There are huge positives to take from the Smiley Culture demonstration on Saturday. An under-represented section of society took to the streets to demand freedom, justice and an end to police brutality. Two and a half thousand people, over-whelming Afro-Carribbean, of all ages, marched with pride, determination and joy in their hearts. No arrests were made; the people were organised, united and refusing to be silent.
During the rally outside New Scotland Yard, Merlin Emmanuel made the essential point – this is only the beginning. So, where do we go from here? We must build on the momentum of the Smiley Culture case not to ask, but to demand justice for every victim of police brutality.
We do not need to negotiate with the forces that oppress us, but rather, we must set the parameters for how we want our future to be. Do we want to continue to live in a society where we are constantly harassed by the police, and the police are accountable to no-one for their actions? Or do we want to build a society where every person in the neighbourhood looks out for one another, and where the police’s only role is to serve the community, not attack us.
We must challenge the powers that be on every level; politically, in the media and on the streets. As Che Guevara once said, we are fighting imperialism from within the belly of the beast, so we should also connect our struggle against the British state at home with the struggles of people abroad. We must recognise that the African people of Libya, being bombed with British weapons, are fighting the same struggle as us. So are the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, who continue to resist against US and British led military occupations.
However, as we look outwards to show solidarity with all the victims of our government’s actions, we should recognise that the best way of expressing this solidarity is on a local level. Not every one has the time or money to travel into central London, so why not organise meetings, demonstrations and occupations in Brixton, Stockwell, Peckham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and other local areas?
The only way we can succeed in our struggle is by providing an alternative to the rampant capitalism and racism presented to us by the government as the only way of living. We believe that a different society is possible, a society that is not reliant on the exploitation of the others, but which stipulates the equality of all human beings.
They can call us dreamers, but as a united force, we will win.