Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Q: Where is the African Holocaust Memorial? A: There isn't one.

Britain is a nation built upon the backs of colonial empire, forced labour and the theft of land and resources throughout the former colonial empire. As we celebrate Black History Month 2017  it is a vicious anomaly and a calculated insult that no memorial exists, in recognition of the greatest crimes human history.

This most grievous omission from the heritage landscape of modern Britain, is simply a reflection of the historical amnesia we witness, whenever we  attempt to reassert the prolonged and tragic history of transatlantic slavery, back into the formal historical and popular narrative of the making of modern Britain.

  The Holocaust Memorial
The failure of Europe to learn the tragic lessons and failures of the concepts of white supremacy and  racial superiority, led directly to the catastrophic rise of German fascism with all its attendant deadly consequences.

Against that backdrop it should be no surprise to learn the government has announced the establishment of a national monument to the Holocaust in sober remembrance of the Jewish genocide was attempted by the Third Reich.

Any effort to reinforce the popular understanding of the nature of racism is to be warmly welcomed.

However, we are now led to understand that this memorial will be built in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminister, London, where the only existing monument to the abolition of slavery and radical feminist, Emily Pankhurst are both currently cited.

Sir Peter Bazalgette was the chairman of the jury who selected the location and its design, and its rather ironic that the author of the book "The Empathy Instinct" that explores the devastating
consequences of the absence of empathetic understanding for humanity.  Interestingly, he also argues that racism and prejudice are uniquely human traits. Heal thyself physician.

There are plans to incorporate the suffragette Emily Pankhurst and the Slavery memorial into the Holocaust design, but the cold stone fact is, that both these exiting monuments are set to be overshadowed and marginalised by the planned Holocaust memorial.  That is an inevitable consequence of the Governments current plans.

Sir David Adjaye. 

And with a flourish, that will be familiar to black people,
and just let you know there's no insult intended, they have commissioned the celebrated black architect Sir David Adjaye to build the new memorial. From my own perspective I find this project deeply offensive. First let me stay for the record I welcome the Holocaust memorial whole heartedly and without reservation. But the reality is that for years black communities have been campaigning to have slavery formally acknowledged as a crime against humanity.

A fact  recognised by the United Nations and to receive due reparations for the prolonged horror and generational devastation that came as a consequence of Britain's involvement in transatlantic slavery.

In addition we have campaigned for the establishment of a African Holocaust Museum/Memorial to help restore the National dementia that obliterates the African contribution to the development of modern Britain. That has been consistently denied and yet the Holocaust Memorial will be built with £50 million of government money. It's an outrage.

Even the great Emily Pankhurst would object, having seen British working class women play such an important role in demanding the ending of slavery during the abolition movement, and being so inspired  she subsequently modelled her campaign for universal suffrage, on the abolition campaign strategy and tactics.

Its a real shame that such an important national monument should come at the cost of reinforcing the deep marginalisation of the African historical agency in building modern Britain and the struggle for universal sufferage.

African sweat equity financed the British industrial revolution, whilst the profits of colonialism cemented every aspect of progress and profit of industrial and urban Britain.  And to rob salt into existing wounds, all this is announced during Britain's Black History Month, you really couldn't make it up.

Our only real option is to come together as a African community, supported by those who have a balanced view of Britain's historical development and seek to self fund, not just a memorial but in addition an African Holocaust Museum and as an added twist we should open it on St. George's Day or on the birthday of the one woman in Britain whose ammased financial prosperity can be traced, unbroken from the time of slavery, right up until this very day, the Queen.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Recruiting for Code 7's Lambeth School Patrols

Lambeth struggles with increasing rates of youth violence. Last summer a series of after school fights took place that were serious and could have resulted in serious injury or worse. Possession of a knives by school children is rising as young children try and protect themselves from attack.

In response local charity Code Seven, held three community consultation meetings and as a result of community demand, Lambeth School Patrols was born.

We believe in self help and and are now ready to recruit people to its school patrols. We will offer training and a support package to volunteers. Please help us help ourselves and lets show London that black people are capable of taking action against violence.

