Remembering Smiley Culture one year on

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By Lizzie Phelan
March 15, 2012

Kingsley Burrell

Mark Duggan

On this day a year ago pioneering reggae artist Smiley Culture was killed while four police officers were in his home. A media campaign tried to drag his name through the mud to paint him as though he deserved to have his precious life taken from him.

In the months following his murder, Kingsley Burrell from Birmingham was killed in police custody and Mark Duggan was shot dead on the streets of London by police sparking off the riots.

At the time of the riots I was in Libya, and the then Libyan government which was under daily bombardment by the same British authorities that killed those three, released a statement saying that the riots showed that the British government had lost legitimacy. While the British media had shown no sympathy to the families of Smiley, Burrell and Duggan, like it had shown no sympathy to the Libyan victims of Britain’s bombs, Libya’s most popular talk show host Dr Yousef Shakir who at the same time was working tirelessly to counter the lies coming out of the western press about his own country, showed the photos of Smiley, Burrell and Duggan on his show and sent the solidarity of Green Libya to their families.

It is time we connected the dots between the injustices committed by our government against the most oppressed here and the injustices committed by our government in Libya, Syria and the whole of the “Global South”.

Smiley’s nephew Merlin Emanuel made this point very clearly in a meeting shortly after his murder, when he said that while our government pretends that injustices committed by governments abroad are a justification for them launching their brutal wars, the real injustices are being committed by that same government on our own doorstep.

Noone has been held accountable for the deaths of Smiley, Burrell or Duggan. Or the thousands of others killed in police custody.

Rest In Power Smiley. We will never forget. All our love to your family.

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