Saturday, 30 April 2011

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Ignorance is usually thought of as the passive obverse of knowledge, the darkness retreating before the spread of Enlightenment. But… imagine an ignorance that resists. Imagine an ignorance that fights back. Imagine an ignorance militant, aggressive, not to be intimidated, an ignorance that is active, dynamic, that refuses to go quietly — not at all confined to the illiterate and uneducated but propagated at the highest levels of the land, indeed presenting itself unblushingly as knowledge…
– Charles W. Mills

This the essence of neo liberalism and the manufacture of consensus. whether the issue is the rabid racism of some whites or the profound anti intellectualism of the poor or the extent to which the nation is being conned into paying for the banking crisis. Not only do we meet people who are blinded but are also sincerely and passionately ignorant.

These are critical times for black people in the UK and it is important that we become educated regarding the dangers of uncritical thinking and blind observance of the news.

" When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.' Dresden James

Take the President Obama birth certificate issue. when one looks at the deep psychology of those who believe that the President is not an American you get a snapshot of the white American psyche.

'The cognitive motivation behind their defense of a primitive belief that this man is not a legally elected president is based on a core fundamental conservative belief that a “real” American is by definition a white, Christian conservative. There’s no way they will ever be able to square the idea that a black centre/right Democrat could legitimately represent a majority the American people.' Edward-Yemil Rosario

Racism by its very nature is a form of mental illness.It has the ability to maintain and reinforce its own prejudice in the face of overwhelming facts that illustrate its sheer stupidity.

Both here and in the US the insidious culture of racism infects human relationships at a personal and political level and no, denial is not a river in Egypt. Is the President an American? That the question can be asked and then treated seriously speaks volumes about Western society’s perception of the essential humanity of black people and the extent to which black people are excluded from the national perception of inclusive citizenship. Obama can't be President because he is black - we can't be truly British for exactly the same reason.


Friday, 29 April 2011

Official Campaign for Justice for Kingsley Burrell: IMPORTANT UPDATES

Campaign background: Kingsley 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. Days later he was in intensive care and subsequently died. We need you to support the family's campaign for justice and you can do, in the first instance  by promoting the Facebook group:


TWITTER:  Follow @March4Justice



5th May 2011: Hearing at Birmingham Coroner's Court: 12.30pm
We need as many friends, family and supporters to attend as possible.
We need a show of strength to let the powers that be understand we are not going away, that the circumstances of Kingsley's death CANNOT be covered up.

12th May 2011:  Meeting at BRAMU at 11am.
Please can as many people as possible attend. The address is below.
PO BOX 13987
West Midlands
B18 9DJ
Telephone: 0121 554-9989

Timings & march route will follow. We can make this as big as the march in London. IT WILL BE A PEACEFUL MARCH, show your support, don't bury your head in the sand. Stand up and be counted, don't wait until this happens to a family member, we can start the tide rolling to make changes. Come on people WAKE UP!

EVENT PAGE:!/event.php?eid=111612942255660

Photograph: Chris Boothman (Copyright) - Campaigning on behalf of all those that have died in police custody.

Thursday, 28 April 2011


One of the most enduring psychological traits of a personality that holds racist views is their ability to deny the facts and retain their prejudices intact. Right now, in the US, we are witnessing mass racist hysteria epitomised by the idea that a black American President is not in fact an American by birth.
The fact that that President Obama felt it necessary to publish his birth certificate cuts to the heart of such fundamental prejudice. Part of the psychological default setting for racist or prejudiced whites is that blacks cannot be believed.
The extreme right wing of the Republican Party is infested with such people whose grip on reality is warped by conspiracy theories that President Obama is a Muslim and was born outside of the US. Some even believe that he represents the anti Christ himself.
We may laugh at the sheer stupidity of such people but the fact that this issue can attract mainstream news coverage both here and in the US speaks volumes about the culture of racism that exists in both countries that can deem, as perfectly legitimate, such a deeply racist campaign without challenge to his racist accusers.
In short these claims have been given currency because the media have approached the issue as a legitimate question despite their own forensic research that indicated quite clearly there is nothing to this ridiculous story. In the context of a country that has a culture of racism, one of the consequences is that racism can become normalised. In that context the absurd becomes real and the facts inconsequential to attitude or perception.

