A new community radio station will launch at the exclusive Roxbury nightclub on Croydon High Street tomorrow.
Organisers are bringing together music and social action as Sounds of Urban London Radio (SOUL Radio) will hold its launch party as a fundraiser for the Campaign 4 Justice, a campaign seeking justice for those who have died in police custody.
The event will feature well known UK talent such as reggae outfits Saxon and Coxsone, former BBC Radio 1 disc jockey Chris Goldfinger, producer Commander B, R&B band Loose Ends, UK Garage legend Sticky and reggae singer Maxi Priest. It will celebrate the lives of Smiley Culture, Mark Duggan, Sean Rigg and others who have lost their lives in controversial circumstances.
The driving force behind SOUL Radio is Merlin Emmanuel, nephew of David Emmanuel, the latter being known to most Britons as the reggae singer Smiley Culture. The performer, who had hits in the 1980’s with the songs ‘Cockney Translation’ and ‘Police Officer’ died during a police raid at his home in Surrey last year. Emmanuel had been charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and was due in court shortly after his death.
According to The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) he died from a single stab wound to the heart at his home in Hillbury Road in Warlingham when four Metropolitan Police Officers were at the house at the time, carrying out a search of the property. The IPCC investigation found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by officers involved in the raid.
But the Emmanuel family accused the watchdog of treating them with “contempt”, the Guardian reported last year.
Merlin Emmanuel told EastLondonLines: “A positive that has come out of my uncle’s death, is that it has galvanised the community and there is a lot more awareness around issues of social justice. I have met many families who have gone through a similar ordeal to mine. I wanted to start the radio station to provide good music, informative debates, chats and organise community days – it’s all positive.
“With regards to the campaign, we have offices and staff – a team of barristers, counsellors and psychologists. We are aiming to support those who have lost loved ones in custody, but also to offer an advice and support service for a broad range of issues affecting our community.
“We’ve had a good turn-out at events and things are changing, there are many influential people who agree with the sentiments of our campaign. The legitimacy of the IPCC is compromised by their structure and the fact that 9 out of 10 staff members are ex-police officers. Community confidence in the criminal justice system is very low, there needs to be a change.”
The Campaign 4 Justice is calling for an independent inquiry into all suspicious deaths in police custody. Further demands centre on reform and strengthening of the powers and independence of the IPCC.
An inquest into Smiley Culture’s death will be held later this year.