Sunday, 27 March 2011
For many who were growing up in the early 1980s, one or two songs of Smiley Culture (David Emmanuel) were part of the general soundtrack.
In his Police Officer (1984), Smiley Culture captured exactly the sneering arrogance of those who exercise the coercive power of the state without any practical accountability.
It is well worth watching.
The exchange at 1:58 to 2:20 of the video conveys the attitude of the police in being able to subject citizens to their power without the citizens being able to answer back.
The lyrics to that segment are:
"Well, Wha wha wha what's your name then son?"
"My name Smiley Culture."
"Yeah, Where do you think you're coming from lad?"
"From seeing me mother."
"What's the registration number of the car then?"
"I can't remember."
"What you got in the boot then son?"
"A cassette recorder.
Would you like to have a look?"
"Shut your bloody mouth.
Now take the keys out of the car and step out of the motor.
Me and my colleagues have got a few questions to ask ya.
You'll be on your way as soon as we get an answer."
Until the middle of this month, however, Smiley Culture was just another voice of the 1980s, though one which (for me) was playing in the back of my mind whenever I wrote about police brutality and misconduct.
I had no idea what had happened to him: whether he was still with us or not, whether he was now a businessman or - indeed - a police officer.
And then news came of his death.
But it was not a commonplace death.
In fact, he died during a police raid.
We are told that he died from a single stab wound during that police raid.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission are now investigating the circumstances of the death of Smiley Culture.
Of course, one should not prejudge the investigation.
However, I cannot help but think of the attitude expressed by "Shut your bloody mouth./ We ask./ You answer" whenever there is any investigation of any possible police conduct, especially of a suspicious death in police custody.
Rest in peace, Smiley Culture.
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By Jack of Kent at 23:18