Some whites routinely disbelieve black people; black people are forced to suffer higher levels of false accusation despite the facts of the matter. Black people are judged to a different and often higher standard than their white colleagues. This is the awful reality of racism in both the US and here in the UK.

Stories that should be laughed out of the newsroom become headline news and silly rumours develop a credibility that defies logic. This is the profound psychological consequence of racism at its worst: a fundamental denial of credibility, authenticity and truth. Don’t believe me? Here is a test: provide me with one example where a serious accusation of personal or institutional racism has been made by a black person or organisation that has not been met by any other response other than routine denial?

It is the routine white denial of the reality of racism that really makes black people question their own sanity. If you want to make someone both depressed and angry this is the perfect psychological approach to demoralise, undermine, destabilise and marginalise them.

Both here and in the US the insidious culture of racism infects human relationships at a personal and political level and no, denial is not a river in Egypt. Is the President an American? That the question can be asked and then treated seriously speaks volumes about Western society’s perception of the essential humanity of black people.

Lee Jasper
Barack Obama's birth certificate
Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate, as released by the White House on 27 April 2011. Photograph:

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Re: AV and other news, from Operation Black Vote: the home of black politics

Dear friends of OBV

Last thing first this week. With one day to go before our event supporting the Alternative Vote I would like to invite you to be part of it. I know to many this debate sounds boring. The reality is this is a once on a lifetime
opportunity to give a greater voice for our communities right across the UK. I want the political establishment to see that you care about this. David Lammy, Oona King and Vince Cable will be there urging Black Briton's to vote yes at tomorrow's event. There are still a few places left. Register and come and join us tomorrow.
To book your place please call us on 020 8983 5452 or email

Doors are open at 6.30pm for 7.00pm start.

Commonwealth Club, 25 Northumberland Ave, (off Trafalgar Square), London WC2N 5AP

In regards to last week's stories Dawn Joseph wrote a very moving piece about joining the Smiley Culture march the other weekend. We were deeply saddened about the attack on Zahra Kazemi Saleh, who was set upon for wearing a hijab. David Daglish rounded on the misguided comments that Comedian John Cleese made about London not being 'English' enough. Lee Jasper wrote wrote another hard hitting piece highlighting the Met Commissioners concerns of budget cuts and how it will affect policing in the capital. And lastly I was pleased to show solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters in Scotland at the Scottish TUC conference in Ayr

OBV at the STUC
Smiley Culture and the deaths in custody campaign
Young Muslim girl attacked for wearing hijab
AV campaign reject 'No' argument about it boosting BNP
Why John Cleese is wrong on Englishness
Met Commissioner speaks out about the cuts

If you have stories that you want us to cover or print let us know.

Regards as always and keep strong.


Youth Crime: Easter Sunday shooting at Brixton Church

Youth Crime: Easter Sunday shooting at Brixton Church [1.501272264631]

These are dangerous times in Lambeth. This weekend saw a dangerous escalation of a vicious gang war that resulted in shots being fired at members of a church congregation who gathered on Easter Sunday to celebrate the christening of a child.

Easter is a most sacred time for all practicing Christians and a period of calm reflection on the biblical tale of crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ.

The christening of a child on that day is a time of great celebration and joy. That joyful peace was completely shattered this weekend as we witnessed a continued escalation of a recent spate of gang violence in Lambeth that continues unchecked.

At a well attended high profile community christening at the New Testament Church of God on Lambert Road Brixton at around 2.30pm on Easter Sunday families fled in fear as bullets flew in every direction.
The service was well attended by many people including the High Commissioner of Jamaica. It was during this service that two young men outside the church began shooting targeting one of the congregations’ young guests. Panic ensued and over 60 calls were made to the police.

2010 pre-election -Nick Clegg visit NTCG, Brixton

Luckily on this occasion no one was injured but what was striking was the fact that the young people doing the shooting were seemingly intent on entering the church and were continually threatening to do so. All in the community including violent criminals have traditionally regarded churches as sacred and safe places. Not so today as this terrible incident demonstrates.

It would seem that no one or place is now considered sacred.

This incident also follows the shocking shooting of five-year-old Thusha Kamaleswaran when three youths on bicycles chased two youngsters into a Stockwell shop and opened fire.

2010 pre-election - Gordon Brown visit NTCG, Brixton

These violent groups of youths are demonstrating a brazen disregard for both the police and the public safety. Regularly groups of young people some 20 -30 strong, usually travelling on mountain bikes, storm an area looking for their intended victims. The police seem almost powerless to act usually arriving too late to intervene or arrest any of the young people involved.

Lambeth Council continues to dither about what precisely its role should be in tackling this issue other than sacking youth workers and closing youth projects, and despite the Mayor of London ’s high profile promise in 2008 to make youth violence his number one priority, the killings and the violence continue.

Youth violence in Lambeth is up 20% this year compared to this time last year. Murder rates are up whopping 67% and serious woundings are up 18% and that trend is reflected across London.

Worryingly by March 2011 there were 25 gun killings in London and increase of 9 on the same period last year. Knife crimes increased by 5.7% and over 7000 young people were victims of serious youth violence. These figures do not take into account the huge numbers of young people who present themselves to hospitals with serious wounds but refuse to report these matters to the police.

This hides the true extent of the scale of violence in London. What we are witnessing in our inner city London boroughs such as Lambeth is a dangerous slide into mayhem.

With no clear policies or overarching strategy, no resources currently to maintain crime prevention, diversion projects, the closure of community projects, cuts to policing budgets, increasing youth and adult unemployment are all conspiring to create a toxic petri dish that will see further growth in violent youth crime.

Londoners are paying for this acute political failure to tackle youth violence quite literally with their lives. The awful gut churning grim reality is that these violent armed criminals feel free to violate churches and shoot children. This can’t go on.

Lee Jasper, Co-chair of BARAC

(First published in OBV-Operation Black Vote: The home of black politics.)

Friday, 22 April 2011


Officers in Smiley Culture's bungled arrest under investigation:
By Elizabeth Pears 15 March 2011

Remembering Smiley Culture

Rodigan: 'Smiley was a leader'
By Davina Hamilton 16 March 2011

Smiley Culture's family reject suicide claims
By Juliana Lucas 17 Mar 2011

Smiley Culture: Questions that require answers
Nelson Abbey 18 Mar 2011

 Inquest opens into Smiley Culture's death

18 March 2011

FaceBook group call for justice in Smiley Culture death
 21 March 2011

Smiley Culture: questions that many are asking
By Nelson Abbey 24 Mar 2011

'We demand answers' say family of Smiley Culture
 By Elizabeth Pears 24 March 2011

Smiley Culture Public Meeting 1
March 24, 2011

Family of Smiley Culture: 'We'll do our own investigation'
By Elizabeth Pears 25 March 2011

'Police account of Smiley case is ridiculous!' 
Alex Wheatle 31 March 2011

31 March 201

Family's anguish over death of man taken by police
EXCLUSIVE by Merissa Richards 01 April 2011

Jasper calls for explanation over Smiley Culture's death  
07 April 2011

Deaths in police custody have to stop, say campaigners
 07 April 2011

Baby Father author: 'Cops must be filmed to prevent deaths in custody'

By Trudy Simpson 08 April 2011

Meeting calls for solidarity over Kingsley Brown death
By Poppy Brady 09 April 2011

No detail should be sandpapered off in Smiley Culture probe, says London Mayor
By Steve Pope and Elizabeth Pears 14 April 2011

Thousands set to march for justice!
By Poppy Brady 14 April 2011

Black church leaders support deaths in custody march
15 April 2011

Thousands join march for justice
By Elizabeth Pears and Poppy Brady 17 April 2011

Voice Videos

MARCH FOR JUSTICE!  17 April 2011


Campaign for Justice for Smiley Culture

Campaigning on behalf of all those that have died in police custody.

Met Commissioner speaks out about cuts as the black community asks itself: Is murder the most profitable business in the inner cities?

As each week passes we witness what seems like a relentless increase in gun and knife crime across the capital. Another shooting, another stabbing, another innocent victim becomes a causality, seems to be the daily news. Depressingly there is a growing and general consensus that cuts to public sector spending we will see an increase in these type of murders in London.
Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson’s recently wrote a piece for the Evening Standard on the issue of gun crime. The Standard used selected quotes rather than publishing the entire piece. We have reprinted the full text below.  Of course given the Commissioner’s implicit criticism of Government and the Mayor you can see why the Evening Standard adopted this approach.
However a reading of the Commissioner’s comments in full reveals that he has joined a growing consensus on the issues both I and others have been raising in relation to public sector cuts and serious youth violence in the capital.
His comments are an important contribution to this debate and represent a significant contribution in support of this debate. Many of us, for some time, have expressed concern about the acute failure of local and central Government and the Mayor of London, to understand the complexity of  those risk factors that can lead vulnerable children from broken families into being seduced or being pressured into a life of gang violence.
The Met Commissioner makes a number of very important points on the recent spate of shootings in the capital that left five year old Thusha Kamaleswaren fighting for her life.
He stresses that the police alone cannot hope to tackle the complex issues that create the conditions where serious criminality flourishes and questions the wisdom of cutting the black voluntary sector and youth crime prevention and diversion projects.
"In a time of budget cuts are we going to prioritise schemes that may prevent the next generation being drawn into a life of crime? If London has had enough of seeing police cordons around blood on the street it will require dedicated, long-term investment to support and mentor those most at risk."
He is of course absolutely right. Black youth unemployment, poor schools and worse housing, cuts to both voluntary and statutory sector youth and community services and increases in student fees,  have extinguished hope for some young black people in the inner cities whose families have neither the intellectual, emotional or economic capacity nor support  resources to resist idle hands being seduced into crime.
As for those actively involved in criminality the Commissioner comments:
“And what can re-assimilate those currently involved in drugs, crime and guns into taking choices that protect them and others and prevent a future of re-offending, with the resulting costs to them, their families, the impact on their victims and the massive cost to society and the criminal justice system?”

Closure of youth services, crime diversion and rehabilitation schemes is criminally short cited and wildly irresponsible. The irony is that this folly will cost the taxpayer more money in the long term as more and more young people get drawn into gangs.
Reduction in the capacity of local authority Youth Offending Teams to monitor and supervise prolific and persistent offenders is particularly worrying and will lead to many young people who need constant supervision and support being left to fend for themselves.
The cost for every murder investigation is on average around one million pounds. Whilst the Government is happy to spend that money on police and prison it refuses to spend a fraction of that amount on youth services. There is a strong perception in the black community that the murder of our young people is sustaining a whole criminal justice infrastructure with wholesale funding. The implication being that black murders are profitable.
I charge Government and the Mayor of London of abandoning the black community in its fight against gun crime. How can we justify cutting back services at a time when the fear of gun and knife crime is at an all time high? This fear drives children into gang networks for protection, as their confidence in the police to protect them is minimal.
The Commissioner damns both Government and the Mayor with feint praise when he states:
“ Projects like the Mayor’s “Time for Action” campaign, and the Sure Start children’s centers are a good start, but it will require politicians at a local and national level to provide commitment to these social policies beyond just one electoral term in order for us
to reverse the trend in the disastrous choices that our young people are making.”
I believe the message from this Government and Mayor is quite clear. As long as black youth are, in the main, killing other black people we don’t give a shit. Many in the black community hold the view that if the same numbers of middle class white youth were being killed in London there would be a national outcry and something would be done. What we certainly would not be seeing is the closure of front line crime diversion projects and youth support services.
We are in danger of gangs being the preferred provider of support for young people from deeply dysfunctional families – a kind of social services if you will. The gang becomes the substitute family for many of these young people.
Of course we want the parents of these children to take parental responsibility and reign in their wayward youth. But the reality is that some of these parents are part of the problem not the solution. These are people who themselves are immersed in the lifestyle epitomized by drink drugs and violence. When you look at these parents you understand that some children stand little chance of escaping the tragedy that is their life.
The rays of hope that offer the final lifeline’s for those young people who aspire to make something of themselves are now all but extinguished. Cutting funding and making committed youth workers redundant, closing voluntary sector projects and community centers, whilst closing affordable access to education and failing to provide genuine employment opportunities is a recipe for disaster.
I fear the price we will all pay in the long term as a result of what appears to be a toxic combination of racism, poverty, a dangerous and malevolent degree of political ignorance, underpinned by an ideological dogma in relation to public spending, will be enormous.

