by Maximus Asante
A protest that was fueled by what many deem an unlawful police shooting descended into chaos. The tragedy is, the questions that these protesters wanted, needed and had a right to ask have yet to be answered.
Had these questions been answered satisfactorily, by which I mean honestly and in good time, rather than allowing allegations to be made and broadcast that were unfounded, the destruction that ensued could well have been prevented.
Did people have a right to protest because they believed a man had been unlawfully killed – and not just any man, a Black man – by a police force that was deemed and I believe is still – along with most other institutions in this country, this nation I call home – institutionally racist to the core?
It is their democratic right to do so. They wanted answers, they wanted to be heard, they wanted justice and they still do.
In a society where there is so much mistrust in the so called “keepers of the peace,” where ethnic minorities feel marginalized, discriminated against and unfairly treated by the authorities, is it not probable that the shooting of a Black man – whether he was a criminal or not – that as yet has not been said to be lawful, would spark protest?
The surprise, no, the disappointment to me is that it only sparked a protest and not a full-scale race riot. By this I mean acts of passive social disobedience bordering on revolution.
Yes, there was rioting and I do not condone the mindless acts of looting. What started off as an issue of race became an orgy of opportunism, where Black, white and Asian men and women, boys and girls, committed acts of violence up and down the country.
So what was their motivation in the streets of London where the riots and looting first occurred? One would assert that most of those taking part in the criminal activity were those who had little or nothing to lose, those who had been let down by the very society so eager to criminalize them but so reluctant to help them.
In a country with so much inequality where, as a Black man, I have to accomplish more than my white counterpart just to be considered for the same job, I want a revolution. I want something to change; and if there is an impediment to that change, I want it destroyed.
Democracy is not the vehicle for that change in this country. Certainly not in the form or brand that we have had thrust upon us in this our very democratic dictatorship where all we have the right to do is protest and vote every four or so years.
What happened to government for the people – a concept long eradicated from the minds of any of our politicians and ministers? Where can one find a voice for the oppressed amongst the Black community? Where are the Black politicians in this country? Where are the Black CEOs? We are starved of opportunity and rarely given an equal opportunity.
We are seeing finances being taken away from those communities with the least. The youth of today in the most deprived areas are provided with poor levels of education and little opportunity to make something of their lives.
One can only hope that a time is coming when all marginalised groups of society say no more and take to the streets; and if the politicians don’t listen to the people who elected them, then what choice do they give them but to make them listen? If this means civil disobedience, so be it. If it means hitting the government or the economy where it hurts, so be it.
Someday soon, I predict racial tension will boil over in the U.K., and when it does, a few shops burning and – as harrowing as this is to say – a few lives taken will seem like nothing in comparison to what will happen if the very real, live issue of inequality, discrimination, racism and social injustice is not dealt with.
A change is going to come. The price that has to be paid for such change, we shall have to wait and see. Would I be willing to lay down my life in a fight against what I perceive to be a racist, despicable, unequal society if it was the only hope I thought I had? I would pay the price with my own blood.
Maximus Asante BA, LLB, DipLP, LLM, Ghanaian Scot living in Glasgow and pursuing a career in law and politics, is a child of God and future leader and fighter for the oppressed. You can contact Maximus at firstname.lastname@example.org.