps" Ullah ( and Julian Webster, killed in Birmingham in 2009.

There are clearly too many cases in which those taken into custody die in circumstances which give rise to legitimate questions, to which answers are not then forthcoming. Most - but not all - of these cases seem to involve black people.

Lambeth UNISON was on today's demonstration because this problem is indeed so sadly familiar to us. As a trade union branch we have been clear that the safety of local people is our concern, and that unexplained deaths in police custody are very much an issue for our trade union.

I was proud today to have been part of a trade union delegation on a demonstration addressing the pressing concerns of the local community. I hope that the trade union movement will support the call for change made today outside New Scotland Yard.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

No comments: