Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Carnival Action Plan for Summer: collecting signatures and raising awareness

While you are out and about at carnivals and festivals over the summer, please spare some time to support the campaigns for justice.
We need you to collect signatures for the Petition for legislative reform regarding deaths in custody, and to give out fliers to raise awareness.
Some people are already arranging to meet up so they can do this in teams, we will keep you updated on meeting times and places  - if you want to arrange a team in your own area just go onto one of these Campaign FaceBook pages and post your info and admin will repost for you.
If you would like us to post information regarding an event that may be suitable in your own area, please post on the FaceBook pages as well.

Campaign for Justice for Kingsley Burrell: https://www.facebook.com/Justice4Kingsley

Campaign for Justice for Demetre Fraser aka T.Dot https://www.facebook.com/Justice4Demetre



Derby Carnival:  16th and 17th July 2011.  Sat 1pm - 6 pm Sunday till 9.30pm. Tel: 01332 371529

The Hobbit's Annual Reggae Beach Party:Saturday 23rd July, 12:00pm - Sunday at 3:00am £2 entrance by wristband only - available in advance and subject to availability on the door. 18+ only. Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=220826851275206

Coventry Caribbean Festival: Saturday 30th July 2011 at the War Memorial Park, Kenilworth Road, Coventry, CV3 6PT  Tel: 07506 754027 http://coventrycaribbeanfestival.community.officelive.com/default.aspx

Riverside Festival
Nottingham Riverside Festival: Friday 5 - Sunday 7 August on the Victoria Embankment
To be part of the JUSTICE CREW for Nottingham Riverside Festival please contact Talia at taliabennett@rocketmail.com or Lorraine at https://www.facebook.com/LyricalLadyB

Cardiff Mas Carnival:  Saturday August 6th 2011. Tel: 029 2038 2094 https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=150923394971447&pending

Leicester Caribbean Carnival: 6th August 2011 . 12:30pm - 8pm Tel: 0116 273 6649
To be part of the JUSTICE CREW for Leicester please contact: Paulette Ennerver at https://www.facebook.com/profi​le.php?id=1090689302 Email: paulette60@btinternet.com or Rozz Brookes: https://www.facebook.com/rozz.brookes 
email rozzbrookes69@hotmail.co.U​K 
Tel:  07966438646


BRIXTON SPLASH:  Sunday, August 7 · 12:00pm - 7:00pmTo be a part of the campaign JUSTICE CREW at Brixton Splash please contact:
Anjella https://www.facebook.com/A​anjella

Suenaila https://www.facebook.com/p​rofile.php?id=100001126245​375
Michael https://www.facebook.com/michael.shelt
Event page: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=187806797931801

Birmingham Carnival: Sunday August 7th 2011.  1pm Handsworth Park Tel: 0121 303 3008.

Margate Carnival / Soul Weekend 2011:  Saturday 6th August - Sunday 7th August http://margatecarnival.co.uk/  https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=214031388617714#!/event.php?eid=214031388617714

Hackney One Carnival: Sunday 7th of August 2011 http://www.hackney.gov.uk/onecarnival.htm

Nottingham Caribbean Carnival:  13th and 14th August 2011. Forest Recreation Ground (Goose Fair Site) from 12 noon to 10pm on both days.
Manchester Carnival  Saturday 13th - Sunday 14 August 2011.
Tel: 079 8540 0384
Stoke on Trent Carnival: 14th August 2011 at Hanley Park. 

Notting Hill Carnival: Sunday 28th August to Monday 29th August  

Leeds West Indian Carnival:   Monday 29th August 2011 at 12.00 noon http://www.leedscarnival.co.uk/

C4J4SC fundraiser/awareness event, now scheduled for 3rd September; Live music from Jon Pecos (watch video below), Young Deacon, Kwayme & more. 

Contact Talia by email: taliabennett@rocketmail.com 

Event page:

Flyer for distribution: Campaigns for Justice for Kingsley, Demetre and Smiley - raising awareness and fighting for change.

