Wednesday, 6 July 2011

My March For Justice: by Linda Hughes

Smiley Warriors supporting The March for Kingsley Burrell.


Our alarm awoke us at 5.30a.m.  It was a beautiful day, sun was shining, birds were singing..... A perfect start to our day which promised to be very ‘different’ from our family’s usual Saturday!
Today we were going to travel 250 miles to the city of Birmingham. Not for a Trade Show or a Music Festival or a Carnival but to March for Justice, for Kingsley Burrell and all other families who have lost loved ones whilst they were in Police Custody or Care.
We set off at 6.30a.m & stopped for breakfast en-route, arriving around 11.30a.m in Birmingham. We parked up and caught a taxi to Abbey Road.
When we arrived at Abbey Road were shocked to see the amount of Police in attendance..... There were Police Bikes, Police Cars, and Police Riot Vans, even a Police Helicopter hovering above us and many Police Officers on foot. Their large and obvious presence was somewhat intimidating. However, I am happy to say lots of people were sitting in the sunshine very relaxed chatting to one another.

We were meeting up with a lady called Louise, her son and her friends who had travelled from London and Bournemouth to support the Burrell Family on their March. I had ‘chatted’ to Louise on Facebook on a few occasions but until today I had never met her. I liked her immediately and felt she was a kindred spirit! 
We met up with other people we ‘knew’ through the Smiley Culture Campaign on Facebook. We talked to Merlin Emmanuel who is the nephew of Smiley Culture. Merlin is an amazing ambassador for Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture. He is the embodiment of Truth and Justice. He has an obvious passion for a noble cause which he clearly believes in.
At 1 p.m we started to assemble and then we were off!! ...
 Whistles blowing.... our flags and banners waving..... Kingsley’s beautiful face looking at us from so many placards held high in people’s hands... hundreds of voices chanting loud and clear....
What do we want?  ‘JUSTICE!’
When do we want it?  ‘NOW!’

It felt SO GOOD to be part of this amazing march for justice!!

Mile after mile we marched was a very warm summer’s day but thankfully there was some cloud cover.
We paused at the Mary Seacole House. Two minutes silence was held. A lady stood in front of me, silently weeping, tears streaming down her face. I offered her a tissue but all I really wanted to do was pull her into my arms and hold her. Her pain and her anger were immense.
We set off again, walking through main busy streets..... We stopped the traffic, people who were shopping stopped and stared, some came out of their shops to take a look at us.

We called out to people ‘Join us! Join us! And when some did, the marchers would give them a rousing cheer!
We passed an amazing Temple where Sikhs offered us juice.... which was a beautiful gesture of solidarity.
After almost three hours of marching we approached the West Midlands Police Head Quarters.

As we turned towards the Police HQ, the mood of the Police seemed to become more agitated. I saw Police Officers getting hold of peoples arms and not allowing them to walk where they wanted to. It is my opinion they wanted the Marchers to react to their rough handling. We were dignified and would not give the Police any satisfaction. WE looked out for one another and WE moved each other along.

Once we were outside the Police HQ, we stood in front of the Police Officers who were stood in front of us. Many had their arms folded; all had a defiant expression upon their face with not a flicker of compassion from any of them.
Emotions ran high for approximately 5-10 minutes. People booed the Police. People shouted angrily ‘MURDERERS’   ‘JUSTICE’
At no point did any member of the West Midlands Police Force try to address the crowd with their concerns. Surely due to level of support and passion at this March the Police had a duty to engage with the community that they serve and are accountable to?

Merlin Emanuel

We were encouraged to move away from the Police line and gather around the sound system to listen to family members give heartrending accounts of how their beloved family member had died. Each account had one unmistakeable connection with the other; these families are STILL waiting for JUSTICE.

It is a crime against humanity. My heart goes out to each and every one of them. Until they get justice, my family and I will continue to Campaign and March.
Finally we said our goodbyes.... to the lovely Louise and her fantastic son Lil Ras, Julie, Darren, Merlin & many great people who are all committed to making a real change.
It had been an amazing day! I was so proud of every single one of us who marched!
But why was there no coverage of the day’s events on any live T.V Station?
The Human Race United, marching peacefully together for Justice does not make the news. However had there been any trouble, then it would have been emblazoned across every tabloid and shown on the hour every hour on all T.V Stations. How utterly disgraceful is that?
It is up to us to spread the word, talk to people, encourage our children to protest about the vile cruel injustice people have to endure.
We believe passionately in this Campaign and we will continue to March for Justice until those in power listen to us. If you read this and have never been on a March before, then I urge you to join us on the next one. There really is Strength in Unity!
It has been said before but it is so true....
United We Stand. Divided, We Fall.
Until the next March For Justice..... No Justice – No Peace
One Love family!  

 Linda Hughes