Please share and attend. Book now on https://Ispcode7.eventbrite.co.uk

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

British Black History: We didn’t all arrive on the #Windrush

British Black History: We didn’t all arrive on the #Windrush My Kru (tribal name) African grandfather from Sierra Leone/Liberia arrived in Liverpool in 1911.

The Kru nation was what both Sierra Leone  and Liberia, were called before the UK in 1787 and the US in 1882 invaded. The Kru fought against the invading armies of the US and the UK who were manned by freed African slaves. The Kru fought both. Imagine Kru having to fight freed African slaves, recruited into the imperial armies of the UK and the US and being sent to clear the Kru of their land, so the west could create homelands settlements for freed Africans?

The Kru people were said to be incapable of being made slaves. It’s said they’d either kill themselves or kill the white slavers at any given opportunity. They were considered as being impossible to break into slavery.  So the Kru fought against both the invading Imperial armies of the West and had to kill freed Africans recruited into the UK and US armies to resettle on Kru homelands.
Tom Jasper 

My Granddad arrived in Liverpool as a stowaway away aged 15 and was sent back on the next ship. He hid on another ship in Freetown and came right back. He was the original deportee.

#Kru people settled in Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff, Britain’s oldest black communities established first African welfare Assoc. He became Chairman of the Kru Club in Manchester a association dedicated to welfare support of Kru. Also curiously Grandad had a blue spot tattooed on the middle of his forehead. 

The name Jasper was the name given to him by the British merchant navy, we've never been able to trace his real name.

They lived in the North Manchester area, of Cheetham Hill, Waterloo Road. It's an area where I have most of my first childhood memories.

Grandad's British Merchant Seaman travel logs are fascinating insight into the breadth and scale of British imperial trade of the day.
What I’ve found fascinating is Grandad role as chair of the Manchester #KruClub.

The minutes show they tracked down errant husbands. White working class wives would complain of husbands and fathers going missing or not paying for children. The Association would find them, force them back to the family home and ensure they lived up to their responsibilities. It was considered not the Kru way to abandon their families. It was considered a disgrace on the whole community.

Abandoned or widowed wives would be entitled to weekly payments from the #KruClub. The Club also arbitrated tribal and legal disputes.  They organised seaside trips, christenings, weddings and funerals. They organised community self defence, often in Manchester with poor Jewish communities, to protect themselves from racist attacks and petitioned Government of the day for equal rights and justice way before the 1950’s and the Windush arrived. Granddad died when I was five and I lived with him and my Grandmother. 

These Africans are Britain’s oldest black communities. The real pioneers of Black Britain.

Dorothy Jasper 
Now my English Grandmother was born in Manchester workhouse in 1901. She was from a reasonably well off Victorian family who abandoned her.  The conditions in 1901 Manchester Workhouse were appalling. From workhouse to the convent Grandmother had an extraordinary hard life.

We are told she married in her early 20's to an Irish Republican.
I’m told that her first husband died, after being battered by police and flung into the Manchester Ship Canal. They had one child a son.

My Grandmother then met my African grandfather and he married and adopted Grandmas only child too. She worked at Manchester Co-Op HQ as a cleaner for many years.

They married in the 1920's and I can only imagine the racism they faced at that time in Edwardian Britain. It must have been horrendous.

She hated five things, the royal family, Tories, Churchill, social injustice and Mick MacManus, a wrestling star of the 1960's. She was a Northern matriarch of 4'6 with a fierce determination to protect her children and confront any racism they faced head on.

She was the radical Granddad was much more laid back, while she would slay dragons for the family and that is the history of the Jaspers.

So my roots are solidly African and working class. Tracing these histories is a joy and reflects the story of the British Empire.

Notice Granddads perfectly ‘concked’ hair all the rage in 1920s Britain. As for Grandma she was a beauty. 

British ‪#BlackHistory goes way back and it’s time the African pioneers were given as much attention as the Windrush generation. ‪#BHM17

Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Ultimate Black Professional and Community Legacy Gala 2017

When we fundraise our own money, we stand on our two feet and look our children proudly in the eyes with confidence, pride and we fear no-one. #LegacyGala2017 We stand proud in the eyes of all, when we sacrifice our today for a better tomorrow. 

We stand all fall on the extend that we truly adopt the  philosophy of the Jamaican national hero, the Honourable Marcus Garvey. Today, we need to adopt this philosophy as our primary strategy for success. 

