It is with great sadness that we write to inform you of the death of our brother Smiley Culture, also known as David Emmanuel, whose cultural impact shall be felt for generations to come.
Smiley Culture was both loved and respected and was an incredibly talented African man whose chart topping hits in the 1980s — “Cockney Translator” and his autobiographical single “Police Officer” — chronicled his experience with bourgeois democracy, making him an international success.
Smiley was killed during a police raid at his home in Surrey on March 15, 2011, after police broke into his home under the guise of a drug raid.
Shortly after his death, Smiley’s family organized a press conference led by his spokesperson and nephew Merlin Emmanuel on March 17, 2011 at the Karibu Centre in Brixton. The aim was to galvanize support to investigate the death.
At the conference, we learned what the police had unofficially said to the family describing what happened as they went to arrest Smiley.
Their story was they busted in and claimed that upon the raid Smiley Culture asked to make himself a cup of tea and, whilst in the kitchen, killed himself with a carving knife that pierced directly through his heart and beyond!
Of course, such a story speaks volumes and sent shockwaves in the minds of the African community, as those of us who are informed by history know that the relationship Africans have with the police has always been a parasitic relationship. The very function of the UK police is to undermine the struggles led by African and oppressed peoples to define our own lives in the fight for self-determination, and instead to uphold the power of the European bourgeoisie.
Under the most unusual circumstances, the police have murdered African people claiming no responsibility under the guise of suicides. People like Azelle Rodney or Joy Gardner come to mind. The repression against the community is becoming more and more naked for all to see.
Because we are aware of such history with the police it would be idealistic to believe such a story. Even the question of how such a raid could have been conducted is suspect. In a raid, would the police allow any suspect to be alone in a room? Would a suspect be able to decide to make his or herself a cup of tea in the middle of a drug raid?
It is in fact more likely that Smiley Culture was impaled by police who are highly trained in the business of execution, as the knife in question was said to have impaled him from the front through to his back. According to the press conference, we don’t even know if the weapon itself has been produced and examined for evidence.
The press conference was full of tearful, angry members of the community and organizers who wanted answers to what had happened to Smiley. The staff of the Karibu Centre had agreed to let the family use the hall for free, but there were so many people in attendance that not everyone could fit in the space.
Following the story leaked by the police, the media and the internet have already spread rumors to conduct a character assassination of Smiley Culture. He is being criminalized as a drug pusher of cocaine and other such substances as they try to implicate him on drug charges. The family would make reference to an ongoing case against Smiley that he and his solicitor were sure to beat as the state produced no evidence to support their allegations as usual!
The Chairman of the African Socialist International, Omali Yeshitela, has often said that one of the strategies the imperialist State uses to justify killings in the African community — whether we are in Surrey, England or New York, USA — is to kill us, then pull up a custody sheet demonizing the person as a means to justify the killing. They create this sentiment that the man or woman was not worth caring for so that people won’t make attempts to put the State on the defensive and get the truth revealed.
Family updates on media attack
The London Evening Standard newspaper along with others was cautioned and some criticized for spreading criminalizing rumors about Smiley based on hearsay evidence from the police.
Setting the record straight, Smiley’s family let us all know that what has been published by imperialist media was flat out lies. They spoke of Smiley in fact as a positive role model to many and an entrepreneur and teacher to people inside and outside the community.
Without the foundation of Smiley Culture in the '80s there would be no Tinie Tempah amongst other primarily reggae artists inspired by his work. They also spoke briefly about some trade work involving diamond production.
What none of the mainstream press have picked up on is that not only was there an arrest against Smiley on March 15, but Smiley’s daughter was also harassed and arrested earlier that same day after she brought her child to the nursery. The police to this day are still unable to explain their initial reasons for her arrest, but what we can sum up is that it was a means to isolate Smiley, stressing an attack on the family, i.e. an attack against the entire African community.
Norm of British politics to oppress the African community
Statistics gathered from the Guardian newspaper late last year saw that African prisoners make up 15 percent of the UK prison population, yet are at 2.2 percent of the general population.
In other words, one out of every seven Africans in the UK are in or tied to the prison system. This reality assists the State in defining the African community as a criminal community forming the basis for attacks against Africans like Smiley Culture.
By defining the African community as a criminal community, they set the terms in the democratic space that exists. Political institutions like the police, like the court system, the prison system and the probation system is daily building an economy of off our oppression. They are feeding a society that needs for its very existence to keep the African downtrodden, oppressed and exploited with access only to the ideas of the oppressor; creating mistrust and dissention in the minds of the oppressed.
These statistics are tied to the reality that Africans in recent times constitute over 145,000 cases of Stop and Search during a single year, and that is only what is recorded. Young Africans are more and more being forced into Adult Jails.
1. Jail all the police who were present at the scene as Joint Enterprise
2. Immediate dismissal of whoever is in charge of these murderers.
3. Reparations to the family with an apology for the slanderous criminalization of Smiley Culture.
4. Disband the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and allow for a truly independent body to be established by the people with full power to investigate the metropolitan police and review past unjust decisions made by the IPCC.
The reality is that police are not interested in solving crime nor the problems of the African community. They serve the interests of the European ruling class to maintain this parasitic system over our lives.
The fact of the matter is no one at the press conference had any illusions about the validity of the IPCC. They are the British police, and the police have no ability to investigate themselves.
It is impossible to separate what happened to Smiley Culture from what happened to Ricky Bishop, Sean Riggs, Derek Bennett, Christopher Alder and the many others who were also killed by British police. The dates are different but the system that has oppressed them and our communities is what led to all of their deaths. The policies of the UK see to the same type of character assassination which intends to hold our people in a state of delirium.
It was suggested at the press conference that Smiley was a British icon but we are not oppressed because we are Black Brits, and Smiley Culture was not taken from us because he was British. he was attacked because he was a popular African in a society growing more and more hostile to our existence.
The press conference resolves to hold a second meeting on March 24 as the investigation continues.