Print off flyer at this link  and distribute this Summer at carnivals, festivals, concerts, parties, dances - anywhere and everywhere! Thank you for your support.


CAMPAIGNING IN UNITY:  fighting for justice & legislative reform regarding deaths in custody.

In the last ten years over 400 people have died in police custody, yet hardly any police officers are brought to account by the British Judicial system.  Now is the time to say NO MORE – WE DEMAND JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY. In the last 10 year over 400 people have died from in police custody that's one a week.kingsley KINGSLEY BURRELL 29 years of age died in extremely suspicious circumstances in Birmingham. It is reported that Kingsley called the police after he tried to talk to a group of young people who were intimidating him and his 5 year old son. He was arrested and detained under the mental Health Act and days later he was in intensive care and subsequently died. www.facebook.com/justice4kingsley  Twitter: @March4Justice                                                        Email:  mhayles@btconnect.com  or lee-jasper@live.com
DEMETRE FRASER AKA T.DOT 21 years of age from London died after being visited by the West Midlands Police force on the 31st May 2011. The official version of events is that he committed suicide by jumping off an 11th floor balcony. That is heavily disputed and undermined by the fact that neighbours heard a violent struggle and evidence of such on the 11th and 8th floors. www.facebook.com/Justice4Demetre  Email: lee-jasper@live.com
SMILEY CULTURE AKA DAVID EMANUEL  died in police custody at his own home. Smiley was observed well and happy a short time before the time that police claim that, while in the kitchen, making a cup of tea, unsupervised, Smiley took a knife and stabbed himself in the heart! www.facebook.com/Campaign4Justice4SmileyCulture
Email:   justice4smiley@hotmail.co.uk  Twitter: @Justice4SmileyC
Many, many others have lost their lives in police custody – we say NO MORE. We need to work in unity and we need you standing beside us. Please sign the online petition for legislative reform which will be handed to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street when completed.  ACT NOW! http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopdeathsinpolicecustody/


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 ...it 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 & Lee....so 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

My March for Justice: by Delia Eva Good Johnson

Firstly I’d like to big up the family of Kingsley for their Strength, courage and determination to fight for justice, also the organizers and the speakers.

I went up on the pre arranged coach from London and saw many faces from the march for Smiley Culture.
The atmosphere when we arrived at the starting point in Handsworth was subdued.

I was so glad I was there to bear witness. As I watched people meeting and greeting each other as though they had met before, I thought to myself, this is something you don’t see often, but this was different: we were all there for the same reason.

The real spirit of unity was definitely in the air and we hadn’t even started the march.
At 1pm we were ready to go and we had on-lookers from the outset, clearly wondering what was going on with the vibrant scarlet KINGSLEY t-shirts and placards, not to mention those in Smiley t-shirts: there was no way people couldn’t see us.

As we followed the sound system we sang and chanted even calling out to the on- lookers to join us and some people did ,even some youths, this was so heart warming, they were hearing our cries and acting on it, for me this reinforced the meaning of unity.

When we got to the Mary Seacole house and we stood in silence for two minutes with our fists in the air, it was the most powerful feeling as I believe when we are silent and still, is when we know and feel the presence of the Most High.
When we got to the high road the police presence changed: they were stopping people from joining us and to be honest I did feel slightly uneasy about this not being on home territory but everyone stayed together and looked out for each other.

They even tried some kettling tactic but that didn’t work, Lee Jasper had us covered so to speak, I couldn't believe it when he told everyone to sit down: that showed them! We were controlling this march not them and we would not be intimidated. 

They backed off pronto. We were there in peace, so why didn’t they want it to be peaceful? Anyway we continued and the vibes and the spirit of the people could not be swayed. We chanted, sang and even laughed at times together.

We approached a beautiful religious temple where they actually provided us with juice to drink, they didn’t have to but the love they showed us as a community was second to none.

 When we got up to the police HQ there were only a few police outside. We should have been able to have the rally on the doorstep but no, obviously they did not want that. However that didn’t stop people making a point before they formed their police line. I think around this time is when  I heard a helicopter hovering, what were they looking for? Violence? We came in peace! The rally began and I was so moved when I heard the lady pastor say she wasn’t speaking from the church but calling to the people.

ALL the speakers’ speeches touched the crowd one way or another I know tears came to my eyes more than once in sorrow and strength.

I could really continue but I think I’ll finish by saying I was so proud to have walked with everyone and to meet some lovely people on this journey that I will never forget...  

By  Delia Eva Good Johnson

Photographs by  Dee Constantine-Simms

What If... by Lorraine Bennett


What If....
What if Rosa had stood when asked to give up her seat,
Hadn't fought her corner-had pandered to defeat?
What if Dr Martin had chose not to share his dream
had listened to the negative & turned the other cheek
what if Nelson M hadn't been willing to fight
to give up his freedom for what he knew was right
What if we all ignored the pain in a mothers eyes
chose to believe the media ,to buy into the lies
What if  your child was taken,slain behind closed doors
& when you asked for answers,your pleas were all ignored
What if your childs memory was tarnished for all to see
by the very ones who took him & they were left to walk free
What if we all stood by & refused to march or fight
couldn't find the strength to stand by what we know is right
What if it were you? would you want me to march in your name?
Want me to search for answers-find out who's to blame
So when You ask me why I march-what can possibly be acheived
I don't ask what if or why..I answer-no justice,no peace!
By Lorraine Bennett

Copyright Lorraine Bennett 2011

My March For Justice – by Lil Ras aged 9. (As told to his Muma)

Lil Ras

We had to go to Victoria and meet Julie Harper from Bournemouth (it’s somewhere far where she lives). Then we went to Brixton to listen to Merlin and Jody and I saw Samantha Riggs and her brother and sister they are really nice and the people want 21 grand from them to find out how Sean died!!! Wicked people dem! Afterwards Neatly Lox gave me Muma, Julie, Darren Roach and me a lift home we got stuck in a big traffic jam and I fell asleep!! My big brother Da Jour gave Darren his room and Julie slept in shay shays bunk bed!!
Muma woke me up early and we got ready to go to Birmingham, Neatly Lox came to pick us up and we played tunes in the car all the way there! When we got there Muma thought she was going to wet herself so we had to find a toilet!!! There was lots of police when we came off the big road (motorway). then we found the start of the march and there was just Maxie Hayles and a man called Charlie but lots of police again they tried to smile with me and Muma but Muma took me away from them and we sorted out the stewards uniforms!
 Then a man who can’t walk much came in his car and said he was going to follow the march in his car I thought that was nice of him cos he coulda just stayed at home cos he is poorly! Then the coach from London came and we helped a lady put banners together I was pleased because Sean Riggs family came and I saw Merlin again!
When we started marching Darren got a big banner with " united families against deaths in custody " on it and Darren Muma Julie neatly donna and Lindsay and me all carried it I had my picture of Sean Riggs and Julian Webster as well and I tried to hold them up as well but sometimes it got hard to hold them all so Muma helped me.
Lil Ras can be just seen over the banner in the red, gold & green hat

When we were marching I saw a Rasta brother an said "come walk wid we" but he turned his back I think a lot of people are turning their back because they are scared! We stopped at Mary Seacole and had a silence for Kingsley it made me sad! And the policeman was staring at me so I cut my eye and stared back!!We got to a Sikh temple and the kind people gave us all a drink they were very kind and I know jah was smiling and so was Kingsley! Merlin asked me if I wanted something from the shop and I said no thank you in case they ask him for 21 grand for an inquest and he hasn’t got the pennies!!

When we got to the big police station Darren lead us to right outside and made us lift up the banner high!!! I had to stand on my tippy toes but it was too high so I just held the bottom of it and my picture of Sean Rigg!!! They played murderer and we jumped up and down singing it to I looked in the police man face and sung it loud think he was ashamed because he looked down!! Then all the people started shouting at the police and loads more came!!! Lee Jasper told us to move over the road I didn’t want to but Muma said we had to. Then we heard speeches from lots of people who had lost their family in police custody I cried a little bit when Marcia Riggs spoke and Demetres mum!!! Kingsley’s sister spoke really well and everybody cheered for her!!

Marcia Riggs

Kedisha Brown-Burrell

There was a white lady and she had marched with us with her sons’ picture! Then the London people who came on the coach had to go and they booed the police as they got on the coach that made me laugh! One police man smiled at my mum but it wasn’t a nice smile and my Muma don’t play so she told him straight “don’t smile in my face and then come murder my son” I think she swore as well, that made me laugh as well!

There was a lady with a stick and Muma said the police hurt her I think she did good walking so far with us. I remember her from Smiley Culture’s march. Muma said bye to Linda Hughes and her people because they had a long way to go home as well. then we started walking back to the car but some people from Birmingham told us what bus to catch so half way there we got the bus the bus driver had let some people on for free because they had marched I thought that was kind !!

We went to a community hall and had food and drinks and the sound was playing it was nice but then it got late and Muma said we had to go home I was a bit sad! on Sunday Julie went home when my brother took her to the tube station cos Muma couldn’t take her because Neatly was coming for us to take us to High Wycombe for Paps Ullah Muma and Neatly nearly got lost but we found it and we met Ricky Bishops mum and Paps family . I handed out leaflets and Muma even gave one to a policeman! An old white man took one and said he was going to tell people about it at his club!! I met Paps daughters and I think they are very brave!!! We had a long trip home again and when I got home I lit a candle for Smiley, Kingsley Azelle Rodney, Paps and Demetre and Ricky Bishop.
Ras and his Muma at Vigil for Paps

Muma said we are going to keep going until we get justice for everyone and I made her promise we won’t ever give up!

By Lil Ras

Photos of the march by Dee Constantine-Simms. Photo of Pap's vigil by Saqib Deshmukh.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

My March for Justice: by Talia Bennett

Talia Bennett

Dear Diary-March for justice for Kingsley Burrell

(All times are approximate)

Saturday 2nd July - 8:00am

After attending the 'Who Polices The Police?' public meeting - which, I feel I should mention, was truly a night to remember: all the speakers (Merlin Emanuel, Samantha Riggs, Benjamin Zephaniah and Jody McIntyre) were truly worthy of the ardent applause - especially Jody; as it's definitely worth telling you all that he received a 30-second-long standing-ovation just before the end of his speech! His ability to bring sarcasm and quick wit to everything to engage, intrigue and entertain - somehow without retracting from the importance and seriousness of the subject, and somehow also managing to still clearly get his point across - does amaze me...
But anyway, back to the beginning.
After attending the public meeting, my mum and I somehow managed to miss the coach to Birmingham. Which ended up with us staying in a hotel for the night - something we didn't expect, but was definitely fun - and then changing our tickets and catching another one in early morn'. Now, it's a beautiful sunny day; still slightly lethargic (why, I do not know - I slept like a sleep-deprived baby the night before), but I'm getting over it pretty quickly because all of a sudden the feelings I described in my other diary of the march are too potent to ignore... the simply demand my attention, right NOW. Not later, not in a moment - all I think about is how it's going to look, who am I going to see there, what kind of atmosphere will there be... again, the sense of being a part of something immensely, quite impossibly important sneaks up on my mind and gives me a little jolt of familiar disbelief that I - twelve-year-old-average-Talia - am attending an event that's actually going to be pretty amazing and momentous in the grand scheme of this situation. It's still unbelievable to think that I'm a part of this cause, and to feel the sense of strength and unison that radiates just from the Official Campaign 4 Justice 4 Kingsley Burrell - well, unless you're a part of it, it's hard to describe, and I'm a little apprehensive of how much more powerful it's going to be in real life.

"         "  - 12:00pm

My mum and I have just arrived at the march site, and - please excuse this - but it is damn hot. The atmosphere is already electric, but as before at the Smiley Culture march, slightly laid-back, too - a lot of people lounging on the grass, chatting, tapping at phones, dotted about the grassy field-plane-thing just around the corner from the street Kingsley Burrell lived on in clumps of people. It's much hotter than it was on Saturday 16th April - so much hotter - and the only thing I can do at the moment is take a couple of placards, collapse onto the grass and try not to crumble into a little ball of ash, whilst looking around with a frown of disbelief: my face must be giving off 'Am I actually here?' signals at the moment, because that's sure what I'm feeling at the moment. I'm viewing everything kind of dreamily - as if I need certain things to remind me that this is actually happening and that I, average me, am here too.


"         "  - 1:00pm

We've begun the march now, heading down a long, hot street with - and I'm both surprised and deeply pleased by the amount of people we've already managed to get looking out the windows of both cars and houses, and standing on the steps of houses to see exactly what this is all about. It's actually really good to see that the attention we managed to capture on the day of Smiley's march hasn't waned - and I  feel a deep flush of pride for all those marching along with me today as we receive looks of open curiosity and admiration from the onlookers lining the streets, and an even deeper flush of pride when we all come to a standstill outside the Mary Seacole House on Lodge Road, descend into a two-minute silence and all raise our fists in the air. It's a brief period of time where nobody - not even the babies or children - talk or whisper or hardly breathe at all: even the dog I saw being carried by one of the campaigners has put a damper on its snuffling and snorts. It is a powerful moment, and an emotional one at that, and in it everything seems perfect: the sunshine, the charged silence, the fascinated stares of the onlookers we've drawn from their houses onto the streets... it's a moment that's impossible to forget, and one that I'll relive with pride forever.


"         "  - 1:30pm

We've moved on from the house now, heading steadily down the street towards the main road, and over the sound system Lee is alternating between chanting to the crowd and playing music with a bass that ultimately makes your chest shake. Although nobody seems to have the strength to dance in the face of the sun, we've certainly got the passion to shout and stomp our way through the streets - we've made enough noise to catch the attention of all those who were previously residing comfortably in their homes, or on the way to some place or other, and have enough policeman marching grim-faced and irritated beside us to arouse a decent amount of curiosity in the majority of them.

Lee Jasper

"         "  - 1:45pm

Fifteen minutes later, I realise that the amount of attention and people who have heard our shouts and pounding music and come out in their curious masses far exceeds the amount we received before - only because now there are too many of us to squeeze onto the road and therefore some are forced to walk on the pavements, which then catches people's eyes and draws questions about what exactly we're protesting about from the most curious of the onlookers. The scarlet and black placards we hold when gathered in masses make a noticeable status; we're holding up the cars and buses surrounding us, and the sheer volume and catchy rhythm of our chants and music exceed that of the noisy traffic.

"         "  - 2:16pm

Further down the road, where the march slows down outside some corner shops, my mum points out one of the police officers talking to an onlooker - replying to the question of what exactly was going on, obviously with a big load of utterly rubbishy lies by the bewildered look on the woman's face. I quietly sneak towards them to try and catch a snippet of what he's saying, but as soon as I come close enough to hover he simply cuts the conversation short, glares pointedly at me and stomps off. Which, to be honest, really does make me laugh: what kind of coward whispers lies into somebody's ears, then gets scared by a ferocious-looking twelve-year-old girl coming to see what he is saying? If he was so brave, he wouldn't have cared whether I'd listened in or not, would he?


"         "  - 3:00pm

Now, the police are actually trying to physically stop any more people from joining the protest by keeping the van so close to the rear end of the march nobody can get close to it! Lee calls out to the police that we aren't going to be intimidated and tells us all to sit down on the road and pavement until they move it away - which actually works, and pretty quickly, too: an example that if you're unyielding to a bunch of petulant bullies' games, and show them that any kind of subduing tactics aren't going to work, you can actually force them to yield to your wishes - even if they are very blatantly doing it begrudgingly.

Later on I also notice one of the police officer's - a small, stout sweaty man who smiles nastily at me when I glare at him - carrying what I'm guessing is some sort of weapon: a small, thin black cylinder with a black strap going diagonally across his hand to keep it in place. He's keeping his hands clasped at the fingertips behind him, with the sleeves pulled right down over his fingers: and what I'm also noticing is that he is the only one doing it. I haven't seen one other officer on the whole march with one of these little cylinder things, and the way he walks and stares with a little smirk on his lips... if we're not careful round all these officers who are perfectly poised for a fight, then trouble's going to be coming our way very soon.
The temple we pass by is a large, beautiful building and the people inside display, as Lee quite perfectly put, 'solidarity and unity with the campaign' by offering everybody juice drinks - which, on such a dry, hot day is a welcomed relief.


"         "  - 3:55pm

Arrival at the West Midlands Police Headquarters begins calmly enough, despite my growing unease because of the officer's who walk so close to me, with a grim expression of barely masked contempt on their faces. We walk onto the wide street before it chanting, passionately but not angrily or in a threatening way. Nothing overly dramatic happens for the first three or four minutes - my mum and I go up onto the pavement outside the HQ to join in with the chanting, but no violence or threats yet -
And then I realise we're actually surrounded. I didn't realise it until I look around and see them blocking the paths that go off onto other streets in a curving line of officer's that most probably goes around the building opposite the Police HQ. It doesn't take long for the realization to spread throughout the entire progression that we're practically caged in, and by the time it does, we've already exploded into angry, alternating chants of 'Murderer! Murderer!' and 'Justice!' that are shouted into the officer's faces - very literally - with a pent-up ferocity that almost scares me: and I'm not the one on the receiving end of it, I'm the one chanting it, so I can't imagine how the row of silly little armed bullies are feeling now they're getting the amount of fury they quite rightly deserve.

"         "  - 4:45pm

The speeches have started now, and the speakers - including Kadesha Brown, Jodie Fraser (Demetre's mother), Merlin Emanuel, Mikey Powell's cousin, Brother Hughie and Marcia Riggs. All the speeches have the same effect on the members of the march progression: they animate and excite and keep the feeling of unity, passion and strength alive in everybody; they stir up the emotions into a vat of revitalized sentiments that leaves you breathless with exhilaration and excitement... apart from the speech of Brother Hughie, the Black Panther, who you all probably know of, whose speech doesn't exactly... well, tie in with the running theme of 'unity'.
Kedisha Brown-Burrell


Marcia Riggs


Merlin Emanuel


"         "  - 5:23pm

The speakers have stood down, the banners are being folded and packed away, those who travelled from London to Birmingham by 'coach  are heading towards the vehicle to mill around it. The atmosphere seems to have loosened from 'tense, angry and ready-for-battle' down to 'tired, relaxed and ignorant of the ridiculous bullies around us' - the way it was after the Smiley Culture march. Nobody's ready to leave yet, or move away from the HQ, and I'm quite happy to sit and chat and smile pleasantly across at the petulant officers.

"         "  - 7:15pm

Sitting on the coach now, with aching feet, eyes stinging from hayfever, body heavy with lethargy, I'm both exuberant and miserable - exuberant because of the memories I can hold with pride of marching along the streets, chanting, stamping, signature-collecting and having one of the best times I may have ever had; miserable because it's over so soon, and the next March is now two whole months away in September!

By Talia Bennett

 All photographs of the march by Dee Constantine-Simms (C) - many thanks.