The Garveyite philosophy of "do for self" and look to Africa has never been so important as it is today. In these deeply troubled times, financial independence and ensuring a global connectivity have to be the head cornerstone's of any sustainable foundation of the next generation's leadership.

As Brexit looms and uncertainty abounds, our children face a future where they will enjoy fewer opportunities for personal advancement, economic and social mobility than any other previous modern day generation. 

It's vital that we prepare legacy organisations dedicated to providing the expertise and guidance that will support our next generation of young leaders. 

The Legacy Gala seeks to do just that; to raise our own finance to invest in our own young people, in developing ethical and effective next generation leaders

There can be no greater genetic or historic responsibility for any people. other than to ensure that they bequeath, to the next generation, their children, a world better that the one they inherited from their parents.

The Windrush generation worked hard, from can't see in the morning, till can't see at night, to ensure that they and their children, had a better future. 

This is the essential historic mission of all parents, all communities and nations.

Today we are in danger of bequeathing, to the next generation, a world in far worse state than the one we inherited. That would constitute an abandonment of our historic duty to push our communities forward and sacrifice today so that our children can benefit tomorrow.

This is our mission and today this work, investing in the future, financial independence, ethical and principled leadership is needed more than ever.

Buy advertising in the Legacy Magazine to access the UK Black professionals. Book tables to enjoy a night of sophistication, investment and opportunity. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

The Public Death Of Rashan Charles and Black Community Confidence in the Met Police.

Rashan Charles tragic and brutal death on screen is haunting the powers that be like a wailing banshee. 

Things are not going well for the Metropolitan Police Service, the Independent Police Complaints Commission nor the Home Secretary.

Met Police and Black community tensions continues to build. Its a bit like a slow underwater leak into an already full dam. The damage may not be immediately discernable, but sooner or later that dam’s going to crack with devastating consequences.

The radio silence maintained by the Met Police and the IPCC in relation to the death of Rashan Charles is deafening. 

I suspect we are witnessing a concerted cover up and an information clamp down about a case, that should righty cause outrage and uproar.

And I should know, since tweeting a #Justice4RashanCharles meme I've had legal notices sent to me by Twitter and some restrictions placed on this tweet being circulated in the UK.  

I suspect this legal challenge has come from the Metropolitan Police Service who don’t want the image of the officer circulated.

Trying every single trick in the book. 
Trying to clamp down on the truth. 

This legal intimidation is as a result of the Police recently applying to the Corners Court for an “ex parte” hearing. They applied for and were granted, reporting restriction on the naming of two police officers (we only know of one… so that’s interesting) and the member of the public who assisted the officer in restraining Rashan.

Rashan being brutality detained 
I’m informed the Charles family were not informed of this hearing and were not given any opportunity to challenge the Met’s demand for anonymity for their officers, so much for genuine police accountability and due process.

Some three months on, and despite the much-vaunted claims of ‘police bodycams’ leading to a new climate of openness and transparency in the aftermath of the shooting of Mark Duggan, the Met police have reverted to type and closed down all avenues of information on the Rashan case.

Where is the Met’s footage and why hasn’t it been released? Why do the Met want the police officers names to be publicly withheld? Don’t we pay their wages?

So little is known about this incident, that one has to truly wonder if the Charles family, cannot get clarity from the Met about the precise circumstances leading up to the death of Rashan, what will it take for the Met to be truly accountable to Londoner's?

Let's look at what we do know. We know that Rashan was a passenger in a car that was stopped by Tactical Support Group (TSG) police van.

Was Rashan's detention unlawful and illegal? 

We don’t know why the car was stopped or what legal powers were used. 

We don’t know what powers the TSG officer who chased Rashan relied upon to detain and restrain him. 

Months later, despite this being a case that attracts huge public interest, we know virtually nothing of the legal circumstances surrounding his detention. 

This is deeply distressing for the Charles family who are becoming increasingly frustrated with a process of inquiry and accountability that appears to be building a brick wall between them and the truth.

I suspect we still don’t know what happened today because this was an illegal stop and search and the police don't want their recently announced increases in the use of the power to be fatally undermined. 

That’s the difficulty the Met face, telling the truth now means they would be forced to admit, that Rashan’s forcible detention and arrest fell well below the standard legal and professional requirements. 

Think about it…why else would the Met refuse to comment, in the face of overwhelming public criticism, on the precise legal rationale for his pursuit, restraint and arrest?

I believe the Met Police and the IPCC want as much time and distance to have passed between the incident itself and the full disclosure of the facts, most of which they have in their possession now. Were this true, this would constitute a cynical media management campaign, prosecuted against the public interest and at the expense of the a grieving family. 

They are deeply worried about the Charles case, not simply because we have a video that cant lie, but because the full facts, were they to be revealed now are so shocking, as to constitute a threat to their policing legitimacy. They're also aware of another important reality, they face a formidable Charles family, demanding justice.

A fact largely unknown in the public domain until now, is that Rashan’s uncle is a retired Metropolitan Police TSG Sargent with 30 years service under his belt. I’ve met and spoke with him on many occasions and he says of Rashan restraint, he’s never seen anything like in 30 years in the job. He’s a big man and in many ways, is a typical policeman’s policeman, a dedicated professional officer and a Police Federation rep for many years.

He told me that throughout his 30-year career he’s restrained hundreds of people suspected of swallowing drugs without a single compliant or injury. He was also a trained Firearms Officer, and a Borough Operations Manager. And he knows instinctively what legal restraint looks like. Public Order trained to level 2 this man was responsible for training his fellow police officers.

He is shocked, angry and disappointed that neither the Met Police nor the IPCC are offering any explanation as to the legal basis of Rashan’s detention. The Charles family are also disappointed with the chaotic, foot dragging response of the IPCC. You can see the anger and disappointment in his eyes, this is a man who believed in the system would work and now he knows it doesn't, he’s devastated.

Another curious thing, where’s the delayed pathology report into the cause of Rashan’s death? Why is it, some two months later we still have no public explanation as to the official cause of his death? 

I was contacted recently by a reliable contact that tells me that the Pathologist has in fact found that Rashan died from strangulation. We shouldn’t be shocked, you don’t have to go to medical school to reach that conclusion, but what’s really shocking if true, is that I’m told that the pathologist is currently being lent on by the Met Police and Home Office to withhold and amend this report.

My information is the pathologist concerned is desperate to tell the truth but is being subjected to massive pressure to keep silent.

Ask yourself, why is it taking so long to publish a pathology report into Rashan death? 

The reason could be the Met don’t like the conclusion. If true, then this may have certainly lead to serious concerns being expressed in the Met, the Mayors Office and Government itself, that it's publication, citing strangulation as the cause of death, would lead to widespread social unrest and delegitimise the use of the power of stop and search.

Whatever the conjecture and speculation, there remains one objective truth in all of this, and that is the video can’t lie.

That three minute plus tape has told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, leaving the assembled authorities of denial, blinking at the screen, mortified and desperate to know what to do and desperately seeking a lawful and reasonable ‘explanation’ of events capable of reinterpreting and reframing the plain awful truth.

We are being asked to believe their explanation that the police officer was simply trying to save Rashan from swallowing a package of suspected drugs, that turned out to be nothing more than caffeine and paracetamol.

There are those, particular the army of on line police trolls, who are determinedly active in seeking to discredit Rashan and justify the officers actions I’ve now named them, the Police Troll Support Group #PTSG. My twitter TL is infested with these full time, troll agents. I have written about their activities before after they targeted me and conspired to have me removed from Twitter. 

It’s quite remarkable that we’re being asked to believe the Police   narrative, rather than believe our own lying eyes, remarkable, but not surprising. As Black people we know that racism is a powerful hallucinogenic drug capable of inducing extreme denial in the face of objective truths.

The officer concerned has now been served ‘misconduct papers’ a term that suggests some kind of minor misdemeanour, as though he was late for work or insulted the boss. It certainty doesn’t equate to being questioned for the possible murder of an innocent man. Why cant police officers be arrested like the rest of us, where there is compelling evidence of serious criminality?

The Met are standing by their man and refusing to suspend him from duty despite the enfeebled IPCC request for them to do so. Instead they’ve placed the officer on restrictive duties.

Now let me ask you this, on what planet are we living on when a police officer, who may have been responsible for the death of a member of the public, goes back to work the next day and continues as normal? In any other profession that person would be suspended until an investigation had concluded and determined all potential criminal responsibilities and legalities.

Another anomaly in this case is why has this officer has given a preliminary statement to the IPCC, that say’s nothing about the legal grounds for his actions? The IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts whose investigating this case needs to recognise the public need answers now, not in three years time. 

This officer will now of course be formally interviewed under caution, unbelievably at a time of his choosing, having been served his IPCC initiated misconduct papers, and will be surrounded by his Federation lawyers and no doubt retaining his right to silence.
In a statement in response to the Met's failure to suspend this officer, the Charles family issued this statement;

The video clip of 20-year-old Rashan Charles shows him thrashing around, desperately gulping, trying to breath as he is ‘restrained’ by a Metropolitan Police Officer in Dalston, east London.

Rashan died on the 22nd July 2017 almost three months ago and his death has opened many people’s eyes to the reality of the police brutality and racism faced by many black young people on a daily basis.

The conclusion reached by the majority of objective people who watch the violent scenes unfold is that Rashan was strangled to death. That simple and objective truth is both crystal clear to most who watch Rashan take his final breath.

There is no controversy around these events. The film does not lie.

The TSG police officer chases Rashan into a shop, wrestles him to the ground, and then with the assistance of a member of the public, proceeds to place his neck in a forearm lock, exercising a lethal lynching like vice grip, that literally crushes his neck, cutting of both vital oxygen and blood supplies to the brain.

You can see the most urgent and tragic desperation of Rashan as he thrashes around struggling to suck in oxygen, suffocating under the sheer weight of both the police officer and a member of the public.

As you replay this scene from Dante’s hell, you can feel the oxygen draining form one’s own lungs and your breath is literally taken away, as you watch Rashan fall limp.

One has to ask where is the Mayor of London and the London Assembly in all of this? We’ve had the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa and a young 16yr old black boy from Lambeth, Tyresse Johnson who riding on a scooter with no helmet and being chased by police ‘fell off” and subsequently died from severe head injuries.

There is no mention of these issues at City Hall. No expression of concern from the Greater London Authority, the London Assembly members, not a word from Mayor Sadiq Khan, nor his Policing Advisor Sophie Linton nor his one and only black deputy Mayor.

And so, on these most important matters, we have total silence from the office that is ultimately responsible for the Met Police. Where is the voice of Londoners?

It should be of no surprise to anyone that not one of these mourning black families have not received a formal apology from the Met police. Their contempt is palpable. 

Hard to imagine such contemptible callousness and lack of basic compassion, but black lives remain cheap in London and have no political significance for the Met Police, the London Mayor or the London Assembly. For them its simply business as usual.

All of this, and to make matters worse, we have no locally elected Police Consultative Groups in London. Abolished by Boris Johnson they were a vital conduit for communications between the police and public at times of great tensions. Lord Scarman recommended their creation in aftermath of the 1980’s Brixton uprising. He felt it was important to address the obvious communication, trust and confidence gap that led to public anger about unrelenting police racism.

The consequences of their abolition means that local police accountability has been slowly eroding ever since. Unelected Safer Neighbourhood Boards have taken their place and simply failing to fill the gap. Their minutes are private and they operate largely in secrecy and anonymity, the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee is a pale imitation of the former Metropolitan Police Authority it replaced. 

The result of all of this is? We’re left with the same information vacuum identified by Lord Scarman and cited as a key contributing factor to the civil disturbances that took place, post the shooting of Mark Duggan in 2011.

Today we remember that that stop and search has increased by a factor of ten since 1986 and as a direct result we have the highest level of tension and public mistrust between London’s black communities and the Met seen in decades.

London is refusing to learn the lessons of its recent history and is therefore destined to repeat the tragic mistakes of the past. No community can long withstand, without tragic social consequences, 
such profound political marginalisation, 
police oppression and injustice.

People, politicians, the police and Government really need to wake up and understand that Londoners’ need answers now and that any further delays will only exacerbate already growing police and community tensions in the capital.

As was once said by someone very famous "Without justice, there can be no peace"