Lee Jasper

Commissioner’s article for the Evening Standard 19th April 2011

The frustration of having forced recuperation following the operations on my leg has had the one up side of giving me time to reflect on the Metropolitan Police with a bit more space than normal.

I wasn’t relying on the headlines for my updates on events that have occurred in my absence but perhaps seeing more 24 hour news than normal reinforced to me that by anyone’s standards it has been a busy and challenging time.

There has been significant recent attention on protests and the hard or soft, depending on your outlook, public order policing response. Given the breadth of views on the issue it often feels like a debate the police are never going to win.

However I think there are other issues that will have more widespread agreement and that these need the same level, if not more, public and political engagement.

Seeing the spate of coverage on the recent shocking shootings was one such issue that has particularly affected me. Normally when I’m sitting in the office having been informed of a shooting or stabbing I’m running through the check list of what is our police response to ensure that we are doing everything we possibly can. Seeing it with more distance I knew that both our local borough officers and our specialist investigators from Trident would be working all hours fully responding.

So that left me thinking that, for about a decade, the Metropolitan Police has had a dedicated shootings team, Trident, whose approach of working closely with communities to investigate shootings has led to vastly improved opportunities of bringing justice for the families left behind to cope with the pain and unfairness of losing a loved one.

Trident’s work, alongside other specialist units and local police, and improved community relationships leading to information being passed to police, has meant that we have had significant results in targeting and seizing the weapons of those seeking to import or manufacture them as well as finding and bringing to justice those who choose to use guns.

In 2010/11 Trident investigations led to almost 1,000 years of imprisonment and numerous weapons taken off the streets. An indication of why our arrest and conviction rate for homicide is the envy of jurisdictions around the globe.

My concern is that this doesn’t seem to be enough. Trident continues to be innovative.

The old approach of just targeting those involved isn’t sufficient and Trident has extended its work in the last few years to engaging with young people to try and divert them away from getting involved in the first place. We are using our intelligence and resources more effectively, linking the work against knives, gangs and guns to ensure we are maximising opportunities to keep the capital safe.

As offenders get younger so do the victims. How has it come to the point that a five year old is left fighting for her life as the innocent victim of a shooting? If anything constructive is to come out of this heinous event I would urge it be for us to think again about what we can all do to tackle this problem.

Trident will continue its dedicated response to shootings (despite incorrect and frankly irresponsible speculation from some media that Trident is set to close), supported by all the specialist and local policing resources that together are taking guns off the streets and getting the gun men into jail, but I don’t believe the police doing this alone is enough to turn this around.

One of the challenges is there isn’t a simple cause of what turns people to gun crime so that means the answer has to be multi-layered and will therefore be complex.

As a society how do we support families that are fractured and often without the support of responsible male role models?
In a time of massive public budget cuts are we going to prioritise schemes that may just prevent the next generation of young people being drawn into a life of crime?

And what can re-assimilate those currently involved in drugs, crime and guns into taking choices that protect them and others and prevent a future of re-offending, with the resulting costs to them, their families, the impact on their victims and the massive cost to society and the criminal justice system?

This is not a problem that I can see being solved in the short term. If collectively London has had enough of seeing another police cordon around blood on the street it will require dedicated, long term investment to support and mentor those most at risk, and to turn our most impoverished communities that suffer the blight of gun crime into areas where young people can see, want and take other more positive life opportunities.

Projects like the Mayor’s “Time for Action” campaign, and the Sure Start children’s centres are a good start, but it will require politicians at a local and national level to provide commitment to these social policies beyond just one electoral term in order for us to reverse the trend in the disastrous choices that our young people are making.

With the recent emergence of “anti-snitching” websites how do we empower communities, so that everyone living in areas affected by shootings can confidently voice their intolerance of violence and drive out the “anti-snitching” voices who seek to intimidate to prevent their criminality being interrupted?

I don’t have all the answers and I don’t claim to be an expert in social policy, but I have for many years said that police should not, and never should have, been presented as the lead agency in social engineering. I am committed to the Metropolitan Police continuing to do all that it can but clearly Londoners deserves more and our young people desperately need an alternative. It is up to every one of us, whether in public or private sector or individually to find the answers. I am committed to being part of finding these solutions but together we could be a powerful force for change

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson