How a story that hasn’t ended began for us

Wednesday morning, 23 April. We heard that a woman was run over by a prison van taking prisoners back from court to Brixton jail yesterday around 5.30pm. Rushed up to the area and got a newspaper.
“30 years old, she was drunk”, “she was always dancing”, the paper read.
Immediately I knew it – it was her, the girl who’d beckoned me to dance at ‘food not bombs’ in front of the Ritzy cinema a few weeks back, the day that K and L were arrested for giving away free food. The beautiful crazy black girl with the wide open smile! Some people enter your heart like a streak of lightening. Naomi was one of them.
Choking with pain and rage we reached the ‘Brixton Oval’ to find a shrine rigged up by her friends: the red Marlboro jacket she always wore, her beloved skates, a few furry toys, photographs, flowers, candle, joss sticks. Everyone was crying, men and women, young and old, black and white, tears of anger and despair pouring down their devastated faces. They are the people who hang out there like Naomi did, in that grassy area in the centre outside the Ritzy cinema. We hugged and cried together and all agreed – we were not going to sit still in a ritual RIP in front of candles. WE MUST ACT!!! NAOMI WAS MURDERED BY THE STATE!!! PORCO DIO!!!
The private cop driving a SERCO prison van had seen her dancing in the road and beating her fists on the van with its human cargo of eleven prisoners that he was in a hurry to unload. Don’t take them to the prison!!! She had screamed.
He had seen her, yet, when the lights changed, he accelerated and knocked her down, drove over her and dragged her along the road. She died under the van, close to a friend who had crawled down to reach her. A crowd of about a hundred people gathered, stunned, screaming MURDERER!!! The windscreen of the van was smashed. Riot police were called to protect the killer, who is of course free on bail.
What is the life of a drunken black girl who always dances, to a brute in the service of State repression? As much as that of a comrade leaving a rock concert once was to a bus driver.
We need to scream our anger!! All of us!! Together!!
A quick dash to the local print shop and copies of the newspaper article are enlarged and laminated. They see the story and do more free. Passersby stop. People begin to arrive as the word goes round. A dive to Brixton market to get some cloth for a banner. The road is blocked as – vegans rejoice – a butcher has thrust an axe into a colleague’s chest. Okay! 3 metres of black cloth. More people turn up. Quick! Some paint, brushes, sponges. Cloth is spread on pavement, a few steady-handed people set to it. The words, decided by Naomi’s mates and agreed by all: AVENGE NAOMI, KILLED BY THE SYSTEM begin to emerge. 2 long sticks appear and the banner is rigged up. It’s decided: up Brixton Road to the jail, block any prison vans along the way.
Tall black guys take the banner. They are in a hurry. Let’s go! The march assembles hastily. Barely formed, it takes over the main road, some are straggling, others follow on the pavement. The heavy trafficof Brixton Road is forced to slow down to snail’s place behind this motley crew of Naomi’s friends, some clutching cans of beer, and a few anarchists, squatters, Rastafarians and punks: the ‘scum’ of Brixton out to denounce the KILLER of the System. For some people, this is their first ever demo. Cop cars arrive at the scene and follow the march. Shouts begin, tentatively at first: No justice! No peace! Then the whole march breaks out NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, FUCK THE POLICE!!! The shouting gets louder and louder. Everybody in unison at the top of their voices. NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, FUCK THE POLICE!!!! NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, FUCK THE POLICE!!!! THE PASSION FOR FREEDOM IS STRONGER THAN THE PRISON!!! Hundreds of cars and buses pursue their slow journey up and down the road, traffic is nearly at a standstill, it is almost the rush hour. Cop vans are stationed discreetly in side streets, but the whole police operation keeps a low profile. Brixton is Brixton. People stare. Bemused black schoolchildren turn their heads. Fuck the police? Wow!
The march reaches the prison. It doesn’t stop on the pavement but storms up the drive. Cop cars all around. Cops and screws form a line. A vanload of female ones arrives at the scene. Two emaciated women are staggering, almost falling to the ground. They throw out their anger and pain, screaming at the cops, who remain impassive. (All the Brixton cops knew Naomi. They know the score and clearly have been given strict orders.) Tears drench faces contorted by pain and alcohol. Naomi didn’t need to die! It wasn’t an accident! He could have stopped. She was murdered and the murderer is walking free! NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, FUCK THE POLICE!!! NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, FUCK THE POLLLICE!!! THE PASSION FOR FREEDOM IS STRONGER THAN THE PRISON!!! All sorts of flora and fauna emerge from within the prison area. Cops start to put on mild pressure, the march concedes, returns to the entrance on Brixton Road and stays there for ten minutes before taking over the main road again, walking slowly back down to the town centre, passing again over the spot where Naomi was callously crushed to death. The shouting continues all the way down to the centre.
The working day has ended and new people are gathering around the monument to Naomi, which is in evolution (there are more flowers and a Rastafarian flag has taken the place of the news article). Rows of cops try to clear the pavement without success and end up blocking it themselves. The inevitable local reporter has arrived, complete with cameraman. A group of authoritative people are lining up on the grass to be photographed and interviewed and Naomi’s friends seem to be fading into the background. The atmosphere is changing and we’re off, for now. Hugs to our comrades of the day. See you later.
J. and B. , proud to be ‘scum’.

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